Random

Random Conversations: Our cab driver

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Me: Hi!

Driver: Hi! How are you tonight?

Me: Good, how are you?

Driver: I’m 1000% better than I was last night!

Me: Wow! Really? Why?

Driver: Well two weeks ago I went to bed…if you’re interested I’ll tell you my story…

Me: Of course!

Driver: Well two weeks ago I went to bed and I laid down on my left side, I started feeling all dizzy. On my right side no, but my left side so dizzy. I think it’s called vertigo…

Me: Wow, yikes!

Driver: So I ran to the pharmacist because I thought maybe I was having a heart attack…but no, my blood pressure was fine.


Me: Whew!

Driver: So I went to the doctor and he looked in my ear and I had an ear infection and ear wax! So he gave me some drops…

Me: That’s good! Ear infections are bad! I get wax buildup too, it’s bad.

Driver: So then I had this head pain…

Me: Oh no! Like a migraine?

Driver: No, like…I don’t know how to say it…like my head is empty…(laughs)

Me: (Laughs) Oh that’s not good!

Driver: No! So I went and had my ears…well they put a thing in and lit the end on fire…

Me: Candling?

Driver: Yeah candling! There was so much wax (holds up fingers to show how much wax). And my head feels better!

Me: Oh no, I think that’s not real. I think it’s a scam…you should have your doctor clear the wax out for you. They use this big metal syringe and fill it with water and shoot the water into your ear. It’s not very nice, but it works!

Driver: It’s a scam? No! I don’t think so! (Looks weirded out)

Me: Yeah I used to do it, but then I found out it was a scam!

Driver: No!

Me: Did you ask your doctor?

Driver: Yeah. And my naturopath.


Me: (Internal sigh) Oh, well I could be misinformed, I’ll ask my doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s not real.


Driver: (Shakes his head)

Silence.

Driver: Well I was on Facebook the other day and I saw something about India…you know they were going to hang a prisoner.

Me: What?!


Driver: Yeah he was a criminal, so he was going to hang…that’s what they do there.

Me: Yikes!

Driver: Yeah, so they asked if they could do an experiment and the government said yes, so they took him and said instead of hanging, they were going to kill him with a cobra. And they showed him a cobra. Then they blindfolded him, because that’s what they do when they hang you, and they took two needles…they wanted it to feel like a cobra bite and they ‘bit’ him. Then guess what? He died! And they found cobra poison in his blood!


Ben: (Quietly) Maybe he had a heart attack.

Me: (Louder) Maybe he had a heart attack!

Driver: No! But they found cobra poison in his blood!


Me: Well maybe he got bit by a snake earlier!

Driver: (Laughs)

Me: I don’t think people just randomly have snake venom in their blood without getting bitten.


Driver: Well the body had lots of things in it, so maybe…

Me: Probably not venom…we would be in trouble if we were just walking around with venom in our blood!

Driver: (Laughs) Yeah…

Me: I’m surprised the government let them do that experiment.

Driver: Oh you can do anything you want in India. The government doesn’t care, they just want to get rich and for their friends to get rich.


Me: That’s kind of scary.

Driver: Yeah.


Me: Is that where you’re from? India?


Driver: Yeah!

Me: Oh cool, how long have you been here.?

Driver: 25 years.

Me: Oh, a long time then! Do you like it better in India or here in Canada?

Driver: Oh here of course. It’s much better here.



Me: Do you ever visit India?



Driver: Oh yes I went last month. We visited my wife’s brother…

Me: Nice!

Driver: Yes.

Long silence, Ben and I talk amoungst ourselves.

Driver: (Eventually) You talk about scams, you can’t trust anybody you know…you know even Volkswagen scams people!

Me: I know, it’s very hard to trust people, you have to be so careful. Oh! It’s a right up here and just drop us on the corner! Thank you so much! Goodnight!

Driver: Goodnight!

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Events

Upcoming Reading: The EW Reading Series

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On Tuesday the 8th of September I will be sharing the stage with some fabulous writers at the Emerging Writers Reading Series in Toronto.

The reading is in a pub on Bloor St. West so you can get some food and drink. I will be hitting the stage last at 9:30pm but there are three other readers before me, so come at 8pm to get in on all the literary action!

I hope to see you there.

Date: Tuesday September 8, 2015
Time: 8pm
Location: Duffy’s Tavern – 1238 Bloor St. W. Toronto
Facebook Event

Random

Random Conversations: A man who took our picture

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Ben (looking at a crowded bar): Hmmm…do you wanna go in?

Man (comes up behind us): Naw don’t go in there…it’s too packed…

Me & Ben (turn around, eyes wide): Oh…

Man: I bet you’re wondering: who is this weirdo talking to us?

Me & Ben: (Nervous laugh)

Man: Remember? Click Click? Can I take your picture?

Me & Ben: (Look puzzled)

Man: I’ve been looking for you for months…I thought I saw you the other day by the Juice & Java so I parked and hopped out and ran to look for you, but you must have gone inside somewhere.

Me & Ben: Oh…yeah…probably…

Man: Well here you go! (Hands us a little photo folder with two copies of the above photo in it)

Me & Ben: OHHHHH…..

Man: Yeah, I took your picture…

Me: Holy cow, thanks…thanks so much!

Ben: Yeah wow…thanks!

Man: Well see you later! (Runs across the street to his car)

Me & Ben:
Bye…

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.

___

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

Random

Introducing…my agent!

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The message from London (England) came at 7am right when I was about to step out the door to go take my first science exam in 15 years. I was pumped on nervousness and I did a final e-mail check before I left. There was a message from Conville & Walsh agency in my inbox. The email said that I had won runner-up in their ‘Word of Mouth Prize’ and they wanted to offer me representation for my first novel.

To be honest I didn’t think it was real. I didn’t actually remember entering the competition.

I read the e-mail again.

Then I looked at Ben and started laughing. Then I cried and laughed at the same time.

I shoved my iPad into his hands and said: ‘read this…is it real?’

There wasn’t time for much celebration before I hauled myself out the door to write my science exam (which I totally nailed BTW).

So that is how I came to work with the absolutely lovely and fabulous Carrie Plitt of Conville & Walsh in London. I’m so excited about the agency, Carrie, and the future of my career now that I have such a wonderful champion for my work. I look forward to working with Carrie to bring my books to the world and I’m sure we will have a long and awesome relationship.

Woo!

Random

Random Conversations: A guy on the subway hitting on me

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I love randomness. I love when people talk to me on the bus, the subway, walking down the street. I love when people hit on me because we always end up in these fabulously strange conversations. The universe is a swirl of chaos and I find my moments of random connection with strangers to be exciting and fascinating. To that end I’ve decided to start writing down my conversations with strangers and publishing them on my blog. Perhaps you can get a laugh, or a bit of insight about human nature from them, just as I do.

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Random Conversation #1: A guy on the subway hitting on me

Guy: Are you married? (points at my tattoo wedding ring)

Me: Yup.

Guy: That’s a good deterrent for guys hitting on you.

Me: Well that certainly wasn’t my intention when I got it, I wasn’t like…hmm…should I tattoo a wedding ring on my finger to deter guys? That would be commitment.

Guy: You should put some bling on that fingers…like Tiffanys…a big diamond…(shows his hideous Tiffanys gold bracelet with diamonds—probably fake)

Me: Why would I want diamonds? Do you know how common compressed carbon is? There are whole planets made of diamond!

Guy: Yeah but it’s expensive! Me: So? Boring!

Guy: (laughs) You’re like that’s ADT commercial, you know with that guy on the lawn saying ‘don’t even try it’…that’s what your tattoo says ‘don’t even try it’.

Me: Well that certainly wasn’t my intention.

Guy: I’m thinking about being a stripper you know.

Me: Really?

Guy: Yeah, but I’d need to get tats all over my arms, like all done up. (points to his his arms)

Me: Well go for it!

Guy: Yeah my mom would kill me though, she’d kick me out of the house. But I could be a jiggalo, you know, or a stripper for sure.

Me: I bet you would make more money stripping for dudes.  I bet more dudes would pay more for that than ladies would.

Guy: What!? Fuck no! I don’t swing that way…(pulls cross out of shirt—as indication of homophobia(?))

Me: That’s okay, I’ve met guys who work at gay bars that aren’t gay, just eye candy.

Guy: No way…

Me: (shrug) I’m just say men would probably pay more…

Guy: My mom would kill me anyways, she would hire assassins and shit.

Me: Wow that’s some mom!

Guy: Maybe I’ll just be a bartender…

Me: That’s safer. Because assassins.

Guy: Yeah safer…

Me: Okay how about this: you be a bartender at a strip club! Then you could work your way up to stripper, you know, upward mobility!

Guy: Oh yeah, bartending at a strip club, that would be good. Strippers are hot!

Me: No I mean a guy strip club…where guys strip.

Guy: I told you I don’t swing that way…(clutches cross—to further reinforce homophobia(?))

Me: No I’m not saying a gay strip club…

Guy: Hey! I said…

Me: No listen, I’m trying to optimize your career path here.  Okay you know there are strip clubs where guys strip for women right?  Well you should bartend there and work your way up.

Guy: Bah, my mom would kill me.

Me: Oh well, what are you gonna do?

Guy: With all those tattoos on your arms you should be a chef.

Me: What?! I’m not gonna be a chef, I’m a writer… I’m gonna go home and write about our conversation.  Thanks for the inspiration…bye!

Guy: (looks bewildered)

Me: (gets off subway)

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.