Posted by on 17 April 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Coming up on Sat April 30, I’ll be participating in Authors for Indies Day. This is a day in which Canadian authors show appreciation for independent bookstores (i.e. indies) by volunteering as guest booksellers. I’ll be at Owl’s Nest Books, Calgary’s longest established bookstore, for at least an hour. I’ll be giving a short reading and then chatting with customers:

Appearance for Authors for Indies

Sat April 30, 2pm

Owl’s Nest Books, 815A 49th Avenue SW, Calgary (in Britannia Shopping Plaza on Elbow Drive)

Erin Lindsay (who also writes fantasy mysteries as E.L. Tettensor) is reading during this timeslot too. In fact, readings are being presented at the shop through the day, at 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Visit this link for more line-up details.

If you’re in Calgary, feel free to come along and say hi!

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I’m appearing at a bookstore in Calgary because I’m currently in Alberta, in the first week of a new writer’s residency. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this residency is part of the Gushul Residency Program, which is run by the University of Lethbridge. I’m situated at Gushul Cottage, a writers’ cottage in the town of Blairmore. I’ll be here until June 30.

Gushul Writers' Cottage

While at Gushul Cottage, I’ll be starting work on the penultimate chapter of my novel. But before I do that, I’ve been putting a few finishing touches to chapter 3 of my novel. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a novel that’s not only informed by scholarship in the philosophy of religion; it’s a novel that philosophises about religion – that “does” philosophy of religion. To this end, each chapter of the novel tackles one of life’s “Big Questions”. Chapter 3 addresses the question “Does God exist?”.

A long excerpt from this chapter has very recently been published in Canadian literary magazine PRISM International. The excerpt is titled “Are you there, God? It is I, Robot”. I feel especially excited and proud of this publication. It is significant both personally and professionally. I’ve had my fiction published in Canadian literary journals before but this is my first Canadian publication since becoming a Canadian permanent resident. If you’re so inclined, please buy a copy of the journal issue, which also contains the winning pieces from the journal’s non-fiction contest.

The excerpt from my novel that appears in PRISM International totals almost 8000 words and yet this amounts to less than half of the full chapter. I have spent more than 2 years writing this third chapter. That certainly seems a long stretch of time but I’d like to think that it befits the scope and ambition of the work. For one thing, the amount of scholarship on the existence of God is immense. It was largely due to the guidance of my mentor, Dr Nick Trakakis (who is himself a philosopher, poet and editor), that I was able to navigate towards some philosophical work that lent itself to my own work. In the midst of my engagement with philosophy of religion, I also did something else, independently of Nick: I drew on some other academic disciplines, including linguistics, communication studies, and art theory. My use of linguistics in this chapter has been especially satisfying to me – back in 1997, I was halfway through an honours degree in linguistics before I dropped out to become an artist.

Over the two-year period in which I’ve been writing this chapter, I’ve occasionally used social media channels to share short excerpts, such as the following snippet from late 2013. Back then, I was doing an artist residency in Iceland and in the early stages of writing the chapter:
Listhus-ms-screencap

It seems a long time ago, that day in Iceland. My work and creative practice have expanded a lot since then. The expanded interdisciplinarity of my work has been especially energising for my practice.

My drive to cram many influences into my novel is definitely relevant to the central subject of my project – religion – and how I’ve approached it. It’s fitting, then, that my next novel chapter will address the topic of religious diversity. What are we to make of the conflicting truth claims of different faiths? What are the implications of religious diversity for a religion’s claim to truth? This is the kind of philosophical territory that I’ll start to cover in the coming weeks and months.

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