Interview: Eugie Foster

official_eugiefoster miniEugie Foster calls home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in metro Atlanta that she shares with her husband, Matthew. After receiving her master’s degree in psychology, she retired from academia to pen flights of fancy. She also edits legislation for the Georgia General Assembly, which from time to time she suspects is another venture into flights of fancy.

Eugie received the 2009 Nebula Award for her novelette, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” the 2011 and 2012 Drabblecast People’s Choice Award for Best Story, the 2012 eFestival of Words Best Independent Short Story Collection eBook Award, and the 2002 Phobos Award. ReturningMySistersFace mini Her fiction has also been translated into eight languages and been a finalist for the Hugo and British Science Fiction Association awards. Her short story collection, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, was published in 2009 and has been used as a textbook at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of California-Davis.

Visit her online at

Suzanne Church: We first met at the Dragon Con 2000 writers’ workshop run by Ann C. Crispin, and our writing group that formed as a result of that workshop continues to this day. If 2014 Eugie could speak to 2000 Eugie, what advice would she offer?

Eugie Foster: “Don’t be afraid to lean on people more.” It’s my nature to want to go it alone and not ask for help, but I’ve learned — the hard way, oftentimes — that sometimes I just need to accept the offers of assistance folks are so generous about proffering up, that I’ll burn out if don’t share some of the load. Our writers group epitomizes how supportive the writing community is on both personal and professional levels. I wish I’d started relying on y’all more, sooner.

king_of_rabbits miniSC: When you were first diagnosed with cancer, you hesitated to post the news on your blog. Since then you’ve shared your journey pretty openly via Twitter and your blog. How does sharing the experience help you?

EF: This ties in pretty tightly with the first question. My first impulse was to keep my cancer diagnosis private and deal with the fear and uncertainty, all the ordeals I knew I’d have to go through in the fight to beat it on my own, and I’m so glad I didn’t. The outpouring of support, the shared experiences of other cancer survivors, the reassurance and compassion from friends, colleagues, and strangers — it’s been uplifting, inspiring, and moving beyond words. On my worst days, I re-read some of the comments and notes I’ve gotten, and I always feel better.

SC: Your novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” won the 2009 Nebula and was nominated for the Hugo, the WSFA Small Press Award, and the BSFA Award. When you were writing the story, did you sense that it was evolving into an extraordinary tale?

EF: Honestly? Yes and no. I think every writer has stories or passages which they feel are extraordinary, something special that evokes a visceral response as the words hit the page. “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest” was like that, but I’ve had other stories which I felt were on par with it which didn’t get the sort of reader response that “Sinner” did, as well as stories which I thought were good, but without that evocative gut-kick it had, that were particularly well received. It’s so hard to gauge how our words will be embraced. I figure, the only thing we as writers can do is craft the best stories we can, send them out, and cross our fingers.

SC: If your characters were real people, which one would you choose to interview first on your blog. Why?

mortalclay_stoneheart miniEF: Ooo, that’s a hard question. Some of my favorite characters are not ones I’d really feel comfortable (i.e., safe) being in the same room with, like Bunny from “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death” and Trixie from “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread.” (I’m not sure what it says about me that two of my favorite characters off the top of my head are vengeance gods.) So I guess I’d go with Ayame from “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” Being a young, half-demon demon hunter, she’d have a unique perspective, not to mention a lot of interesting stories to recount, and she’d be unlikely to whack my head off if I accidentally said something out of line.

SC: You maintain several Children’s Market databases on your website. What motivates you to so generously help others?

EF: Actually, it’s as much a resource for me. It’s as easy for me to keep a market listing online as it is a private spreadsheet, and the virtue of having it on my website is I can access it from any location. I’m just glad that folks find it useful.

SC: What are you working on now?

EF: I’m working on the perpetual novel project—it feels like I’ve always got a novel looming in the background — as well as several short stories for anthology projects I’ve been invited to submit to. Stay tuned on my website for more details as they crop up.

For the following flash questions, try to answer with the first idea that pops into your head.

SC: Imagine a prison of eternal misery. Is it hot or cold?

vampire_quintet miniEF: Cold! Definitely cold. Winter and I don’t get along — which perhaps explains the recurring theme of winter/cold as antagonist in multiple stories I’ve written: “The Reign of the Wintergod,” “Beautiful Winter,” “The Snow Woman’s Daughter,” “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.”

SC: Sweet or savory?

EF: Savory! I’m so addicted to greasy, salty snacks.

SC: Stickers on your laptop or pure out-of-the-box plain?

EF: Um, um, out-of-the-box plain. But only because I’m sure I’d have sticker remorse after committing to whatever sticker(s) I selected and would then just keep adding more and more until I ended up with a chaotic collage plastered so thickly on my laptop I’d have trouble finding the on switch.

SC: You suddenly find yourself with one hour of free time between shifts as editor of The Daily Dragon at Dragon Con. Do you shop in the Dealers’ Room, head over to the Marriott for cosplay-gazing, or grab a quick nap?

EF: Yes! Wait, I mean shopping. No, people watching! Well, maybe a nap would be a good idea. Um. This might explain why I don’t leave Daily Dragon headquarters very often…

SC: Thanks to Eugie Foster for participating in this blog tour!

Because Door Prizes are Fun to Win…

At my upcoming book launches I will be giving away door prizes, because winning makes an event all that more fun!

Here are some of the goodies up for grabs:

Danse-Macabre 3In 2012, my story “Death Over Easy” was chosen by editor Nancy Kilpatrick to be included in the anthology, Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper.

Death Over Easy was published too late to be included in ELEMENTS. So winners will receive an extra story from me, not to mention the other 25 stories where death plays a role.

Fellow Stop-Watch Gang member Brad Carson’s story, “Mr. Go Away” is also in Danse Macabre.

Book of Shadows Cover miniIn 2006, my story “Driving the Past Home” was chosen by editor Angela Challis, founder of Brimstone Press to be included in the anthology, Book of Shadows, Volume One.

Book of Shadows includes 42 flash fiction stories from many Australian authors, as well as a few lucky international authors. Each story originally appeared in Shadowed Realms an online horror magazine that is no longer active.

This book was only available for sale in Australia, but I had a few copies shipped to my home. I have one extra copy to give away as a prize at the Waterloo launch of ELEMENTS.

NeoAnthoCoverSmIn 2006, my story “The Wind and the Sky” was chosen by editor Karl Johanson to be included in the anthology, The Best of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine published by Bundoran Press.

The Best of Neo-opsis contains 10 stories by authors from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, including the works of Hayden Trenholm, Nina Munteanu, and Vaughan Stanger.

Other non-book items will also be available to win. Check this space for updates.

Destiny Lives in the Title’s Power

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 11th slot in the Table of Contents is: Destiny Lives in the Tattoo’s Needle

Of all the stories I’ve written to date, I think that I’m most proud of the title, Destiny Lives in the Tattoo’s Needle, the first of my short stories to be a finalist for an Aurora Award.

I believe that most writers struggle to pen great story titles. Back when I used to do formal critiques for Critters, I used to say that titles were my nemesis.

tesseracts 14 cover110Like the cover for a book, the title draws the reader in. It should also foreshadow the plot. Coming up with words that meet all of these requirements is hard.

One of the techniques I’ve grown to appreciate for generating a title is choosing a phrase from the story, which is how I chose this one.

Destiny  is my first steampunk story. It begins with:

I dropped from the airship like a rock, praying for my chute to open.

AIRSHIParthursfortunecityBecause, hey, if you’re going to wave the steampunk flag, you might as well use an airship. And what better way to introduce an airship than with an explosive crash to the ground!

Although this particular story doesn’t include any corsets or goggles, the sequels might. Which begs the question, “Where are these sequels that you speak of?”

They aren’t written. No yet.

Many of Destiny’s  readers have asked me to write more fiction about these characters and their world. And on more than one butt-in-chair occasion, I’ve considered writing more about them.

Maybe even a novel.

Encouragement for such adventures is greatly appreciated. 😉

Fun Fact

In my post Storm Child – Putting a Fresh Face on a Timeless Myth I mentioned the writers’ group that formed after the workshop I attended at DragonCon 2000.

SFSciFiCoverOne of the members of the DC2K Writers’ Workshop, my good friend Louise Herring-Jones challenged me to use the word “sage grass” in a story.

I asked her, “What’s sage grass?”

She answered, “It’s a horrible, bitter weed. Even goats won’t eat it.”

Not only does sage grass appear in Destiny, but I also used her line about goats refusing to eat the stuff.

Thanks, Louise Herring-Jones!

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

It’s Not Easy to be Fuzzy or Green

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 10th slot in the Table of Contents is the last of the Couch Teleportation Universe stories: “Fuzzy Green Monster Number Two”

My third story in the Couch Teleportation Universe examines the definition of a monster. Fuzzy  was originally published in Neo-Opsis Magazine, Issue #12.

neoopsis 12 miniGreenie is a teenaged Strunjox–a towering green beast with a long snout and sharp claws. His species are native to the desert planet Deslot, a world where drug trafficking is the source of employment for more than half the population.

Before the story begins, Greenie has scrounged enough money for a one-way couch-teleporter ticket to Earth, where he hoped to find a better life away from the desperation of drug addiction that permeated his home culture.

Instead of prosperity, he finds discrimination and a lack of employment for sentients without opposable digits.

With Fuzzy Green Monster Number Two I wanted to tell a story from the monster’s point of view. Greenie doesn’t consider himself a monster at all. He’s simply a Strunjox  trying to blend in among the humans.

As Greenie’s circumstances evolve, I wanted the reader to re-examine the definition of a monster. Like many fables, I wanted to ensure that the reader’s initial interpretation of a beast’s outward appearance didn’t coincide with what they learn as they peel away at the layers beneath the surface.

Science Fiction is a genre designed to nudge the reader to interpret the social hierarchies of our own lives through an approachable and entertaining lens.

Fun Fact

In 1992 I visited Los Angeles almost exactly one month after the riots.

And while the timing wasn’t ideal for a visit, I was continuously amazed by the dichotomies of the city: incomparable wealth on one side of the razor-wire fence and abject poverty on the other.

That’s why I set Fuzzy in LA; to examine the contrast between haves and have-nots. But also because the legends and social references to the city are so ingrained in North American culture.

tv headOn the day I visited the Sunset Strip, I spotted a man wearing a cardboard box covered in aluminum foil on his head. The front of the box had been cut open, and knobs had been drawn on with marker, making the end-product look like an old-fashioned CRT television. He’d also attached an ancient broken antenna to the back.

That dude (whatever his name) makes an appearance in Fuzzy:

. The sidewalks in this part of the city were crowded with eccentric humans and a variety of aliens. One man wore a cardboard box over his head that looked like a vid.

I hope that dude is still alive today, wandering around LA with a cardboard flatscreen on his head. 🙂

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Toilets in the Couch Teleportation Universe

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 9th slot in the Table of Contents is the second of the Couch Teleportation Universe  stories: “Waste Management”

I mentioned in my last post on the story behind Everyone Needs a Couch  that many people wanted to hear the other side of Tanker’s sad story. So the couch makes a second appearance with Lorna Watkowski, Tanker’s ex-girlfriend, in Waste Management.

challenging destiny coverSince I’d had such a quick and amazing success with Couch, I wrote the follow-up story with Oceans of the Mind as the ideal magazine to buy the story.

Oceans  didn’t work out, but that’s okay.

I had another funny story written, and I wasn’t going to allow a rejection to slow me down!

Many writers return to the universes they’ve created. I loved the planet Forbi, especially the scum-lords who own all the real estate–carnivores native to Forbi known as the Braklez. They’re a hoot to write, and I had the chance to introduce several more Braklez characters in Waste Management, including the first female, Alawas.

My second favourite species, the Drips return in Waste Management. They’re squishy, multi-tentacled creatures whose skin turns various shades depending on their mood. They secrete ooze from their “many orifices” allowing me the opportunity to insert “Drip ooze” jokes. Who doesn’t love to chuckle over Drip ooze? 🙂

toiletThe protagonist, Lorna, is an engineer hired to improve the toilet designs on a space station. And we all know, from a fairly early age, that toilet jokes never go out of fashion. If you don’t believe me, try reading one of Dave Pilkey’s Captain Underpants  books.

I don’t want to spoil the plot in Waste Management, but make sure you’re not eating chicken noodle soup while reading this tale. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for causing you to shoot a noodle out your nose! Believe me, it can happen. That’s why the phrase, “Is that a noodle?” makes my kids laugh every time.

Fun Fact

Back when I was submitting Waste Management  to magazine markets, I was also shopping around The Wind and the Sky.

neo-op five coverOriginally, I submitted Waste Management  to Neo-Opsis and The Wind and the Sky  to Challenging Destiny.

Both stories were rejected by their respective markets. Total sad-face, right?

But then, for the next round of submissions, I pulled a switcheroonie, sending The Wind and the Sky  to Neo-Opsis and Waste Management  to Challenging Destiny.

And both markets BOUGHT the respective stories.

The lesson to be learned here: sometimes a switcheroonie is a writers’ best friend.

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Everyone Actually Needs a Couch

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 8th slot in the Table of Contents is the first of the Couch Teleportation Universe  stories: “Everyone Needs a Couch”

My first-ever published story is: Everyone Needs a Couch.

Amazingly, I sold the story to the first market I submitted it to.

I sold Couch  on January 12th, 2002 to Oceans of the Mind, a Science Fiction magazine that no longer exists. It was published in 2003 for their September Mysteries issue.

So when people ask about my first sale, I respond, “It’s a Science Fiction comedy mystery.”

writing March 2002 miniThis is a picture of me writing/editing in the spring of 2002. It’s possible that I was actually working on Couch  that day. I love how there’s a bottle of Heinz Ketchup on the table, since back then every meal involved HK.

I love writing comedy. Probably because sarcasm is one of my favourite forms of communication. And Tanker’s life is the ultimate hard-luck-writer’s tale. Which leads me to the following insight…

When you begin your writing career, you often hear this advice:

Don’t write about a writer who’s trying (and probably failing) to sell their work.

Don’t write comedy because it’s really hard to get right.

Don’t begin a story with dialogue.

I break all three of these rules in Everyone Needs a Couch.

If you’re starting out, it is really important to understand and follow the rules of the trade. But you should also be brave enough to occasionally break the rules.

Read my writing tip post: Following the Rules.

Then read my writing tip post: Breaking the Rules.

Fun Fact

Beginning with my broke-student years (mid-to-late 80s) and ending with my young-messy-kids-at-home years (mid-to-late 90s), I used to have a hand-me-down couch in my living room. The couch had originally belonged to my grandparents.

Yeah, that’s right. My grandparents.

Chuck Lenora Chris on couch miniI think they might’ve bought the couch in the 1950s (1960s at the latest), and furniture manufacturers sure don’t build couches to last that long now. It was old and somewhat ratty (we used to cover it with a quilt to hide its ugliness), but virtually indestructible. Here’s a shot of of the couch, including my aunt, uncle, and cousin in the early 70s.

What made the couch so unique was that it was an old-fashioned two-piece sectional, designed to fit into a corner so that each half of the couch had an armrest on one side and nothing on the other side so it could sit right up against an end-table.

My grandparents used to have their entertainment unit (which consisted of a radio and a turntable that played 78s, 45s, and 33s) in the corner, and each open-ended piece of the couch was placed up against the unit.

E on couch July 2002 comboWhen the couch was in my possession, we used to push the two halves together. (Except for that one co-op term when my apartment was so small that I only had room for HALF the couch.) My kids–and the occasional unsuspecting guest–would sit too close to the middle and fall through the gap onto the floor! (as my younger son demonstrates with his head in 2002) The couch sat on hardwood floors and we had no way to fasten the two pieces together.

Suffice it to say, that old couch was the inspiration for Tank Lazier’s couch in Everyone Needs a Couch.

Because so many people wanted to hear the other side of Tanker’s sad story, the couch makes a second appearance along with protagonist Lorna Watkowski, Tanker’s ex-girlfriend, in Waste Management.

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

The Power of Math and Pink

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 7th slot in the Table of Contents is “Jelly and the D-Machine”

I’ve always believed in multiple dimensions where countless versions of “Suzanne” likely exist and are living (perhaps) similar lives to mine.

I’ve also taken just enough physics to superficially understand the double-slit experiment, which is referenced in Jelly and the D-Machine.

I am a mathie–not a physicist–so forgive me if I get the science a bit wrong. I earned a Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) degree in Operations Research (now called Mathematical Optimization) from the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, which, according to their website, “…has the largest concentration of mathematical and computer science talent in the world.”

pink-tieSo when people say, “Do the math,” in most cases, I can actually do it!

The symbol for the Mathematics Faculty is a Pink Tie. Cue the pink segue…

In Jelly and the D-Machine  I explore teen sexuality, multiple dimensions, and bullying. And even though bullying is one of those words that gets over-used to the point where it doesn’t have much weight, I believe that all teenagers have a profound and thorough understanding of bullying.

Always have.

Always will.

Unfortunately, I doubt that we as a collective society will ever be able to eliminate bullying. But I am pleased that in Canada we continue the dialogue, and have so many initiatives, including:

Pink Shirt Day


Kids Help Phone

to continue the struggle to if not eliminate bullying, at least lessen its power.

Rock on, PINK! You have the power to do the math and reduce bullying. That’s an amazing skill for a colour.

rubber-chickensFun Fact

For years I super-volunteered for my sons’ elementary school councils. One of the events I helped to plan was an annual Fun Fair.

And yes, we actually had a rubber-chicken target-toss game, and we re-used the wooden toss-board every year for the Fun Fair. We even kept a supply of rubber chickens on hand.

Seriously. Rubber chickens. I kid you not!

Lucky for our committee, the school allotted us a lockable closet where we stored all of the equipment for the fair from year to year. So if Austin from Jelly and the D-Machine  had been my son, he wouldn’t have access to the chicken-toss-board in my basement and who knows what would’ve become of him.

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

How One Radioactive Monkey Found his Feet

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 6th slot in the Table of Contents is: “Hot Furball on a Cold Morning”

doorwaysissue6coverYears ago, I was scoping out in search of markets for my fiction when I stumbled across a call for submissions to the anthology:

Requiem for the Radioactive Monkeys.

The market didn’t pay much, but the maximum length was 500 words. I figured I could write a story in an hour about a radioactive monkey.

Bam! The first version of Hot Furball on a Cold Morning  flew into existence in record time.

Unfortunately, the editor, John Weagly, didn’t pick up my story.

The big problem with any themed anthology is that after the stories are purchased and the rejections go out, suddenly a glut of stories with similar themes run the magazine and anthology circuits. I couldn’t possible sell my radioactive monkey story right away! I’d have to sit on it for a while.

coldmorningA couple of years later, I took a workshop run by the incomparable Mort Castle at World Horror Convention in Toronto.

Wind time ahead some more, and Mort Castle assisted in founding a new horror magazine called Doorways.

I reworked the story, filling in some details I didn’t have room for with the original 500 word cap, and sold Hot Furball on a Cold Morning to Doorways.

Fun Fact

One of the other students in attendance at the Mort Castle workshop, Ken Lillie-Paetz illustrated my story. Didn’t he draw a fantastic sad little monkey?

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

“What Becomes a Legend Most” – Introduction by Sandra Kasturi

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

The “Introduction” for a book sets up the reader for the prose that follows. In this post, I thank Sandra Kasturi for writing the Introduction: “What Becomes a Legend Most”

I am honoured that Sandra Kasturi wrote the introduction What Becomes a Legend Most  for ELEMENTS.

sandra-as-ElvisSandra Kasturi is Co-Publisher at ChiZine Publications, AKA CZP. She’s an award winning poet, a short story writer, and an editor.

If all of those credentials aren’t enough, she’s also a friend.

Sandra and I met years ago, but I can’t recall exactly where or when. If held at gunpoint, I’d probably guess we met at Ad Astra, a convention in Toronto.

When my publisher at EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing requested a short list of people who might write the introduction, Sandra was the first person I emailed. She’s pretty much the first person I email whenever I have any complex questions about publishing.

As I mention in the Acknowledgements, she is a member of my girl-posse. If you’ve had the opportunity to read the final story “Soul-Hungry” from ELEMENTS  then you might have a greater appreciation of the status of such a designation.

Sandra is a force of nature. Her poems have been collected in several volumes including:

animal_bridegroom-COVERcome lateCome Late to the Love of Birds


The Animal Bridegroom with an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

I cannot thank Sandra enough for her wisdom, advice, and friendship. Most of all, I am grateful that she has shared so many poignant and truthful words with the world.

More ways to connect with Sandra Kasturi:

Follow Sandra on Twitter.

Find Sandra on Facebook.

Read and/or review Sandra’s books on Goodreads.

Read her full biography at

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Interview: Steve Vernon

Steve V photo miniGrowing up in Northern Ontario, Steve Vernon learned the storytelling tradition from his grandfather. Steve’s regional books include The Lunenburg Werewolf, Maritime Murder, Haunted Harbors, Wicked Woods, the children’s picture book Maritime Monsters, and the YA novel Sinking Deeper – or my questionable (possibly heroic) decision to invent a sea monster – a novel which begins with a jailbreak, seguing into an impromptu Main Street midnight caber toss leading to the invention of a sea monster, a gumbooted dragon dance, a couple of ghosts and an inadvertent assassination attempt on David Suzuki himself.

In addition to his regional books Steve has released over thirty independently published e-books including Hammurabi Road – a tale of Northern Ontario redneck noir revenge and Long Horn, Big Shaggy – a tale of Wild West Terror and Reanimated Buffalo.

Yes, Steve Vernon loves his subtitles.

Suzanne Church: You refer to yourself as a storyteller. Did this moniker grow organically from writing primarily for young people – or is there more to your story?

Steve Vernon: Actually I am an oral tradition storyteller, telling stories from audiences ranging between 5 to 5000 spectators. I re-tell old legends and ghost stories and fables and pretty much anything worth re-telling. The funny thing is – up until about the age of thirty – I was as quiet as a duct-tape-gagged mouse. I grew up painfully shy. It took a year or so in Toastmasters to bring me out of that whole shy stage in my life and I have not shut up since.

My very first regional collection – Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia (Nimbus Publishing 2006) originated from my storytelling background. I first met with the publisher at a Word On The Street Festival in 2004 when I took part in the very first Pitch the Publisher session in which – they tell me – that my pitched story collection was the ONLY book to make it through the pitching session and into publication that year.

SC: You’ve written SEVEN regional books with supernatural elements between 2006 and 2011. Are there any more regional books in the works?

SV: I’d LOVE to write something else for Nimbus Publishing. They’ve been great to work with and have approached me for another novel. Although I have embraced the indie publishing revolution I still enjoy writing for the traditional market – primarily because Nimbus can get my book into an awful lot of bookstores across the Maritimes and even across Canada itself.

SC: Since you’ve embraced the mysterious abyss that is the world of e-book publishing, tell us about your experience with publishing Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp, Flash Virus, and Sudden Death Overtime.

SV: Well – to tell you the truth I am still figuring out the whole digital publishing business. I make money at it every month but not enough for my liking. Don’t think of me as being greedy, you understand. It is just that writing – to me – has ALWAYS had a practical side. I don’t write JUST for the money – but it certainly is an important measure of an author’s success. Some may argue the point – but the way I see it, an artist ought to be able to justify his acts of creation. Besides, I’ve got bills to pay – LOTS of them.

Don’t think of me as a money grubber, though. The fact is, if I had wanted to get into something JUST for the money I probably would have got into dentistry or maybe even politics.

SC: If your characters were real people, which one would you choose to interview first on your blog? Why?

Sudden Death Overtime miniSV: I think I’d have to interview Sprague Deacon – one of the toughest old-time hockey players who ever skated upon a backyard rink of hand-poured ice. Sprague was born and raised and he expects to die someday on the shores of Northern Labrador. Sprague is one of my favorite characters because of his tough old-school no-nonsense style. He is a man who does not know how to back down from a fight – so when a tour bus full of vampires pulls into his town and begins lowering the population level one corpse at a time it is no surprise that Sprague and his buddies decide to go toe-to-toe with the bloodsuckers in a no-holds-barred game of hockey.

Sprague appears in my indie-published novella Sudden Death Overtime – a book that is just SCREAMING out to be made into a Canadian independent horror flick. I think he is one of my best efforts at capturing the unique timbre of the voice of the Atlantic Maritime storyteller.

Tesseracts17-110-100dpi-RGB-c8SC: You and Colleen Anderson co-edited Tesseracts Seventeen – Speculating Canada Coast to Coast to Coast for EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing – the publisher of my own collection Elements. What was the hardest lesson you learned during the editorial process?

SV: That I needed better glasses? Four hundred odd manuscripts – and some of them were VERY odd indeed – was hard on the eyes.

That was a very tricky anthology to put together because we set up rules for ourselves to get at least one writer and one story from each of the provinces and territories. We had an AWFUL lot of Ontario submissions – but the other provinces and territories yielded very mixed results. The population base of Canada has NEVER hit an even balance.

But aside from just the struggle with the demographic limitations that a cross-Canada selection presents, I found that the work involved was incredibly daunting. Editing is a LOT harder than writing is.

SC: Describe two aspects about living in the Maritimes that’ve influenced your prose.

SV: We’re a quiet province. Almost a dying province – in spite of all the propaganda that the tourism offices produce. Our young people are moving west and south. Aside from Halifax, the rest of Nova Scotia is dwindling in population. The market here is intensely limited.

Still, there are benefits to be found here in Nova Scotia. We are definitely a province of storytellers. No one can spin a yarn like a Maritimer. The glitz and the glitter of the 21st century still hasn’t caught up with this province I live in. It is almost as if we live one step behind the rest of the country – and I like it that way.

Besides that, there is something intensely powerful and compelling about living so close to the deep Atlantic. I have hitchhiked from one end of this country to the other and there is nothing that can compare – not even the Pacific Ocean – to the deep and almost elemental call of the Atlantic waves. They are both lodestone and heartbeat and I can feel the tidal pull echoing deep within my veins.

SC: What are you working on now?

Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp miniSV: I am currently working on the second book in a brand new series that I call Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp. The series retells the stories of the Old Testament in a more comfortable, countrified style. I wrote it thinking about the way that my grandfather and uncles would tell me some of the legends and tales and bible stories in their own unique fashion – rather than just reciting from the Bible.

You see, to me, those old boys – Adam and Moses and Abraham and Cain – were most likely folks like you or me. They didn’t REALLY know that they were supposed to be biblical. They were just trying to get on with their day and do the very best they could – just the same as you or me.

SC: Are you working on anything in the fantasy/horror genre?

Tesseracts16-110-100dpi-RGB-c8SV: As a matter of fact I am working on completing a new novel based on the ideas from my Sasquatch story “Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears” originally published in Tesseracts 16 – Parnassus Unbound, edited by my good buddy Mark Leslie Lefebvre. This novel entitled Big Hairy Deal should be completed within the next month or so and I look forward to launching it out into the world.

For the following flash questions, try to answer with the first idea that pops into your head.

SC: Imagine a prison of eternal misery. Is it hot or cold?

SV: It’s cold. Cold like the Canadian winter. Cold like the thousands of pounds of snow I have shoveled over my lifetime. As far as I’m concerned, paradise has got to have a beach and some serious sun-tanning weather involved.

SC: If you were only allowed to read ONE book more than once in your lifetime, what book would you choose?

SV: A big fat one.

SC: Scallops or lobster?

SV: Lobster is messier. I like pan-fried scallops – preferably wrapped in bacon.

SC: Stickers on your laptop or pure out-of-the-box plain?

SV: Laptop? I am old school. Laptops are way too dinky for my labor-enhanced meat hooks.

SC: Music while writing, or total silence? And if you chose music, name three inspirations.

SV: I usually like it quiet – but I have written to music before. I wrote one entire novella while listening to a collection of Godzilla soundtracks.

SC: Thanks to Steve Vernon for participating in this blog tour!