The Write Place: Interview with Science Fiction writer Shalon Sims @shalonsims

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Aboard the ferry plowing across the Georgia Strait, hopscotching islands from Vancouver, British Columbia toward her home on Cortes Island, Shalon Sims @shalonsims stands outside on the deck, allowing the wind to whip her hair beneath her cap. In her skinny jeans, pink jacket, and jaunty, brown Brooks wool cap, Shalon is at home on the steel vessel she calls the Dragon, gatekeeper of the islands. Serious and focused, she looks out over the water and talks about the writing life, her literary inspirations and aspirations, and what she calls "the itch"-a need to travel, explore, and experience the world that led her to faraway places such as Amsterdam and Israel before she returned home to Canada and eventually found her place on Cortes Island, population 800.

"I went for a one-month vacation in 2011 and then told my boss I was moving there and if he wanted me to work for him then I would work online. He graciously accepted. I just fell in love with the place. Absolutely in love. It's the best of both worlds, spending my time between Vancouver and Cortes."

Shalon is no stranger to exotic destinations and unique opportunities. After her birth in East Kootenays, in a valley called the Crows Nest Pass in British Columbia, Shalon's life was nomadic. She attended eight different schools before she graduated high school. By then, she had caught the traveling "itch" just like her mom, and after two years of college in B.C., she moved to Amsterdam to study at the Universiteit van Amsterdam for four years where she took one year of Dutch and three years toward a degree in pedagogy. Before she could finish her degree, she got the itch again and moved to Israel for a year. After Israel, she traveled for a couple more years and then returned to Canada to study English and visual arts. A move to Vancouver allowed her to begin a professional career as a communications strategist, writer and editor.

Last year, Shalon completed her degree by taking an online creative writing course. And then she joined Wattpad. A member for only five months, she recently jumped in and organized The Ladies On Life-Aged 35+ chat group which has already attracted a large community of women writers eager for camaraderie in a vast social network platform that can often seem filled with teenagers and younger adults.

Though she tends to socialize on LOL35+ with women closer to her own age, Shalon's short stories and especially her novel-in-progress, The Dreaming, appeal to people of all ages

The Dreaming, is an ambitious, complex epic science fiction novel with five interwoven storylines centered around a mysterious book in a world where books are taboo. In the story, humans can no longer read the dead language of the book, and extraordinary measures must be taken to decode the knowledge captured on its pages. Time travel is involved.

Written in a clean, clear prose style, The Dreaming carries the readers smoothly along the pages, rather like the ferry crossing a calm sea. Because Shalon has a deft touch with detail- which to use to bring the reader close enough to hear the faint thud of someone pounding on the wall of a thick, transparent plexiglass-type dome-home, for instance, and which to leave out-the story never bogs down with the kind of lengthy description that slows the narrative action of some science fiction and fantasy novels.

For this interview, I (virtually) join Shalon on the ferry crossing the Georgia Strait-or Salish Sea as the locals call it-a name so poetic it conjures up images of rugged and rocky coastlines, sheep grazing, and thick, woolen cable-knit sweaters. Steep, blue, snowcapped mountains form a jagged line in the distance (I'm glad I brought my own wool sweater, heavy socks, and knit cap) as we head toward Cortes Island.

The air smells of summer: seawater and sun and the faint whiff of diesel from the engines. We stand against the railing to talk about The Dreaming (currently at #48 on Wattpad's sci-fi list!) and Shalon's recent decision at age 37 to stop working full-time in order to dedicate the next six months to her writing.

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