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Lacombe writer finds hope in apocalypse

Stuart Fullarton/Globe Staff

Lacombe-based writer Jean Oram (Contributed)

Lacombe-based writer Jean Oram (Contributed)

The effects of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall on the east coast of the United States last week, have been felt all around North American, even as far as Lacombe.

Last week, Jean Oram, a Lacombe-based writer, was supposed to enjoy the release of an anthology of short stories that featured her as both a writer and copy editor. The anthology’s initial release date of Oct. 29 was postponed, however, due to power outages in the state of New Jersey, where the anthology’s publisher, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, is located.

“Either Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humour or these tales are more powerful than we anticipated,” said Oram.

The tales to which Oram referred are those included in The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse. With no power, the publisher was unable to file for copyright for the anthology, or upload it to online booksellers.

“I think a lot of us are just a bit amused at the fact that a hurricane is postponing our tales of the apocalypse,” said Oram.

The 14 tales in the anthology, compiled by 13 authors from around the world, focus on humanity, beauty, and relationships at the end of the world, according to Oram.

Her own tale, Crumbs, is included, and marks her first attempt at the short story form.

“It’s about a girl trying to build up the courage to finally talk to her neighbour (while) the world ends because of war,” she said. “It’s sort of a romance at the end of the world, in a way. I just thought I would try something a little bit different.”

The themes pertaining to romance and relationships form the basis for several of the stories, which all follow an apocalyptic theme.

“A lot of them are humorous, and some are just really poetic,” said Oram. “It’s really surprising, because there’s a lot of beauty and hope in the stories. It’s not something you expect when you think of apocalypse.”

Oram first became involved with the project earlier this year, when the book’s publisher and main editor, Matt Sinclair, approached her and asked her to lend her copy editing skills to the project.

While she admits to being “a little hesitant at first” due to the dark nature of the anthology’s theme, she eventually accepted Sinclair’s offer, even submitting a story of her own in addition to her editorial duties.

“I’ve never actually met any of these people in person,” said Oram, referring to the authors of the stories in the anthology.

“I would work with the author via email, and leave comments and suggestions, fix typos, and ask for clarity where clarity was needed.”

Oram also helped the authors “bring out who their characters are and what they’re up against,” by acting as a “critique partner, suggesting possible ways that they could make their stories stronger.”

“There are some first-time writers in there and there are also some people who are up and coming.”

Oram is herself something of a new writer. Having graduated with a sociology degree from the University of Lethbridge, she claims to have “only fallen into (writing) in the last five years or so.”

“It’s something that I’ve always been interested in,” she said.

Her portfolio consists mainly of non-fiction articles, and Crumbs is her first work of fiction to be published. She also has a literary agent in the United States who is helping her submit a manuscript of play ideas to publishers.

Her desire to contribute a short story to The Fall came from her love of the chick lit genre of literature -- also known as women’s fiction.

“I saw this as an opportunity to get back into (chick lit writing), because I find that sort of a fun, light-hearted kind of writing,” she said. “It would be a good challenge, not only writing a short story, but seeing if I can make apocalyptic chick lit, and I had a few people who said you can’t do that.”

A former high school librarian, Oram now has her hands full at home with her infant son, and spends several hours a week carrying out editorial work and working on other writing-related projects.

She plans to begin work on a chick lit story within the next several weeks, and hopes to eventually publish it as an e-book.

In the meantime, she is excited to be releasing The Fall, despite it happening later than planned.

“The stories have a feeling of hope, so I think the timing is good in a way.”

The Fall will be available for purchase online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble with proceeds going to a yet-undetermined charity.



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