Where Do You Plant A Seed Someone Gave You In A Dream?
The stories in my new collection Seeds span decades in my life and include one of my earliest fiction publications. “Judy” was published in This Magazine in 1983. Lorraine Filyer was editor then and was delighted when I told her I wanted to illustrate the story myself. My husband and I left Toronto for rural Peterborough County in the late eighties, and it’s where most of the stories were written. Many of my straightforwardly sf and f pieces appeared in earlier collections including the 2014 collection Harvesting the Moon, published by PS in the UK.
This collection includes more experimental and literary pieces. On a recent panel at Novel Idea in Kingston with Lisa de Nikoliits, she pointed out that Inanna is a genre-busting press and I think this is true — science fiction or noir that’s too literary in style for a genre press, fantasy that’s more prose poem than short story — Inanna is open to publishing these sorts of works as a more commercial genre press may not be and they fill an important need in this regard.
Some of the pieces first appeared in the 90’s in The Peterborough Review, a literary quarterly edited by George Kirkpatrick, Julie Rouse, and an ad hoc collective of volunteers that included me. Beautifully designed, the journal was noticed and admired before, after a few seasons, it folded for all the usual reasons. It was here that I began editing others’ work for publication, and also deepened my understanding of the ways in which building and participating in a strong regional arts community extends benefits far beyond the stack of journals — the objects — that still grace my vanity shelf. Before we became rural expats I’d written an art column for Toronto’s Now Magazine — so my engagement with local talent and publishing at P. Review was a continuation of work I’d already been doing.
I’m a regional author who teaches in community centres and University Continuing Education programs rather than in online classes as many of my peers do. My students, co-teachers and I meet face to face — we know people in common; we gossip and organize writers’ groups and coffee dates outside of class. This isn’t accidental — it’s crucial in the creation of a flourishing local scene. At the same time I publish in award winning genre publications in the US and the UK as well as Canada, and I like to think that I help to shine a light on our wonderfully rich local community by doing so.
I’m going off on a tangent here, talking about community more than about my writing, but we don’t really exist outside of community, however much, at times, we like to think so. This book exists because of granting bodies, because of interested editors at the amazing journals and anthologies where these stories previously appeared, and because my husband didn’t think of co-parenting as “babysitting”. We achieve what we achieve partly because of who we have around us.
When I wrote the stories that appeared in The Peterborough Review, I was living on a farm in eastern Peterborough County. I was looking after small children, a rambling log farmhouse and a large vegetable garden. It was hard to find time to write, partly, I’m sure, because I hung cloth diapers out, more fool me. But I was disciplined and wrote every day — writing was important and I had the role model of my mother, the painter Christiane Pflug, who painted… most of the day every day whether she felt like it or not. Doug was a devoted dad and played with the kids while I worked when he was home from the city. I had a little room on the second floor overlooking the driveway; across the road lay a swamp where the dogwoods filled with chorus frogs every spring. I had a Canada Council grant to work on short fiction — never underestimate the importance of funding — especially in Canada where writers and publishers compete for readers with US publishers with far greater resources. Notice I am telling a Woolfian kind of tale here — about a room of one’s own, childcare, and a stipend — it’s all still relevant.
For the second year in a row we had a great reading in March at Novel Idea Books in Kingston for IWD2020 – a gang of feminist authors from Toronto, Kingston and Peterborough including Kate Kelly, Elizabeth Greene, Hannah Brown, Lisa de Nikolits and I. I’ll upload pics when I get a minute.