Many of my writing community contemporaries have written from a young age, unlike me. It was a skill and craft they found early on and found it to be beneficial in a multitude of ways. Whether for social, academic, and emotional well-being. It is a useful tool, especially for a child struggling to express themselves, their thoughts, or feelings. Through creative writing they can channel their emotions and harness their imaginations.
Other benefits include, problem solving through the creation of plots, alternative solutions, and seeking ways to identify, assess and tackle problems. Their inquisitiveness will, in turn, improve their research skills as they find information about specific things within their stories. This also brings about increased self-confidence, discipline and persistence, after all it takes time to create a story.
My writing group holds monthly creative writing workshops for children. These are free and no membership is required. An easy RSVP form can be filled in on the website and a Zoom link will be emailed prior to the meeting. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com
It is know that benefits of these type of workshops include improvement in writing quality. An increase in writing engagement and confidence, and better planning and creation of ideas.
I started writing poems, very short plays and long letters as a young child. However, I started writing short stories in English about twenty years ago. Sharing and publishing them felt like opening a window to the world from my corner in Brazil.
What drew you to write short fiction/ flash fiction rather than longer works?
I started with flash fiction, when it hadn’t yet been named so. My inner rhythm found its compatible venue in these tiny stories. Over time, I became interested in the possibilities of other genres, and now I write the way I feel that fits certain work best.
Where did you get the inspiration for Life Reflection Over Blues?
The title came to me within a brief moment, but I gave it to a blog, first. But then, I realized it summarized the spirit of this collection. The blues is present in it, because, after all, I’m writing about this life, this world, and it’s one hell of a universe. However, in many moments, the prism of the absurd and the imaginary, of fun or critical humor is here as well. This combination is a way to cope and to write, and the readers are invited into it.
Is it a follow up of your first book, Life In, Life Out?
Light Reflection Over Blues has certain themes in common with Life In, Life Out. It speaks of love, loss, boundaries, belonging and solitude. In a way, the stories written here reflect on the evolution of my understanding of these aspects of life. I try even harder not to blink at pain or shut off vulnerability but include them lovingly.
What differences are there between the two collections?
The first difference you’d notice in Light Reflection Over Blues is an addition of expressive, marvelous illustrations by Revital Lessick to echo and reflect the stories. Light Reflection Over Blues also differs from my first collection in its chronological order, an ongoing narrative that sheds light on age and experience. In addition, this book embraces longer pieces, in which fragments give continuity to one another and complement the whole.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I am lucky to have “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf named that private, quiet place where a woman can avoid distractions and focus on her writing. Clearly, life bursts in, either called or uncalled, but my little office, full of books, pictures of the women of my family and objects I’ve collected over the years, is one of my favorite corners in the world.
Do you have a writing schedule?
I keep trying to plan my day so it includes a lot of writing, but I frequently stray from the plan. However, I sit at the computer most days, and do my best to write, revise, edit or deal with other aspects of the writing life. The mind flows better when I manage to leave everything else outside. Having said that, breaks from writing are very important to me as well. During times of travel (I hope so much it’ll be possible again!) or other intense activity, I let myself absorb the experience, without putting words to the paper. The words come afterwards, usually unrelated to the fact themselves, as if they’ve been there all along.
Who is your mentor/supporter?
I exchange literary texts with friends from the writing community, and I am open for a conversation with smart, honest, literary-driven people. My friends, members of the writing community in Zoetrope.com, Francis Ford Coppola’s virtual workshop, and within its offices “A Hell of a Universe, Vacancies”, “Hot Pants” and “No Forcing the Sea” have always been a source of inspiration, support and wisdom.
Would you consider writing a novel? If so, which genre would it be?
I have a complete novel called “Baby Harvest” and another one in stages of revision, called “Puzzled.” Both of them are literary, and very different from each other. I also keep writing flashes and stories, and I’d love to have both novels and story collections out.
Have you won awards for your writing?
My work won the Margaret Atwood Studies Magazine Prize, a story was placed first in The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and my story collections were finalists for the Iowa Fiction award. My flashes have been twice listed in Best of the WEB, Wigleaf. A flash of mine has been chosen for Best Fictions 2020, and another for Norton’s International Flash Fiction. Apart from this, I have been nominated for the Pushcart Award six times.
Where can readers find you on social media/website?
I am on Facebook quite regularly, and I have an Instagram account. I am also trying to put my brain around Twitter. It’s fairly easy to find me.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I am glad you are reading books published by small presses! I’m honored to be published by Ravenna Press, and after the past tough years, they need you. Also, I am happy for every single reader, who finds something in my book to keep close to heart.
Avital Gad-Cykman is the author of the flash collection “Life In, Life Out” (Matter Press) and the collection of short prose “Light Reflection Over Blues” (Ravenna Press). http://ravennapress.com/books/light-reflection-over-blues/ Her work has appeared in The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Ambit (UK), The Literary Review, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. Her PhD in English Literature focuses on women authors, gender, minorities and trauma studies. She grew up in Israel, and lives in Brazil.
The writing group I am secretary of, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, has recently published two poetry anthologies. These collections of poems were created using the responses to prompts created during the last two April Poetry Month challenges. As many of you know I dabble in poetry once in a while, but it is not really my forte. However, I hope that you will take a look (and buy) these wonderful collections. The poetry is as diverse as the poets themselves.
For any inspiring poets out there the foundation holds free online poetry workshops the third Wednesday of every month. No membership required. Just click the link on the main website page to receive the Zoom link. 7:00 pm MST. Next workshop 17th November Link
Other workshops and a sharing meeting are also every month. Check out the website
As for my writing schedule, I am looking at beginning preparation for November’s National Novel Writing Month and book two of my crime trilogy. The two detective’s personalities are beginning to talk to me, which is good! There are some plot points to consider, such as where the body is found and how, the feud between one detective and a pushy wannabe detective character, as well as a partner, who flies close to the wrong side of the law on occasion. I already have the title – The Tainted Search. I know once I begin writing the characters will talk to me and the story will flow. It is always exciting to start a new project.
Do you want to connect?
As always if you have any questions about my stories, books, writing life etc. – I am happy to answer them. Just put a comment in the box below or email me through the contact form.
When I unpublished these books, it was because I was embarrassed of the quality. But when I looked through them again, I realized my embarrassment had nothing to do with the quality of my work. It had to do with the fact that I wrote these books while I was still raw from my mothers passing. It had two years when she passed away when I started working on book 1. I had never written a novel before. I was a screenwriter at the time. I wanted to write stories without dealing with the competition. So, even though I thought writing a novel would be much harder, I switched to novels. Over time it became the format I loved.
As for why I decided to republish, it’s because I’m proud of every step I’ve taken to get where I am now and am excited for what the future holds for me.
Can you us tell about the stories and how the ideas came about for Unforgiven and All in the Family?
At the time the idea stemmed from my grieving process of my mother’s passing. Feeling as if my emotional state and process was quite different from my family. There is a scene in book one where the truth of why the family split up and kept Henry (main character) in the dark of the truth. My perspective of my family was rather negative and dark. Which is why I originally unpublished my work. It felt like I was using an outlet to deal with my frustration, anger, and morose state.
Somehow, as time went on, I saw these books as a much needed and healthy part of my past. That I dealt with my emotions in a creative and human way. Sure, the ideas came from a creative place, but at its core, it came from a tormented and lonesome place.
I believe our fears can create beauty.
On a more literal standpoint, Unforgiven is about Henry reuniting with his family. While questioning his life choices and how he will get himself and his family out of this chaotic mess. As for what the family business is, I will let that be a surprise.
Which genre do you enjoy writing the most?
Mystery. When I wrote book 1 of Boone and Jacque, I found joy in creating layers around the central characters.
Where did the idea come from to writer this fantasy series?
I wouldn’t consider this a fantasy series. It’s more of a thriller and suspense duology.
Do you have other books published?
Yes. My Urban Fantasy/Fiction series, Boone and Jacque. Book 1, Saddleton’s Secret, Book 2, The Brothers’ Odyssey are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle format. Book 3, Saddleton Haunting, will be out in Kindle format in early August. For paperback, sometime in September.
What is your writing background?
I did my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Besides books, I’ve written several poems, short stories, and research articles.
Do you belong to a writing group?
On Facebook: Author Nation, World Poetry Café; Author/Publisher/Editor/Book Readers, Start in Screen – Canada, BC Writers, Authors and Editors, and countless others.
Has the pandemic affected your writing/promotion? If so how?
Not at all. Overtime I’ve certainly evolved as a writer and adapted to change in life. But how often I write and put my work out there hasn’t changed.
However, the pandemic did make me let go of certain fears. One being fantasizing about things I want to do. For example, acting. Starting in August, I’ll be doing a three monthacting program. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m excited about it.
Which authors influence you?
Good question. It changes over time. Right now it’s Leigh Bardugo, whom wrote the Grishaverse. She is the first fantasy writer to envelope me in the universe she created since I read Harry Potter. I’m not sure why, but something about her style is quite inviting.
I still look up to Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Handler, but I’m expanding my horizons.
Your novels tend to have unexpected protagonists/settings. Was this a conscious decision or the spark of an idea that evolved? My ideas hit me just as unexpected. It is not like I want to come up with this or that like a contract writer where an idea is developed and catered to a market, I am on the other end of that spectrum. I am not in control of my ideas, and there are plenty, and many I can’t even tackle, most of them I won’t finish in my life time. The once that make it are pressing, have an immediate impact on me and when they linger over weeks I know I have to sit down and deal with them. What brings us to …
Do you plan an outline or free flow write? … this question, and yes I do. For the longest time I had to keep up a job to buy myself time to write (and food and the other trivialities), so I couldn’t just write into the blue and hope the novel turns out well somehow. I had to be sure. I could not waste any time. Early on I developed my outline technique where I work only on 1 letter sized piece of paper, which I could take anywhere (jobs etc.) at all times. Everything is on that 1 page, the entire outline, like “They steal the car”, that’s a beat, at that time I don’t know where they do this for example. Only when I see these beats work and I understand my protagonists, hear them, feel them, know them, and I clearly hear the narrating voice I start the novel. This planning phase takes between 2 and 15 years before I start writing, but then the 1st draft is the novel.
Can you explain how the process of writing with a fellow author works? Is it a chapter each or a combination of thought and writing? I did this more than once, but always we agreed one of us writes a quick first version and the other expands on that. This way the voice of the novel is not flopping back and forth – except there are 2 distinct views or narrators, then this would make sense.
What differences are there from writing a novel to a film script to a song? A song or a poem is the entire opposite to a novel to me. These happen in an instance, a spontaneous outburst in under an hour, unplanned, unmanaged, quasi anarchic in character. A film script (as well as a radio play or a theatre play) is planned like the novel, but the writing is a fraction of it. I love film scripts, I wish more people would read them and they’d become an own literary genre.
Does your music affect your writing or the other way around? All the different media I am working in influence each other, ideas bleed from one form into another (example my song “Joyride Sky” was inspired by my novel “For a Spin”, I invented a band that pops up in a number of my novels, and for the dystopian novel “2112” (working title) I am currently working on I recorded an entire album you can listen to on Bandcamp, the band is called JENNY HAS TRAFFIC. It is fun and adds to the characters.
You have been prolific in the number of publications. Are the ideas still coming as quickly? Do you have a folder of ideas pending? Oh yes, ideas come constantly, I have to dodge them, write them down and put them in the folder. That folder is full with ideas, no way I can write all of them.
What challenges do you face with language? English is my 2nd language. The biggest challenge for me as a writer is not so much the spelling, grammar, vocabulary (you can work on that), but the fact I did not grow up in the English culture, I miss out on most childhood references, sport and political events, etc. I have to live with that, there is no way I can catch up with that.
When you write songs what influences you? My mood. My mood dictates the feeling of a song. Many lyrics come from darker places, I am not a musical comedian although I wrote many funny novels and had the pleasure to experience their impact first hand during my readings in schools between Denmark and Italy.
What propelled you to start you podcast? I was the kid (14 years old) that stayed up late to listen to radio shows at midnight. I always loved the medium, for music and word. I worked for radio in Germany, and as a volunteer I had an own 4 hour show at CJSW at the University of Calgary called PolterZeitGeist where I mixed words and music. Since technology evolved digitally I was able to get the equipment and do it myself.
Can you tell us about your latest project? I received this year the Literary Arts Individual Project Grant by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to write the dystopian novel “2112”, and I document this process on my homepage in words, photos, audio and video until February 2022.
Is there a message you would like to share with your readers? Don’t judge a book by its cover, please read the first page. Even with my novels, because the narrating voice changes.
Thorsten Nesch is a German author who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 2008 Nesch’s first novel Joyride Ost was nominated for Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis and the Landshuter Jugendbuchpreis. 2012 the book won the Hans-im-Glück Award