Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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The Chat with Steven Heighton

The Chat with Steven Heighton

By Trevor Corkum

This week, we’re in conversation with author Steven Heighton. His memoir, Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and …

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Book Cover knot body

Launchpad: knot body, by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

By Kerry Clare

"Readers may sit and ruminate on the sharp and sensual inquiry offered by each individual letter, or read cover-to-cover …

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book cover footlights

2020 Poetry Delights

By Pearl Pirie

A list by the author of new collection footlights. These books turn and explore, question and listen.

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The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

By Trevor Corkum

Zsuzsi Gartner’s debut novel, The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton), is a stunner. It was a finalist for this year’s Write …

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Book Cover Loss Lake

Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

By Kerry Clare

"Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the character …

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Hope Matters

25 Reasons to be Hopeful

By Kerry Clare

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possi …

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Book Cover Spend It

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Money Money Money

By Julie Booker

Financial literacy is part of the new math curriculum for grades 4-6. But why not start even sooner, as young as kinderg …

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Book Cover You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked.

Launchpad: YOU ARE EATING AN ORANGE. YOU ARE NAKED. by Sheung-King

By Kerry Clare

"This novel ...gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thr …

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Book Cover The Way Home

Books for University Press Week

By Clare Hitchens

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a m …

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Author Profile: Sierra McLean, Ten-Year-Old Grand Prize Winner of theToronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, James & The Giant Peach, Small Print Toronto invited young authors between 9-12 years old to compose a short story based on the scenario: "What would happen if James discovered the Giant Peach in today’s Toronto?" The panel of judges included Kelley Armstrong, Susan Kernohan, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Mark Medley, Evan Munday, Kevin Sylvester, Vikki Vansickle and Janet Somerville. A Toronto Roald Dahl Day celebration took place on October 23rd at The Gladstone Hotel, where Sierra McLean was announced as the grand prize winner. To read her winning entry “James Goes To The R.O.M.”, please visit the online home for YA author and blogger Kat Kruger.

I had the privilege to chat with Sierra about her writing practices and the life of this burgeoning young author.

Julie Wilson: Sierra, congratulations on winning the Toronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest! How did you come up with your idea for "James Goes to the R.O.M."?

Sierra McLean: I didn't really come up with it until I had written most of the story. In fact, that's what I do with most stories that I write. I come up with a basic idea, and then add to it as I go along. I find it a brilliant way to do things!

Before I write a story, I alwa …

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Eukrates’ Guide to Wining and Dining in Athens, by Karen Dudley

Corey Mintz may have a few pearls of wisdom when it comes to entertaining guests in 2013, but would he know what to do in Ancient Athens? Thankfully, none of us need go ignorant now that Karen Dudley is sharing Eukrates' Five Quick Tips for Hosts, complete with recommended—and edible—sex toys for bored women-folk.

Karen's genre-defying Food for the Gods, an historical fantasy novel set in ancient Athens, has been nominated for an Aurora Award (for science fiction and fantasy), a Bony Blithe Award (for humorous mystery), a Mary Scorer Award (for best book by a Manitoba publisher), and a High Plains Book Award for best culinary book. The sequel, Kraken Bake, is forthcoming in 2014.

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Ensure your dinner party is a success by following these Five Quick Tips for Hosts:

1. Hire the best foreign chef you can afford for your symposion. In some circles it has become common practice to demand that a cook and his slaves eat before they arrive so you do not have to bear the expense of feeding them. Although some find this behaviour acceptable, it is, in fact, niggardly and vulgar. By offering to feed the cook and his retinue, you will, in addition to appearing magnanimous, secure his gratitude and through this obtain a vastly superior meal for your special dinner party. …

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Why You’re Not Reading Science Fiction and Why You Should

Author photo Kris

Kristene Perron, a science fiction author and contributor to Warpworld SF adventure series, breaks down a few myths about the genre and explains why it's both accessible and important. She also provides a list of five authors to try out for readers new to the genre.

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“I don’t usually read science fiction but I loved this book!” I am not the only genre author who has heard a version of this statement about their work. I stumble across it often while scanning reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It is a sentiment that delights and puzzles me. Delights me for what, as an author of science fiction, should be obvious reasons. Puzzles me because why, if you are a reader, a reader of fiction, would you not read science fiction?  

In my hunt for an answer, a handful of themes appear consistently. Foremost, perhaps, is the “science fiction is not literature” argument. To which I say, twaddle. If you have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, or more recently, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, you have read great literature that also happens to be science fiction. If that surprises you, the fault lies in the shelving of such works in General, Literary, or Classic Fiction and not in the genre from which they we …

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The Concept of a Photon: An Excerpt From Boundary Problems by Greg Bechtel

Of the stories in Greg Bechtel's new collection, Boundary Problems, Craig Davidson (Cataract City, Rust and Bone) writes:

“Each ... is a perfect little puzzle-box: one marvels at their perfect geometries while anticipating that dazzling moment where every piece slots flush. These finely-crafted, emotionally resonant tales will stay with me a long, long time.” 

The collection is both speculative and lit fiction, and its stories "push boundaries—into the surreal, into the playful, into the irresistible energy of uncertainty."

We are pleased to present an excerpt from the collection's story, "The Concept of a Photon." Boundary Problems will be published in March.

 

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“. . . it is better to regard a particle not as a permanent entity but as an instantaneous event. Sometimes these events form chains that give the illusion of permanent beings — but only in particular circumstances and only for an extremely short period of time in every single case.”
— Erwin Schrödinger

 

The Rabbit shudders and the grinding of steel on steel competes with the rising engine roar as I hit the brakes — too late or unnecessarily, I’ll never know. In accordance with some obscure law of inverse proportionality, I have discovered that the engine volume rises as the RPM drops. …

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Kristi Charish: Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Book Cover Owl and the Japanese CIrcus

Kristi Charish's debut novel is Owl and the Japanese Circus, about the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day "Indiana Jane" who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. The book draws on Charish's own background in science and archeology, and joins a fine tradition of Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing. In this recommended reading list, Charish tells us more about that tradition, and how she has been inspired by it. 

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As I’m an urban fantasy author, I thought it’d be appropriate to come up with a mix of Canadian authors I consider essential reads. I’ll be the first to admit it’s an eclectic list—a couple speculative fiction literary greats alongside adventure and urban fantasy authors, and a few who toe the line somewhere in between. That said, they all do have one thing in common. They’ve heavily influenced the Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy landscape and this (very) new author’s own writing.

Book Cover Flash Forward

Robert J Sawyer

With 21 novels, a Nebula Award, Hugo Award, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, (one of only 7 sci-fi authors in the world to win a …

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