Hillary: What is the most magical/terrifying place you’ve visited?
Colleen: Alas, I seem to be an anti magnet for anything supernatural, even though I would like to see something. I don’t find much terrifying in the magical sense. But…if I take magical to mean wonderful, and terrifying to mean a threat to my life or health in some way, well then…
The sheer beauty of the Pacific Northwest or even Vancouver’s mountains and harbors makes it a very popular place. I feel lucky to live here. Magical would also include Giants Causeway in Ireland where nature mathematically arranged itself for an awe inspiring coastline full of myth and mystery.
Terrifying, likewise, has nothing to do with the supernatural. It was many years ago I was in India, but I still remember people living in the medians on roads with cardboard and bits of concrete making a tiny covering, a dead cat lying in the middle of the road. Terrifying is seeing the abhorrent squalor of people living with addictions as well as mental and physical health issues in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) where ceiling-high hoarding has nothing over the pure filth and stench that people live and die in.
Hillary: How does place generally fit into your writing?
Colleen: I have often used the ubiquitous any town/any place but in some cases a real place matters. “Buffalo Gals” (Clockwork Canada) dealt with the beginning of Vancouver and the First Nations who lived here first. In this alternate history, there are references to murdered women, playing forward to the missing and murdered women in BC, yet also in many parts of the world. “Sins of the Father” (OnSpec) touches on Vancouver homeless population, in a roundabout way, the murders of Clifford Olson and Willie Picton and the black mold that is such a huge health issue. These tales are very much tied to place as is my poem in Shadow Atlas.
“Pokey Potz, Come out to Play” (OnSpec) takes place in Ennis, Ireland. Since it deals with the eruption of the barrow mounds and destruction by the siddhe, the lands of Ireland were important to the tale.
For poetry, I would say my poems are less about place and more about landscape. Only a few bring in the land, such as “Morrigan’s Song” at Oweynagat. “Warrior Dreams” (Last Girls Club), “Divinity in the Afterglow” (Space and Time) and “Crossroads” (Starline) are specifically wrapped in landscape but no specific place. “The Briar Witch” (Eye to the Telescope) takes place around curling rinks but not in any one place. .
Hillary: What is one place that is top of your to-go list and why?
Colleen: I’d have to say Italy. Some family roots start there and there are just too many pictures and reviews of awesome food and scenery. But really, it needs to start with the Greeks and move to the Romans. History, gods, food! That’s enough. I usually write when I’m travelling and often a few stories and poems do come out of the places I visit.
Colleen Anderson lives in Vancouver, BC where she searches for mermaids. She is a Pushcart, Aurora, Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Award nominee, and has received Canada Council and BC Arts Council grants for writing. Her works have appeared in numerous venues such as Polu Texni, Silver Blade and HWA Poetry Showcases. A Body of Work, Black Shuck Books, UK (short fiction) is available online and her poetry collection, I Dreamed a World, is forthcoming Nov.-Dec., 2021 from LVP Publications. www.colleenanderson.wordpress.com.