Interview with Editor Dominik Parisien, Conclusion

Welcome back to the conclusion of our chat with Dominik Parisien, editor of steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.


Airship Ambassador: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?

Dominik Parisien: When I started writing I had a very difficult time drafting a story. I had to write the perfect story the first time around, and if I felt as though it wasn’t as good as it ought to be, then I quit. Naturally, that resulted in a LOT of abandoned stories. I was constantly frustrated with myself and my work. Now I find it motivating to simply write down words. They don’t need to be the right words, so long as they get me thinking. I also find writing on paper quite motivating sometimes. It’s so easy to erase words in a word processor, to decide that, no, you don’t like that particular sentence, so you delete it. Staring at a blinking cursor can also be frustrating. I find that writing on paper activates a different part of my brain, and that seeing multiple physical pages fill up is rewarding to me in a way that filling pages on a computer isn’t. The simple act of turning pages and having physical proof of what I’ve written down has a direct positive effect on me. It isn’t so much that I need to write longhand, but I find that changing mediums sometimes can help my mind shift gears.


AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

DP: If not for editing and writing, I would have gone into teaching. My father was a teacher and my sister also teaches, and I’ve always enjoyed working with children and young adults and teaching.


AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered being a published writer?

DP: I’m actually a full-time freelance editor, and, for me, that both helps and hinders writing. I actually prefer working on the stories of other writers over my own, so it can be quite easy to neglect my stories, especially because I often get my creative fix through editing. However, the constant exposure to other tales and my awareness of forthcoming projects and submission calls occasionally tickles my brain in just the right way and drives me to write.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?

DP: Reading, certainly, but that’s no real surprise. I love snowshoeing and I do it as much as possible. I also walk a great deal, especially in trails in the woods. I like having time to myself out in nature, but I also love spending time with friends and loved ones playing board games and cards. I’m also increasingly enjoying cooking for myself and others.


AA: How do those interests influence your work?

DP: I really enjoy walking by rivers and bodies of water, and those images tend to creep into my writing. I find walking/snowshoeing on frozen rivers particularly inspiring and I do a lot of brainstorming during those times. I do most of my thinking regarding editing and writing while out on walks.


AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?

DP: Sign language. A good friend of mine recently started teaching me how to sign, and I wish we had more time to practice.


AA: What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant)?

DP: I have many interests, but I don’t actively participate in much of fandom other than the genre community where I attend literary conferences. I do geek out a good deal with friends about certain subjects though, like Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, Magic: The Gathering, and cinema in general.


AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

DP: Certainly. My mentor and friend, Ann VanderMeer, is a great source of inspiration. She and her husband Jeff are two incredibly talented people, and participating in their projects and reading those same projects always fires up my imagination and motivates me to do better in my own work.

Similarly, my family is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. My parents and my sister are kind people dedicated to each other and others, and I keep hoping that I can also impart some of that positivity to others around me.

Finally, many of my friends in the writing and editing community are so talented, so motivated that I can’t help but find them inspiring. The list would be absurdly long if I named everyone, but some people in particular always manage to inspire me, like Derek Newman-Stille, Mike Allen, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Amal El-Mohtar, Kelsi Morris and Kaitlin Tremblay, and my frequent collaborator, Navah Wolfe.


AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?

DP: Both professionally and personally, I’d say my decision to finally start attending literary conventions has had one of the most positive impacts on my life. At first I was content to work in the background and not participate directly in the community, so I didn’t go to cons and I wasn’t very active online. After a few years, I attended a conference, and then another, and the people I met not only became my colleagues but in many cases some of my best friends. I really found my people at cons, and so many of them are now a huge part of my life in ways that go far beyond writing and editing.

The greatest challenge has definitely been my health. I have a complicated medical condition which involves chronic daily pain and severe insomnia, in addition to other things. This has directly impacted my everyday life and what I’m able to accomplish ever since I was quite young. I keep a positive attitude and I haven’t let it control my life, but it has certainly created a number of difficulties and challenges.


AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite sandwich, fictional character, and Canadian actor/performer?

DP: Turkey, avocado, and goat cheese! The faun from Pan’s Labyrinth! Loreena McKennitt!


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

DP: Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was very thorough!! I’ll finish by linking to my two projects. Here’s Clockwork Canada and The Starlit Wood


Thanks, Dominik, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!


Keep up to date with Dominik latest news on his website and on Twitter.

You can support Dominik and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on April 27, 2016 at 8:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Editor Dominik Parisien, Part 3

Welcome back to part three of our chat with Dominik Parisien, editor of steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.


Airship Ambassador: How long did it take to gather the authors, their stories, and make the final selections? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?

Dominik Parisien: I opened to submissions December 1st 2014 and closed on April 30th 2015. I had solicited material a few weeks before opening to submissions, and both solicited and unsolicited stories came in throughout the submission period. Most authors received answers within a few weeks of submitting, but acceptances came after I’d read all the submissions, most of them around May and June. Editing came next, then story arrangement, and the final manuscript went out to the publisher early September. Afterwards it was marketing, contacting reviewers, working on the cover, etc. The book will be published May 1st, 2016.


AA: For the aspiring writer, what suggestions do you have as an editor, regarding their submissions, your feedback, and general collaboration?

DP: The obvious one – which cannot be stated enough – is read the guidelines. I’ve worked on a number of projects now, and it’s always surprising how a lot of folks don’t follow guidelines (sending in reprints for original anthologies or magazines, sending stories way over or under the word limit, sending inappropriate material for that project, etc).

That being said, a lot of very good stories get rejected, and when you do receive a rejection don’t get discouraged and immediately assume your story is bad. Rejection can be very disheartening, especially early on in a writer’s career, and it’s important to maintain perspective. Sometimes a story just isn’t the right fit for the project, or for that particular editor’s aesthetic. Keep submitting. It’s also important to maintain a certain balance between being open to criticism and sticking to your vision. You’ll definitely come across editors who, for whatever reason, won’t take your story. That’s fine. But when a story is rejected dozens upon dozens of times, it may be worth revisiting your story. Not necessarily trunking it, or rewriting the entire thing, but just taking another look at the story. Especially if you haven’t reread it in a while after submitting it, give it another read. Maybe a scene you thought was great doesn’t actually work. This may be particularly valuable if you’re receiving the same criticism from multiple sources.

Another important piece of advice: read. Read widely and as much as you can. If you want to improve your writing read everything you can get your hands on. What some people call good fiction, what others call bad fiction. Reading the work of your contemporaries in the field is valuable, but reading outside your comfort zone also helps you gain access to new perspectives, new techniques. Read and find out what works for you, what doesn’t, and why. If you like a particular author, dissect their work and figure out what it is about it you enjoy. If there’s a particular magazine in which you’d like to have your work appear, read the magazine. Don’t look at magazines simply as achievements. Do your research and find out what they publish, and whether or not you’re a good fit for them and vice-versa.

In the same way, think about where you submit where your stories. If you want people to take your work seriously, you also need to take it seriously. Sometimes that means not submitting to certain places. Sure, a specific market could publish your story, but should they? After the rush that comes from an acceptance, will you be happy to have your story published there? If so, great. If you think you might regret it – either because you never like the stories they publish, or you don’t find them professional, or for whatever other reason – then you probably shouldn’t publish with them. There are a lot of markets out there, and not all of them are good for you or your work.


AA: You’re also a writer. What do you do to keep a balance between writing, editing, and the rest of your life? Any new projects coming up?

DP: With difficulty, honestly. Working with books is my job as well as my hobby/passion. I tend to ramble on about book and projects a good deal. As far as new projects, I have an anthology of original cross-genre fairy tales which I co-edited with Navah Wolfe called The Starlit Wood coming out in October 2016 from Saga Press. The book features an all-star list of contributors, including Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Seanan McGuire, Aliette de Bodard, Catherynne M. Valente, and many others. Navah and I are already hard at work on another anthology, due for a 2017 release. In terms of my own writing, I have a story about settler-period Peterborough involving a green man forthcoming in a Canadian anthology, but I can’t share the details yet.


AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and editors to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

DP: Frequently, yes. It’s one of the pleasure of working in this industry: a lot of writers and editors enjoy talking about new projects, the state of the industry, and books and the like. Fortunately for me, many of my close friends are also writers and editors, so we have a great deal to discuss on a regular basis. There tends to be a lot of collaboration and mutual support.


AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

DP: On the editing side, I started out as an editorial assistant to Ann VanderMeer for Weird Tales, the world’s oldest fantasy/horror magazine. I’d say that my vision of the field has increased drastically over the years working with her, and Ann and her husband Jeff’s championing of international fiction and favoring of cross-pollination has had a direct impact on how I edit.

As for my own writing, I enjoy reading non-traditional narrative structures and in the last few years I’ve started experimenting with writing them. It’s resulted in what I consider to be my best stories. Years ago I first read Leena Krohn’s gorgeous book Tainaron: Mail From Another City, and it was a revelation to me. The book consists of vignettes, prose-poetry, and very little plot, and it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Back then I was mostly writing and publishing poetry, but my love of that book helped me take some of what I was doing with poetry and apply it to fiction.


We’ll break here in talking with Dominik.

Join us next time when he talks about the writing process.

Keep up to date with Dominik latest news on his website and on Twitter.

You can support Dominik and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on April 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm  Comments (2)  
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Interview with Editor Dominik Parisien, Part 2

Welcome back to part two of our chat with Dominik Parisien, editor of steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: What are some of the ideas presented about Alternate Canadas which you are really glad to see in the book?

Dominik Parisien: I was particularly pleased to see a representation of aboriginal steampunk in Charlotte Ashley’s “La Clochemar”, where the dominant culture is Anishinaabe with European influences. I was hoping to see interesting representations of Canada in which aboriginal and European interactions took a different turn, and Charlotte delivered with a thoughtful alternate history story combined with pulpy adventure.

Kate Heartfield’s story “The Seven O’Clock Man” is also one which I was very glad to include, in part because it takes a myth with which I grew up, the titular Seven O’Clock Man who is essentially the French Canadian boogeyman, and brings him to life. Using mechanical and magical elements, Kate gives flesh to a myth that perfectly illustrates the horrifying historical subjugation of members of the aboriginal population. The contrast between these two stories is valuable, I feel, because both explore indigenous characters and cultures in Canada in vastly different ways.

In addition to these, I was pleased to see radically different representations of Canada, such as Terri’s aforementioned story “Let Slip…” which showcases a Canada where technology and religion are one and the same. Her worldbuilding perfectly weds existing history with radically different politics and religion derived from the technological nature of her world, and this results in a Canada that really highlights a steampunk world.


AA: There’s only so much room for so many stories, and the ones above sound pretty interesting – how many more stories were there which just couldn’t be squeezed into the final book?

DP: That’s always a question difficult answer. I rejected a number of truly excellent stories, some because they weren’t quite a fit with the project, others because they were simply too similar to another story I was publishing, and others yet because they were too long. There were at least 3-4 stories I would have liked to publish, but for X reason they just couldn’t make it in.


AA: Any plans for a sequel?

DP: Not at this time. If there was sufficient interest I might consider a sequel, but in general I feel like the book accomplished what it set out to do. I’m also working on a few other projects and I wouldn’t want to do a follow-up just yet.


AA: As editor, did you have to be very selective to have a balance of the stories?

DP: As selective as any editor, really. You want a balance in terms of length, style, subject matter, etc. That means turning down some very fine stories that may be too long or similar to others. One thing that did have a certain influence was geography: geographical representation was important to me, so I tried to select stories set in multiple provinces, by authors hailing from different parts of the country. We have an author based in the Yukon writing a Yukon story, a writer originally from Newfoundland writing a Newfoundland story, two authors based in the Maritimes with stories set in the Maritimes, others from the West Coast, the Prairies, Central Canada, etc. Striking a balance in terms of geographical representation meant that in some cases I turned down good stories when I had too many tales set in the same area. In order to give a good portrait of Canada it felt important to me to showcase different regions and perspectives.


AA: What is some of the early feedback which you’ve heard about?

DP: The book received two really lovely blurbs from Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy award winning editor Ann VanderMeer and World Fantasy Award-winning author Helen Marshall. Ann said the book gives readers “a wonderful new way to look at not just Steampunk, but also some of the best new Canadian fiction being written. Full of adventure, surprise, unusual inventions and, of course, steam; this anthology will make you remember why you fell in love with Steampunk in the first place.”

And Helen wrote that “This is Canadian fiction like you’ve never seen it before: a buzzing, crackling, supercharged assemblage of thrills and derring-do, secret histories, incredible machines and fantastical creatures. Prepare yourself for a wild ride through a landscape that’s somehow recognizable and utterly, gloriously strange.”

I’ve also been told that some positive reviews will be appearing online shortly. So far the general response has been positive and people appear very receptive to the Canadian angle and the broad approach the book takes with steampunk.


AA: As the editor, what was your publishing experience like for Clockwork Canada?

DP: While working on Clockwork Canada I was also co-editing another anthology, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales with Navah Wolfe, and the contrast between the two was interesting. Exile Editions receives government publishing grants, and one of the conditions is that 90% of the material comes from Canadian authors, and that 90% of the overall material must be original to the anthology. Those kind of parameters made the experience very different.

For example, there was a great story that I was hoping to reprint, but the story was so long it would have exceeded the allowable word count for reprint material. As I mentioned earlier, most of the material came from the open call. For Starlit Wood, all of the stories were solicited, so that creates a different dynamic. Starlit Wood is also being published by Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster which is a very large publisher, whereas Exile Editions is a Canadian small press. That necessarily means the scale is quite different (print run, budget, management, etc). Because of Exile’s smaller size, working on Clockwork Canada was also much more hands-on in terms of cover selection, contacting reviewers, working on the marketing, etc.


We’ll break here in talking with Dominik.

Join us next time when he talks about the process of creating the anthology and the writing process.

Keep up to date with Dominik latest news on his website and on Twitter.

You can support Dominik and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on April 25, 2016 at 8:12 pm  Comments (3)  
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