Kees Kapteyn: I was raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and now live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where I work as an educational assistant. I have a published chapbook entitled Temperance Ave. through Grey Borders Books as well as having been published in such magazines as Blank Spaces, Wordbusker, Writing Raw, In My Bed, blue skies, ditch, Novella, Corvid Revue and Revolution 21 as well as various editions of Canadian Author’s Association Niagara’s poetry and short story anthologies. Self-publishing adventures include the fiction chapbooks Holocene and A Hierarchy of Needs. Most recently, my short story “Geosmin” was included in the Alanna Rusnak Publishing fiction anthology Just Words 4.
Q: Tell me about your writing. How long have you been publishing, and what got you started?
A: I write fiction of varying lengths. Until recently it’s been short stories and flash fiction but in the last year I’ve been committed to a full length novel. I’ve been publishing since the early nineties, running along with the zine phenomenon that had tied itself to the indie scene back then. I would hijack the photocopier at work late at night and churn out a hundred or two copies of whatever cut and paste thing I’d contrived at that point. These were fiction chapbooks, poetry chapbooks and an arts and culture mag that I put out somewhat regularly. It was pretty fun joining this community of other creative people across Canada. I got to connect with people that I never would have even known about otherwise, being pre-internet and all. I was invited to conferences, zine shows, benefit concerts and other cool things. It was a great start. In 2016, I set up Smidskade 9 Press as a vehicle to participate in shows like the ottawa small press fair, and to act as an umbrella under which to keep my published works.
Q: How many times have you exhibited at the ottawa small press fair? How do you find the experience?
A: I’ve been part of the ottawa small press fair twice now and it was a great experience both times. They were opportunities to network with different presses and individuals in the community and it was also a way to educate myself in what other people were doing with their presses. It was also a way to get a feel for what the industry (can we call it that?) was up to. People were so open to talk shop and have been just as curious as I was about the whole thing. You, rob, you embody that attitude and I’m so glad you present these opportunities because they’re crucial for this community.
Q: Would you have made something specific for this year’s fairs? Are you still doing that? How does the lack of spring or fall fair this year effect how or what you might be producing?
A: I have a couple stories that I was going to slap together as chapbooks for the next show. I want to do it in a more professional manner rather than just street-level cut, paste, xerox and staple. That will take money, but I think it’s what I have to do to present a sellable product. Gone are the days of the 5th-generation-image punk zines. The lack of public displays like the press fair this year only makes me switch to other modes of creating. It hasn’t really slowed me down.
Q: How are you, as literary writer, approaching the myriad shut-downs? Is everything on hold, or are you pushing against the silences, whether in similar or alternate ways than you might have prior to the pandemic? How are you getting your publications out into the world?
A: Working in education, the shutdown gave me the precious opportunity to dive into forming my novel. Every day I did a little bit of something and at this point I can say that I have about ¾ of the rough draft done. As far as hard copy output, I’m just promoting my fiction chapbook. Since it looks like we are about to slip into another mass shutdown, I’m not keen on putting anything more in stores, since they all look like they will sink into temporary obscurity, being deemed as non-essential services. Quarantine without books? Seriously?! They sound pretty essential to me!!
Q: Have you done anything in terms of online or virtual launches since the pandemic began? Have you attended or participated in others? How are you attempting to connect to the larger literary community?
A: I like to keep up with new releases and support my friends and colleagues. I’m glad we have the online platforms to do readings because I was really missing them. It’s so great to see people like Pearl Pirie, Phil Hall and Heather Haley putting works out and going public despite the restrictions.
Q: What is your most recent book or chapbook? How might folk be able to order copies?
A: My most recent professionally published work is a book of flash fiction called Temperance Ave., and it’s available from Grey Borders Books. http://greybordersbooks.jigsy.com/kees-kapteyn
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now I am working on a novel I’m calling LefTturn. It’s about a fella whose wife has been unfaithful and the ensuing separation puts him into a kind of existential tailspin. The universe is trying to give him clues as to what he should do to get his life back on track, yet he either ignores them or simply does not see them. As the book progresses, the signs become more and more apparent and outrageous, to the point where strange, supernatural things start to happen. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and as I’ve said I’m about ¾ through the rough draft, so hopefully it will be ready for the streets in a year or so. Maybe by then we’ll be done with this pandemic? I sure hope so!