Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Bog people invade Canada

By Lucianne Poole

A photo of the reconstructed face of Yde Girl, a 16-year-old redhead whose body was preserved in a bog 2,000 years.
Yde Girl, a 2000-year-old found in a bog.
I pitched this story about 10 years ago to the National Post, but they turned it down. I first got interested in the subject of mummies after interviewing author Heather Pringle about her excellent book, The Mummy Congress.

The bog people are coming.

No, it's not a bad movie, but rather the culmination of years of archaeological research and an international (dare I say it?) love affair with human corpses found in European bogs. The Mysterious Bog People, an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, features bodies mummified in peat bogs – wet, dead vegetative matter.

Yde Girl

In fact, you may be familiar with the exhibition’s poster girl, a 2000-year-old red head known as Yde (pronounced Yidda) Girl. Her international popularity generated books, songs, poems, stories and two TV documentaries.

In 1897, two Dutch peat cutters dragged her leathery, withered corpse from a small bog in the northern Netherlands. A seven-foot-long banded wrapped three times around her neck indicated an untimely end. Yde Girl ended up in the Drents Museum in Assen, which now has one of the largest bog body collections in Europe. She was pretty much forgotten until almost a century later when she sparked the curiosity of an archaeologist interested in “bog bodies”.

Who are the bog bodies?

When Dr. Wijnand van der Sanden, a specialist in Iron Age Dutch villages, arrived at the Drents Museum in 1987, he realized that although the human remains on display drew a lot of interest from the public, very little was actually known about the bodies. Who were they, where did they come from, when did they die and above all, how did they end up in the bogs?

“When I joined the museum in ‘87, I soon found out that Dutch bog bodies had never been studied in a thorough way,” says the matter-of-fact van der Sanden, 49, one of the world’s five bog body researchers. “I very quickly took interest in bog bodies, also in response to the public’s questions. I couldn’t answer their questions.”

Digging up answers

Van der Sanden, who became fascinated with bog bodies as a teenager after reading The Bog People by P.V. Glob, started doing research on bog bodies. He called human geneticists, blood-typing specialists, textile experts, anthropologists, pathologists and forensic experts.

They learned that Yde Girl had died as about age 16. She had been wearing a woolen cloak and the band knotted around her neck was probably a waistband. A sliding knot had been tied beneath her left year and tightened until she asphyxiated. Her hair had been cut off on the right side of her head, and she had possibly been stabbed under the collarbone.

Bringing Yde Girl back to life

Eager to learn as much as he could about the only bog body at the Drents Museum with a head, van der Sanden contacted British medical artist Richard Neave about reconstructing Yde Girl’s head. Neave also reconstructed the head of Lindow Man, an Iron Age Briton found in a British bog in 1984.

“I also thought it would be a good way to make bog bodies more relative to visitors,” says van der Sanden, who left the Drents Museum five years ago to continue his bog body research as the county archaeologist for the Dutch province of Drenthe. “If you look at the remains, it is very difficult to imagine once-living people.”

He was right, Yde Girl was a huge hit. International interest in her and bog bodies climaxed with the release of two films (one by the Discovery Channel in 1997 and the other in 1998 by the BBC) and an exhibition of bog mummies from the Drents Museum.

A case of human sacrifice

Van der Sanden says it was quite likely that Yde Girl was sacrificed to the bogs: “The bodies are a part of the bigger picture of sacrifice, and the exhibition tries to show that.”

Van der Sanden explains that in prehistoric times, northwestern Europe became increasingly wet and peat began to form, eventually the areas were covered by bogs. People living on the high dry land between the bogs believed that the dangerous, foggy areas were inhabited by gods and spirits who controlled daily life. To keep on good terms with the gods, people deposited offerings in the bog. Written evidence from the medieval period, as well as the writings of Romans, including Tacitus, support the human sacrifice theory.

“Yde Girl is a part of a pattern of human sacrifice, but why sacrifice her?” asks van der Sanden “I don’t know. That goes for all bog bodies.”

The Mysterious Bog People exhibition closed in 2005 after appearing in five countries, but you can still view it online. Yde Girl is now back home at the Drents Museum if you feel like paying your respects.

This will be my last post for 2012. Back in January. Happy holidays and see you next year!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Home for the holidays . . . after a few centuries

By Lucianne Poole

A photo showing a bridge and clouds reflected in the Arno River in Florence, Italy.
The Arno River, Florence, much like it was in the 16th century.
Here's a feature about a centuries-old Italian art mystery. I wrote it in 2010 and sold it to the Globe and Mail, but they never got round to publishing it. So here it is for the first time!

A mysterious couple with a Canadian connection have been reunited in Italy after a 200-year separation.
You can find the aristocratic man and his pale wife side-by-side in an art exhibition in their home town of Florence. The 450-year-old portraits are considered masterpieces by Italian Mannerist painter Bronzino. It is the first time the elegant paintings have appeared together since the 1824 sale of one of them, the Portrait of a Lady.

This historic occasion has revived a centuries-old question: who are the man and the woman?

A banker and his wife

Their identities have been long debated. The National Gallery of Canada, which bought the Portrait of a Man in 1930 from a Berlin art dealer, recently identified the man as Pierantonio Bandini, a wealthy and influential banker born in Florence in 1514. According to the gallery, the woman in the Italian-owned Portrait of a Lady is Bandini's wife Cassandra de' Cavalcanti.
The Medici theory

Other experts say that the couple are Duke Cosimo I de' Medici and his wife, the Duchess Eleonora di Toledo, who ruled 16th-century Florence. In 2004, Janet Cox-Rearick, an American academic, and Mary Westerman Bulgarella, a textile and costume conservator based in Italy, linked the pattern on the couple's clothing to that worn by the duke and duchess' son. As court painter to the Medici, Bronzino painted official portraits of Cosimo I, his family and the Florentine nobility.
What Vasari said

Giorgio Vasari, Bronzino's contemporary and famous for his biographies of Italian artists, noted that Bronzino painted portraits of Bandini and his wife. But these paintings were believed lost.

Then Catherine Johnston started researching for an essay on the Portrait of a Man, now named Pierantonio Bandini in the National Gallery of Canada's collection.
"I started researching the Bronzino in 2004, and I thought everything was known," says Johnston, now retired as curator of European Art. "I was reading Vasari again and again, and finally I thought of Pierantonio Bandini and the missing portraits. 'Could it be them?'"

Portrait listing found

At that time, an Italian researcher discovered a listing for the 1904 sale of the Portrait of a Man from Palazzo Giugni in Florence. The palace was once home to Cassandra Bandini, granddaughter and principal heir to Pierantonio Bandini. She married into the Giugni family, bringing her belongings and, plausibly, Bronzino's portraits.
Johnston acknowledges that her identification of Bandini and his wife is not universally accepted. Nonetheless, she continues to research the paintings, even travelling to Florence to see them at their temporary home in Palazzo Strozzi, close to the magnificent Renaissance palaces where the Bandinis and the Medici once lived.
What do you think?

Do you think the National Art Gallery correctly identified the sitters in the paintings or are they actually of Medici and his wife? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

This exhibition, Bronzino. Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici, ended in 2011. But you can still visit it online (see room VIII), buy the catalogue and see the paintings in person: Pierantonio Bandini at the National Gallery of Canada and Portrait of a Lady in Turin, Italy at Galleria Sabauda

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Writing contest mania continues

By Lucianne Poole

Have your say in the novel-writing contest I entered!

A sketch of a woman writing with an old-fashioned quill pen and ink.
With your help, I may inch closer to landing an agent for my novel.

Miss Snark's First Victim's Baker's Dozen novel writing contest is now open to critiques. This means you can have your say in the contest I mentioned in an earlier post, and in which I was chosen as a finalist. Yay!

Past winners have gone on to successful careers as novelists (hopefully, I'll be among the ranks).

How does this writing contest work? On Dec. 4, 2012, 15 agents will place bids on the finalists' entries (short description and first 250 words), with requested material going to the highest bidder.

Critiquing opened Nov. 30, 2012 and continues til Dec. 5, 2012. If you're interested, please provide feedback on any of the 60 entries (two categories).

These contests help "new" writers like me to find out if they are on the right track (whether we "win" an agent or not) and what you, the reader, are looking for. The genres range from young adult (YA) to women's fiction, romance and thrillers.

At 250 words, they are quick reads and, as finalists, these entries have all been pre-screened. So they are good to amazing. The entries are also anonymous, so I won't tell you which is mine, except to give you two hints: all entries are numbered and mine is between 1 and 12. and it is not paranormal romance!

If you would like to provide critique, here are some guidelines from Miss Snark's First Victim:
  • Please use a screen name instead of "Anonymous". Using a screen name does not require that you have a Blogger account, or any other account. Simply choose the "Name/URL" option for signing in, and type whatever screen name you'd like to use. The URL part isn't necessary.
  • Your critique should focus on the actual writing. 
  • As always, a mixture of tact and honesty is the best approach.
  • Please DO NOT CRITIQUE during the auction (Tuesday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m. EST to Wednesday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m. EST).
Nov. 30: 60 winning entries posted on Miss Snark's First Victim

Dec. 4: auction is LIVE at 11 a.m. EDT (agents will place bids)

Dec. 5: auction closes at 11 a.m. EDT and critiquing continues

Dec. 6: winners announced

Ready to critique? Go to the excellent blog of Miss Snark's First Victim.

How do you feel about critiquing? Ever done it before? Tell me about yourself. Please comment below.

Since I've blogged twice this week (phew!), there will be no blog for Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Shadow Service

By Lucianne Poole

A black and white image of a fanged vampire wearing a cape and bow tie.
Photo credit: Little-vampire-by-Ceskino
Here's an updated excerpt from the vampire novel I've been tinkering with. Thanks to Sherry Soule for her valuable feedback and also to the participants of K.T. Crowley's January Test Run

In this scene, we meet the protagonist, a well-behaved vampire who works for the Government of Canada.

They have sent another one. Antonio glanced at the warning from the deputy minister and absent-mindedly shredded the note with his pale fingers.

He sighed and dropped the feathery strips of paper into his waste paper basket. A sliver of paper remained speared upon a long, talon-like fingernail. Antonio made a mental note to pare his nails before he went out for the night.

It was only 10 a.m., but you would never know it. The windowless office was cast in perpetual gloom. The weak light from the solitary desk lamp and soft glow of his computer screen provided enough light to reveal walls as bare as a monk’s cell. It would seem old habits were hard to break. Except for the framed photo on his bookcase, the Persian carpet blanketing the floor was his only concession to adornment. In fact, the rug proved quite useful; it hid the green carpeting that spread across government office floors like creeping mold.

Antonio scanned the staff meeting agenda on the desk before him. He straightened his tie and smoothed back his hair. With the grace of an athlete, he rose from his desk and stretched his limbs luxuriously.

It was time to meet his latest adversary.

What do you think of this rewrite? Fangs, in advance, for the comments.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Near Smiths Falls

An ode to an Eastern Ontario winter
By Lucianne Poole

A sketch of a Via Rail train car going past three cows in a frozen field.
The train plows through fresh snow.

Like a cloud of icing sugar, it blows past my window.

Pine boughs dusted white,

And bare maples blur against the blue sky.

The train rattles along the icy track.

Cows look up from across a fence.

They've seen it all before.

Having said I've written few poems, I keep digging them up on scraps of paper. This has proven useful because as I'm reading my old stories, I'm realizing they need work - alot of it! - before I foist them upon you. 

I wrote this short prose poem one cold February on a Via Rail train between Ottawa and Toronto. It's a striking route, particularly in winter, that takes you across frozen fields and forests and through picturesque towns like Smiths Falls, Ontario. And, of course, past blasé livestock.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Contest Mania

By Lucianne Poole

A photo showing tree-covered mountains and blue lakes, as seen from the top of Bald Mountain, Vermont.
On top of the world, in this case Bald Mountain, Vermont.

I interrupt the weekly story with a news flash. Apologies for bitter disappointment and general outrage.

I almost had a heart attack this past Monday morning. I received an email with this subject line: Congratulations!

Naturally, I thought it was spam, a mistake or perhaps a cruel joke. After all, it's been years (literally) of rejections or just no responses from agents regarding my novel.

The message read that I had been chosen as one of 25 finalists in a novel-writing contest.

I had entered my paranormal novel in a respected, NYC-based contest. Of course, I nurtured some vestige of hope. But, based on past results ie. 24 rejections, hope was at the molecular level. So, I was ecstatic to hear that mine (ie. the first 250 words) was one of those chosen out of 130 submissions. Now I just have to wait another three weeks to find out if an agent's interested in my work.

Meanwhile, a big thanks to all of my friends and family members who have read and critiqued said novel. And also thanks to you, readers of my blog. I'm very encouraged by your interest in my work.

Back to contests and awards: I used to enter short story contests all the time but gave up a few years ago. This was because:

a) I never won;
b) the judges never chose stories like mine; and
c) I decided to spend the time on my novel.

On the other hand, if you win a contest, it can be a huge boost especially if you are a "new" writer. And you might even get published! Canadian author Vincent Lam, whose first book of short stories won the Giller prize, recently weighed in on the value of awards in the Ottawa Citizen.

But as you writers out there know, there are also pitfalls to entering contests. You should know what you're getting into. The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) covers this subject well in the contests and awards section of its Writer Beware.

What do you think of writing contests and awards? Share your comment below.

Back to our normal or paranormal programming next week, when I may (or may not) have come back to earth.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


By Lucianne Poole

A drawing of a view from a window showing a lake, where a woman in a red bathing suit floats and a sail boat and fish go by.
I can see my mum's white legs

through the water.

A bird's eye view

from the window above.

The lake is still, flat like a mill pond.

The morning is young,

and she slips through the water

like a pale shadow.

After the melodramatic Bad Laundry, I thought a short prose poem might fit the bill. I wrote this on a scrap of paper about 10 years ago after a trip to Vermont with my folks. I like it because it catches one of those peaceful moments that are so fleeting. I never submitted it anywhere.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bad Laundry: Part 3

A drawing of a beat up old dryer with graffiti on it and "Bad Laundry" scrawled across the front.
The conclusion of a three-part spooky story in time for Halloween. If you missed the first two parts of the story, scroll down to find them below this post.

By Lucianne Poole

Three wild-eyed men stormed in. I knew at that moment I was done for. They stood between the only exit and me. Trapped, I froze like a doe in the headlights, hoping not to be noticed. I could only stare in dismay – they had no laundry bags.
It could only mean one thing.

The first man, in his late 20s, obviously provided the muscle for the group’s nefarious purposes. His large biceps were tattooed with evil-looking barbed wire. He also had a shaved head and an ugly scar running down the right side of it. No doubt it was easier to carry out orders with less brain.

The second man was about the same age, but taller and thinner with dark hair. He was compulsively grabbing at clothes left on the table adjacent to the door. I earmarked him as the probable toilet-seat stealer.

As the marauders paused to rip open dryer doors and rifle contents, I could see the third man, obviously their ringleader. He was in his 50s and had the long ponytail and Birkenstocks of an aging hippie. He carefully picked his way over the hidden crater. This was, no doubt, one of his haunts. Framed by rounded-wire glasses, his eyes searched the room and lit upon me. He hesitated.

“We just got a call from our roommate,” he said to me.

I thought I heard a note of apology in his voice. No doubt it was a trick.

“He’s in Cuba, but he forgot to pick up his laundry before he left last week.”

As if to confirm the fact, scar-head said: “These dryers are giving off residual warmth; they’ve recently been used. Therefore, this can’t be Clive’s stuff.”

“You could ask the attendant in the car wash,” I squeaked, playing along with the charade to gain precious time. “He supervises this place.”

The ringleader nodded and ordered a retreat. The trio filed out. I sprang to my feet and ran to my washers. My heart sank when I realized they were still on “rinse”. My eyes darted to the door, now unobstructed, and back to the washers, now juddering alarmingly as if protesting my imminent escape. And then it hit me. I realized that freedom could only come at a high price: no underwear, not to mention my new pair of designer jeans.

Five minutes later the doors of the laundromat swung open again. The swearing attendant entered swearing and wielding a full garbage bag. The three “roommates” followed hot on his heels.

“People leave their f***in' stuff all the time,” the attendant said, unceremoniously dumping the bag on the table. “What I want to know is, what are they f***in' wearing?”

The roommate with the dark hair and fleet fingers sorted through the clothes. Every now and then, he would hold up an item and say things like: “Would Clive wear something like this? Are these his colours?”

The men soon realized that they had no clue what Clive wore, nor did they care. But when the dark-haired man retrieved a white lacey bra, the words died on their lips.

“Well, I guess that can’t be Clive’s!” scar-head said with a forced laugh. But his eyes said he sure as hell hoped it wasn’t his roommate’s.

The roommates admitted defeat and, empty-handed, they began to file out of the laundromat. The dark-haired one suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“Wait a second, I have to use the washroom.”


Bad Laundry is the true story about my strangest trip to my local laundromat in Ottawa, ON, Canada. It was also the last creative writing piece I submitted for publication. Geist (to which I sent most stories, although I guess I shouldn't have put all my eggs in one basket) rejected Bad Laundry in 2009: ".. the story is focused more on the narrator's anxiety than on the story that is unfolding in front of her."

After that rejection, I decided to channel my efforts into writing (and re-writing) my paranormal novel. I've entered the novel into a NYC-based contest this week, so we'll see if the efforts paid off!

Meanwhile, let me know what you think of the story and the original art.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bad Laundry: Part 2

A three-part spooky story in time for Halloween. If you missed the first part of the story, scroll down to find it below this post.

By Lucianne Poole

Photo of a window showing peeling letters spelling "laundromat".
A sinister message is scratched above one dryer: "Eats loonies".

“F***in' pigs!”

Startled back to the reality of my impending doom, I was disappointed to see it was only the surprisingly well-groomed attendant, who also operated the gas station next door. Fortunately, my overloaded washers escaped his notice; his eyes were on the floor.

“I clean this place every f***in' day and they leave their crap everywhere,” he said as he furiously grabbed litter off the floor.

Who are they? I wanted to ask. But instead, made reckless by the full moon, I ventured: “Maybe you could put a garbage can in here?”

“It’s over there,” he said sullenly, pointing to the garbage can next to the door. “They stole the other f***in' one from under the table. They steal everything,” he paused and narrowed his eyes at me, as if he had something else to say but wasn’t sure if I could handle it. I must have passed the test because he uttered darkly: “You know why the washroom is always locked?”

“No,” I replied, thinking of people at the laundromat I had never seen again, their bodies stacked neatly in various states of decay.

“Because someone stole the f***in' toilet seat and the light switch. F***in' f***ers.”

“That’s not stealing, that’s mental illness.” I leaned against one of the tables for support. It was disturbing to think that someone was out there stealing toilet seats from places like this.

“You’ve got that right,” he snorted. He dumped the detritus from the floor into the garbage can and threw open the first washer. Grabbing armfuls of dirt-grey carwash rags, he threw them into a dryer and slammed the door. Without another word, he stalked out of the laundromat.

I perched on one of the tables, careful to avoid a bluish stain. I was trying to envision the type of person to steal a toilet seat from a filthy laundromat, when the door flew open again.

Three wild-eyed men stormed in. I knew at that moment I was done for. They stood between the only exit and me. Trapped, I froze like a doe in the headlights, hoping not to be noticed. I could only stare in dismay – they had no laundry bags.

It could only mean one thing.

To be concluded next week....

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bad Laundry: Part 1

A three-part spooky story in time for Halloween
By Lucianne Poole

Sometimes it's safer to be outside rather than inside a laundromat.

“So you go to the gross one.” 

“It’s closer to my apartment, and it’s cheaper,” I replied defensively.

“All the weirdoes go to that laundromat.”

My friend was right. The place was the worst one I’d ever been to. It was filthy, the washers and dryers constantly broke down, and it was full of stray socks and suspicious characters. It was a blight on the scrubbed face of Ottawa.

I knew I was asking for trouble when I went to the bad laundromat on a full moon. Everyone knows all the crazies come out on the full moon, but I had no choice; I was out of underwear.

Armed with a fearsome bag of laundry, which – I realized with dismay – could only be used as a weapon when full, I made the 20-minute walk to my probable doom. The birds were singing and the daisies were nodding in the late afternoon sun. I was soon lulled into a false sense of security.

I swung open the door of the laundromat and was enveloped by a humid sub-tropical climate created by 10 washers, five industrialized dryers and no ventilation. I proceeded with care along the eight-foot-lint-covered black mat; it had been thrown down the previous month to cover a small crater in front of the first washer.

During months of rinse cycles and spin dries, I had watched in fascination as this pit formed. Like some geological phenomenon, the end of a ridge stretching from the door had slowly collapsed into a 30-centimetre wide gap. Once I peered down the hole, expecting to find an ancient crypt, but it was only a shallow hole full of rubble and used fabric softener sheets.

Other litter – empty chip bags, candy wrappers, and used fabric softening sheets –  was strewn across the floor.

Despite its state of disrepair and lack of air circulation – which depended on if the door was open or closed – the laundromat always smelled pretty good in a downy fresh way.

I threw down my duffle bag and separated my whites from darks. With the speed of a pro, I crammed three loads of laundry into the two best washers – they didn’t break down as often as the others.

I was almost finished overloading – tossing in my last pair of underwear – when the laundromat door flew open.

To be continued next week. . .

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Knitting Man

By Lucianne Poole

The Bank Street stop where the quick knit took place.
Man at the bus stop

leaning against the garbage can

needles flying,

stabbing the cold air.

Furious race against time

to finish the baby blanket,

in fresh cream wool,

before the number 7 arrives.

Steel-framed glasses on

a nose red with cold.

Like a male grandmother

who likes a good brawl.

Wild, wind-whipped hair

rises in warning.

He looks up sharply.

Roar of traffic,

but no bus.

Our eyes meet.

His glare says:

"I don't want to hear it.”

Here's another wierd story from my years riding the number 7 bus in the city of Ottawa, Ontario. Knitting Man is one of the few poems I've written. In 2009, I submitted it to Geist, which published my story Chainsaw Man. Geist gently rejected it as "a bit slight to stand on its own." If only I had taken a photo of him...but then knitting man may have stabbed me or at least given me a good jab with one of his needles.

Update: I think I've discovered the identity of "knitting man". Check out this article in the Ottawa Citizen.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Chainsaw Man

By Lucianne Poole

The number 7 is best taken outside of rushhour with no chainsaws.
A man with a chainsaw boarded the number 7 bus at about 7:45 a.m., when I was on my way to work in downtown Ottawa.

He hopped on at the corner of Catherine and Bank. He looked a lot like the other male office workers—medium height, greying brown hair cropped army style, business suit, plastic-rimmed glasses, black shoes that were scuffed and worn at the heel.

But instead of a briefcase, he held a chainsaw.

The surly crowd of morning commuters parted readily as the man made his way to the back of the bus. He calmly held the saw with the blade pointing down, as if he were holding a knife.

Suddenly, the bus lurched forward. The chainsaw man grabbed a pole and the blade flew up in the air, the saw’s cruel teeth glittering in the sunlight. All eyes were on the chainsaw man and the air was still as we waited silently and passively for him to start the motor and carve us up like a Sunday roast.

But the only thing that moved was a pink tag, which swung from the chainsaw at the end of a delicate pink ribbon. Something was written on the tag, which could have been a price tag. Perhaps he had just bought the chainsaw—it was very clean and shiny. Or maybe it was a gift tag: “Darling, happy birthday. Enjoy the chainsaw.”

The bus shuddered to a stop and more people surged on, but no one went near the man and his chainsaw. Someone stood up to get off the bus and the chainsaw man sat down heavily in the vacated seat. Would it be easier to cut people’s legs off from that angle? His expressionless face and downcast eyes gave no clue to his plans.

He tucked the chainsaw on the floor behind his legs, blade parallel to the ground. Then he seemed to change his mind and turned the saw on its side, blade up. Maybe he was worried that the lurching bus would send the saw hacking into his ankles. The woman next to him faced the other way, as if to turn her back on imminent carnage. In her final moments she would be looking in the direction of Parliament Hill.

The bus stopped near Sparks Street and the chainsaw man leapt to his feet, grabbed his chainsaw and jumped down onto the steps of the back door. The door swung open, and like a silent Rambo he launched himself through the air. Across the gutter and onto the sidewalk he flew, swinging the chainsaw in an arc deadly enough to mow down anyone in its path. But the saw returned to his side unbloodied, and the chainsaw man made a sharp left turn and continued down the sidewalk. The bus doors closed behind him.


This story was first published in Geist in Spring 2005. Chainsaw Man was also told at the Ottawa Storytellers Festival in 2006 at the National Arts Centre.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fact, Fiction and the Paranormal

Not exactly a wading pool, Skerwink Trail, NFLD.
I once saw a man get on the number 7 bus with a chainsaw. He looked like any other businessman dressed in a suit and tie, but instead of carrying a briefcase, he carried a chainsaw.

Fact or fiction?

Wade into my new blog - stories of fact, fiction and the paranormal - to find out.

I'm a freelance writer by trade. For years, I developed corporate documents and occasionally wrote for Canadian media, but I always wanted to make the leap into fiction. The chainsaw story (true) was my first piece of creative writing (creative non-fiction) that was accepted for publication. I soon gathered a filing cabinet of non-fiction pieces rejected by various literary magazines.

I finally decided to do what I always wanted to: write a novel.

After some creative writing courses, including the creative writing program at Humber College in Toronto, I wrote one. It took me several years as I toiled away on it between corporate gigs.

This is where the paranormal comes in. In my novels (yet to be published) you will find ghosts, gods, shapeshifters and maybe a vampire or two.

In this blog, I'll share with you some excerpts of the latest novel, as well as the chainsaw story and my rather large collection of rejected work.

I invite your comments (especially constructive ones) and if I should "sell it" or "shelve it"!