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CORY MADDALENA

Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you into writing?
A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved stories. No matter the medium, getting lost in a world, either between the pages of a book or the dimensions of a screen, creates such a feeling of euphoria and joy, and the chance to participate in that world-
building was so gratifying to me, and so I gravitated towards telling my own stories. I grew up watching a lot of movies, and reading a lot of books. My parents encouraged me to read every night, and naturally, that passion for reading and watching seeped into
forms of writing and storytelling that began at an early age: short stories, illustrated with childish wonder, and filming short films with friends on weekends and posting them on
Youtube (to no success). Even without an audience, I knew writing was something I was passionate about, and so over the years I’ve kept up with it through school and in my
spare time, using it as a creative outlet whenever the inspiration came about.


Q: Tell us about the premise of AS PURE AS SNOW.
A: AS PURE AS SNOW is about a town named Korman that has experienced tragedy. A factory fire kills hundreds of workers one night, and years later the residents must grapple with the after effects of that tragedy. Leading the pack is Brooklyn Toomes - inquisitive, spirited, and yearning to make a name for herself. When she investigates the
remains of the abandoned factory that sits on the edge of town, she learns a horrifying secret about the town’s past that manifests in a horrifying real sense. When others in the community become involved in her discovery, echoes of the town’s tragic past linger
near the surface of an already volatile environment, which threatens to repeat after all this time.


Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: The novel wasn’t always intended as a novel. Initially, the idea came to me for a class assignment that one of my film professors assigned in a production class. We were meant to write a script, pitch the idea, and have it produced by the end of the
semester. This didn’t happen. In all honesty, it couldn’t, the idea was too big, and it continued to grow the more I thought about it. So, having shelved the project, I continued to add to and tweak it over the years, until finally it became what it is now in novel form. Taking film history courses at the same time, and watching all manner of
cinema, from Universal Monster Movies, to Italian Neorealism and French New Wave, all added to the imagery and style I wanted to include in this novel.


Q: Did you do any research for your book? If you did, what did it consist of?
A: Apart from watching many many (many) movies, there wasn’t a ton of research that I did outside my own experiences. Korman is a fictional town in Niagara, but because Niagara is so saturated with factories (steel pipe, automotive etc.) the setting worked itself out. I didn’t want to set the story in a real location because I felt that would ground the story too much in reality, and I really wanted to emulate those fantastical, foreign, otherworldly settings that we associate with the Universal movies. These I feel add to the experience on a whole other level, making the story feel timeless and contained.


Having a fictional setting also allows for more world-building, picking and choosing only the most important elements of my Niagara and including them in this new city that doesn’t exist in real life.


Q: Do you agree with the statement write what you know? Why or why not?
A: I do and I don’t. I feel like some of the best stories come from tidbits of information you know and accumulate throughout the years, especially if they are lived experiences. These experiences add flavour to your story, and make the setting and/or characters
unique. But on the other hand, I don’t think you need to know everything going into a novel - research is important too, especially if you’re tackling a period piece. I’m
currently working on a story set in Toronto in the 80s about the film industry and grindhouse cinema, neither of which I feel like I truly know or understand because (a) I
wasn’t alive in the 80s and (b) because I’m not part of the grindhouse film industry.


However, I do believe that, through copious research and investigation, you can tackle certain ideas and topics and do them justice.


Q: Do you think creative writing classes are beneficial? Why or why not?
A: I think they can help, certainly. Especially if you haven’t taken any sort of writing class in the past. I believe having a base understanding of anything will benefit you in the long, especially if you’re hoping to do some exemplary work in that field. More important still, I think, is reading, writing, editing, watching and sharing your work for feedback.


Q: Do you enjoy editing?
A: Not particularly. Though crucial, I prefer facing a blank page with no limit, than facing a full page with limits.


Q: How do you juggle your writing and life?
A: I wouldn’t say there’s a routine or schedule that works best for me. While in school, I had plenty of time to write between classes or on the weekends after work. Now, working full time during the week, it’s harder to set aside time to write. I haven’t written in a couple months. I have projects waiting to be edited and queried, but I’ve only
managed to do some brainstorming as the semester winds down and I continue to mark assignments. Hopefully the summer will allow for more writing time.


Q: Do you write in other genres? Have you ever written in different mediums? (Poetry, screenwriting, playwrighting, song writing, journalism etc)
A: Screenwriting, primarily. I’ve created a handful of short films with my friends, and writing 10-20 page scripts is a lot of fun. Very different from writing a novel, but equally rewarding. In terms of genre, I love working with horror, but I’m not keen to focus entirely on that genre. I love adventure, sci-fi, fantasy - anything that entertains, with the
potential to make you think.


Q: If you could invite a fictional character for lunch (from your own book(s) or another writer’s), who would you invite and why?
A: Because Brooklyn from As Pure As Snow exhibits so many of my passions and interests, I’d love to pick her brain about some of her favourite films. I’ve always wondered if we would share the same interests, and though I watch nearly every genre, I wonder if she’d be the same way. I know she’d love documentaries, which I’m kind of
impartial to (for the most part), but perhaps it would take a fictional character to make me appreciate the non-fiction art form more?


Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
A: Never let anyone diminish or discourage you from pursuing your art, least of all yourself.


Q: What are your future plans as an author? Are you working on another project?
A: Keep writing, keep publishing, and hopefully, maybe, keep pursuing visual
storytelling and production in conjunction with that path.

 
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A tragic event. A figure in the shadows. A startling revelation.


Korman, Niagara knows its share of tragedy. When the town’s defining steel factory burns down and kills close to eight hundred unfortunate souls, a hole sears itself into the town’s history and exists like a scab on the outskirts of the city.


Years later, Brooklyn Toomes must grapple with the everlasting debris of the burnt remains – both in
an emotional and in a horrifically physical sense. What lurks in the shadows of the blackened factory
becomes entangled in the lives of Korman’s residents: the documentary filmmaker in search for answers, two foreign siblings – the victims of civil war, a mayor on the cusp of re-election, and a woman named Rose Wilson, one-hundred-and-four years old, whose strained relationship with her great-granddaughter is matched only by the relation she has to the brooding figure that has lain
dormant in the decaying factory for over seventy years.


Will the dark secrets of the past be revealed in time? Or will ignorance lead to further tragedy?