17 October 2012

21 Questions with Canadian Science Fiction Writer: Jody Aberdeen

This week, we're taking the opportunity to get to know another Peevish Penman contributor. This time, it's Jody Aberdeen. Because as fun as it is to learn things about ourselves, it's even more fun to learn about other people! Let's get started, shall we?

1) PPM:  Where are you from?
Jody: I was originally born in Trinidad and Tobago, but came here with my parents before I turned one.  Much like the newer model Cylons, I look and feel Canadian, making me the lamest ethnic stereotype ever.  I don’t even have an accent, and I can’t fake it.  Love the food, though.  I love my country and the idea that Canadians have a reputation for entertaining and enlightening the world in the arts. 

2) PPM: Where do you live now?

Jody: I currently live in a thoroughly unimpressive suburb of Toronto called Brampton.  Prior to my move here almost two years ago, I was living in the Hamilton-Burlington area south of the city, halfway to Niagara Falls, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

3) PPM: What do you write?

Jody: Science fiction, but no spaceships (well, not yet).  I like the idea of extraordinary, bizarre, and flat-out batshit events happening to ordinary people, in a believable way.  I love those stories that start off conventional enough and then by the time you're done, you've covered such a distance into the extraordinary, you realize it took you by degrees, like a frog in a slow boiling pot of water. 

 You know, kind of like LOST.
4) PPM: What are some of your accomplishments? 

Science Fiction Author Jody Aberdeen
Jody: I finished my first novel Convergence, which I’m now selling and promoting independently.  It’s a time travel romance with a twist.  Well, that’s how I market it now.  Before I used to describe it to curious onlookers by saying it was the love child between “Inception” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.  

On top of that, I co-founded my writer’s guild, the Toronto Wordslingers, and we’re now starting to “incorporate”, so to speak, with two indie authors promoting their books and a third one just about there, I’m pretty happy about that.  Honestly, I feel like a big damn hero

 Third in line would be when I was a student at McMaster, and President of my chapter of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity: we cleared our debts, doubled our membership size, and secured a new house.  For that, my chapter won Most Improved Canadian Chapter from our General Headquarters.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t terribly appreciated during my presidency despite this successful legacy.   This must be what Bill Clinton feels like.

5) PPM: Do you write professionally full time?

Jody: You mean am I profitable?  Not quite yet.  Getting there, though.

6) PPM: If not, what do you do for a living?

Jody: I’m a believer in multiple sources of income.  I’m a professional screen actor and a member of ACTRA in Toronto.

I’m also training to be a performance coach through Bob Proctor’s LifeSuccess Program and I work with my mentor Giuditta Costanzo on various projects in the world of personal development and entrepreneurship. (This includes an e-book for an event that we’re launching in three weeks: my blood content lately is about 35% caffeine, a ratio which would make even Carrie Bailey a might twitchy).

I also do freelance work, mostly for private clients so I can’t tell you about that, obviously.  Finally, in terms of a day job, I work as a customer service rep in a bookstore part time.  I actually do love my job and the people I get to meet.  Plus walking around all day makes it all the more easier to sit my ass in front of a computer afterwards to hammer out my word goals for the night.

7) PPM: What is your living situation?

Jody: I’m divorced (though I prefer the term single/once married), and it was that whole process that caused me to move back home with my parents here in crap-ass Brampton. We’re a good family, not as close as some, but we love each other and get along really well. Before this, I was with my ex for eleven years, dating during our last year of high school, and living together during the last two years of university and pretty much all of my twenties.  I'm currently single and open to possibility, but I have a lot I'd like to finish first before I really focus on that part of my life again. (Well, beyond a few hot and highly experimental flings here and there, that is.)

 Pets? I had a cat named Benton since Grade 9.  He lived a good life and we had to put him down in 2008, but he’s since respawned into the body of my sister’s cat Snuffy, so that’s good enough for me.  I fear, though, my pet owning days may be over, at least for a while.  I’m just too busy and allergic to bother.  I have no children, and though I look forward to the day when I eventually find a soulmate to have them with, for now, all I see are snotty hands and germs.  Unless they’re cute, in which case I forget about the germs.

8) PPM: When did you start writing?

Jody: Since I learned to put crayon to paper, even when the only letters I knew were squiggly lines and zigzags.  I want to think the Grays were channeling their alien language through Toddler Jody, but I’d never be able to sleep in the dark again if I explored that thought too deeply.  Throughout all my other aspirations – astronaut, cop, fighter pilot, lawyer, etc.. – writing remained the one thing I was doing on a consistent basis.  Novel writing in particular appeals to me, if only due to residuals and the opportunity to write off Starbucks purchases as a business expense.

9) PPM: Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

Jody: …..oddly no, and this disturbs me a little.  I think I used to know.  Great, my mind’s starting to go and I’m feeling all insecure about it. Thanks, jerk!

10) PPM: Do you write every day?

Jody: Yes.  Unequivocally.  Not always in my manuscript, but for the past three years now, I’ve always had a writing project, big or small, on the go.

11) PPM: What's your ideal writing environment?

Jody: I like coffee shops.  My room’s a distant second because I find I dick around a lot more when I’m at home than when I’ve made the conscious effort to pack up my computer and head out somewhere.  Libraries also suck because it’s just too dead in there.  Starbucks has the most conducive atmosphere, and though I want to support our Canadian homegrown Second Cup (where I wrote much of Convergence, actually), I don’t think I’m going back.  I like the energy of people moving around me: something about it just gets me going.   

12) PPM: Anything you do for extra stimulation when you're looking for inspiration? (this leads directly to the next question)

Jody: My guild partakes of the Hemingway Approach, but that could also be because they can be a bunch of raging alcoholics at times.  I don’t usually, since alcohol makes me want to dance/sleep/flirt and not always in that order, so at the risk of sounding like a New Age pansy, I’ll say that I really find meditation helps.  Or hot yoga, if the blockage is severe. I am also a student of Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, so I write morning pages almost every day, sometimes in the afternoon.  

13) PPM: Because Carrie will want to know, how much do you love coffee?

Jody: Again, 35% caffeine count in my blood.  I’m basically Bruce Banner without the radiation.

14) PPM: Why do you write?

Jody: I have no idea.  I’m starting to suspect it’s an unusual extension of my bodily functions (not the gross ones….well, sometimes).   
15) PPM: Is there an area outside of your current comfort zone you would like to explore as a writer?

Jody: Erotica.  With a pseudonym, of course, at least until I move out of Mom and Dad’s again.  And screenplays.

16) PPM: What inspires you?

Jody: I’m drawn towards great epics, like Lord of the Rings.  I love stories about good guys versus bad guys with moral ambiguity thrown in.  I’m a little put off by the fascination with morbidity, to be honest.  Maybe it’s the performance coach in me that’s steadily emerging, but I strongly believe that you draw to yourself what you put out, and while I think a lot of darker works are cathartic – and I have my dark side, believe me – I can’t live comfortably with a sad, gut-wrenching tale of brutality without including a happy ending.  (Same can be said for my massage appointments, for that matter.).

17) PPM: What holds you back?

Jody: Comfort and laziness.  Pure and simple.  It’s one of the risks I knew I’d be indulging when I moved home so I could recover from divorce and get my writing career going without having to worry about the added stresses of bills, potential homelessness for not paying the bills, and what-not.  Being here and not worrying about too many physical needs – before you judge, I still do my own laundry and maintain my own bathroom and bedroom, and I do help out by cooking and buying groceries from time to time – really tempts me to just let it all go and watch “Firefly” and “Chuck” reruns all day.  Or losing myself in TvTropes for an eternity.

I’m learning to take bigger risks with money and changing my earlier mindset about it: namely, that I chose a profession that would have me broke the rest of my life.  Artists contribute to the culture industry, and the culture industry in Canada produces more revenue than forestry (and in case you’ve never been to Canada, we’ve got a lot of forests.  Oodles of them), so there’s no reason why I can’t get the same level of income doing what I love, if not more, than poor schmucks working for Initech every day.
Every dime you spend on the passion that you want to live your life doing is an investment, not an expense.  That's the lesson I'm still drilling into my subconscious.

18) PPM:  What is your favorite punctuation mark?

Jody: I use the semi-colon in a very half-assed fashion.  (See what I did there?)

19) PPM: What is your favorite word?

Jody: Shawarma. 

20) PPM: What's your next creative project?

Jody: I’m working on a spiritual thriller called Overlife, all about the end of the world and the efforts of the highly evolved humans who run it to find out where they effed up.  It’s in progress, should be out in May 2013.  That’s also not the best description, but I just had to re-plot the whole thing when I wrote myself into a corner, so sue me.*  (*Not actually).   After that, I’m looking at branching out into the realm of screenplays, add that to my repertoire.  I'm actually toying with three concepts in my head that I hope to develop with ACTRA in 2013.  Stay tuned for that. 
21) PPM: Where can people read your stuff?

Jody: I am at Wordpress; Convergence is available at Lulu, the iBookstore, and the Nook store, the Toronto Wordslingers site. I also have a few articles floating around on Suite 101, the McMaster Silhouette, and probably a bunch of places I’m not even aware of and don’t want to know about, really. 


  1. Sweet! I can keep my new job, then! :)

  2. Jody, I cracked up reading how you started writing because I started the exact same way. I just made loops and loops and loops with any crayon and paper I could find. Did you get up and recite your stories? I always did.

  3. Gayle: Haha, yes indeed! Mom and Dad still somewhat remember me making little scenes on the coffee table, mostly re-enactments from "Sesame Street" or whatever it was I was watching. Never did it in school, though: I was never a cool kid and I'd get laughed at frequently. Ah well, theirs loss.

    What about you, Gayle? Did you used to read yours aloud in class or just to your family?

    Also, random memory you helped me recover just now: when I was about six or seven, I remember we took a three day trip to the Thousand Islands in Kingston, Ontario, and during that time, I "penned" a four book adventure series, all in squiggly lines. I remember knowing what they meant at the time, like it was my own language. They had pictures and everything!

  4. I wrote a book called "101 Dresses." I was 5 years old. I stapled the pages together and drew little triangles for the dresses and loops for the hair (I thought it was more fashionable not to include faces), then put bows and glitter on them.

    Winnie liked it.