Award-win­ning edi­tor and wri­ter from Ro­ck­land de­fies the odds

Vision (Canada) - - Entertainment - ALEXIA MARSILLO alexia.marsillo@eap.on.ca

Au­teur, poète, édi­teur pri­mé, Do­mi­nik Pa­ri­sien a gran­di à Ro­ck­land, a fré­quen­té l’École se­con­daire ca­tho­lique L’Es­cale et s’est pen­ché dans le monde lit­té­raire en dé­mé­na­geant à To­ron­to pour tra­vailler comme au­teur et édi­teur in­dé­pen­dant. Pa­ri­sien est dé­jà connu, à l’âge de 30 ans, dans des genres tels que le steam­punk, la science-fic­tion et la fan­tai­sie - un âge au­quel il ne pen­sait même ne pas se rendre à cause d’une condi­tion mé­di­cale. M. Pa­ri­sien a ga­gné plu­sieurs prix lit­té­raires. Au­thor. Poet. Award-no­mi­na­ted and award­win­ning edi­tor. Those are on­ly a few titles in which to des­cribe Do­mi­nik Pa­ri­sien, who was born and rai­sed in Ro­ck­land and at­ten­ded L’Es­cale high school. He has now di­ved in­to the li­te­ra­ry world by mo­ving to To­ron­to to work both as a free­lance wri­ter and edi­tor in the big ci­ty. Pa­ri­sien has al­rea­dy made a name for him­self at the age of 30 in genres such as steam­punk, science fic­tion and fan­ta­sy by ha­ving won the pres­ti­gious Shir­ley Jack­son Award for edi­ted an­tho­lo­gy and being no­mi­na­ted for even big­ger awards – all at an age he him­self did not think he would live to.

“I did some slight crea­tive wri­ting in high school. I was for­tu­nate en­ough to have a crea­tive wri­ting class and a ter­ri­fic tea­cher who pu­shed a lot of those crea­tive as­pects on me,” said Pa­ri­sien. He then at­ten­ded the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ot­ta­wa where he ear­ned both his ba­che­lor de­gree and mas­ters in En­glish Li­te­ra­ture, while vo­lun­tee­ring for se­ve­ral dif­ferent ma­ga­zines and cat­ching his first break wor­king as an as­sis­tant for Weird Tales, the world’s lon­gest run­ning ma­ga­zine of fan­ta­sy and hor­ror. Weird Tales is where he be­gan dip­ping his toes in­to the edi­ting as­pect of the in­dus­try and rea­li­zed that was where his true pas­sions real­ly lied. “It’s still ve­ry much about sto­ry­tel­ling, but a dif­ferent kind of sto­ry­tel­ling,” said Pa­ri­sien. “I love wor­king with other people on their pro­jects […] and to find the flaws in it and hel­ping them im­prove it and put­ting all those things in one giant pa­ckage with my vi­sion for it.”

Pa­ri­sien works as a free­lance wri­ter and edi­tor in To­ron­to, a se­tup that works per­fect­ly for him gi­ven his se­vere me­di­cal condi­tion in which he suf­fers from chro­nic dai­ly pain, convul­sive epi­sodes and se­vere in­som­nia. He has been li­ving with these condi­tions since high school and has un­der­gone se­ve­ral dif­ferent types of treat­ments over the years.

“Free­lance al­lows me to come here [to Ro­ck­land] and spend time with my fa­mi­ly and still work from a dis­tance,” he said. It pro­vides Pa­ri­sien with a flexible wor­king sche­dule that al­lows him to take a step back if he is not ha­ving a good day, me­di­cal­ly spea­king. The edi­tor-au­thor does re­gu­lar ma­nus­cript eva­lua­tions and edi­ting for the pu­bli­shing com­pa­ny Si­mon and Schus­ter in the U.S, while al­so ta­ck­ling a wide range of pro­jects with se­ve­ral dif­ferent com­pa­nies. “Ge­ne­ral­ly spea­king, I quite en­joy the va­rie­ty and I like to dip in­to a num­ber of dif­ferent ap­proaches at once,” said Pa­ri­sien.

The young edi­tor won the Shir­ley Jack­son Award for his work The Star­lit Wood, an an­tho­lo­gy of re-ima­gi­ned fai­ry­tales he co-edi­ted with Na­vah Wolfe for Sa­ga Press. This work is al­so no­mi­na­ted for the Lo­cus Award, the Bri­tish Fan­ta­sy Award and the World Fan­ta­sy Award, which is the hi­ghest ho­nor in this field. Pa­ri­sien has a knack for crea­ting or wor­king on pro­jects that are the first of its kind – as Star­lit Wood is the first an­tho­lo­gy of re­told fai­ry­tales, his other re­now­ned work, Clo­ck­work Ca­na­da, is the first an­tho­lo­gy of Ca­na­dian Steam­punk and is no­mi­na­ted for the Au­ro­ra Award. Steam­punk can be best des­cri­bed as re­tro-fu­tu­ris­tic fic­tion that is set in the past but in­cludes as­pects of tech­no­lo­gy or as Pa­ri­sien des­cribes it him­self: “al­ter­nate his­to­ry.”

Pa­ri­sien is cur­rent­ly wor­king on a pro­ject that hits close to home – a di­sa­bi­li­ty pro­ject for a ma­ga­zine that took over a se­ries cal­led The Des­troy, in which the ma­ga­zine has al­rea­dy ran Wo­man, People of Co­lor and Queer edi­tions of the se­ries be­fore as­king Pa­ri­sien to edit the Di­sa­bled people se­ries.

“Eve­ry as­pect of the crea­tive pro­cess – all the wri­ters, all the poets, all the non-fic­tion wri­ters, all the edi­tors – eve­ryone has a di­sa­bi­li­ty,” he ex­plai­ned. “So, it’s a ve­ry much for us-by us pro­ject.” Al­though his main fo­cus is on edi­ting, Pa­ri­sien still delves in­to his own wri­ting – ran­ging from poe­try, to fic­tion and al­so crea­tive non-fic­tion, in genres ge­ne­ral­ly in­cli­ned to­wards non-rea­list fic­tion, fan­tas­ti­cal and ma­gic rea­lism. Pa­ri­sien does not pur­po­se­ly stick to spe­ci­fic genres, but fo­cuses more on what themes he wishes to re­lay, no mat­ter what genre that may ma­ni­fest it­self in­to. “I’m a pret­ty emo­tio­nal per­son so I want people to have some kind of em­pa­the­tic res­ponse to what they’re rea­ding,” he said. “In some ways, I want the sto­ries to make them think about so­me­thing.”

For so­meone who is constant­ly rea­ding, wri­ting or edi­ting and who lar­ge­ly does not consi­der the time he spends wor­king as ‘work,’ since it is al­so his main hob­by, Pa­ri­sien’s next pro­ject sur­pri­sin­gly has no­thing to do with work. Once back in To­ron­to from his trip back home to Ro­ck­land, Pa­ri­sien will start wor­king on a sleeve tat­too as a per­so­nal way for him to mark his mi­les­tone 30th bir­th­day, more so a mi­les­tone for him com­pa­red to most.

“My 30th bir­th­day was a ve­ry big deal to me… the fact that I ma­na­ged to live un­til 30, be­cause I didn’t think it would hap­pen,” he said. The en­ti­re­ty of his sleeve tat­too will be com­pri­sed of illus­tra­tions from a book that chan­ged Pa­ri­sien’s life, tit­led Tai­na­ron by Fin­nish wri­ter Lee­na Kh­ron.

“It’s a book about me­ta­mor­pho­sis and change and em­bra­cing the odd and the strange,” he com­men­ted. “It was quite trans­for­ma­tive for me spe­ci­fi­cal­ly with my me­di­cal condi­tion, and it hel­ped me re­frame a lot of it in a more po­si­tive light.” Pa­ri­sien’s tat­too has come to re­present his self-awa­re­ness and gra­te­ful­ness at ha­ving de­fied the odds, both in his per­so­nal hard­ships and in the struggles that come with at­temp­ting to break through the com­pe­ti­tive and elite li­te­ra­ry world.

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