An Interview with Terese M Pierre about her Book Look Makeovers and Poetry

Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille

Spec Can: To start our interview, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Terese M Pierre: Sure! I’m a writer and editor, based in Toronto. At this point, I’m mainly writing poetry, but I also sometimes write essays, about my experiences in the writing community and my family. I’m also the senior editor of poetry at Augur Magazine, a speculative literature magazine in Toronto.

Spec Can: What inspired you to start doing Book Looks?

Terese M Pierre: I started doing book looks as a way to celebrate two novels that I had read and loved (Eternity Martis’s, “They Said This Would Be Fun,” and Tessa McWatt’s, “Shame On Me”) near the start of the quarantine. It was also during a time when I was feeling very down and fatigued, and wanted to use makeup as a creative outlet.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Eternity Martis’ They Said This Would Be Fun
Cover photo for Eternity Martis’ They Said This Would Be Fun

Spec Can: Many of your Book Looks bring attention to books by marginalized authors. Can you tell us a bit about the importance of supporting marginalized authors and the way that your Book Looks highlight the important work being done?

Terese M Pierre: I didn’t start doing the book looks as a way to promote specific books or authors per se, but because it was fun and it made me happy. Later on, I chose to do book looks for marginalized authors to bring attention to the great work they were doing, their craft and skill and talent. Some people online would comment that they had never heard of the books that I was doing, which I found interesting. Since the pandemic started, a lot of in-person book launches were cancelled, so it was important for me to promote the books of marginalized authors at that time—maybe it was a kind of marketing, hopefully they found it helpful. Nowadays, I’m doing a lot of Black American authors, to show my support their art during a time of great turmoil.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for jaye simpson’s It Was Never Going to be Okay
Cover photo for jaye simpson’s It Was Never Going to be Okay

Spec Can: How did you come to be interested in make up art? What inspired you to get into make up art?

Terese M Pierre: I turned 19 and decided that it was time for me to start wearing makeup. I don’t know why—maybe I associated it with adulthood, like alcohol. Still, I barely touched the makeup I had for a few years, save for special occasions. I started watching YouTube tutorials to practice. I think my makeup book looks are quite conservative, to be honest, or perhaps, more wearable. At the time when I started doing book looks, makeup was the only thing I had around that I felt most comfortable using. It would have always been my first choice.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer
Cover photo for Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer

Spec Can: Make up art is highly personal, literally using your own face as a canvas. What is that experience like — to literally be part of your art?

Terese M Pierre: While it is incredibly personal, I try not to see it that way. My face is very front-and-center, and it’s very easy for me to get caught up on my blemishes, how wide my cheeks are, how my skin tone is “clashing” with the makeup. There are makeup book looks I’ve shared that I didn’t personally like, but I knew that other people might not see it the same way I did. At the same time, knowing that my face is necessarily part of the art has made me more confident. I’m finding things about my face that I love.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby
Cover photo for Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby

Spec Can: What is it like to have your own art work (in the form of make-up) in conversation with another artist’s work – the book cover artist? How do you decide what elements to pull out of the book art and adapt?

Terese M Pierre: As I like to make my looks a little more wearable, there are a limited number of eye shapes I can do. After I choose one, it’s a matter of picking which colour goes where. I love colourful covers for this reason. If there are other details on the cover, such as leaves, flowers, smoke, wings, and the like, I add them where it makes sense, to the best of my artistic abilities. I don’t think I go too off-base when it comes to interpreting the cover-artist’s art. I know I don’t—and can’t—get things perfectly. A few cover artists have reached out to say they liked my makeup look, and that meant a lot to me. I like that they still appreciate my iteration of their art.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon
Cover Photo for Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon

Spec Can: What are some of your favourite colour palettes for your book looks?

Terese M Pierre: I like blue/purple palettes, and sunset (red/orange/yellow/pink) palettes. They’re really easy to blend, and I think they look great on me.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Redemption
Cover photo for Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Redemption

Spec Can: What are some of the books that you were the most excited to create Book Looks for and what did these books mean to you?

Terese M Pierre: The book looks for the first two books I did (Eternity Martis’s, “They Said This Would Be Fun,” and Tessa McWatt’s, “Shame On Me”) were the ones I believe I was the most excited to make. It meant a lot to me to showcase the new work of Black women. I’m always most excited to do book looks for Black women authors.

Spec Can: How have authors responded when they have seen you perform your Book Looks on social media?

Terese M Pierre: Almost all authors who’ve seen the book looks that I make—I tag them on Twitter, but they don’t always see it—have responded positively, and have shared the looks with their audiences. What I always try to get across is that doing makeup book looks is that I’m doing this for fun, not for work.

Terese M Pierre’s book look for Amanda Leduc’s Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space
Cover photo for Amanda Leduc’s Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

Spec Can: I know I said that I was going to focus on Book Looks, but if you have time, could you tell us a little bit about your own poetry and your recent chap book Manifest?

Terese M Pierre: I write a lot about nature and romance, and the variations those themes could take. A lot of my poetry—like my first chapbook, Surface Area—deal with desire, tension and self-reflection regarding love and (in)dependence. My second chapbook, Manifest, is something different for me. It’s entirely composed of speculative fantasy poems, and it’s the first time I’m putting out something in that style—it’s sort of an experiment. I’d only started writing speculative/fantasy poetry in the past year, but when I performed my work at readings, they were well-received. Hopefully this chapbook is well-received, too.

Spec Can: In your poem “Fortune”, you focus on foods and the visceral quality of food, but food takes on meanings of space, place, and identity. What guided your interest in places and their relationship to food?

Terese M Pierre: For me, the focus of that poem was the relationship between the speaker and their beloved, and food was a means through which love was expressed. The fact that the beloved made the effort to find the brand of ice cream the speaker loves was part of that emphasis on connection and love. Food—the ice cream in this case—in this poem, is a path to learning about someone’s history, their fears, their desires, especially a person who is not immediately trusting. I try, whenever I can, to ground my poems in concrete things—physical places and foods, and the relationships they bring, are ways in which I can do that.

Spec Can: In your poem “Lines”, what inspired your linking of place and story? What do you notice about the way that places where we have lived are linked to the stories we tell… and perhaps have shaped our own stories?

Terese M Pierre: As someone who’s lived in 3 countries, location, narrative, and memory were interesting things to think about in the context of relationships. We are physical people—the way we move through the world is filtered through our bodies and where our bodies are, the space we take up. I think that the fact that different bodies can experience the same space differently is fascinating, and can definitely inform stories in unique ways. I try to consider that when writing poetry—the speaker isn’t me, so how do they move about the world? What space does their body take up? What stories can they tell? Trying to inhabit the world of the poem and the mind of the speaker in the context of bodies and space is a challenge that never gets old.

Spec Can: Are there any resources that you would like to point fans to so that they can support your work?

Terese M Pierre: I have a website, www.teresemasonpierre.com, and that’s where most of the links to my work are, as well as where to go to pre-order my chapbook. I’m afraid I don’t have anything else, but I’m always happy when others support my work.


Spec Can: I want to thank Terese M Pierre for taking the time to share some of her amazing Book Looks on Facebook and Twitter and for taking the time to chat here on Speculating Canada about her brilliant art work.


Terese Mason Pierre is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Canthius, The Puritan, Quill and Quire, and Strange Horizons, among others. She is currently the Senior Poetry Editor of Augur Magazine, a Canadian speculative literature journal. Terese has also previously volunteered with Shab-e She’r poetry reading series, and facilitated creative writing workshops. Terese lives and works in Toronto.

Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD (They/Them)

Speculating Canada Writing Workshop: Creative Writing For Social Justice

Are you ready for another writing workshop? Are you interested in seeing how we can use our creative writing to make the world a bit better? Join us for another of Speculating Canada’s online writing workshops and come together as a community to write together.

The workshop is free!!

Date: Thursday July 2 at 7:00 PM

Location: Online on Zoom.

Our topic will be:

Creative Writing For Social Justice

Often creative writing is thought of as a fun escape rather than social justice work, but social justice can be achieved through art and art can be a means to provoke new and creative forms of thinking. This online, free workshop will give you a chance to access your creative side and explore possibilities for using creative writing to work toward transformation and change. We will explore ideas of social justice and participate in activities to engage your creativity.

This workshop will be provided by 8 time Prix Aurora Award winning writer, editor, activist, and author Derek Newman-Stille. Derek is a queer, nonbinary, disabled PhD student and instructor at Trent University. They teach various courses related to social justice for the departments of Women & Gender Studies, Canadian Studies, and English Literature and co-hosted by the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies.

There are limited spaces available, so sign up at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/creative-writing-for-social-justice-workshop-tickets-111378712728https://www.eventbrite.com/e/creative-writing-for-social-justice-workshop-tickets-111378712728

On The MacGuffin and Exponential Growth Economies

By Derek Newman-Stille

For folks who are unfamiliar with the term, a “MacGuffin” is an object, a device, an event, or a character used in fiction as a plot device to advance the story that is unfolding. We see MacGuffins regularly in speculative fiction, whether it be the Infinity Gauntlet, the Death Star, the One Ring, or the Ark of the Covenant, and these objects serve to push the plot of the story.

However, there is a tendency, particularly in serialized stories, television shows, or movies toward a perceived need to create a bigger and bigger MacGuffin for each book/season/film. Jurassic World even self-consciously referenced this when characters commented on people needing a bigger and more advanced dinosaur to draw them to the park. The idea is that people want to see something bigger and better for the next instalment of their story. They expect characters to “level up” from one story to the next and perceive them as needing a bigger challenge.

I will use Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example:

Season 1 “Big Bad”: A vampire

Season 2 “Big Bad”: A vampire Buffy loves

Season 3 “Big Bad”: A mayor who becomes a demon and a vampire slayer who has turned evil

Season 4 “Big Bad”: A demon/cyborg hybrid and a secret military organization

Season 5 “Big Bad”: A demon goddess

Season 6 “Big Bad”: A witch turned evil

Season 7 “Big Bad”: The First Evil

Each season requires something bigger to follow it in order to keep the audience’s attention.

This pattern isn’t coming from out of nowhere. It reflects a pattern in our society. Our economic system is one that requires constant growth. The perception is that every company needs to keep growing and expanding. Anything that maintains a pattern and doesn’t grow is perceived to be a failure. This pattern affects the way we view anything that doesn’t continue to grow and expand and we perceive anything that doesn’t expand as stagnant and failing. Even in our own lives, we are expected to constantly grow from our jobs and once we find one that doesn’t let us continue growing, we perceive it as stagnating us and we need to move to something else. This type of continual expansion isn’t feasible. Eventually we reach limits and pushing further can often cause collapse.

The problem with this bigger and bigger MacGuffin per season is that it tends to eventually end. Eventually, it is impossible to get bigger. Eventually the plot devices also become sillier and sillier and lose their impact. The weapon that can kill a person becomes the weapon that can destroy a city, becomes the weapon that can destroy a country, becomes the weapon that can destroy a planet, becomes the… you get the pattern. As the MacGuffins and the characters become more and more powerful, the story loses its human component. It becomes further separated from something the audience can identify with.

Exponential growth isn’t possible. Eventually everything starts to reach its boundaries and can’t grow further.

Is it possible for us to continue telling a story without requiring a bigger and bigger MacGuffin? Yes, but that pattern would need to be set early on and growth would have to be challenged in the series. Does the narrator need to keep becoming stronger? Or can they develop and change in different ways? Can they have life happen without getting “better”? Does the danger they face need to get stronger, or can it change? Can each threat bring out something new in the narrator?

I don’t think a bigger MacGuffin is always the way to keep a story going. It isn’t powerful writing to resort to only one aspect of the story changing. There are so many other parts of the story that can change without having one plot device grow exponentially.


Editorial by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Speculating Canada Writing Workshop: Art As Inspiration for Writing

Sign up for the third of Speculating Canada’s writing workshop series taught by Trent University instructor Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD. Our workshop series allows us connect and write together and maybe to collapse some of the social distance by coming together online as a community.

This workshop is free.

Date: Thursday, May 21 at 1:00 PM EST

Location: Online on Zoom

Our topic will be:

Art As Inspiration for Writing

In this workshop, we will dive into some some historic and contemporary works of art to inspire our writing. We will explore what characters could come out of these works of art, what stories we can tell in the world that is painted for us, and explore visual description. We will explore how to “read” art and how to put art works into motion and see what possibilities we can imagine beyond the frame.

Derek Newman-Stille (they/them) teaches multiple courses at Trent University including continuing education courses in creative writing. Derek’s background is in classics and archaeology, and they will draw on that knowledge when exploring the mythic with you. Derek traditionally teaches feminist disability studies. They are the 9 time Aurora Award winning creator of Speculating Canada www.speculatingcanada.ca and has edited the collections We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press) and Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile).

There are limited spaces available, so sign up at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/speculating-canada-writing-workshop-art-as-inspiration-for-writing-tickets-105499644276

Second Speculating Canada Writing Workshop: Writing Fairy Tales

IMG_6815Sign up  for the  second of Speculating Canada’s writing workshop series taught by Trent University instructor Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD. Our workshop series allows us connect and write together and maybe to collapse some of the social distance by coming together online as a community.

This workshop is free.

Date: Thursday, May 14 at 7:00 PM EST

Location: Online on Zoom

Our first topic will be:

Writing Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are a powerful type of story and one that has continued to endure. Versions of various fairy tales have been told for centuries and continue to speak to our population. This workshop will provide you with a chance to interact with aspects of fairy tale narratives and imagine your own fairy tales, exploring current themes, social anxieties, needs, desires, and changes. Prepare to access your own Mother Goose, Brothers Grimm, or Charles Perault.

Derek Newman-Stille (they/them) teaches multiple courses at Trent University including continuing education courses in creative writing. Derek’s background is in classics and archaeology, and they will draw on that knowledge when exploring the mythic with you. Derek traditionally teaches feminist disability studies. They are the 9 time Aurora Award winning creator of Speculating Canada www.speculatingcanada.ca and has edited the collections We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press) and Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile).

There are limited spaces available, so sign up at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/speculating-canada-writing-workshop-writing-fairy-tales-tickets-104917491040  

Authors in Quarantine – Liz Westbrook-Trenholm

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

COVID fashion statement: bleachy duds and shaggy hair.

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

Liz Westbrook-Trenholm: Domesticity way up, writing way down.

I’ve been washing and bleaching everything inside and from outside our home, baking comfort foods, (state of emergency diet now enacted for the month of May) and sewing (searching for the most bearable face mask), all while listening to audiobooks, all cozy and historical mysteries as I seek respite from COVID news.

Routine has become strict and rarely varied. First it’smorning coffee, when we mutually drown in the firehose of social media, followed by a few hours spent on projectsuntil it’s time for an afternoon walk timed to beat the 3-5 pm jogging and biking rush hour on our preferred nature paths. We come back, dry off (we go in all weathers), readand play board games until wine-time, dinner, chat and music. Our day concludes with TV and bed. Rinse and repeat. Every day.

Excitement is laundry day, a video chat with a friend or relative, or Hayden’s weekly trip to the grocery store, me waiting at home for my hunter/gatherer (he has better lifting power than I do and we don’t run a car) to bring our weekly food, which I dunk in bleach mixture, except for eggs. Trust me, eggs in soggy cardboard containers do not go well. 

​The routine is comforting, at first, giving a sense of control to the uncontrollable situation we all find ourselves inhabiting. How can we react to the endless torrent of sorrow, disaster, fear and conflicting advice pouring from our media? Why, bake cinnamon buns, what else?

Aaaand it doesn’t take long for the comfortable routine to become a prison. Hayden starts taking dyspeptic pictures of himself in his bathrobe and turning them into silly gifs. I’m trying one hair style after another. After gentle discussion, we decide we need to schedule in some spontaneity. We write lots of activities on slips of paper which go into a cookie tin. (Hayden rejects ‘give each other haircuts’) We pull one out every couple of days when we get edgy. Sometimes just a game we haven’tplayed forever. Reading to each other, possibly with dramatizations. Looking at photos from years ago. A take-out Mexican food fiesta. Birthday party, with home-made hats (I knew there was a reason I’d kept a shoebox of orphaned earrings and feathers for decades). Other activities that are MYOB, so there. It’s not so much what we do, but that we burst out of the wire cage of routine we’ve built, and change things up a little. It’s surprisingly refreshing. Sex in the afternoon is awesome. Oops. I said I wouldn’t talk about that.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Liz Westbrook-Trenholm: All of which spills over into how we deal with social distancing. Note the ‘we’. This would not be possible without each other. Always a close couple, a kind of two-person party, we’ve become, if anything, even closer, more careful and tender. Of course, it was disappointing for two inveterate travellers like us to see our plans collapse and our world shrink to only anywhere we can walk to. We can get tetchy, but we cut each other slack when the black dog drops by, or when one or the other wants to be all alone. We don’t take offense. It all makes sense. An old friend once said, “Where is it written you should be happy?” Sometimes it’s necessary to sit under the dark cloud and just breathe until the sun comes out again. It does come out again.

That being said, we work hard at keeping in touch with others via Zoom, Facebook chat, phone, email and text – whatever medium works best for each. We have especially upped our calls with family. I talk often now with my daughter who is distancing alone in London (the UK one). She’s worked out some solutions and has produced some powerful art in her off-work time, but it got pretty dark and desperate before she found her COVID groove.My sister and I vent constantly, bless her for being there.Calling friends and acquaintances and hearing that they’reokay releases swacks of relieved endorphins and hugely shortens the list of people I have to worry about. If they’renot okay, I’m there to hear it out and keep in touch. Sharing their burden paradoxically lessens mine.

​Another side-effect is my tendency to babble uncontrollably at sight of another human. I strike up two-meter distance chit-chat with total strangers or the pharmacy clerk behind her plexi-glass shield. My urge to chat about anything anything at all, at some length, is difficult to contain. I try. Truly I try. Let me tell you ALL about it sometime.

​I’m also thinking about what comes next as treatments and, we hope, vaccines evolve over the coming one or two years. Years. Yeah. As an asthmatic baby boomer smack dab in the middle of one of the at-risk demographics, I’ll need to keep shying away from close contact with anyone who might be a carrier. While we’veall been in it together, it’s been do-able. When I become a minority, it’ll pose new challenges. My friends with disabilities and health issues are nodding their heads with grim grins and saying, ‘Yuh-huh. Tell us about it.” No need. In sharing your stories and concerns, you gave the world a lot of information and demonstrated a lot of coping strategies, long before COVID came along. I expect to be using them shortly! I’ll likely write about it.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Liz Westbrook-Trenholm: The times have affected my writing in two main ways. One is that I have done much less. My writing often takes me deep into dark corners and edgy issues that can leave me drained. I’ve been a little nervous to approach it.

But now, after a hiatus for bleaching and retreat, I find I’m approaching it with a gentle, cozy style. A young woman, a run-away on her last legs, physically and psychologically, falls into a carefully dug hole in the middle of a forest. She looks up from the pre-dug grave at a man silhouetted against the dawn who says, “That’s mine.” And they go from there, into a gentle interaction of restoration and understanding between generations.

Or the old woman, isolating alone in her apartment, who opens her door to the god of the underworld in the form of a lost toddler in a really odious diaper. She draws him into her home and nurtures him, fearless and practical. What deal will they cut when he reaches his full size? 

End of life is a theme in the back of mind for all of us right now and in both of these stories. It’s a topic that turns up in my fiction regularly, but in these, my emerging ‘COVID’ stories, I find the characters less fierce and more wise and accepting than my frequently angry, feisty dames. 

So. How about that COVID thing, eh? Who among us thought we’d be living through history in the making? How can anything be the same again, any more than it was after the plague years, or the potato famine, or the abolition of slavery in the west, or the world wars? So many scabs have been ripped off our social shortcomings. So much strength and ability has emerged, showing us what we, as a society, could be. What will we do with it? Where will we take this experience, both within ourselves and in the way we interact with each other? Now, there’s a good writing topic for any spec fic writer.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Why Star Wars is Important To Me As An Abuse Survivor

By Derek Newman-Stille

I am a child abuse survivor. My biological father beat me throughout my life until my mother, sister, and I were able to escape when I was 15. This may not seem to be related to Star Wars… but it is.

As a child, I read about abuse to try to understand what was happening to me. All of the work that I read suggested that there was a cycle of abuse and that I would inevitably become abusive, just like my biological father.

Star Wars deals with cycles. It is a story about cycles and about breaking cycles and resisting inevitability. This mattered to me as a child, as a youth, and still matters to me. Star Wars offered a glimpse at the potential to break a cycle. It offered a glimpse into possibilities of redemption and resistance. It showed an evil father figure who was able to be redeemed and resist hatred. It showed a son figure who was able to resist becoming what his father was, a son who was able to push back against anger and hatred and become his own person, become something good instead of succumbing to the inevitability of hatred.

Science fiction doesn’t just exist as entertainment and escape. It exists as a way of teaching us lessons through stories. When we think that a future is inevitable, science fiction offers the reminder that the future is a story being told, that it is flexible, and that it is changeable. Science Fiction offers the idea that there are multiple futures out there and that the future can be written, unwritten, and rewritten.

It’s why Sci Fi has been so important to me. It offered a way out. A possibility for a future that wasn’t inevitable, but instead could be changed. This is an important message for someone who is being abused, and an essential reminder for those who are continuing to deal with the repercussions of being abused.


Written by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Authors in Quarantine – Corey Redekop

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?

Corey Redekop: After a few hectic weeks of OMIGODWE’REALLGOINGTODIEREALSOON, I’ve managed to settle my mental state down a touch. If you consider that Stage One of self-isolation, Stage Two is the slightly more optimistic MAYBEWEWON’TDIEBUTHOLYGODTHISISTERRIBLE. I’m not at all certain of how many stages there are to this pandemic, but I’m glad to not having yet reached the Stage of MYHAIRCUTISMOREIMPORTANTTHANYOURLIFE.

Beyond that, I’ve got plenty of free time, being “temporarily furloughed” and all. I still work (very) part-time for Goose Lane Editions as their Social Media Maven, so I spend a small part of each day wading through online sites, looking for anything literary and/or marginally hopeful to share. I’ve tried a little baking, to mixed success; my bread is always fantastically heavy, but I’ve managed to produce a passable tea biscuit. I’m reading as much as ever—usually between 6-10 books a month—and I’m also trying to read at least one short story a day to keep myself interested (and to better get through my huge TBR pile).

I finally caved and subscribed to CRAVE, so I’ve binged a few shows, Watchmenand Devs being the highlights. I’m currently watching The Outsider, and I may go on to Penny Dreadful and Westworld afterward.

My usual job keeps me fairly active, so there has been a marked decrease in my exercise. I’ve quickly gained what I shall refer to as “The Epidemic Eight” and I’m well on my way to “The Quarantine Twenty.” The weighty bread does not help. I try to walk every day, but there’s only so many times you can look at the same streets without getting bored. Listening to podcasts helps; I recommend We Hate Movies, Teacher’s Lounge, and anything with Paul F. Tompkins.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Corey Redekop: I’ve never been the most outgoing personality, so I’m well-suited to bunker-style living thus far. I do miss the occasional night of board games with friends, but we’re looking into online options. And I really miss going to movies. I count myself lucky in that my last moviegoing experience was the excellent Parasite. I have a few online friends who must suffer a lackluster night of Bloodshot to fondly look back on.

When I do leave the house, I take all steps required to stay away and apart from others, wearing a mask when necessary and being respectful of others’ personal space. I see footage online of people refusing to take such measures, protesting for their right to get sick and die, which I suppose is… a choice? I try not to despair, but when politicians advocate for death over the economy — when people argue that their right to a haircut takes precedent over my health — it’s difficult to stay positive. 

Is humanity reallythis self-centered and stupid, Magic 8-Ball? All signs point to yes. White men, anyway.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Corey Redekop: Not much. It’s fortunate (in this exact scenario alone) that I’m a tremendously undisciplined and erratic writer. The impact on my creative product has been minimal.

havetaken major steps on finishing a novel I’ve been toying with for years. However, my cat of eleven years suddenly passed away a few weeks ago, which utterly wrecked me. I’m slowly coming around, but I still expect this silly, clumsy ball of fluff to be wandering around my office and squeaking for attention. It’s like phantom limb syndrome; I find myself reaching for her, and I’m still surprised when she’s not there anymore. Phantom pet syndrome. My brain acknowledges that she’s absent, but my body refuses the proof.

I’m getting back to writing, and I think I can have the first draft done by July. Thus far the book is wildly inconsistent in tone and plot development, there are scads of scenes that demand to be thrown out, I know I’ve forgotten about at least two characters, and I don’t know if the mystery aspect of it works at all. But hey, isn’t that what first drafts are for? My buddy Randal Graham (of the deliriously funny Beforelife) has given me valuable feedback and, perhaps more importantly, heaps of praise. 

Like most authors, I remain convinced and/or deluded that this isn’t all just a waste of effort.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Speculating Canada Online Writing Workshop: Speculative Futurisms

Sign up  for the first of Speculating Canada’s writing workshop series taught by Trent University instructor Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD. Our workshop series allows us connect and write together and maybe to collapse some of the social distance by coming together online as a community. 

This workshop is free. 

Date: Friday, May 8 at 2:00 PM EST

Location: Online on Zoom

Our first topic will be:

Speculative Futurisms

Workshop Participants will have a chance to look at a new technology that either has been developed or is being considered for development. We ponder how that technology may change humanity’s engagement with the world around them. We will have a chance to consider techniques for creating powerful speculative fiction, imagining different worlds and the social changes that come about through changes in technology.

Derek Newman-Stille (they/them) teaches multiple courses at Trent University including continuing education courses in creative writing. Derek’s background is in classics and archaeology, and they will draw on that knowledge when exploring the mythic with you. Derek traditionally teaches feminist disability studies. They are the 9 time Aurora Award winning creator of Speculating Canada www.speculatingcanada.ca and has edited the collections We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press) and Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile).

There are limited spaces available, so sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/speculating-canada-writing-workshop-speculative-futurisms-tickets-104217711982

Remember, although this workshop is free, please don’t take a space if you are unable to attend since this will prevent others from accessing it.

Interview with Marie Bilodeau and Kerri Elizabeth Gerow about Wishstamp

By Derek Newman-Stille

Spec Can: What inspired you to begin Wishstamp?

KEG: It was all her idea.

MB: I stayed up too late one night and drafted a business plan for no reason except it sounded like fun!

KEG: And then she realized she needed an artist.

MB: She’s easy to win over with chocolate.

WishStamp

Spec Can: Okay, wait, can you tell us a little bit about Wishstamp?

KEG: Well it has nothing to do with chocolate, turns out.

MB: It is a treat though!

KEG: Basically it’s a subscription service for a full year of greeting cards – one each month. We currently have seven lines – each with unique artwork and stories.

MB: People can personalize cards as well, which is really popular. When someone buys a subscription, they have the opportunity to add their own personalized notes that will go out in the month they’ve specified. It’s still from you, but you don’t have to think about it every month.

KEG: So, for example, if you love unicorns (and who doesn’t?), you can order Series 1 of Beyond the Rainbow, for yourself or a friend. Each month, you or your friend gets a card in the mail, with “field notes” from the expedition that went beyond the rainbow, as well as whatever message you added in when you bought your line.

MB: We tried to make each line memorable in its own right. Candy Kids is like sugar and sorcery – adventures with magic in Bonbon Valley. It’s a lot of fun to write, and so is every line. We try to have something for everyone.

Wishstamp’s Beyond the Rainbow Series

Spec Can: What got you interested in cards?

MB: I was discussing subscription services with a friend, and it occurred to me that a lot of them lead to a lot of waste, and don’t really give anything except stuff to the receiver. Which is great, mind you, but I thought maybe stories, art, and a personal message, the chance to remind someone that they’re being thought about, might be an interesting subscription. Heck, it’s something I’d like to get! Since Kerri can art and I can writing, cards seemed a fun solution to meet all of those criteria.

WishStamp’s Candy Kids Series

Spec Can: Marie, you are a speculative fiction writer. How does Wishstamp relate to other forms of writing that you do?

MB: Writing for cards is a whole other challenge, but one that I quite love. Wishstamp gives me a chance to stretch my writer brain in a different way. I have to think about the 12-card arc, if there is one, and what each line and card represents. Not to mention that I’m used to writing novels. Cards are, well, way shorter. Way. So much way.

Writing succinctly and to the point makes every word important, every action golden.  And with a bit of magic in every card line, the writing ties back nicely to my speculative fiction roots. I get giddy just thinking about writing the next batch of cards! 

WishStamp’s Wednesday Afternoon Series

Spec Can: Kerri, most of your art tends to be 3 dimensional. What was it like to create art for cards?

KEG: Like many visual artists, I began by drawing. I’ve always loved drawing and painting, but in the past several years I’ve moved more into 3-dimensional art. Creating the cards for Wishstamp gives me the opportunity to return to drawing and painting. In some ways it’s easier to draw something for Wishstamp than it is to just sit down and create in something of a vacuum. With the card lines I have a clear direction, if not always a clear specific idea when I sit down to start drawing, and so it’s freeing in a way.

WishStamp’s The Adorables Series

Spec Can: Cards are often isolated statements, but by having a subscription of 12 cards, you participate in an ongoing narrative. It is an interesting form of sequential storytelling. What is the potential for telling a story or creating a narrative this way?

KEG: from the art point of view, it’s interesting because I’ll have an idea in my head, but when Marie starts writing them, sometimes she has a completely different idea, and then we give each other looks from across the desk.

MB: But we always come to a common vision. The art inspires stories that are sometimes sequential, or sometimes not completely linked. Some card lines are linked to specific months, while others just start with the first of 12 cards and go from there. It makes it interesting, knowing that, narratively speaking, for some card lines they’ll be starting in June instead of January, but they’ll still get the same story. Most of our lines are written so they can be read in any order.

KEG: It’s fun knowing that everyone gets to look at the same art at the same time each month, for most card lines. It’s like a monthly reveal.

Spec Can: What were some of your favourite card lines you did?

KEG: For me, unicorns (obviously), but also Candy Kids, because it picks up on the character design and storytelling that we grew up with as kids in the 1980s. Early on in the Wishstamp process, I woke up one morning with the idea for the first Candy Kids art pretty solidly developed in my head, and by the end of the weekend the art was complete for series one.

MB: I love writing for both those lines – Candy Kids goes from weird adventure to mythical origins, all full of mystery, which keeps things fresh. Beyond the Rainbow has selections from field notes, and I love getting into the heads of the expedition.

WishStamp’s Peculiar Pets Series

Spec Can: What card lines are coming up? Are there any sneak peaks you can give us?

KEG: We just launched Sadie and her Dragon, which is one of our sequential lines, meaning the cards have to be read in a specific order. I channeled my love of details in this line, and each picture tells the story.

MB: We also have a new spectacular artist/writer joining our team, with a line that’s their very own. We don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’re familiar with Derek Newman-Stille, you will be super happy. If you’re not familiar with them, we recommend you google them today!

It’s a great line, and we can spoil it a bit by saying it’s grim. But not. 

KEG: I’m shaking my head at you. We’ve also got some lines that are still in the very preliminary stages, but that we think our subscribers will be really excited about when they come out. Stay tuned!

To find out more about WishStamp, check out their website at https://wishstamp.com