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Originally published in Issue 16 of Apex Online, March, 2006.

Interviewed by Jason Sizemore

JS: Your fourth place story "Recursion" is a nice attempt to take a mathematical and software development concept and transform it to a literary device. What inspired you to take a go at this?

JM: At the time I wrote "Recursion," I was working as a software developer. From seven to three, Monday to Friday, all I did was write computer code. Then, I saw the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, and the scenes where the characters relive events really got to me. Using that inspiration, I took the concept of recursive code (a software module that calls itself over and over again) and coupled it with the notion that some ghosts annually haunt the places of their deaths. For the contest, I decided to tell the whole thing from the ghost's perspective (who doesn't even realize that she's dead, let alone coming back year after year) and I had "Recursion." It was a lot of fun to write.


JS: You have just been accepted into the "Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University." Can you tell us a little bit about the history and goals of this program?

JM: As far as I can tell, The Writer's Studio is a unique program for writers of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction in Canada. It began in 2001, and, through a combination of courses, readings, workshops, and one-on-one mentor manuscript consultations, The Writer's Studio helps writers improve their craft by building a sense of community. There are twenty-two of us this year--eight in fiction, seven each in poetry and non-fiction. Since January, we've been meeting at least once a week and we're really getting to know each other. The coolest thing about the program, I think, is its concept that writing should be a supportive art, not a competitive one: we're all there to help each other grow, not to establish a pecking order. It's a great attitude, because honestly, writing can be a very lonely task. Being able to share what you're going through with others who understand is really inspiring.


JS: How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become a writer?

JM: When life hasn't gotten in the way, I've been writing on and off for the past fifteen years. As to inspiration, I'm really not sure: it's not fame; it's not fortune. I think deep down, I just am a writer, and I always was, even before I realized it. That sounds like a cop-out answer, but it's how I think and experience the world. I see words all the time--when I'm talking to someone, I actually envision the words as if they're on a page. When I'm doing something, I'm wondering how I can translate this into fiction.


JS: What was your first published story? And where was it published?

JM: Not counting a few short pieces I published in school, "Recursion" is my first published story.


JS: Your website lists that you're also a poet. Many folks in the science fiction genre dismiss poetry. As a poet, do you disagree with this assertion?

JM: First off, I'm not sure if I feel comfortable calling myself a poet. I know I've included some of my poems on my website, but I do preface that by calling it "bad poetry." Honestly, I usually write about three poems a year--one on Valentine's Day, one on my wedding anniversary, and one on my wife's birthday. That being said though, I certainly do not dismiss poetry. For those people who do (and I certainly don't think they're limited to science fiction fans), I think you should ask yourself why you don't like poetry. I'd hazard a guess that many people's anti-poetical sentiment comes from a poor introduction. If you've had a teacher who never explained poetry properly or never admitted that any poem is open for interpretation, I can easily imagine you'd think of poetry as self-indulgent whining with no real merit and grow to hate it. Although poetry may not be as generally accessible as science fiction, it's still a very viable and meaningful art form.


JS: You dabble in both science fiction and horror...which do you prefer?

JM: Horror--hands down. Ghosts and dead people scare the crap out of me, and I find that a lot of my writing, whether science fiction, fantasy, historical, or contemporary deals with the dead in one way or another. A writing teacher once told me to write what I was scared of to get to my most authentic material. I guess I took him a bit too literally.


JS: Who's your "Writing God/Goddess"?

JM: I'm not sure--I've never been prone to hero worship. I seem to pick up different things from different writers along the way. If I had to pick a pantheon, I'd guess my goddess would be Laisha Rosnau (she's shown me more about writing than anyone else), and my gods would be John Fowles (The Collector creeps me out), Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita taught me about untrustworthy narrators), and William Faulkner (he's challenging to read, but what that man could do with language...and, he sometimes wrote about dead people).


JS: You're writing a zombies-in-space novel. Your protagonist's girlfriend has to die a horrific death. Do you shoot her out into the void of space to die of exposure, or do the zombies get to munch on her intestines?

JM: Hmm, interesting choice, but to be honest, I think I'd cheat and make both situations happen. The only thing I can't figure out is why--should I kill her off as a noble sacrifice (she lures the zombies into a shuttle bay, and then, when the last one comes in, opens the airlock and purges them from the ship), or do I have my protagonist use her as bait to lure the zombies into a trap (same scenario, except she's hogtied on the deck at the end of a trail of zombie-snacks, and it's the protagonist pressing the button)? Either way could work, but the last one is just way more evil...and potentially much more interesting.

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