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Louis Shalako

The Trophy, fiction, Issue 28, September 1, 2014

The Black Orb, fiction, issue 46, March 15, 2019

Louis Shalako is the founder of Long Cool One Books and the author of twenty-two novels, numerous novellas and other short stories. Louis studied Radio, Television and Journalism Arts at Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology, later going on to study fine art. He began writing for community newspapers and industrial magazines over thirty years ago. His stories appear in publications including Perihelion Science Fiction, Bewildering Stories, Aurora Wolf, Ennea, Wonderwaan, Algernon, Nova Fantasia, and Danse Macabre. He lives in southern Ontario and writes full time. Louis enjoys cycling, swimming and good books.

Get to know Louis...

When did you start writing?

I went back to school in 1983, studying Radio, Television and Journalism Arts at Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology. I must have been messing about with writing before that. I just wanted someone to teach me how to write. Your instructor can give you the basics, after that you're on your own. I like being on my own.

When and what and where did you first get published?

Michael Pennington at Aurora Wolf bought my first story, 'Bushman', for five dollars. It was such a weird little story, but he must have seen something he liked. At that point, I honestly thought I was on the track to some better life.

Why do you write? I was hungry. I suppose I had something to prove.

Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy?

Some of it's really great, but when you can fill in the next line even before the actor speaks it, then it has become predictable enough that you think you can do better. That's not always true, but we try. Lately, I have run out of ideas, of the 'must write this' category, usually of a satirical nature.  That always gave me a lot of pleasure, even though no one would ever publish it.

Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story?

I always liked Alistair MacLean, but my one big thriller was a failure, and I've never tried it again. Where Eagles Dare is full of holes, mostly of a technical sort. Jack Higgins was bad for that too. Airplanes that simply don't have the range to make it to the beginning of the story, for example. Oh--an aircraft with a fifty foot wingspan that somehow fit into Joseph Goebbels' garage, for another example. The authors that you liked as a young person sort of fall down, given a few decades of experience. Robert A. Heinlein had that subversive streak that makes him entertaining as well as relevant. The trouble is, once you have some training and some experience, you can see how it's done. And if you think you're that good, why not give it a shot?

What are you trying to say with your fiction?

I like to reverse things, to turn them upside down and see what falls out of the pockets. I want to see what conventional thinking has missed. An example of this, taken from the daily news, would be food banks: food drives are always presented as a 'good news' story of community caring, when really it's a travesty and a disgrace that social programs are perpetually underfunded. The problems of poverty are mostly structural, and a few loaves of frozen bread and dried soups don't change anything. Simply 'raising awareness' has never changed anything. For that, we need concrete and specific actions. Trying to change the collective mind after decades of front-page nonsense is definitely an uphill battle. This is partly due to the mental health/addictions stigma, so liberally smeared by mainstream media, which justifies inaction on the part of those most in a position to actually do something. The taxpayers don't want to pay for something that everyone among the middle class agrees on some level is an insoluble problem, mostly because it's going to cost them some money.

If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say? Goodbye, cruel world.

Do you blog? Yes, when I have something to say, or a story that was apparently un-publishable anywhere else.

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