My Interview over on Speculating Canada

Bears at AMNHDerek Newman-Stille, over at Speculating Canada, a hot new-ish site for reviewing Canadian science fiction/fantasy and horror, gave me a really fun set of questions for this interview, asking me to think pretty deeply about the motivations I had when writing three of my stories, as well as asking me farther-reaching questions about the power of science fiction to change society!  Pretty heavy stuff, but I did my best to come up with answers.  We all hope to sound intelligent during interviews, at least interesting.  It helps to have good questions.

We cover subjects as diverse as the American educational system, healthcare and the difference to science it would make if animals really did talk. (What would that grizzly be saying to you?)

Thanks to Derek for doing what he does to help get more science fiction reviewed, and read, by those looking for it!

(photo is from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, a display of grizzlies in the North American Mammals section.  I do believe Theodore Roosevelt brought these in.)

CBC’s DNTO to air my story on Coming Out to My Church for “Lost Causes”

Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.

I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.

But they remembered my pitch.  And they sought me out.  Which is humbling, and cool.  We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes.  I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told.  I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”.  But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost?  I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change.  We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light.  This splits familes.  My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore.  I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it.  Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people.  Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink.  As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women.  And divorce.  Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore.  Christianity and Faith are not the problem.  Interpretation is.

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My short piece in Geez Magazine #24, “Privilege” issue, on coming out

Ironically, my pastor at RBC suggested I write for Geez magazine.  I don’t think he imagined what piece I would eventually write for them.  But here it is, Issue #24, on “privilege”.  I wrote the fast version of my coming out at church.  I centered it on the idea of privilege–of the privileges I had as a single, white male Christian who had leadership potential and of the privileges I no longer had when I added “gay” to that mix.

The church has to change.  It has to.  It may not change from those fighting it on the outside, but it will have to incorporate change if it is to survive further.  It faces irrelevance, it postures with discrimination, it plays favorites, it values money.

Not all churches–no.  (When I say a statement like this I have to stop and say, Thank you, churches that are moving more towards inclusion, social justice, focusing on issues like poverty, the environment, civil rights.  You do exist, but I wouldn’t, yet, call you the “Church”–as the “Church” tends to be the monolithic Catholic Castle or the Evangelical Juggernaut.  One day, you will take on that mantle–you will be the “Church” and it will have a positive ring.  You will convince other churches that focusing on discrimination is not the answer.)

Anyway, there it is, in Geez #24.  If this brings you to Talking Dog, welcome.  There’s lots there, I hope, that will spark conversation.  If this entry leads you to Geez, welcome to Geez.  There’s lots there that will spark conversation as well.  It’s a valuable, important magazine carrying on “the” conversations we need to have happen.  It is intrepid, bold, and unflinching.

I would marry Geez magazine if it looked like a bear and loved me back.

*apologies to Kevin James, pictured, who is not gay.

Mac’s Fireweed, Noon, Saturday, signing with me and Dave Strachan

Thanks everyone for coming out and being a part of our signing at Mac’s Fireweed!  Two anthologies I’m a part of: Tesseracts 14 and Inhuman, and Dave Strachan, who has the lead story in Inhuman, was signing too!  The Fantasy/Science Fiction community in Whitehorse is doing great!  More and more of our group are stretching their talents and skills, and turning out great stories and sending them off to publishers!  So happy that this is happening in Whitehorse!  The Yukon is building a presence in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Oh YEAH!

Tesseracts 14 and Inhuman are both published by Hades Publications and Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (for Inhuman, through their imprint Absolute XPress).

Here’s photos of us at Mac’s Fireweed, Saturday March 12.  See if you can recognize all the campadres who helped make it a great event…

 

 

 

My Year of Canadian Reading: what stories are you made of?

As I’m approaching an inevitable embrace of Canada (oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!) I’m aware that I have very little knowledge of Canadian literature.  A poor citizen is one who does not know his country’s stories. It is how we speak to one another–a cultural physiography and language that connects Canadians together.  How can I become a citizen without learning this cultural language?  Sure I could take a class, I suppose, from a Canadian university online, do some papers, etc.  But I thought a more creative way would be for Yukoners to suggest Canadian books that meant something to them–then it would be more personal.

So I went on CBC with Dave White and we came up with a plan for book suggestions–a reading list of sorts–so that I could become more literate about Canada.  We are getting great results, but please call in to Dave and suggest more books.  I’d like to build a canon, of sorts, of Yukon-suggested Canadian literature.  Right now I’m looking mostly for fiction, poetry and drama—but I have decided that a few creative nonfiction pieces are a must, a Pierre Berton, a Farley Mowat, even a Kevin Chong (go, KC!).  I built a blog to read and discuss this literature.  It’s called “A Year of Canadian Reading” and you can follow the link to see what I’m reading, what I’m up to, and what I thought about books you suggested.  Follow along if you like.  Read them with me.  I want to get an idea about Canada from its literature.  I want to understand you through your stories.  I think when we understand a culture through its stories, we are more able to speak to and hear from its citizens, and as citizens we’re more able to understand each other.

I don’t have any intention of stopping reading after the Year is over—but an actual year is a start.  I’ve read some Canadian Literature.  I came in with knowing only three authors: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.  But I’m aiming for the depth and breadth of Canadian Literature, even the heart of our warm, warm country.

Let me know if you want to play.  Follow these links if you want to:  SUGGEST A BOOK FOR ME, or find out WHAT I’M GOING TO READ.

I Claudius, I Gertrude, I Polonius, I Hamlet: the humanity and unity of Bhaneja’s Hamlet {solo}

I just returned from a brilliant rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Yukon Arts Centre.  One man, Raoul Bhaneja, did the whole play–or an edited version of the whole play–but he did every part, not just Hamlet’s soliloquies.  He had a box of light and an edge of darkness that he ran around making us believe he was seven or eight or ten people.  It was, in a word, stunning.  You might think that it will become boring–one man doing everything–and yet, every character received the same high quality attention.  I can’t imagine the inner-acting work that went on to understand every character, embody every person.  “I wanted to give everyone their chance,” Bhaneja said during the Q & A after the show.

It is a two hour show, and Bhaneja says about 15,000 words (from his own estimation).  He nuances characters with a gesture–Rosencrantz, his arm in the air; Guildentstern, leaning on one knee; Gertrude with her hand over her chest; Polonius stooped; Horatio a bit rigid and formal; Ophelia shy and uncertain.  His voice takes on multiple voices–a Sybil of sorts–but whose accents define the boundaries of the characters well enough for you to imagine, and I kept doing this, as if there were really six or seven people on stage and they were just being revealed to you one at a time as they spoke, as if they just came through the haze to speak.

Because Bhaneja edited the work, the transitions might be a bit altered, transitions from scene to scene.  But when I watched him end one scene with Hamlet and then start the next scene with Claudius I was struck by the statement it made about their characters.  Having one man portray both Claudius and Hamlet and crossfade into them gives the viewer this chance to see the two men as more similar, more equal, two sides of the same coin.  It’s easy to delineate the characters when they are played by separate actors, but when one man does them, it actually makes you think about how similar they all are.

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Whitehorse, curtained in icefog and woodsmoke, revealed in shrouded segments

Just a reality of living in the north, these -40 nights, where the icefog and the woodsmoke turned back on the streets mingle together to hide the city.  It’s mysterious and lovely.  Dangerous to drive in.  I couldn’t see the next segment until it was revealed.  People crossed second street without tapping the crossing light button and I could barely make out their dark forms merging back in with the night.  It was like there was a wall at the back of every backdrop setting— here’s Main Street with nothing beyond it but a white wall, and now the Library and now the Bridge.  Like curtains being opened one after the other, presenting our town in segments.  It certainly robs the city of continuity, or of flow, but it really makes you think of the city in sections—as if Main street were all by itself, or the Bridge, somewhere in England, instead of Canada, the fog so thick you couldn’t tell where it was placed in the geography.

I wished I’d had my camera the whole time, but it was hard enough driving your truck through the fog.  It groaned and squeaked as if it were thirty years old instead of five.  My friend says she won’t drive after it dips below -35C.  “Everything on your car breaks.”  And I saw, like an ambulance for vehicles, five or six tow trucks dragging perfectly good-looking cars and SUVs–just reminding me that even good cars in bad weather can break.  The air is filled with particles–mostly smoke because the smoke from homes hits a certain layer of air and bounces back.  You can see that everyone’s smoke flatlines at about 100 feet, going sideways, and coming back down, like we’re attacking ourselves.  Certainly Riverdale has been warned about woodsmoke pollution….but at -40, who’s listening?  (And -40 is where all temperature worlds, both those who live in Fahrenheit and those who live in Celsius, meet)

It’s interesting to think of the city all divided up into parts, separate sections outside of their context.  Like the world ends at the end of the street.  In some ways it was like speeding through the countryside of Texas and seeing each section as if it were its own small town strung together like pearls on a string heading towards the big city.

I saw Raoul Bhaneja’s one man version of Hamlet tonight, so I’m really enjoying language.  Makes me want to read, or see, Shakespeare more often.  Also makes me think of transitions–from one street to the next–from one scene to the next–my whole town was in crossfades.