October 2, 2017

Beautiful lies

If you feel shut out and shut down because the oppressive and ever-present patriarchy that rules every editor’s desk leads to the rejection of your gender and the subject matter of your stories, there’s hope. If you feel that an ultra-progressive, politically correct agenda has seeped into every classroom, every grant-giving organization, and every contest-judging panel, there’s hope. Without access to the information, without transparency, there is no way to know the truth about your 95% rejection rate. And when you’re left with no information, you make up your own. It’s human nature to crave stories and find patterns. Paranoia thrives as you search for facts that will never be known. If only we could do a transparency audit, to scroll through the thoughts of the decision makers as they came upon your piece. If only we had an objective breakdown with a list of reasons, assumptions, feelings, desires, and personal prejudices that were employed in the final decision. Did they accept your story because they know you, or because they don’t know you? If they knew you, would they still be interested in taking the story? Did your friendship with the editor influence her decision to take you on? […]
September 5, 2017

Writing up, writing down

My recent interview with Sarah Taggart brought up the concept of writing up and writing down. I was still trying to absorb it as I engaged in a lengthy debate on the topic with one of Sarah’s friends on Facebook. As I understand it, and I may not understand it at all, writing up involves the consideration of the social position of the writer versus the social position of the character in the writer’s story. If the writer is considered to have a lower position than the character in the story, there is complete freedom of expression as no damage can result from the inaccurate portrayal of someone with a higher position. If the writer is considered to have a higher position than the character, extreme care, respectful awareness, and the checking of privilege are employed to ensure that no damage is done and no offense is taken by marginalized groups who might see themselves reflected in the fictional characters the writer has imagined. I can see a few potential problems with this line of thought. First, how are we going to determine social position? In Sarah’s story, for example, she is talking about a bunch of white guys in […]
August 15, 2017

Sarah Taggart is a meat popsicle

Sarah L. Taggart has published in The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Journey Prize Stories and a Winnipeg zine called 1234V. She has some degrees and has lived a lot of places and has worked many jobs (never as a lumberjack, though) and currently calls Toronto home. She lives with a damn cute dog and an even cuter partner. Sarah Taggart is a meat popsicle.  So says the “Intro” section on your Facebook page. What could this possibly mean? 1. A resistance to providing too much personal information in a public format? Yes. 2. A rejection of overshare culture typical of Facebook? Also yes. 3. Self-deprecatory humour? Never. 4. The hard recognition of the reality of being one of 7.5 billion carbon units on this planet? Hm, maybe? 5. I made the mistake of googling “meat popsicle”, and now I have to factor in the connection to Luc Besson’s Fifth Element and possible references to cryogenics. There’s no limit to how deep that hole goes. So? What gives? It’s number 5. The Fifth Element is one of my all-time favourite movies. I’ve never before considered the cryogenics angle, although I should have considering what’s going on in the movie when that […]
July 25, 2017

Finding Michael Meagher

Bio: I was born and raised in Ontario, then spent most of my twenties roofing, landscaping, and manual labouring in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. In 2015, I received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Brunswick, where one of my stories won The David H. Walker Prize. My work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in The Antigonish Review, Canadian Literature, CV2, The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, PRISM international, Queen’s Quarterly, The Journey Prize Stories 29, and others. I currently live in Rhode Island, writing in small, regular doses and taking care of my nine-month-old daughter. I had a tough time finding you. The first page of Google results did a poor job of separating you from the other Michael Meaghers. I couldn’t find you on Facebook. You don’t seem to have a writer website, and michaelmeagher.com is still available for the low, low price of $19,395 (or 12 payments of $1617). I had to ask the editor of The Fiddlehead to pass along a message. Are you hesitant to promote your writing online and through social networks? Do you hate social media, or is an expanded online presence a chore that you simply haven’t completed? Seems […]
July 4, 2017

Caroline Adderson and Vancouver Vanishes

Caroline Adderson is the award-winning author of four novels, two collections of short stories, as well as many books for young readers. She is also the editor and co-contributor of a non-fiction book of essays and photographs, Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition and Revival. Her work has received numerous award nominations including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Winner of three BC Book Prizes and three CBC Literary Awards, Caroline was also the recipient of the 2006 Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement. She lives in Vancouver. www.carolineadderson.com To understand Vancouver Vanishes in context, we have to go back over a decade to a time when Vancouver prices were elevated, but not insane. Boosted by interest rates that were knocked down and never really got off the mat, the latest record-breaking run began after a brief dip in prices in 2008. Realtors were quick to say the things that realtors often say when any large urban market booms. Vancouver is a world-class city. They’re not making any more land. Planeloads of rich Chinese are landing at YVR every day. Everybody […]