Sunday, July 15, 2018

Essential Edits / Interview with Terry Fallis

Quite delighted to see this recent review about my latest Stark Reflections podcast interview.

Essential Edits / Interview with Terry Fallis: Fabulous interview by Mark Leslie Lefebvre with Terry Fallis about going from self-published writer, to Stephen Leacock Medal winner, to b...

Friday, July 13, 2018

Humor Can Be Really Serious Stuff

I recently interviewed my friend Terry Fallis for an episode of the Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast.

Apart from gushing over how much I adored Terry's novels, I had Terry take a journey through his unique publishing path, from self-publishing and podcasting his novel, to winning awards, landing an agent and a publisher, and then winning more awards and having his book The Best Laid Plans made into a musical stage show and a mini-series for CBC Television.

Among the many great things we spoke about, here's a clip of Terry talking about the use of humor to address a serious subject matter (while speaking about his novel Poles Apart)

You can watch the full video interview here.

Or you can listen to the entire audio of Episode 29 of the Stark Reflections Podcast here.

“Terry Fallis has written a delightful book about a young man inspired by feminism to contribute to the cause. . . . Funny and engaging, Poles Apart is a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read.”
Judy Rebick, founding publisher,, and former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Two-Sentence Horror Stories

I recently spotted a few two-sentence horror stories and was enjoying reading them. So I wanted to try writing one of my own.

One of the first that came to me was based on a poem I wrote and had published years ago. I suppose it's okay to re-adapt my own writing into this new form.

So, here's the first two-sentence horror story I came up with:

"She has her daddy's eyes. In a jar up in her room."

This two-sentence horror story is derived from a poem I wrote called "Daddy's Girl" and which was originally published in Everyday Weirdness in 2009. The two first lines of the poem came to me many many years ago as a quick and dark humor punch-line that I later morphed into a poem (below) - but I figured: why not re-adapt it back to those first two sentences?

Daddy's Girl
By Mark Leslie

She has her Daddy’s eyes
In a jar up in her room
It took a while to dig them out
Because she’d used a spoon

She has her Daddy’s hair
And with it his whole scalp
She hacked it off with a dull steak knife
But knew a sharper one might help

She has the rest of her Daddy’s parts
Stored in an air-tight drum
She fancies herself a Daddy’s girl
But she looks more like her Mum

But enough of the original poem and back to the two-sentence horror tale.

Do you have a favorite two-sentence horror story to share?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

All We Used To Know

I have long been a fan of Alicia Witt's music. Many people know her as an actor; but it's her music that I am fascinated with. And yes, she started her acting career in 1984 as a child actress in the movie Dune. Her television and movie credits are almost too numerous to mention with some of the TV spots alone including Friday Night Lights, Cybill, Twin Peaks and The Walking Dead.

The first time in more recent memory that I recall paying attention to Alicia was when she appeared, on perhaps half a dozen episodes of Law and Order as Detective Nola Falacci, the temporary partner of Mike Logan (played by Chris Noth) in the mid aughts.

It was a couple of years after that, I think, that I somehow stumbled upon her cover version of Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al. Simon's Graceland is among my all-time favourite albums, and Witt's piano-forward stylistic rendition of the song made me sit up and take notice. I wanted to know who that was; and when I saw, I recognized her from Law & Order.

Alicia Witt in a still from her "Anyway" music video
At that point, I started to check out the self-titled album the song came from, bought it on iTunes and fell in love with the powerful song Anyway. (Her talent as an actress helps with the dramatic presentation of that video as well)

Since then I have been following along and purchasing all of her music. She is a fave of so many of the indie musicians that I adore.

Her song "I'm Not Ready for Christmas" which she wrote to accompany a Hallmark Christmas Romantic Comedy of the same name that she starred in, is among my favourite Christmas songs. (And not just because of lines such as "I don't give a sh*t how many shopping days are left" and "I need a f*cking holiday" - BTW, here's the "radio safe" version of that song if the explicit version is too much for your sensitive ears)

And not all that long ago, when I saw she was launching a Kickstarter for her 15,000 Days EP project, I knew I wanted to be among the fans who contributed to helping make it happen. (15,000 Days was a reference to her age at the time of initially planning and recording the album)

It has been exciting watching Witt in the lead up, the process and the forthcoming EP release, particularly since, as a Kickstarter supporter, I've had the pleasure of regular updates on how it was working. It was so fun to get a behind-the-scenes look.

A few weeks ago, the first single, "Younger" was released. And just yesterday, the official music video was released.

The song itself is a beautiful one and alludes to the incredible power, adventurousness and spirit of youth. Something that we all either lose, or allow ourselves to let go as we embrace the restrictions and cages and chains that apparently come with maturity. I have listened to it multiple times and I do quite love the song.

And then the video was released. And the video, directed by Paula Kay Hornick, adds in a heart-warming lifelong love story visual that brings out a unique flavour to the song. It opens with the brilliant magic of imagination and youth, which, on its own is pure and delightful, but then, as the video moves along, you see these children who have grown up, have married, had children, and have lost that magic they once had.

As the song and the story ends, I will admit to shedding a tear of happiness at the beautiful story, and I marveled at how, though I had already thought the world of the song, that the video could allow me to re-appreciate it on a whole new level.

Compilation of images from video for "Younger"

The song, written by Alicia Witt, Catt Gravitt and Tofer Brown includes these following amazing lyrics . . .
let's be honest
   it's not too late
to fade away
and disappear into the stars
  above the noise
and rise the silence like a wave
you have the choice to
     reveal the quiet that you're hiding in your voice

let's take the world and discover
all we used to know.... I
wanna find a way to the wonder, like
when we were younger
It is a great look at the importance of so many of the things that make our youth so magical, which include open-ness, acceptance, imagination and all that comes with that. Perhaps the reason I write speculative fiction is my desire to want to continue to capture and share that sense of wonder I first experienced when reading that type of fiction in my youth.

Of course, part of the brilliance in this song isn't that it's "when we were young" but "when we were younger" - meaning it's never too late (which the song also says) for us to use any of our previous experiences, and not just the earliest ones, to learn and grow and reflect. After all, we always have that choice no matter how old we grow.

With these introspective lyrics that make one reflect back on the power and magic of our own pasts, with the beautiful accompanying music and the powerfully produced video, I have to say Kudos to the amazing collaboration of talent that made that happen.

And I can't wait for the rest of the EP's release and to enjoy more of Alicia Witt's incredible music.