Saturday 30 December 2017

Guest Author Ryan Madej of Western Canada.

2017 is almost over. This is the last post of the year and the Scribbler is pleased to have Ryan share one of his stories.
My name is Ryan Madej and I began writing in my teens. Just this past summer I finished my fourth book entitled The Threshold and the Key, the final volume in a novella/memoir cycle that I’ve worked on for the past 20 years. My style is in the experimental vein because I find that playing with form in the fragmented way that I do plays to how I think memory works. The short story I’m submitting was originally published in Infinity’s Kitchen no 6, that showcases works to an American audience. It’s my pleasure to show it to my fellow Canadians.

Night Index
(A sample from the story - copyright held by the author.)

A:  Archive

A kind of modest radiance trickled through my mind as I leave the Archive on Friday,

only to be presented with a sickening taste of my last meal welling up in my throat as I

stop to button up my coat. The streetlights are just coming on as the light blue

fluorescence of twilight, always so vast and deeply meaningful to me in some obscure

way, begins fading and giving way to a quiet evening. Taking out my cell-phone I notice a text glowing in red letters: Don't be late tonight by any means. I miss you. I chuckle to myself, knowing that being late was our way of seducing one another; or to put it another way: a direction in which to fool one another with mirrors.

B: Barbiturates, Benjamin (Walter), Black Lights


The stage is set for another evening of transparent dreaming. That is what this strange

arrangement has become when I sit down and think about it hard. We didn't know each

other prior to hooking up...I mean, who does that anymore, right? But that evening four

months ago when I opened my inbox on that dating site I knew I had found something

interesting. Not special, mind you, but something interesting. I could tell by the words

and phrases he used in describing himself he was not ordinary like a lot of other men I

had met recently with their greasy charm, and on top of that, small penises. He didn't give himself away; he remained hidden, or at least partially seen when I threw tough questions at him. He didn't flinch in anyway.  The more he looked at me—in a way that wasn't bewitching, but hardly familiar—the more I felt like I had tapped into something rarely observed. Call it a hunch or womanly intuition, but I unearthed a diamond in his gaze and then I was his. He sat there across from me in that black light lounge sipping his whiskey in an almost half-hearted way, and after a time we said nothing more at all. I felt like there was no barrier anymore, perhaps because he was a stranger with no knowledge of who or what I was, or the inclinations and desires I kept only to myself. Through the course of our first few hours together we found that we had a mutual appreciation for Walter Benjamin; in particular his great, unfinished magnum opus The Arcades Project. We talked of the flaneur and how wandering the streets of Paris with no

true intention but to wander had more appeal than doing a shit load of drugs, which

he admitted he had done anyway when he was young. I had no choice but to admit

the same, maybe just to impress him, when really all I had ever done was a lot barbiturates when I needed a vast amount of sleep.  And yes, my sleep became more

interesting as well...

C: Calls in the middle of the night


I tend to take my time on these nights when we are supposed to meet, more out

of a necessity to prepare myself for the unknown pleasures that wait than anything

else. Still, there are times when she has totally caught me off guard and I would lie

awake in my empty bed wondering what would come next as I lay my head down

to sleep, a heavy gust of wind rattling my window. It was during these reflections

where my mind drifted over past memories of women with less charm, which she would

surprise me with a phone call just as the pain of remembrance served as a narcotic to

bring on sleep. “Did I wake you?...sorry...I had a dream about you and had to tell

you right away.” Without protest I sat up to listen, relieved by the sound of her voice

that washed away those bad memories. I told her it was alright, I hadn’t fallen asleep

yet anyway. Lighting a fresh cigarette for my waiting mouth, she continued almost

breathlessly: “I was walking in the desert somewhere in Mexico. I assumed this because

the only sign I saw outside a ramshackle town I passed through had Spanish phrases.

No one inhabited the town, nor was there any real sign of life. An entirely cloudless

day that would be appealing other than the fact I was alone, watching a series of vultures off in the distance. This is what probably propelled me to investigate. Anyway, once I got closer to where the vultures flew, I could see what looked like a person lying on the ground. Rushing over, the sun blazing in my eyes, I looked down to see that it was you who lay bleeding on the verge of death, eyes closed and murmuring. I remember placing my finger on your cracked lips and that is all." Strangely, I wasn't at all taken aback by her dream, but rather intrigued by the thought of a quiet yet agonizing death in the open desert. More often than not—the cherry of the cigarette nearly burning my fingers as I spoke—I had many playfully morbid fantasies just like the one she described. She stifled a laugh, then apologized for waking me at such a late hour and assured me she would be calling me again soon to meet. Ending the call, I sat in bed for a long time ruminating over the scene she painted from her unconscious, somehow calm and ready to find her in my own dreams with a smile on my face.

D: Daggers


How should I put this? Really, there is no clear explanation to my fascination with

daggers a fascination I had forgotten over time—but I can say with a degree of

certainty that once we came to know each other a little better through the miasma of

the erotic exchange, a deep impulse to greet him with one in the future came rushing to

the forefront of my thoughts. The idea almost made me come.

E: E=mc, Elephants


The streets are dead tonight. They become deader as the months pass and the waning light of fall inevitably disappears, making the nights seem like endless excursions into a

gradually cooling void called "winter". Lately, when I'm not thinking of her, I watch old stock footage of atomic bomb tests on the Internet, somehow drawn to the deep light

of splitting atoms.  Maybe it's more than that, though. Perhaps it has more to do with

ultimate endings, whether taken up by forces we cannot control or the people behind

them whose intentions seem removed from death until they see, as Oppenheimer did,

the price of knowledge. Bad thoughts to have on such a quiet night. I used to lie on my

bed when I was a kid and imagine an elephant carrying me across the plains, my head

held high, searching out a place to drink water coming down from the mountains. When

I come to realize how far removed I am from innocent memories like those, I tend to

laugh a lot more at what I've become...

F: Fathers, Fingers


A bottle of white wine chills in my fridge. Thick blue smoke circles my head. I'm

restless for one reason and one reason alone: him. He always makes me wait and what

inevitably happens is some sort of regression into how and why I've come to this point

in time with such a strange man. Maybe he reminds me of my father—the bastard that

he is—but to imagine such a thing is wasteful and tiresome, even though the more I've

come to notice the similarities between them. The dark hair, the intense gaze, the silences, even the laugh seems so exact.  How didn't I notice this before?  Sometimes the sudden appearance of a new toy makes one forget what it is they are playing with in the first place. But the aspect of him that really surprised me was his fingers and how much

they reminded me of my father's touch. Those gentle fingers wiping away my tears,

even as the smell of whiskey and stale cigarettes wafted in my face, or the other hand

caressed my leg. Glad he's gone. So very glad. I was right in saying this was a waste of


G: Gifts


Nothing she has said as of late has pushed me in the right direction. As we've come

closer together a kind of fog has appeared between us obscuring the other. She looks

at me curiously now, searching for that bad seed that she is certain must exist. Her

gaze is close to the truth, that I will not deny, but I want more of her. Every piece.

Every pore. Every strand of hair. Every eyelash. Trophies, gifts, call them what you

like. Is it wrong to want all of someone? The air is so still and the streets so quiet that

 imagine nothing else but the two of us, mimicking each others movements...

To be continued - The balance of the story will be posted January 1/2018


Saturday 23 December 2017

4Q Interview with the World's Most Famous Man - Santa Claus

Is anybody busier this time of the year than Santa Claus?

I doubt it and yet he has taken the time to participate in a 4Q Interview for the Scribbler again this year. In 2014 when we had Santa’s first interview we were hoping to make this an annual event back then but the marketing arm of SC Enterprises informed us that there are too many magazines, talk shows, blogs and Christmas gatherings begging for his attention. They did note however, that Mr. Clause was extremely pleased with the last interview (Santa's interview in 2014) and picked The Scribbler for this year’s participation.


Thank you Santa for being our guest again. We are humbled that someone so famous would consider the Scribbler for an interview. Due to the popularity of your previous visit, there were many questions posed by our readers so we selected several we felt were interesting. 

4Q: We talked about elves previously and there was mention of a retirement fund that had been established for them. One of our readers posed the following question. How old are elves when they retire and where do they go?

SC: Ho Ho Ho, that’s a good question Allan. Although I often speak fondly of my many helpers, no one has asked that before. Prior to the unionization of the elves (UEM&M – Union of Elves, Mystics and Magicians) in 1975, an elf would work most of their life if their health held out and always seemed happy doing so. It never dawned on me that an elf would want leisure years in their old age, I mean they never stop, they rarely get sick, they are always underfoot looking for something to do. How was I to know when they never mentioned it to me?

It all started when Bobbly Longapple the 10th discovered marijuana. He was one of our time-travelers that check up on children throughout the year and while making a stop in Rexton one time to check on the wee ones in the village, he warped into a birthday party for one of the Herbert boys. Something went wrong with his Flow-Dominator and he appeared in the middle of the living room bodily instead of invisible. Everyone freaked out but they all thought it was ‘pretty cool’ after the initial excitement settled. Bobbly was gone for several days without anyone knowing his whereabouts. When he returned, all he talked about was peace, love and happiness. He started talking of “spare time” and when the union formed, mandatory retirement is when an elf reaches 200 years of age.  Most of them go to the Hippy Happy Home, a commune in southwestern Peru. Not many return.


4Q: We didn’t have a chance to discuss the reindeer last interview. What makes them so fantastic? I mean, can they really fly or is it all a myth?

SC: Ho, now they’re another thing like elves, very difficult to explain. But think back to when we discussed our ability to manipulate time, they’re part of it. Our reindeer are breed for lightness, sleek bodies with short tails. A Sami family carefully selects the best females from our herds to breed with fertile stags that bear the ancient strain of the original septet. The offspring bear the same names, which will forever be  Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course, Rudolph. Everyone knows Rudolph, don’t they? Ho Ho Ho. And before you ask, no, his nose is not red but that song is a cute little diddy. Me and the boys in the band, you remember from our last interview, Merle and Jaspar, we do a jazzier version of it.

Anyway, once they are of age, the get hitched to the sleigh for the first time and a transformation takes place that is so fantastic as to be almost unbelievable. Sparks fly, lightning bolts shoot from the withers, vapors emanate from their bodies and it’s a little scary but no harm is done. After a few moments, the reindeer shakes its body like a dog shedding water until the magic is complete. Then they can cloak themselves in invisibility, fly, easily dodge other flying creatures, navigate in any type of weather and land anywhere. It’s quite a marvelous transition and still amazes me each time it takes place.


4Q: One reader that lives in Jamaica wants to know how you get in the houses that have no chimneys.

SC: Yes, well not to give away too many secrets, you remember the pass key I mentioned last interview, well the lock manufacturers, since the early 1800’s, have always committed to the Universal Protocol of SC Enterprises that no door would create a barrier to Santa and his gifts. Right up until the 1950’s most homes in the northern climes would have a large chimney and I could easily get in and out (I dislike those jokes about my large ass not fitting into the chimney by the way) but when I visit homes in the warmer regions where chimneys don’t even exist, I always need a way in. That’s where the universal agreement came into effect that I could gain entry using a passkey that would open any door. It’s never failed me yet.

I must admit that there have been a few times when I should’ve left the door closed.  For one example, the times when the kids are at the grandparents or away visiting and the parents are left alone and give no thought to keeping their sexual liaisons in the bedroom, know what I mean?

4Q: Yes, I expect that could be embarrassing Santa. Please tell us about some of your favorite things, like movie stars or food or clothing or whatever.

SC. Ho Ho Ho. Gosh this’ll be fun. Well first off I have to say that there are three ladies in Hollywood that I absolutely adore and make sure that I leave them very special gifts when I visit their house. To be quite frank, I wish I had a bit more time to snoop around their homes and see how they really live but that would be impolite, wouldn’t it? They are Sandra Bullock, Kate Beckinsale and Rachel McAdams, great actresses and very pleasing to look at. I like Ed Harris, a terrific actor and that young Canadian, Ryan Goseling, he was especially good in the new Blade Runner movie.

My favorite snack foods are Cheezees, Two-Bite Brownies and Hello Dolly Squares (got the recipe for that one from one of the Chiasson girls in Moncton), I mean how else do you think I got this fat. My favorite food is reindeer burgers (thank goodness they can’t read) with plenty of mustard, pickles, hot peppers and tomatoes on Missus Claus’ famous buns. A young girl named Carol left me a butterscotch pie one year that was unforgettable. Other than that, I like guinea pig when I visit Peru, hot tamales from Mexico, pastry from any Parisian café, German strudel, Russian blini, Japanese sushi, anything Chinese and Vito’s pizza when I can get it.

I love reading and most of the authors I enjoy have been on the Scribbler and are way too many to name but I especially enjoy stories from a bunch of writers that live in New Brunswick, I mean, there is so much talent, wow! Best thing to do there is go online to the Writers Federation and check out their members.

I’m an avid snowboarder and ride an old Burton Supermodel. I like long fast boards, none of that short tricky stuff for me. You know that expression, “long boards truck, short boards suck”, well I made that up.

For music I love listening to Ella Fitzgerald, anything by Dave Brubeck and his sons (Chris Brubeck is awesome on bass), Oscar Peterson on the piano, all the Beatle songs, anything by Luther Chase and Supermoon Den. I know this will baffle a lot of people but I don’t care much for that twangy country music although Shania Twain and Garth Black deserve a listen occasionally. But JJ Cale will always be my favorite musician and I leave a lot of his CDs for Christmas.
(photo credit - Luther Chase)

And of course, I love the kiddies, leaving them gifts and eating the cookies they leave for me. They are what Christmas is all about, family and fun and celebrating the birth of Christ.
Not sure what else to tell you about Allan but I’ve got to end this now. I’m being fitted for another red suit because the last one I had made was in 1953 and even though I only wear it once a year, it’s starting to fray around the edges and I need some new threads. My tailor just arrived and I can see my Greeting Elf removing his blindfold, so take care my friend and have a Merry Christmas.

Thank you once more Santa for this informative session. I always knew you were real.
And a special Thank You to you for visiting the Scribbler.
Please enter your name for a copy of Wall of War to be drawn January 31/2018. You will have the choice of a paperback or eBook, delivered anywhere in the world.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Guest Author Diane Carmel Leger of New Brunswick


The Scribbler is pleased to have Diane as our featured guest this week. We met several years ago at a Writer’s Federation function and she has agreed to be part of a 4Q Interview.
She is an award-winning bilingual author who grew up in Memramcook, New Brunswick. Besides her dozen books, Diane also wrote her translations. On the East Coast, she is best-known for her novel, La butte a Petard, winner of the 2006 Hackmatack Award. On the West Coast, Diane is remembered for the Vancouver Island picture book, Maxine’s Tree*, a Canadian bestseller, praised by Farley Mowat as "the kind of book I wish I had had as a child". It raised a controversy which lasted for weeks in the early 1990’s, when a pro-clear-cut logging group called for its ban from libraries in B.C. schools. It remained on the shelves and was listed as one of the events of 1992 in the Globe and Mail.
4Q: Thank you Diane for being our guest this week. It must be very special when your work gets noticed. Please tell us about the Hackmatack Award for La butte a Petard.
DL: Winning the Hackmatack was a wonderful reward for being true to myself. It meant a lot to me that young readers in the Maritimes chose this novel, which I wrote when I was longing for N.B. I received it just a few months before I finally moved back home after 20 years in Victoria. What a great welcome!
When I was growing up, I thought that the language spoken in my village was inferior to the Québécois French or the European French heard on the radio and television.
In the High School away from my village, classmates laughed at my accent and some of my words, so I rarely spoke in class.
At the Université de Moncton, while studying Acadian History, I was elated to learn that words I frequently spoke were Old French, a legacy from my Acadian ancestors. I felt that by speaking those precious words, I was honouring my ancestors, my village, my family and myself.  This gave me confidence.
As an adult, I insisted on using some of those words in my first book, even though there was a chance it might be rejected by the publisher, readers, and critics. La butte à Pétard won an honorable mention for the 1990 Prix France-Acadie, and later, the augmented edition won the 2006 Hackmatack Award. It has been continually published since 1989. Along with its sequels, it has been used in schools across Canada and in Louisiana as an introduction to the history of Acadians.
For the last 30 years, I have kept my Acadian accent and continue to speak those words on the radio, television and in presentations to audiences across Canada and in Louisiana. Being true to myself, led to a wonderful writing career.
4Q: You write mainly in French with several works in English. It must be rewarding to entertain in both languages. Please tell us about that experience.
DL: Yes it is… and I revel in it! My father was a Francophone and my mother, an Anglophone so naturally I love both languages equally.
My mother, Sheila Tower, was from Dorchester, and a voracious reader. Thanks to her, I am an English and French author!
In 1963, Acadian children with an Anglophone mother were automatically sent to English schools. That was the rule in my 99% French community. Despite being intimidated by the education system, my very young mother was adamant that I go to a French school. My mother often said that insisting her six children go to school in French was one of the best things that she had ever done.
My father, Raymond E. Léger was an Acadian from Memramcook who sang every day and recited La Fontaine’s fables at work!
Surprisingly, for a man who never sat still long enough to read a book, my father became a most unusual literary agent! His enthusiasm and support for my first book gave me the confidence to send its manuscript to a publisher. He sold hundreds if not thousands of La butte à Pétard. Even at the end of his life, unable to move from his hospital bed, he sold my books to the nurses!
4Q: Please correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t your latest publication My Two Grandmothers? Can you share what your inspiration was for this story? 
DL: Yes, it is my latest in English. My Two Grandmothers (like the French version, Mémére Soleil, Nannie Lune), is a true account meant to poke gentle fun at the differences between my Acadian grandmother, Hermance, who ran a general store in my village, and my Scottish grandmother, Henrietta, who lived in the nearby village of Dorchester.
I love reading these books and imitating my grandmothers, who were as different from each other as the sun from the moon, with only their grandchildren in common. Children and adults respond very well to this book. The teacher in me is pleased to have inspired people of all ages to write stories about their own grandparents. 
My latest book in French, L’Acadie en baratte, was published in October. It is about an Acadian grandmother and her Québécois grandson who go on a whimsical camping tour of the Maritimes in her old Westfalia.
It is not because I am a new grandmother that I have written these last two stories. Grandparents have been characters in my books from the first one. As a matter of fact, Nannie from My Two Grandmothers is also the great-grandmother in Maxine’s Tree.  I actually wrote My Two Grandmothers 25 years ago before it was finally published in 2016! So to you writers out there: hang on to the stories that are dear to you!
4Q:  Lastly, please tell us what is in the future for Diane Carmel Leger.
DL: I have my fingers crossed for a couple of English manuscripts being considered by publishers. I will have a new French novel in bookstores this summer, if all goes as planned. Experience has taught me not to speak about a book before I have it in my hands. Delays happen often in the publishing world. A writer must be very patient!
Thank you Diane for being our guest this week. Happy writing and best wishes for all your future works.
You can read more about Diane and her books by going to these links.
Facebook: Diane Carmel Léger-Children’s author
Facebook : Diane Carmel Léger-Auteure jeunesse
*Maxine’s Tree is no longer available from the publisher, but can be purchased at Chapters in Dieppe, N.B., or during Diane’s author visits.
Thank you dear reader for visiting.
Who is your favorite Author? 
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