Story Notes

Amako

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I’m excited to announce that my story ‘Amako‘ is now available for purchase at Found Press, a delightful online publisher with a fabulous library of short stories from many outstanding and talented writers.

My collaboration with Found Press has been amazing, this is definitely the first time I’ve had a story completely edited head to toe with the help of an editor (a very talented one in fact – Byran Ibeas). We bounced the story back and forth many times and Bryan made loads of amazing suggestions that I feel polished my story into a gleaming sea pearl.

It was an exciting process because editing is awesome. It’s an art in and of itself (as I have been learning from the ongoing editing of my debut novel with my lovely agent) and if you are working with the right person it can be a fun learning experience. I loved getting the benefit of Bryan’s perspective and I walked away with a much better story because of his editing wisdom, thanks Bryan!

Another thing that’s exciting about this publication is it’s my first interaction with royalties. I put a lot of time and effort into writing short stories and it’s not often that I see much in the way of monetary reimbursement. Now I don’t write fiction with money as my starting goal, but I am certainly happy when I can make some (who isn’t?). So for the very first time I can say that with the purchase of either a subscription to Found Press or the purchase of Amako, you will be supporting me directly (and Found Press’s continued publication of great fiction)!

And finally a quick story note about Amako…

I was inspired to learn more about Ama (Japanese pearl diving women) when I read an article by a photographer who went home to Japan to document their lives. I can’t find his article now, but I wanted to link to some pictures that were similar to those that inspired me.

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Story Notes

Story Notes: Tectonic Heart

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My story ‘Tectonic Heart’ was published recently at Zeit-Haus Magazine, a new online spot for minimalist literature. I was excited by Zeit-Haus because of its desire to provide a contrast to the flash and glitz of Las Vegas and I’m happy to report the magazine does not disappoint.

To read the story just head on over to Zeit-Haus and check it out.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Zeit-Haus before reading the notes.

About ‘Tectonic Heart’

The truth is I have a crush on Iceland.


I’ve never been but everything about it appeals to me. I’ve seen documentaries on the mysticism and the wildness, the volcanic landscape speaks to me, the art inspires me and the people intrigue me. Plus, I kind of want to hold hands with the country just based on this. In one of my books (currently unpublished) my main characters makes an unexpected stop in Iceland and has a strange and fantastic experience there.

One day I’ll get up the nerve and ask Iceland on a date.


In the meantime I will write about it, as I did in Tectonic Heart. The story was originally inspired by a prompt for a contest for a writers conference in Iceland and was meant to feature Harpa Conference Centre. I didn’t win, but I was thrilled to have found a home for the story at the wonderful, and definitely fitting Zeit-Haus.

Tectonic Heart was inspired by my novel that is partially set in Iceland. For some reason the barren, tumultuous landscape always makes me want to write about ghosts.

If you don’t know anything about Iceland I highly recommend looking into it, it’s become sort of a muse for me and for that reason I kind of want everyone to love it (up close or from a distance) as I do.

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Image credit: Stars over Iceland by flickr.com/claudiaregina_cc

Story Notes

Story Notes: Name it

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My story ‘Name it’ was published recently at The James Franco Review. It’s a new magazine and was so honoured to be included in the early days of it’s life as a publication!

To read the story just head on over to The James Franco Review and check it out.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at The James Franco Review before reading the notes.

About ‘Name it’

This story was inspired by a fascinating article I read that came out of Stanford. The article talks about how people’s hallucinations or voices (when they are suffering with schizophrenia) are influenced by culture. It was amazing to learn that in some cultures the voices are more welcome and therefore more benign.

I’ve always been interested in psychology (I hope to take some classes in university when I get there) and I really wanted to write some fiction that illustrated the point made in the article because it is an amazing discovery and I definitely think mental illness is something that needs to be discussed openly and with compassion.


I was worried about writing this story for a couple of reasons. The first is that mental illness is a very serious topic and when I do write about it I want to do it respectfully. I’ve written about Alzheimer’s (and some other mental illnesses) before and I had the same concerns. I don’t want to offend anyone, I just really want to explore the topic from an artistic perspective. Also, in seeking publication for the story I didn’t want it to misinterpreted as ‘horror’ because it wasn’t intended that way at all. So I was happy to have found The James Franco Review as they seemed to understand what I was trying to accomplish with the story and they appreciated it.


The second thing I was worried about was writing from the perspective of a child, that can sometimes come off as ‘cutsie’ and I didn’t want that to be the case either. It’s always tricky writing with a strong voice like I did in ‘Name it’ because you run the risk of people thinking it’s over the top.

Overall though I was happy with the outcome and I hope that people reading these notes will check out the article that inspired the story and learn more about schizophrenia and some of the amazing people who are trying to ease the symptoms of those suffering with it.

Story Notes

Story Notes – The world of her own making

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My story ‘The world of her own making’ was published recently in A cappella Zoo (Issue 14) and I was so excited.

To read the story just head A cappella Zoo and order up Issue 14.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at A cappella Zoo before reading the notes.

About ‘The world of her own making’

I love origin myths; the expansiveness of the claims and the simplifying of all the complexity of the universe into something completely human centric. Our gods are so often personifications of us, with all of our most basic (and sometimes terrible) traits; jealousy, lust, rage, hunger. Any origin myth we’ve conjured up is such a great indication of our humanity—our desire to connect with something bigger than us, our wish for the simplicity of a god-like figure.

I wanted to write a story of a girl who ate the world and naturally, as I was writing it, it turned into an origin story. A new world from the old, not something from nothing but something born from a normal girl who simply got hungry.

I can’t imagine a universe where something comes from nothing. I think ultimately that makes me a believer in an infinite multi-verse which has its own issues but I like the idea of a new universe coming from something pre-existing because a lone god in an empty void creating all of existence is even more confusing and definitely less science-friendly.

I liked being able to really get into the texture of things in this story, assigning common tastes to objects that aren’t meant to be eaten and I enjoyed the ultimate grandeur of the tale. I guess thoughts of the universe are never far from my mind because they creep into my writing at any given opportunity.

Story Notes

Story Notes – Leadership Camp

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My story ‘Leadership Camp’ was published recently at Maudlin House and I was so honoured to be included with all the other wonderful stories in Issue 5!

To read the story just head on over to Maudlin House and check it out!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Maudlin House before reading the notes.

About ‘Leadership Camp’

This story was inspired by a call for submissions for a local Toronto anthology looking for stories with the subject ’20 Somethings Going Nowhere’. My story didn’t make it into the anthology but I’m actually happy about that because it found an amazing home at Maudlin House!

The truth is I don’t usually write stories with large casts. I find too many people hard to manage and I have a bit of a distaste for dialogue tags and try to avoid them whenever I can. Usually I stick to smaller interactions between one or two people, but this theme (in my mind) called for an ensemble so I wanted to give it a try. I tried a minimal style because I wanted it to be as dialogue heavy as possible (sort of like a script)—partly for the challenge and also because I thought the situation called for it.


A zombie apocalypse just popped into my head and honestly I usually try to avoid writing about apocalypse scenarios as much as possible because I worry they will come across as cliche. But as Ben always says, the most interesting thing about a zombie film is the interactions between the living. So I tried to focus on that and I think it turned out pretty well in the end (although the character’s actual fate is up to you to decide).

(Image by: Miquela Davis – miquelacomics.tumblr.com)

Story Notes

Story Notes – Now we are ten

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I was thrilled when my story ‘Now we are ten’ was chosen to be published in the issue of Sein & Werden by the same name. Sein & Werden is a fabulous surrealist/existentialist/expressionist publication that appeals to my philosophical leanings.

To read the story just head on over to Sein & Werden!

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Sein & Werden before reading the notes.

About ‘Now we are ten’

Being as this was Sein & Werden’s tenth anniversary, they wanted stories entitled ‘Now we are ten’. Prompts are an interesting thing and I have a tentative relationship with them. Mostly I ignore them, but in the case of this magazine, I loved the call to arms for surrealists and I knew I must take up the challenge.

To be honest I’m not actually sure where this story came from exactly, it was one of those things that just sort of sprang from my forehead fully formed, but I do know the thought behind it (in hindsight at least). As I’ve gotten older there is a lot of talk of children around me. People having babies, people talking about whether Ben and I will ever have babies, Ben and I talking about whether Ben and I will ever have babies. The answer is no, we will never have babies. The reasons are too numerous to count. But this story alludes one of them.

I feel as though wanting children is a primordial response. Something that our monkey brains tell us we want. I have never been one to want to listen to my monkey brain though. I often notice people having babies for instinctual reasons, but there is also another reason I see sometimes that disturbs me: having babies to fill a void.

I wanted to explore the idea of making a child your entire life in order to have a life. Some people feel an emptiness and I get it; life is tough, lonely, harsh and absurd. But bringing a child into the world to give the parent’s life meaning has always seemed like worrisome proposition. In this story I hoped to convey the sense of the loss of self that occurs when the child, the centre of the parent’s life, grows up and goes out into the world. What is left of the parents? How can we make sure parents have full, rich lives of their own so they don’t get left in this position? I would hope people find their own meaning in life before trying to fill that void with a kid, because once the kid is gone they will simply be back to square one.

Story Notes

Story Notes: How can we ever be better?

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I was so excited for my story ‘How can we ever be better?’ to be published in Flyleaf Journal. Flyleaf is a fantastic publication that pairs artists with writers to produce beautiful cover art for individual short stories. I was lucky and absolutely thrilled to be paired with talented artist/illustrator David Curtis who created a beautiful piece for the cover of my story!

To read the story just head on over to Flyleaf Journal and order a copy.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Flyleaf Journal before reading the notes.

About ‘How can we ever be better?’

This story brewed in my head for a long time. I never write anything down because I’m of the mind that if a story sticks around in my mind, it’s good enough to write. ‘How can we ever be better?’ started with the idea of a thief who steals words. I thought about it for weeks, here and there while I washed the dishes or went for a walk, then finally I decided to sit down and write it. I love how the process of writing reveals things that you didn’t know were there. Sometimes I feel like thinking about the story is a conscious action but the writing itself is almost mystical, a subconscious process. What started out as a simple fairytale developed itself into a more complex allegory that I only half intended.

I have my own thoughts about the meaning and the message; a cautionary tale about not blindly following people who claim to provide higher knowledge (especially if that knowledge is shallow and insubstantial), a warning to always think critically, a metaphor for our humanity and how, despite thinking we are evolved, we are still just angry monkeys. But I also like to know what other people see in the story. That’s one of my favourite things about writing metaphor/allegory/fairytales—everyone always takes what they want from it and sees in it what they want to see.

I’ve read this and other fairytales at writing groups before then just sat back to listen as people tried to guess or invent their own meaning. Often when people ask me what it actually means I’ll shrug and say ‘I like all of your ideas’. Because often the metaphors get away from me or create themselves naturally and I can guess what they mean, but because my writing is sometimes a very subconscious effort your guess is as good as mine.