“Time is nothing but a wind that blows clean through you.  The only thing you catch from it is a goddamn cold that will kill you in the end.”

-Steve Vernon – Sudden Death Overtime (Crossroad Press, 2012)

Quote – Time is Nothing but a Wind

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Interview with Claude Lalumiere appearing this Wednesday August 1st

I had a great opportunity to interview Claude Lalumiere this past weekend and wanted to provide a heads-up that the interview will be appearing on Speculating Canada on Wednesday August 1st.

The interview will contain a little bit of background on Claude’s current projects, his inspirations as an author, and the things that are currently exciting his interest and passions. Here are some early highlights:

Claude Lalumiere: “Often the itch to tell a story comes from feeling that something in the world is not being narrated quite right, or in a way that jars and irritates my worldview or my imagination.”

Claude Lalumiere: “The world would be a better place if we all strove for utopia. Utopia is not an end, it’s a process. We’re never there, but I like to think of it as an ever-evolving ideal in an ever-changing world.”

Claude Lalumiere: “All fiction is literature, all fiction is art.”

Check in with Speculating Canada to read this fascinating interview and explore the mythical world that Claude Lalumiere creates.

Zombie Ethics 101: The Zombie Diet

A review of The Ethical Treatment of Meat by Claude Lalumiere (in Objects of Worship, Chizine, Toronto, 2009)

By Derek Newman-Stille

For those that have read my work before, you will know that I have a love of the monstrous and, particularly, the ability of the monstrous to question ideas of normalcy. Lalumiere’s short story The Ethical Treatment of Meat leaves the reader with a sense that everything from notions of the family, to food, to fads are up for examination.

This story calls to mind ideas of factory farming, the ethical treatment of animals, ecological ideologies, and generally leaves the reader with a sense of indigestion that makes him or her think about his or her next meal and question the ethics of eating.

Lalumiere’s protagonists are two queer-oriented zombies, Raymond and George, living in a world where homosexuality is widely accepted and normalised as long as it is between two consenting, undead adults. Unlike a lot of stories with gay protagonists, this story does not overly focus on their homosexuality or make it foundational to their personalities or the plot. Instead, their sexual identity is treated like a minor part of the overall nature of the characters and the story. As in reality, sexual identity is not the only formative or the most prevalent characteristic in the development of an individual. It is refreshing to see characters whose queerness is not seen as weird or marking of their individuality. Much more significant is their undeadness, which, in this world makes them real people. Humanity (the living kind) are situated as animalistic creatures to be farmed.

Raymond and George begin to question the ethics of factory farming human beings and, since zombies are incapable of birth but still have paternal/maternal instincts, they, like many other zombies have decided to adopt human beings as children/pets. They play with their child, inspiring absolute terror and reading this as abject pleasure. But, like many people, their feeling that they are taking care of an animal is more situated on their own desire to ward off apathy and depression than for the wellbeing of the animal.

Underlying their notion of the human animal as a child/pet is the idea that its existence is limited, and, at adulthood it will likely be eaten. George and Raymond begin to question the ethics of factory farming human beings and considers that, in light of the joy they experience with their fleshy child, perhaps it would be worthwhile to explore ethical farming practices and free-range humans. As the two zombies question the ethical framework of their society, Lalumiere invites the reader to think critically about farming and the treatment of animals.

In The Ethical Treatment of Meat, Lalumiere creates a world of moral questions, an inquisition into the nature of morality as a whole and the humanist (read- overly human focused) underpinnings of morality.

Explore this and other works by Claude Lalumiere at http://chizinepub.com/ , and visit his website to see what projects he is working on at http://lostmyths.net/claude/

Vampire Volume to be Released (Unleashed) in October

Vampires and the month of October keep coinciding with one another. Nancy Kilpatrick’s volume Vampyric Variations should be a great preparation for the Halloween holidays. The vampire always has something to tell humanity about ourselves and Kilpatrick’s title Vampiric Variations suggests that she will be exploring variations on the traditional legends surrounding our consistent friend/fiend.

This volume will be a publication of some of Kilpatrick’s short stories and novellas, and include stories titled: The Vechi Barbat, Berserker, Bitches of the Night, Vampire Anonymous, Necromimicos, La Diente, Traditions in Future Perfect, Lover of Horses, Time, and Wild Hunt.

Kilpatrick’s stories tend to include a bit too much of an erotic component for me, but I am hugely curious to see what she fuses together in this volume and how she plays with the vampire genre and speculates a new vampire for this generation of Canadian.

Like many writers of vampire fiction, Kilpatrick enjoys the exploration of the point at which pleasure touches pain and the curious fluctuation between lust and hurt that shapes so many romantic encounters. She delves into taboo and the area where the taint of blood and bloodlust touches the search for mystery.

Much as we are like a jelly donut for the vampire, this volume should serve as a guilty pleasure and pre-halloween treat for those of us who need to preserve our teeth from sweets.

If you enjoy vampire stories, and particularly those with an erotic edge, check out this volume in October, 2012. You can discover more about Nancy Kilpatrick’s Vampyric Variations at http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/vampyricvariations/vv-catalog.html

On the Importance of Authors in Residence

On the Importance of Authors in Residence

By Derek Newman-Stille

A few years ago, when I was Senior Tutor for Trent University’s Champlain College (http://www.trentu.ca/colleges/champlain/) and while I was teaching my course Werewolves as Symbols of the Human Experience at Trent, I decided that I would help my students to meet a current Canadian author. Trent used to frequently have authors in artists in residence who would contribute to the intellectual growth and wellbeing of students and provide an opportunity for students to learn more about the intersection between the academy and the arts.

In my werewolf course, one of the key texts was Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, which was one of my favorite werewolf novels and one of the first novels to get me really excited about Canadian Speculative Fiction.

We were able to intrude on Kelley’s busy schedule to have her visit Trent for a week and stay in residence with our students. She was given the guest suite which allows her to interact with students and meet various students on her way to and from events. This level of interaction between students and professionals used to be part of the Trent experience when college dons, the college head, and senior tutor used to live on campus with the students and eat with them in the residence halls. Students had the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff of the university in informal settings, asking questions and having discussions that helped to propel their interest in academic pursuits and the general search for knowledge. Shifts in our societal culture of learning have made these interactions problematic, and, as a former Senior Tutor, I probably would not have enjoyed living in residence with the students (I was fortunate enough to become Senior Tutor after Senior Tutors were able to live off residence). However, there is a virtue to the experience of students seeing that learning can happen outside the classroom and the opportunity for students to interact with people who are contributing to knowledge. The benefit of this experience is not just to students themselves, but also to academics and other knowledge-professionals who interact with them. It reminds us that students are knowledgeable and have something to contribute to our knowledge. So often, when we are teaching, there is a tendency to distance ourselves from our students (after all, we have to assess them critically and without bias) but I have found that it is possible to be unbiased and still see our students as contributors to knowledge; not as vessels to be filled with learning, but rather as people who can think of new ideas and question things that are dominant in academic culture. They force us to look at how accessible our work is to a non-academically trained (or little academically trained audience).

Because I see students as contributors to knowledge and recognise the importance for our students to engage critically with the world around them and have opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, I thought it would be worthwhile to combine my interest in student teaching outside the classroom with my interest in Canadian Speculative Fiction and invited Kelley to stay at Trent for a week.

Kelley and I worked on a schedule of events that accommodated a variety of student interests and her own interests (Kelley was very excited to have the opportunity to engage with young learners). We combined community events with events at the university, having Kelley speak at Peterborough’s Sadleir House (http://www.sadleirhouse.ca/ a space that combines student and community organisations) as well as speaking at various locations at the university, allowing a diverse group of students to have access. Kelley was able to do author readings, book signings, a lecture for my werewolf course, dinners with students, faculty, and staff, author drop-ins with students who were interested in her work, author critiques of student creative writing, and author lectures on creative writing in general, and teen fiction writing in particular. By having Kelley stay in residence, students were able to have those informal conversations and educational moments that taught them that learning happens both in and beyond the classroom. These informal conversations turned out to be some of the most important and valuable experiences for students and for Kelley herself.

The enthusiasm of students for an author can be different from a general fan base. They have critical questions and ideas that allow an author to really reflect on her craft and look introspectively at the pedagogical experience of writing. It was very exciting to see students lined up down the hall waiting for the opportunity to talk to Kelley and have her sign their books.

As an academic and instructor, it was incredible to be able to facilitate her visit and be involved in her stay. It was incredible to be able to help students and author interact and to see the inspiration spread across the faces of students as they got new and brilliant ideas. Several students came up to me and told me that although they had not thought about becoming authors previous to this, they now had a vision that they felt that they wanted to share with the world.

I strongly encourage academics to get involved in facilitating author visits and the opportunities for authors to become authors-in-residence. I also encourage authors to take advantage of these opportunities and facilitate connections to universities. There is nothing quite like seeing the faces of young people as they become inspired by your words of advice or by the passion with which you share your stories and vision.

Several of my students mentioned that they had never read Canadian Fiction before meeting Kelley or said that they had never felt that Can Lit spoke to them until they encountered her work. This event evoked a passion in students for Canadian Speculative Fiction.

(As a side note, I also have to admit that I purposely brought Kelley to parts of the university that I thought would be inspirational for new stories – the spooky, weird parts of the university that I knew from personal experience had spun off a creative spark in myself.)