Local anthology features U of O alumnus at book launch

 Photo courtesy of Matt Moore

Horror, fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction: dark genre fiction can be all of these things.

“I think you can ask 20 different people and get 20 different answers,” said Kate Heartfield, one of the contributors to the anthology Postscripts to Darkness, Vol. 4, about defining dark genre fiction as a whole.

On Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. the Ottawa Chiaroscuro Reading and Workshop Series will host the launch of the anthology at Maxwell’s Bistro on Elgin Street. The reading series grew out of the ChiSeries in Toronto, and began in Ottawa this January. It’s a free event featuring readings from local dark fiction authors.

Along with writing fiction, Heartfield writes for the Ottawa Citizen, she’s a member of the board of directors for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, and she’s also a University of Ottawa graduate.

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She came to the U of O to study political science in the late ‘90s, originally intending to be a lawyer. By the time she finished her degree, she had changed her mind, and decided to pursue journalism instead.

“I resisted journalism for a long time because I thought I couldn’t write both ways—that somehow if I wrote non-fiction it would somehow be to the detriment of my creativity,” she said. “In fact, I have never found that at all.”

She pursued journalism as a co-news editor at the Fulcrum and then as a master’s student at Carleton University, but continued to write fiction. As she pursued journalism, she also attended workshops and spoke with writers about their craft. When she attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal in 2009, she realized dark genre fiction was a community that she and her fiction writing fit right into.

“I don’t usually start out thinking I’m writing a horror story and I don’t even start out thinking that I’m writing a dark story, necessarily,” she said. “It just seems to be a lot of the time how my stories go. I usually write stories that tackle uncomfortable topics and violence and darkness.”

Heartfield and Lydia Peever, another contributor to the anthology, will read their pieces out loud at the book launch. Heartfield describes her story “Six Aspects of Cath Baduma” as “myth-punk.” It features mythological archetypal characters in the midst of a battle, with the characters examining their individual participation within it.

The anthology will also be available at CanCon, a conference on Canadian content in speculative arts and literature at the Minto Suite Hotel Oct. 4-6. Students are eligible for half off the $60 ticket for the weekend pass and have the opportunity to take workshops and listen to panels of science fiction writers and publishers. Heartfield will also speak at this event.

“The genre fiction writing community in Ottawa is incredibly welcoming,” Heartfield said. “It’s just a great place to be.”