Listen Now! The Recordings of My STORYLINES Interview & Play Performance from Hunter’s Bay Radio…

Yesterday, the episode of the radio program STORYLINES, with host CHRISTINE COWLEY, on which I appeared, aired on HUNTER’S BAY RADIO. If you happened to miss that airing, Christine was generous enough to provide me with the tapes…and she has allowed me to use them however I wish to use them. Today, I share them here. In the episode, Christine interviews me briefly, and then the two of us perform my 10-minute play THE SPEECH…with the assistance of narrator Tobin Elliott.

So, here are the tapes. You can listen to them now!

 

In the interview, there is talk of my books, and other writings…particularly BURN BABY BURN BABY. You can check out my books on my AMAZON page…and order them from bookstores everywhere. Click on the image below to visit my page over on Amazon. You can read each book’s synopsis by clicking on the books on the Amazon page:

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Click This Picture to Visit My Books on Amazon!

Much thanks to Christine, for providing me with this wonderful opportunity! Though I didn’t really know what I was doing, I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I usually write my lines knowing they will come from the mouths of others. It was terrifying and exhilarating to have the tables turned. I’m no actor! It gives one a deeper appreciation of just how difficult it is to deliver lines…couldn’t imagine doing it on the stage!

Thank you, Christine! And thank you Hunter’s Bay Radio. And thank you, Tobin Elliott. And thank you to Driftwood Theatre and their Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival, at which THE SPEECH was created!

Find Me on Hunter’s Bay Radio! The Speech rises again!

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This morning, you can find me over at HUNTER’S BAY RADIO! Back in September I went to the Hunter’s Bay Radio recording studio to tape an episode of STORYLINES with my friend-in-writing CHRISTINE COWLEY. Thank GOD we did more than an interview, because quite often I’m a horrible interview subject when it comes to talking. I freeze and forget everything in the world I ever knew…especially when it comes to questions about my books. I’m the worst!

Christine and I, with the help of Tobin Elliott as narrator (reading the stage direction), performed one of my 10-minute plays for the show. THE SPEECH has gone a long way since I wrote it in the wee hours of the night inside a Trafalgar Castle for Driftwood Theatre’s TRAFALGAR24 Play Creation Festival back in 2011. It has been performed or read in several states across the USA, in Australia, as well as in Mumbai, India.

This morning you can actually HEAR the play. Christine and I had a lot of fun recording it…I have no idea how it sounds, so I will have to listen in myself to find out. Hopefully it translates well to radio.

It airs today (Thursday October 6th) at 10:00am Ontario time. You can download the Hunter’s Bay Radio app for your phone in the app store, or you can listen in online at:

HUNTER’S BAY RADIO

 

The Purgatorio Dialogues – Meet the Writers of Purgatorium Part V

My last visit with the Purgatorium Anthology contributors! Amanda Tompkins is always a delight in person, and I find her endlessly interesting. She makes me laugh and she’s also über smart and tells fascinating stories. I’m really looking forward to her words in Purgatorium. I will not soon forget the motto she leaves us with here…one I think I may take as one of my own. “Expectations are just mind forged manacles”.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the release date of this sumptuous anthology of horror! November 19th, Purgatorium will be here!

IN FACT! If you come to BOOKAPALOOZA from 10am-3pm at Durham College Centre for Food/Bistro 67 in Whitby on November 19th, you can pick up a copy of PURGATORIUM…and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get quite a few of the authors to sign it for you! Bookapalooza is a free event and it’s ALL ABOUT BOOKS! You won’t want to miss it! It’s also the place where the Purgatorium Anthology launches!

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BOOKAPALOOZA

And now, Amanda’s responses to my Proustian Questionnaire…

 

Prugatorio Dialogues – X – Amanda Tompkins

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Curled up in my easy chair, with a good book in my hands, and my dog at my feet.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

Fantasy

3. What is your greatest fear?

Nothingness.

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

I’ll read just about anything, but Fantasy is my favorite.

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

I’d have to say Mary Shelley. She did amazing work and faced a lot of opposition.

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

Taking the mundane, the familiar, and making it threatening.

7. What do you consider the most overrate virtue?

Patience. Who needs it?

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

Word count limits.

9. What else have you written?

A few short stories, and several works in progress.

10. When and where were you most afraid?

When I realized that nothing is forever, and you can lose the people you love most.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to read/speak every language.

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Something large and predatory. That probably says more about me than I’m strictly comfortable with.

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being forced to watch a loved one suffer, and knowing there is nothing you can do.

14. What are your three deserted island books?

To kill a mockingbird’, by Harper Lee. ‘War for the oaks’, by Emma Bull. ‘The interior life’, by Katherine Blake.

15. Who are your favorite writers?

Usually whoever I’m currently reading.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

Atticus Finch

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

People chewing loudly with their mouths open.

18. How would you like to die?

Ideally, not at all. Realistically, in bed having just finished the last page of a good book.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

The click of my dogs nails on the tile as he runs to greet me.

20. What is your motto?

‘Normal’ is a subjective judgement call, and expectations are just mind forged manacles.

 

LIFE IS CHANGE

Children become adults. Summer becomes winter. The old pass from life to death. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

But to some, life is purgatory. A place of temporary suffering between this world and the next.

In these eleven stories, every painful, frightening transition is driven by a single element.

That element is Purgatorium.

 

It’s coming!

 

The Purgatorio Dialogues – Meet the Writers of Purgatorium Part III

Welcome to the third installment of my series of interviews with the contributors of the horror anthology PURGATORIUM from ID Press! Now that we have the 4 members of ID Press completed, we can go on to the other contributors of the anthology.

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I have found each of these interviews to be highly entertaining and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. Today we have Kate Arms, Mel Cober and Samantha Banik in the spotlight.

Kate is always eloquent and she stopped me in my tracks with one of her answers. On the subject of her favourite genre, she replied:

“Wherever I can find poetic language about philosophical ideas and questions about what it means to be a human being, with a preference for writers who are willing to look at the dark sides of humanity and find beauty there.” ~ Kate Arms

Now that’s something I can fully get behind! These interviews are peppered with beautiful and thoughtful insights. I’m glad I poked the contributors…they continue to delight me with their responses.

I must remember to bring Mel a nice pile of fluffy kittens the next time we get together. From the woman who thinks being nice is overrated. 🙂

And I think I may have fallen a little in love with Samantha after reading her response to question #16. So very true!

Enjoy Kate, Mel, and Samantha’s interviews! All are wise, witty and wonderful…

Purgatorio Dialogues – V – Kate Arms

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Kate Arms

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Feeling passionately alive in the present moment.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

The easy one to write – now, if I could just figure out which one that is…

3. What is your greatest fear?

Horrible things happening to my kids.

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

Wherever I can find poetic language about philosophical ideas and questions about what it means to be a human being, with a preference for writers who are willing to look at the dark sides of humanity and find beauty there.

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

The one that most recently gave me shivers. I’m fickle that way.

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

That too much is badly written and involves jump scares and gratuitous gore, but that the best stuff is marvelously disturbing.

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Prudence

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

A way to explore the dark side of humanity without actually hurting anybody.

9. What else have you written?

Personal essays, poetry, contemporary adult fiction, a manifesto on how to have healthy relationships, a book of writing prompts, and too much unpublished YA fantasy.

10. When and where were you most afraid?

I was held up at knife point outside my apartment one night in my 20s.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to write a first draft that doesn’t need revision.

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

“A bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the date stamped on myself” (h/t They Might be Giants)

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

I need to ask my son. He’s writing the graphic novel “Death vs. Darkness”, and Misery is a central character. He probably knows.

14. What are your three deserted island books?

Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sarte, and “Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska“.

15. Who are your favorite writers?

The ones I am reading at the moment who are captivating my imagination, the ones I get to hang out with, and Shakespeare.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

The writer.

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

The video game soundtracks from all the games my children play.

18. How would you like to die?

In a book written by a friend. Or my sleep.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

Waves crashing on a rocky shore.

20. What is your motto?

Carpe the F*ck Out of This Diem. (Stolen from a mentor, Kristen Bentley, who took it from her mentor, L.A. Reding.

On the Web, KATE can be found:

Kate Arms

TWITTER

Purgatorio Dialogues – VI – Mel Cober

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Mel Cober

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Living at Disney full time.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

I prefer to write in darker genres, but I’ve written in many. 

3. What is your greatest fear?

Spiders. Oh wait- this could be used against me. Piles of fluffy kittens is my worst fear.

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

I have no preference, I read it all.  (And I think everyone should as well)

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

Is it cliche to say Stephen King? Because he gets it done, and he’s by far the best known.   (please don’t use this one Kevin)

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

Everything from things that go bump in the night, to an alien abduction to a demon peeling the skin off it’s victim. Anything can become a horror story, if told right. 

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Being polite. Sometimes, you need to stand up for yourself (or others) and be that bitch.

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

Same as 6

9. What else have you written?

I’ve written blogs for Boom 97.3, articles for small publications and many short stories.

10. When and where were you most afraid?

When my grandma had a stroke and I got the call from my dad. Sadly, she didn’t make it.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to finish a task w/o distraction. Oh look…is that a squirrel? 

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A cat. I’d love to sit in the sun all day and nap, and have someone feed me.

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Misery without company?

14. What are your three deserted island books?

All the Bright Places, Eleanor and Park and a book that changes each time you read it. 😉

15. Who are your favorite writers?

Everyone in Purgatorium.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

(Not answered)

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

The beeping of our water softener that beeps constantly a full two weeks before it will run out of salt.

That or Dale Long. 😉

18. How would you like to die?

No one likes to die. So I suppose in my sleep is best.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

The sound of the water lapping on a dock during a summer night, while I type away.

20. What is your motto?

If you ever leave me I’m coming with you.

On the Web, MEL can be found:

Purgatorio Dialogues – VII – Samantha Banik

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Samantha Banik

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

That moment when I walk in the room to pick my daughter up from daycare and she first sees me. That look in her eye of unconditional love and happiness, followed by pure excitement as she runs into my arms squealing. That right there. That is my happy place.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

Apparently I have a few.

3. What is your greatest fear?

Losing my Mom or my daughter. And being abducted by aliens…clowns too. Hate clowns. 

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

Anything. I will read anything.

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

Bram Stoker. Dracula was the first horror piece I ever read. I love his style. It’s the first book I think of when I think about horror books.

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

A world in which chocolate does not exist. Oh, and smelling poop. You can’t trust the smell of poop. Ask any mom.

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Patience. Whoever made that list, did not have children.

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

A world in which writers do not exist.

9. What else have you written?

The Pirate – WIP, Fallen From Grace – WIP, plus many, many unfinished pieces. Several articles for the Orono Weekly Times.

10. When and where were you most afraid?

Standing outside of my father’s house the night he died knowing what I was going to find when I entered. 

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to sing well. Though, I do anyway even though I sound like a wounded guinea pig.

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Losing This was a hard one too. I think a cat. They have pretty good lives. Nine of them to boot.

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Losing a loved one. It’s a pain that runs deep and never truly goes away. 

14. What are your three deserted island books?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, How to Build a Raft out of Sticks and Leaves by Samantha Banik (WIP), War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

15. Who are your favorite writers?

I have many, but a few are Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, D.H. Lawrence, J.R.R. Tolkien, and all of my writer friends 🙂

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

All the heroes and heroines of every story I’ve ever read. I had to think about this one and I couldn’t come up with any one character. 

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

The sound of negativity.

18. How would you like to die?

Preferably in my sleep, but trying to save the world from an alien invasion would be cool too.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

My daughter’s laughter.

20. What is your motto?

One is never served so well as by oneself, or – If you want something done right, do it yourself. 

 

On the Web, SAMANTHA can be found:

TWITTER

One more installment of Purgatorio Dialogues to come! Look for it next week!

In the meantime, LIKE ID PRESS ON FACEBOOK and don’t forget to ADD PURGATORIUM TO YOUR SHELF ON GOODREADS!

PURGATORIUM…It’s coming!

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Coming NOVEMBER 19, 2016!

The Purgatorio Dialogues – Meet the Writers of Purgatorium Part I

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The Cover of the Upcoming Anthology PURGATORIUM from ID PRESS.

I recently had the idea of interviewing each of the writers you will find within the pages of the upcoming horror anthology, PURGATORIUM. The first thing that came to mind was the PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE and how much fun it always was to read the way people would respond to some of the questions on it. So, I cribbed from the list of questions on the questionnaire, keeping some of them intact, removing some and adding some of my own that would relate to the experiences the respondents would have had in writing in general and in writing for the anthology in particular. (I’m so good at writing run-on sentences, aren’t I!?)

There are ten of us in the anthology. I will eventually share all the Proustian Questionnaires here. I thought I would begin with the principles of the newly formed ID PRESS, which is the press bringing PURGATORIUM to the marketplace. Today, I thought I would share the responses I received from Connie Di Pietro and Dale Long. Without further ado, I bring you the slightly altered Proust Questionnaires of Connie & Dale…but we’ll just go ahead and call them the PURGATORIO DIALOGUES. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did! For me, reading their responses made me realize just why I chose these lovely people as friends.

Purgatorio Dialogues – I – Connie Di Pietro

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Connie Di Pietro

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My idea of perfect happiness is the comfort from the warm sun on my back, toes in the sand, rolling waves and my children’s laughter. My music, mornings spent writing, evenings spent reading, and a table surrounded by friends and family enjoying a wonderful meal together.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

Not sure I have any one preferred genre. I do have those which I’d find difficult to attempt to write in, because I don’t read them. I do love the dark and twisted.

3. What is your greatest fear?

Waking up and finding that all my fingers had been lopped off and my tongue pulled from my mouth.

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

This, like the above, is difficult…as my reading is varied. But dark and twisted always does win out.

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

Stephen King, because he isn’t afraid to bend his genre and go beyond the traditional horror of blood and gore. Andrew Pyper is also a very generous man with his time and talent in helping those of us who are just learning how to climb the ladder.

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

I had a fairly good grasp of the genre. I have been given the title Queen of the Macabre.

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

hmmmm….virginity.

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

Same as it’s always been, there are so many varying degrees of horror. And sometimes the most horrific are the most realistic.

9. What else have you written?

Besides my cupboard filled with shelved stories, I’m currently working on the 2nd book of a trilogy about witches who travel through time trying to find their way back home in a time when witches were persecuted. I have another novel that is currently being shopped by my agent at The Right’s Factory. I have a short story in another anthology

10. When and where were you most afraid?

I was born in 1971. In 1973 my parents brought us to the drive-in theater, second billing was The Exorcist. That’s right…I stayed up in the back watching it. Still have quite a vivid memory of that. It took me deep into adulthood to watch it again without an afghan over my head as I peered through the knitting. And yes, you did the math right. I was 2 and a half, to be exact.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

Pole-dancing. Imagine the shape I’d be in!!

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I’d like to come back rich and beautiful, because this whole nice thing doesn’t pay the bills so well.

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Seriously, the lowest depth of misery is treating others unfairly, unjustly and with inequality. It must be a very sad existence to think that you are better than everyone else around you.

14. What are your three deserted island books?

The Red Tent, The Secret (because I need the universe to get me off of the island), and Little Women.

15. Who are your favorite writers?

Anita Diamont, author of The Red Tent and Day after Night, Stephen King, and the Brontes….I know they are 2.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

(Not answered)

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

Whining and fighting….I do have 4 kids.

18. How would you like to die?

Never thought of dying much and my preference in the matter of which I would die, but I’d have to say in my old age while I slept after a wonderful meal surrounded by all my friends and family. I’d also like to know I would/could be in control of my own mortality.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

laughter

20. What is your motto?

Teach Peace

On the Web, CONNIE can be found:

Connie di Pietro

TWITTER

Purgatorio Dialogues – II – Dale Long

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Dale Long

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The waves at my feet, Wings on the BBQ, margarita in hand, surrounded by friends and family.

2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?

Genre? GENRE?? We don’t need no stinking genre!

3. What is your greatest fear?

Death.

4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

Anything that is exceptionally written.

5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

Mary Shelley. For starting it all off, for writing horror in a time when women weren’t seen as credible writers, for living through what she did.

6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?

Running out of charcoal.

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Success/fame. Are those virtues? In today’s age they seem to be.

8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?

Running out of charcoal and margarita.

9. What else have you written?

Middle grade ghost stories, old fashioned Christmas “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”, Humour short stories, life stories (eulogies), post apocalyptic science fiction and some fantasy.

10. When and where were you most afraid?

The day my wife got diagnosed with cancer. Sitting in the doctor’s office. It felt like the world cracked open and threatened to swallow us.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

To cure stupidity and ignorance.

12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

*censored*

13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Misery always has a lower depth.

14. What are your three deserted island books?

How To Build A Boat Out Of Sand by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Cooking with Coconuts by Deb Rankin, How To Make a Radio from Palm Trees by MacGuyver.

15. Who are your favorite writers?

All the writers in and around Purgatorium. I admire the ones that didn’t make it into the anthology for their grace and for putting themselves out there.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

Each time I open a well written book, that character becomes my hero of fiction.

17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

The noise made when a Know-it-all opens their head hole.

18. How would you like to die?

I don’t like to die. Ever.

19. What sound brings you deep joy?

Hearing my daughters sing when they don’t know I am listening.

20. What is your motto?

“To infinity and beyond!” No, that’s not it. “Live long and prosper!” Nope, that’s not it either. “I’m Batman!” Close, but not it. “You say that can’t be done, do you?” Yep. That’ll do.

On the Web, DALE can be found:

Dale Long

Twitter

 

LIKE ID PRESS ON FACEBOOK

ADD PURGATORIUM TO YOUR SHELF ON GOODREADS!

More Purgatorio Dialogues to come! Stay tuned!

 

Radio Interview Part 2 with Charlene Jones AND Burn Baby Bullying…

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Today, I’m sharing PART 2 of my interview from Whistle Radio. CHARLENE JONES interviewed me for their OFF THE TOP segment after the most recent WCDR Roundtable Meeting! Here’s PART 2, in which I talk a lot about Trafalgar24, the upcoming fundraising play creation event for Driftwood Theatre.

Much thanks to Charlene for the interview. She was an absolute pleasure to talk with. I really enjoyed the experience!


Bullies – Still! After All the Campaigns – SPEAK UP AGAINST BULLYING

It’s hard to believe that bullying is still a thing. It seems the more we speak out against it, the more it happens. This doesn’t mean the dialogue against it should end. We must NEVER stop pointing out instances of bullying, rallying against it, educating.

In a recent review of Burn Baby Burn Baby, I was called out for something my narrator character, Francis, said. In his narration, he made a passing comment about him not being one of those narcs who tells on someone who picks on him. I did this to be authentic…not to suggest it is uncool to speak out. We must always speak out. If you know someone who is being bullied, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. If you are being bullied, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. If your friend is bullying, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. Never be silent. Silence, history shows us, can kill.

anti-bullying-sloganFrancis is a victim of bullying in my novel BURN BABY BURN BABY. He lives with a physical deformity, after being severely burned in a childhood attack by his own father. The bully character in my novel gives Francis the nickname BURN BABY. And he taunts and abuses him mercilessly. Francis tried to be strong about it. But in his efforts to be strong, he was actually weak. Because it’s NEVER a good idea to be silent when you are being bullied. In Burn Baby Burn Baby, please understand that I was NEVER condoning silence. If you’re silent, the bully wins. If those who witness bullying are silent, the bully wins. The bully should never win. Silence can escalate into a chaos of circumstances where, in the end, no one wins.

TELL – SPEAK UP – GET HELP

In Canada, reach out to KIDS HELP PHONE ONLINE or CALL 1-800-668-6868

Also, reach out to PREVNET

In U.S.A, reach out to STOP BULLYING

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Canadian Suicide Crisis Centres

BE YOUR OWN HERO. BE A HERO TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDS ONE. SPEAKING UP CAN STOP BULLYING.

Part One of My Radio Interview with Charlene Jones OFF THE TOP at Whistle Radio! And You Got Your Genre in My Peanut Butter!

I was interviewed by CHARLENE JONES of Whistle Radio Stouffville for the OFF THE TOP segment! Today, I’m going to share part one of the show.

We talked about my novel writing process, the Muskoka Novel Marathon, Driftwood Theatre and Trafalgar24

You can find CHARLENE’S WEBSITE HERE.

She is also on TWITTER.

WHISTLE RADIO 102.7 FM

Much gratitude to Charlene for interviewing me.


I can’t decide!

John Steinbeck on ideas...
John Steinbeck on ideas…

In grade school it was SO simple. You took a sheet of construction paper. You glued macaroni to it. You poked holes in it and threaded pipe cleaners into it. You painted a bit in one corner by blowing through a straw to move a blob of paint around on the page. You glued a feather to another corner. You shot the whole thing up with glitter before sticking a cut-out of your latest Wish item from the Sears catalogue into the centre. You didn’t care. You used all materials available to you. And it looked…well, bloody fantastic. It looked amazing. Art at its finest.

Why can’t we do this as adults? Why can’t we whim our lives? Madly off in all directions!

Because four-letter words are attempting to stop us, to staunch the flow of our creativity. Words like FOCUS. Okay, it’s five letters…but when you try to live within its parameters, it’s four-letter words that come up out of the frustration.

I still want to collage things. I still want to dip into whatever it is I want to do that day. I lack focus. I am easily distracted. As a writer, that’s such an incredible curse. When you don’t even know what genre you want to hang around in, it becomes an issue. Do I want to write contemporary? Do I want to write horror? Do I want to write romance? Do I want to write comedy/humour? The answer is YES. And then there are markets. Do I want to write for kids? Or teens? Or adults? The answer is YES. Heck, I can’t even pick a medium. I want to write for the stage. I want to write for the page.

After my recent Crisis of Happiness, I’m currently struggling over what it is I want to write. At first, I thought I might be struggling with whether or not I wanted to continue being a writer. But I think I have narrowed down my problem to being that I don’t know what I want to write. I don’t know what genre. I don’t know what market. I need to find a way to narrow my focus. I need a crystal ball to tell me what to do next. I have multiple projects halted and in the air. It all stems to trying to funnel myself into one distinct category when my mind wants to go off madly off in all directions.

I need to write despite the fact that I don’t know what to write. Because I’m discovering that if you don’t use it, you lose it.

But I want feathers and pipe cleaners in my paintings, dammit. Nobody puts baby in the corner. Sometimes, I feel like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial. I’m walking down the street with my contemporary Young Adult manuscript in hand and this horror genre comes skateboarding madly toward me and crashes into me. After the accident, I look up at my manuscript and notice it’s covered and dripping with horror. I turn to the genre with the now broken skateboard and I yell, “HEY! You got your genre in my peanut butter!”

This is not my writing life!

An Interview with…Bif Naked

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There is something about the title of Bif Naked‘s latest album that sounds like such an amazing promise. FOREVER. To know that Bif will be out there making music, sharing her enchanted life, with her fans eternally! What a gift.

Bif Naked has been gracing the music world with her eclectic sound for 20 years, now. Born Beth Hopkins in New Delhi, India, Bif is one of Canada’s most cherished and beloved citizens. There is not much that Bif Naked has not accomplished. She is an activist, a poet, breast cancer survivor, a comic cartoonist, an actress, and, of course, a delightful singer.

On the heels of her acoustic album, Bif Naked Forever, we are extremely delighted to have Bif Naked visiting us today! We welcome Bif as part of our ’10 Questions With…’ series.

1. Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights – For me this album sounds of pure delight, an awakening–a treat for your diehard fans, as well as a great compilation to put out into the universe for next-generation fans. The last time I was this excited about an acoustic hits album was The Cure’s Acoustics Greatest Hits. Favourite songs done acoustically, with a new twist, are always a treat for fans. And the new studio tracks were the icing on the cake! I often wondered how it felt to have such an impressive canon of work at a young age. Could you give us some insights into what it has meant to you to put out a HITS album? What does the accomplishment mean to you?

I am so happy the acoustic record was enjoyed! Jacen (Ekstrom) and I had been doing acoustic performances across Canada for a couple years, because I preferred it. I love to sit and talk about the songs before we play’em, and Jacen and I get questions from the audiences, and sometimes even get them on the stage with us if they have something “pressing” they want to share, or do..it’s very intimate and so lovely, really….and the audiences kept asking for THOSE versions of the songs, and whether or not we would consider doing a special release to support the acoustic tours. I was so happy to do it! Jacen and I went into the studio with my long-time collaborator, Doug Fury, and the three of us really enjoyed playing them together. We brought Flavio Cirillo in for a couple tracks but there were very little drums. I was happy to write the new songs with Ryan Stewart because it is such a lovely process to write with him. It was so effortless and we really had a great connection in the songwriting. It was fun to do.

2. You’re probably extremely busy with your Forever release. Can your fans expect a full studio album from you anytime soon? And if there is one on the way, could you share some of its journey with us? And…Jakkarta? I’m taking a guess here. (-:

We made the dance record and have been sitting on it for two years. It remains my favorite secret! It was a fun project we did in the studio after we got off the “Promise” album tour. I had to do something completely out of left-field, emotionally, to deal with my (at that time) having been shattered again, in the love department. LOL! The “Jakkarta” Project was a lyrical departure for me..it was extremely sexualized and highly inappropriate. I think I was reaching out from loneliness. Now, it just sits there, winking at us with a fluttery eyelash…….But, We are also writing for a new record…although Doug Fury and I also have a “death metal” project. The rambunctiousness is very sincere and good.

3. I’m going to throw this one in here as a diehard Joss Whedon fan. I know there are other geeks out there like me. (-: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How cool was that? Any memories or fandom you’d like to share with our readers about your guest spot on Buffy?

Being able to perform on “Buffy” was a dream come true, like everything that happens… It was such a big year for us, and we did back-to-back tours with Lilith Fair, The Cult, Kid Rock, and were touring overseas in the off-season. “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, and “Buffy” appearances happened around the same time. The people we met were simply wonderful! Everyone was always so polite! The “Buffy” set had snacks and the guys were so impressed, and we got to take lunch with all the cast and crew, as well. It was a magical day for us and we always remembered it. SO fun! Lots of food!

4. In a recent interview (Bif Naked Rocks On–with Liberty Craig at Fresh Vancouver) you were quoted as saying, “My dad thinks I find a way to justify any bad things in my life.” I loved your response to that concept…that, of course, your positivity is justification. I have to tell you that, as a Tweeter, you’re a wonderfully uplifting port in any day’s storm. Your ACTION OF THE DAY and WORD OF THE DAY are little fortune cookies for myself, and I imagine, your other 88,000 followers. I have always believed that it’s easy to spread happiness…and you make it look even easier. Can you maybe share how you have come to maintain this enchanted life? Our readers would love to get a glimpse into your ability to surround yourself with joy.

Twitter is a very freeing place for people. It’s “safe” really…people say anything. I think this is important and twitter is, actually, a “utility” now (like a “telephone”). I love it! I am a huge, huge fan!  I began with only a few hundred followers on twitter and it was a really safe space for me..for the followers. I think I was a bit shell-shocked from my life, cancer treatment and trying to navigate everything then… I was very isolated and very lonely during that time..and I would go deeper into my yoga practice. It was Complete Freedom, like floating in a bathtub. Yoga was healing me..healing my life and my body and my (then) broken heart and it was extremely natural for me to, simply, tweet “roll the shoulders down the back..take a deep breath in…” and the response was from people doing it WITH me in real time! I was enraptured! It (felt like) we were all healing together.. and it was so sweet for all of us. It helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone. Then, over time, My schedule changed and the people on it with me grew and moved on to other twitter routines. I used to have a “Food Of The Day” as well but over time, I feared this may be misinterpreted as “classist” or “elitist”  due to some of the fruits and vegetables I chose are not available in many parts of Northern and Rural Canada…or they are too expensive. So, I wanted to be sure I was sensitive to this and eliminated the “Food of The Day”. However, I love to have an “Action” for the day for MYSELF as a reminder or a motivator…and a “Word” of the day was something I would write on my hand, in pen, before I walked out the door every day. I am an extremely optimistic person and I like to try and stay very positive in my life, regardless of what might be going on. Through positivity I have overcome every hardship.

5. You’re a spoken word poet. I have to say, I LOVED the title of your okenspay ordway I. It kind of made me giddy. You’ve also been known to write columns. The next question is for the writers. And…readers. Do you have any plans to try out novels? Is this something that has ever appealed to you? I began my interaction with words as a poet. For me, novels was a natural progression. I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about next-stepping to novel-writing?

I am so happy you enjoyed “Okenspay Ordway” LOL! No one else really seemed to like it, at the time (when it came out in, um..1996?) and I thought it was the funniest thing I ever recorded. I loved being able to say whatever I wanted and I had, and still have very strong opinions about politics, gender, women’s rights, human rights, animal rights, and food policies. I have a lot to say. I was able to use the spoken word album as a real form of socio-political expression and remain very happy I did that. As far as fiction writing, I do enjoy writing short stories and have many rather juvenile “voices” I enjoy writing in. My twitter account for my late babydog, @NICKNAKED was a perfect example of that. I was like his “ventriloquist”. I enjoyed it immensely. I was always planning to carry-on and continue it…but was so shattered after he died, that I have yet to bring myself to tweet “as his ghost”, or something.. I am not there, yet, I guess. Maybe a book instead? LOL!

6. This is a question writers tentatively ask one another. So imagine this question coming out tentatively. (-: How is your memoir for HarperCollins coming along?

I love to write. Writing my memoirs is a surprising process for me. I have always loved writing and loved to write. I will always write, can’t stop myself…songwriting always stemmed from my journals and poetry, anyway..so it is extremely natural and easy for me..though I write from some very dark memories, places, and events. I relive them when writing, so it can be a bit annoying, emotionally, to go to those hard places.I like to dig in that dirt, though…to get dirty..to get muddy from it.  I like the work, and I am a flowery, descriptive writer. I love language! I love words and I love to describe. I never get tired of it! Some of the stories I have been writing are incredibly sad, though i try to make them somewhat funny. It is possible that only I will ever think they are funny and that they may not be appropriate for a normal book. It is unfolding and I am enjoying it very much. I like working with people and I am grateful for their input.

7. You have extremely eclectic taste in books. And possibly a bit of an obsession with them. (-: Like most lovers of the written word. What are you reading lately? Do you have any recent fave novels? Do you have any books on your bedside table?

It’s true I love books! I love to read and I love to learn. I was never much of a novel reader and read a lot of poetry and medical dictionaries most of my youth and adult life. I have enjoyed many different types of writers and wish I had more time to read. I do not watch television except the news in a hotel room, although I do like a “crime” show like Criminal Minds on American Television. I prefer no television and stacks of books everywhere. I have dozens of language guides and cherish them. Everything from Farsi to French to Cantonese to Hindi to Arabic! I love reading translations. I love reading everything:  Arundhati Roy is a writer I enjoy. I like everyone from Fran Lebowitz to Gandhi to Henry Miller to Camus. Most people know I am a collector of Irving Layton poetry and of religious texts. I love it all! I love to read in the bedroom, even in the daytime with the breeze and the curtains blowing..By my bed there is a copy of “Perfumes” by Luca Turin and  Tania Sanchez, on one side…and on the other side there is a copy of “Bring Down The Chandeliers” by Tara Hardy, and four or five old copies of “Namarupa” magazine. I still sleep on a mat on the floor because my two dogs were going through all the stages of their lives with me and we could not have a bed or they might fall off. It works for me and I like the tatami mat or even my yoga mat to sleep on.

8. As a writer, I find that I have my fave albums that I listen to while writing. I know a lot of writers who need total silence in which to write. And I know some who never write without musical accompaniment. How does that work as a lyricist/songwriter? Is this a time for you to turn off the music and dig in? Or do you like to write lyrics while listening to music? And if so, what music sparks your creativity?

I love silence. I write best when everyone is quiet…or, sleeping…the city.. roommates..the band-mates..name it. I like the whole day to be over with…and then I get my time to write and go to those far away places. It’s how it works, for me.

SONG writing, however, is a completely different process from a completely different place. Sometimes I like to listen to the song I am writing….(if we put it on a disc for me or, for many years, on a cassette) I am a pentameter abuser and love to write lyrics. Lyrics are very fun to write. I never, ever run out of feeling challenged to come up with new ways to describe “love” or “pain”. I love songs about picking ourselves up, and dusting ourselves off, the best. I love love songs, too…but the recovery-from-heartache stuff is about “hope” and that is what I enjoy the most. 

9. Your dogs? As one who forever loves his Golden Retriever, Franny, I love to ask others to share a few words about their beautiful family members. So, do you have any words to share with our readers about your beloved children?

I just lost my Maltese, Nicklas, eight weeks ago. He was sixteen years old and, likely, The Love of My Life. My Annastasia died in 2008, when she was ten. She was a Bichon Frise. The two of them, together, were my children. I miss them immeasurably. I love animals. I love them and know I will, again, be a mom to some sweet animals….but, at this time, I am still feeling very badly about the absence of Nicklas. It is unfolding. There are so many good, good people in this world that truly devote their lives to helping others and I have learned so much about love and compassion from many Animal rescuers as well as the wonderful animals they have helped.

10. Keep being you. You bring a lot of joy and a lot of hope to a lot of people. I cheated a bit with some of the questions–multiple questions–so I thought I would just use this space to thank you on behalf of all of our readers. Thank you for spreading the sunshine. You’re an inspiration. We look forward to hearing more from Bif Naked. We know it will all be good. Thank you.

Very nice of you, Kevin, to include me in your “Questions” series. Very cool.

In Gratitude.

Bif Naked’s website, BIFNAKED.COM will be back soon. Bookmark it now. Or, fill out the re-launch notification form and you will be emailed once it goes live.

I highly recommend that you follow Bif on Twitter. She will put some much needed light into your day!

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Pick up FOREVER wherever albums are sold!

Check Out My Latest Interview

On the heels of my recent book deals I was invited to be interviewed by writer and poet ROSALIND GUY at her A WRITER’S THOUGHTS blog.

YOU CAN READ THE INTERVIEW HERE.

Much thanks to Rosalind!

Also, my books were temporarily down from Kobo…due to some technical changes that required, I believe, some sort of reformatting on the part of my publisher.

All 3 of my novels are again available at Kobo Books. You can click the image below to be taken to kobobooks. (-: Of course, they’re all also available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles…and other places where ebooks are sold.

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All the Write Notes – A blog for Writers, Readers & Music Lovers!

I recently took on a spot on a group blog project called ALL THE WRITE NOTES. For my first few posts, I’m going to be sharing the link here at my personal blog. Really, you should follow ALL THE WRITE NOTES! It’s getting a lot of buzz and it’s an entertaining read for lovers of the arts. My favourite thing about it is the marriage between writing and music.

Today, I interviewed Lian Lunson for All the Write Notes ’10 Questions With…’ feature. Lian is the creator of my favourite musical documentary, LEONARD COHEN: I’M YOUR MAN. She recently released a very special documentary on the late Kate McGarrigle. Find out what she has to say about it…

 

2006 Sundance Film Festival - "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" Portraits
Lian Lunson

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO VISIT THE INTERVIEW:

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