Authors in Quarantine – Kari Maaren

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Kari Maaren: I’ve been working from home as a university instructor. All the courses are online now, and my workload has effectively doubled, as grading online takes more time (and causes more headaches), and there are a lot more student e-mails to answer.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Kari Maaren: I’m an introvert anyway, so being alone a lot doesn’t bother me. However, I haven’t had an in-person conversation that has lasted longer than twenty seconds for five weeks now, and it’s beginning to get to me.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Kari Maaren: I generally don’t write much at this point in the term, as there’s too much marking, but I do have a novel I’m working on in my head, and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on it. I usually think out stories on my daily walks. I still try to do that, but I’ll puzzle over the story for five seconds and then be distracted by thoughts about the virus or the future or my family or even just what I’m going to cook for dinner. I want to escape into the story, but I can’t.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Kate Story

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Kate Story: Freaking out. Cleaning the house. Drowning in certainty that I am not cleaning the house enough. (Somebody said to think of the virus as glitter – and when you go out, you and all the things you bring home are covered in glitter. As anybody who works in theatre knows, GLITTER IS EVERYWHERE AND YOU CAN NEVER GET RID OF IT.) Working on funding applications for future projects that I don’t even know will happen. Discovering what other people see during meetings with me (unspeakably horrid – my god, I need a filter! How to do you activate a Zoom filter, please somebody?? Is there a filter for life? Wait, that’s plastic surgery, scratch that). Laughing a lot. Poking around in the garden. Pissing off the cats by being home too much (yes, it is possible). Cooking. Eating. Drinking bad beer. Going for walks. Finding every corner of this town that looks like an Edward Gorey drawing. Reading from the Tsundoku. (I find I want to read things that really grip me. Not so much into post-apocalyptic fiction. I like to write it, and I used to like to read it, but living in it? not so much) Finally watching Citizen Kane. Rinse and repeat.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Kate Story: Other than cringing every time I hear the term (it has this kind of smug, packaged feeling. And it should be “physical distancing,” no?) it has not affected me as much as some people, I think. I already worked from home, in my split life – the writing and arts administration was almost all from home. It’s the theatre work that is suffering the most. Theatre artists literally can’t practice our art right now. Not only do I miss everyone dreadfully, I miss the work – and fear for the future of live performance. But in terms of my daily work and routine, the main daytime structure hasn’t changed much.

I live with my partner, and a dear friend too, and they are both good company (I won’t speak for myself). We do our best to be careful with each other and give as much space as we can. Most days, it works. I live in a house with a yard, in a smallish town where lots of totally uncrowded walking options are available. My Newfoundland family is pretty much okay thus far, and although I worry, they are fairly safe. I am insanely lucky.

I am now drinking bad beer (see above) and eating meat. That’s the weirdest thing. What the hell is happening to me?

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Kate Story: HAHAHAHAHAHA you have to be joking. It’s a mess. If I had five dollars for every person who has greeted me with a jocular, “Bet you’re getting a lot of writing done, eh?” I’d be a friggen millionaire. I am just as messed up by all this as anyone! I had forcefully carved out time to write before all this – a global lock-down pandemic is not a dream come true for me (or for anyone, I sincerely hope). Also I had a serious blow in terms of my writing career just before all this happened, one that some people will know about and I will say no more here. The world has more than moved on, but many of us affected by it are still reeling from the loss and trying to deal with the aftermath, and my attempts to do so have of course come to a grinding halt. Because Covid 19.

Like many people, I overdid news and social media at first, and have learned that one needs to limit that for mental health reasons. I try to keep up with news once a day or so, mostly through the Guardian, CBC, and Stephen Colbert (yup. Hard to encounter the Orange Caligula unfiltered by humour). I am disturbed by some vicious social media shaming I have seen, although grateful to be able to stay in touch. However, I can only look at so many photos of home-baked bread. And the accompanying apologies for posting said pictures. If I can’t eat your bread, I don’ts wants to sees it.

At the same time I am terribly fortunate. I have 2 books in the pipes. One (a collection of my short fiction) will be postponed. Printers are non-essential, so are shut down, and the publisher is rightly questioning whether it makes sense to release an e-book and then a print book a year or 2 later… plus there will be a cascade of books by heavy hitters coming out once all this lifts! – and books by more obscure writers would get lost in the shuffle. So that is up in the air, for good reasons, although still likely to happen at some point. Another book, a YA fantasy, is slated for 2021. So far the publisher is still keen to do it. And very fortunately, I had ground out a first draft before the pandemic hit us in Ontario. I’m almost certain I’d fail at doing that right now – my brain is mush. So I am working in a desultory fashion at Draft 2, which is due in a little over a month. Pray for me.

I don’t feel like there’s any way for me to have a writerly view of the pandemic while living in the middle of it. Maybe ultimately it will change how and what I write – I am interested to see what occurs in that regard.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Chadwick Ginther

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Chadwick’s companion in Quarantine – Algernon!!

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Chadwick Ginther: I’ve been fortunate enough to still be employed at my day job, and have been working from home at what tasks are available to me. I’ve tried to impose some structure on my days, such as not sleeping in, writing before I sign on for work, daily walks and short workouts. I’ve also watched entirely too many terrible horror movies and caught up on a few television shows I’ve been meaning to check out. I’ve also been trying out some new recipes, and doing a bit more baking then normal.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Chadwick Ginther: There was a lot of anxiety at first. Worry about health and wellbeing, for myself, my wife, our loved ones. Fear about what things will look like on the other side of the pandemic. All that anxiety is still there, but the waves of it don’t seem to be hitting quite as heavily as they were.

It’s been painful not to be able to see friends and family, but both my wife and I tend to be pretty solitary folks, and we really enjoy each other’s company. I call my parents to chat a bit more frequently, and a group of my friends created a text channel for us to share recipes and pictures and updates, and that’s been great for feeling connected.
All of my roleplaying games have moved to online platforms, although many of them were partially, or already there. I’m resisting the urge to join new games because I know I won’t be able to maintain the commitment when things return to a more normal normality.

Not going to a store the moment I think of something I want, or run out of has also meant a bit less snacking. Hopefully I’ll carry a bit of that newfound impulse buy restraint forward when the restrictions are relaxed.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Chadwick Ginther: At first, it was brutal. Nothing was getting done. I struggled to finish even the tasks with existing deadlines, like some editor mandated short story revisions. Motivation to revise the book I had been working on prior to the pandemic was nil. Later, after the first couple of weeks, I managed to write a couple story pitches I’m waiting to hear back about, which seemed to help. Two weeks ago I decided to work on a passion project novel I’ve kept telling myself I’d start writing once this or that task was crossed off the list. I’m pretty happy with that decision, as it’s kept me writing every day, and I’m having so much fun exploring what might end up being the weirdest and most ambitious thing I’ve ever attempted in fiction.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Regina Hansen

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Regina Hansen: I’ve been teaching online, trying to keep the family fed and the house clean.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Regina Hansen: I am very good at keeping busy and I am lucky to be with my husband and kids, and to have a balcony so I can get outside. But I am not an introvert or a minimalist, so I really miss the joy of being around people, chatting, hugging, going to restaurants and movies. I am very much willing to give that up for everyone’s safety.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Regina Hansen: I have been able to get the requested revision done for my novel but it is much harder to settle down to new writing. I’ve been channeling my imagination into other creative pursuits – singing, sewing/crochet, our balcony farm. I’m finally feeling ready to sit at a desk and write but I’m definitely not Shakespeare writing King Lear in quarantine.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – David Demchuk

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?


David Demchuk: I am lucky to be able to do my job from home, and to have a home which is already set up and equipped for remote operations. The team I work with is small; we communicate well, and spell each other off with the day-to-day work, special projects and the many video meetings that this situation has spawned. Apart from that I’ve been reading, catching up on movies and trashy TV, cooking and baking (and eating), spending too much time on social media, and playing Animal Crossing.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

David Demchuk: I was already a fairly solitary person, so I have not been as heavily affected by the need to isolate as many of my friends and colleagues. However, I suffer from agoraphobic anxiety, so going outside to go shopping or run errands is now one long panic attack from start to finish–and standing in store lines on narrow sidewalks is the worst. One thing that’s been a huge challenge: My partner and I have been together for 11 years but we live separately, albeit in the same building. He comes to visit for about an hour every day but, because he goes out more and has a greater potential for exposure, we remain at opposite ends of the couch six feet apart. We haven’t had physical contact for more than five weeks.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

David Demchuk: Well…the short answer is “I haven’t done any, so–great?” I am holding off on writng much, at least formally, until I receive my editor’s notes on my newest book. My hope is that I will be able to focus my energies (and my emotions, including my fears) on the pages once they’re in front of me. One thing I have been doing–both for the new book and the one I plan to start in the fall–is jotting down short snippets on index cards–images, dialogue, turns of phrase–and tossing them into a small plastic storage box beside my coffee table. No expectations of structure or order or ‘finished’ writing, just capturing material as it comes to me in unfiltered unprocessed snapshots. It’s oddly cathartic and makes me feel productive with probably the least amount of effort I can expend. Apart from that, there’s Animal Crossing!


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Nathan Frechette

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Nathan Frechette: I’ve been fortunate enough to work from home for my day job, so I’ve been doing a lot of that. I have children at home too, so I’ve been spending a lot of time caring for them. I’ve been cooking a little bit more, and I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Nathan Frechette: As someone who is disabled and introverted, there hasn’t been much of an adaptation. I do feel like I have more physical energy now that I don’t have to commute so much, I’m able to be much more productive in my work. My mental energy has really been all over the place, and I miss my friends and family.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Nathan Frechette: I see a lot of creative folk talking about getting writing done, but I have been too harried to write, really. I have been working on my graphic memoir, since that was scripted and thumbnailed months ago, I just have to draw, which is more mechanical than creative for me. I’m having lots of creative dreams, and even trying to record them has been difficult.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Ian Rogers

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Ian Rogers: During the COVID-19 outbreak I’ve been been trying to adapt to the “new normal” and keep busy.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Ian Rogers: Since I’ve been writing full-time for the past three years, I’m already a bit of an expert at social distancing. So I’ve been helping my wife adjust since she’s been working from home since the lockdown and is a much more social person that I am.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Ian Rogers: I’m certainly not writing as much as I normally do, because of the stress and the news/information overload. These days I only allow myself to read the news twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening. I’ve managed to sell a couple of stories in the past month, but my head is still not in the right place, creatively speaking. I guess most people probably feel this way.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD