Monthly Archives: October 2015

BWS 11.11.15: Loren Edizel

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Loren Edizel has published three books: two novels, Adrift (2011) and The Ghosts of Smyrna (2013), with TSAR Books (now Mawenzi House), and the short story collection Confessions, A Book of Tales (2014) with Inanna Publications. Adrift was longlisted for the ReLit Award, and The Ghosts of Smyrna was translated to Turkish.

Loren joined us this week for an interview before her Nov. 11 reading at Brockton Writers Series.

BWS: What can you tell us about the genesis of the tales in this new book? Were they collected over a long period of time, or were they written as part of a more focused project?

Loren: It began with the first tale in the collection, “The Conch”. An editor in Turkey asked me to write a short story set in Izmir, for an anthology of women’s stories. I accepted immediately because I loved the idea of writing something short, fast and with a particular geography.

BWS: Before Confessions, you had published two novels. What differences in your process did you notice in the shorter form compared to your previous novels?

Loren: I had a semi-sleepless night, and in the morning I had the story. I saw the whole thing in my head from beginning to end before writing it. With novels, I find I have the essential characters, the general direction and mood, the structure, when I start, but it all has a meandering kind of feel and characters start doing things, creating opportunities which I didn’t anticipate, and I never quite know how it will all come together. In these tales, I knew exactly. It was so refreshing to write something within a few days and be done with it. I wrote a couple more and realized they had a common thread to them: the confessional style, first person narration, revealing/sharing secrets, unspoken feelings and thoughts. So, it became a deliberate exercise, and I decided I would create a collection. I wrote them one after another, pretty quickly. But it was with “The Conch” that I started using those new muscles, for creating a short story and I took more time with that one than the others. I had a couple of people read the first draft, listened to their advice, worked out the pacing, the voice, and changed things around. It got easier after that. A friend of mine asked me to write a story for another anthology, after I thought had finished with this entire project. For that one, I had to set the story in Istanbul. Another half-sleepless night, and “Hopital de la Paix” happened. It didn’t fit with that anthology, ultimately, because mine was a period piece and they had a more contemporary theme going, but I was really glad I was given the idea. Just give me a city and I’ll write you a tale! Seriously, I find it exhilarating when I’m given writing missions. As a kid, teachers would say, write about a dream, write about your grandmother, write something futuristic, whatever, and I’d run home and write like a maniac at the expense of all other homework. This collection brought that particular excitement back.

BWS: Is it fair to refer to these tales as “short stories”? Or must they be called “tales”? How do you see the difference between the terms (if you see one at all)?

Loren: If someone wanted to call them short stories, I wouldn’t argue, but I would still call them “tales”. Maybe the difference is subtle and maybe there isn’t one. I see them as tales because I imagine they are all being told in an intimate setting, orally. I also think tales have a moral to them. Maybe moral is not the right word. They create this imaginary situation, sometimes supernatural, and one walks away with a sense of wonder or sadness or horror about the vastness of experience while being paradoxically aware of the smallness of one’s life. They tell you an untruth that helps you reconcile with the truth. Maybe all stories do that, but tales purposefully do that, it seems to me.

BWS: Are there particular archetypes or other authors you drew from when crafting your own tales?

Loren: Someone asked me if I was influenced by the Arabian Nights with regard to “The Whisper” because it is narrated by a jinn. Jinns figure in everyday speech in Turkey. If you want to say a place was deserted, you use the expression “Jinns were playing ball, there”; if someone is very smart, “she’s like a jinn”, and so on. I grew up with the Arabian Nights, of course, and also with Perreault’s tales and Andersen’s and Greek mythology. They’re all part of my mental dough.

In elementary school–I think I was about seven–I used to entertain my friends during recess by telling them I had discovered a cave in the mountains where a treasure was hidden. I would give a lot of precise details using the cave we used to hike to in the summer, so it would sound real. I discounted the thieves by about 80 per cent and did away with the sesame. They would listen with their mouths hanging open, going, “Really?” And I’d go, “Yes, really. But you mustn’t tell anyone. You must forget I ever told you.” I didn’t want them talking to their parents about my treasure because they would say, “That girl is sticking Ali Baba to you pretending it’s her story. Wait till we tell her mom!”

BWS: You’ve had both your previous books translated into Turkish. What was the translation process like?

Loren: The Ghosts of Smyrna was translated before it was published here. I had the good fortune to get in touch with one of the most talented and experienced translators (in my opinion) In Turkey, Roza Hakmen. She read the manuscript and said she loved the book and would translate it. She sent it to publishers, got it accepted and did the translation. I owe the Turkish edition of this novel to her efforts and talent, entirely. Very gracious and lovely person. I also had the privilege to work closely with her, in the sense that she would translate a few chapters, and send them to me. There were questions going back and forth. We discussed things by email. We were in touch the whole time. Sometimes I would make suggestions, or she would. I was very grateful for that collaborative approach and it was lovely to work with her. She also translated “The Conch.”

Another story, “Small Gifts”, was also translated for a literary journal in 2014. It was a collaboration as well and there was a lot of back and forth to make sure the tone, the language used by the street sweeper in that time period (the Sixties) in Izmir was accurate. Literary translation is a very difficult thing, I realized, because I speak both languages. So I know how the text should read, sound, what words and tone should be there. Turkish is a language that has been evolving very rapidly. There are new unfamiliar words every time I go for a visit. Translators have to be aware of all those changes and the history of the language. To be good at this is quite a big feat.

BWS: And how about the composition process? Do you do any internal translating when you write?

Loren: As for the composition process, I believe I compose the pieces that take place in Turkey in Turkish and English at the same time in my mind, instinctively, even though I write solely in English. When my characters speak, I know how they sound in Turkish. I see their body language, etc., and I hope that the translator sees it too.

BWS: We look forward to seeing it ourselves on November 11, Loren–thanks for stopping by the blog!

Loren Edizel visits the Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Terry Fallis, Allison LaSorda, Jess Taylor and a special guest talk by Andrea Thompson, “From Page to Stage: Spoken Word and the Art of Literary Performance”. 

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!

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BWS 11.11.15: Jess Taylor

Jess Taylor is a writer and poet based in Toronto. She is the founder of the Emerging Writers Reading Series and is the fiction editor of Little Brother Magazine. Jess’s work has been published in a variety of journals, magazines and newspapers including This MagazineCNQ and National Post. She won a Gold 2013 National Magazine Award in Fiction for her short story, “Paul”, the first story in her debut collection, Pauls, launched by BookThug earlier this week!IMG-20151013-00639

Kicking off BookThug’s 2015 fall launch, publisher Jay MillAr jokingly characterized the press as “the island of misfit toys”, laughing about the fact that a surprisingly high number of manuscript submissions come in with a cover letter beginning with “I’m sending you this because no other press would touch it with a ten-foot pole…”

But on the other hand, he noted, every book is chosen for an aesthetic reason, and the writers published are writers who take risks.

Jess Taylor is one of nine such writers who graced the stage at The Garrison Tuesday night, and her collection, Pauls, proved no exception to the rule.

In introducing the collection, for instance, her editor Malcolm Sutton asked, “Why obsess over all the possible names [for characters] when one will suffice?”. The collection, called Spokes in an earlier draft and connecting characters geographically, expands from a section of that book that Taylor refers to as “the Paul stories”, moving through Pauls of all walks of life, Pauls who are united by hurt and healing, love and loss, and–if you insist–by their names.

And Andrew Hood says of the collection: “The characters, Pauls or otherwise, are at the age or in a place in their life, where what they’re going through feels unique, as though they’re the first people to struggle with relationships, with health, with getting older. But the simple presence of a Paul serves to ground whatever the experience, tether it to something bigger. Like all those Matthews and Sarahs in everyone’s elementary school, the Pauls in Pauls appear as a reminder that as much as we are ourselves, we’re also a moving piece inconceivable machination, whether we want to be or not.”

Taylor praised her press for not being afraid to combine genres and experiment, and said she had long been interested in working with them before submitting Pauls, having first inquired about publishing a different book, that one a novel. The launch was especially enjoyable, she added, because it brought together a diverse audience–one larger than even some higher-profile events might draw.

This blogger agrees–didn’t you enjoy the launch? What’s that? You missed it?

Hot tip from Brockton Writers Series: we know just where you can find Jess on November 11.

Jess Taylor visits the Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Loren Edizel, Terry Fallis, Allison LaSorda and a special guest talk by Andrea Thompson, “From Page to Stage: Spoken Word and the Art of Literary Performance”. 

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!

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Brockton Writers Series 11.11.15

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 11, 2015

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L-R: Jess Taylor, Loren Edizel, Allison LaSorda & Terry Fallis.

Join us for the final Brockton Writers Series event of 2015, with special guests:

Loren Edizel
Terry Fallis
Allison LaSorda
Jess Taylor

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

Guest speaker at 6:30pm

Andrea Thompson, author of Eating the Seed and Over Our Heads

“From Page to Stage: Spoken Word and the Art of Literary Performance”

Readings begin at 7:00

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale. Please note that while the venue is wheelchair accessible, washroom facilities are not.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

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GUEST SPEAKER

Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson (MFA) is a poet, novelist, teacher, activist and mentor, who has read and performed her work at venues across North America and overseas for over twenty years. She is the co-editor of the anthology Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out, author of the poetry collection Eating the Seed, and creator of the Urban Music Award-nominated CD, One. Andrea is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA Creative Writing program and currently teaches Spoken Word through the Ontario College of Art and Design University’s Continuing Studies and Workman Arts. She recently released her debut novel, Over Our Heads, with Inanna Publications.

READERS

Loren Edizel has published three books: two novels, Adrift (2011) and The Ghosts of Smyrna (2013), with TSAR Books (now Mawenzi House), and the short story collection Confessions, A Book of Tales (2014) with Inanna. Adrift was longlisted for the ReLit Award, and The Ghosts of Smyrna was translated to Turkish.

Terry Fallis is the award-winning author of four national bestsellers. The Best Laid Plans won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade”, and The High Road was a 2011 Leacock Medal finalist. Terry’s third novel, Up and Down, debuted on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list, was a 2013 Leacock Medal finalist and won the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award, and his fourth novel, No Relation, opened on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list and won the 2015 Leacock Medal. McClelland & Stewart published Terry’s fifth novel, Poles Apart, in October, 2015.

Allison LaSorda lives in Toronto, where she is an MFA candidate in the University of Guelph’s creative writing program. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Malahat Review, Brick: A Literary Journal, and [PANK].

Jess Taylor is a writer and poet based in Toronto. She is the founder of the Emerging Writers Reading Series and the fiction editor of Little Brother Magazine. Jess’s work has been published in a variety of journals, magazines and newspapers including This Magazine, CNQ and National Post. She won a Gold 2013 National Magazine Award in Fiction for her short story, “Paul”, the first story in her debut collection, Pauls, just released by BookThug.

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