Okal Rel Contributors: A series of profiles celebrating the people who've contributed creatively to the Okal Rel Universe.
Paula Johanson has been writing since finishing her BA in writing. While she’s had a few science fiction stories published, and one fantasy novel from Bundoran Press (Tower in the Crooked Wood, 2010), the majority of her published work is nonfiction books on science, health, and literature for education presses distributing to school libraries. Her favourite editing project so far was co-editing the anthology Tesseracts 7 with Jean-Louis Trudel, but since then she’s edited some memoirs and history books for a couple of publishers. She’s written in a number of genres, from poetry to radio commentaries, and she teaches writing workshops.
Paula is the editor of the upcoming Opus 6 anthology (Absolute Xpress), a collection of Okal Rel short stories written by guest authors. Because of the nature of the shared universe, origin author Lynda Williams remains involved as a continuity editor. “The process,” says Paula, “reminds me of the Merovingen Nights series more than Star Trek fanzine writing. It's great to have Lynda in the loop. Everyone involved in the Opus anthologies can be confident we're working on canonical material, rather than going off on a tangent.”
The Okal Rel Universe caught Paula’s attention when the first few books were released and she read them. “It’s important to keep up on everything Tesseract/Edge releases!” she says. Okal Rel co-writer, Alison Sinclair, also happens to be a fellow kayaker. When their paddling group is on the water, Paula and Alison have discussed Okal Rel, Alison’s own novels, and some projects Paula has been working on. The discussions have also led to comments both interesting and distressing, such as a sentence that begins by commenting on natural disarticulation (of the floating feet found in the Salish Sea three years ago) and ends by pointing out the weather front howling in out of the south-east.
Kayaking doesn’t just provide an excellent venue for discussion, however. The sport has become a valuable pastime when Paula is not at the editor’s desk: “I've found that taking up kayaking has increased my sense of proprioception and muscle awareness--almost enough to make up for losing my sense of balance when I had a hearing loss. The things I've read about neurology and genetics really help me with this editing project. At least I understand a little of the genetic changes Lynda postulates!”
Opus 6 is currently in its writing stages, so look forward to it as a future release from Absolute Xpress.