Owen Schalk is a fiction writer and a student of literature and history. His primary field of study is postcolonial writing from Latin America and the Middle East. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and his family owns and operates a honey farm outside the city.
Since he was a child, Owen has been interested in writing. His short stories have been distributed by a variety of print and online publishers, including The Paragon Press, The Anti-Languorous Project and whimperbang. Additionally, his academic work has been rewarded with a variety of scholarships and awards in Manitoba.
At the moment, Owen is seeking publication for his historical fiction novel A Touch of the Purple, which focuses on political and imperial developments in fin-de-siècle America from the perspective of a Manhattan real estate dealer. His current novel-in-progress, The Iguana Collector, will explore the intersections between US industry, right-wing paramilitarism and guerrilla movements in South America and the Caribbean.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: Saadi Shirazi, because he witnessed so much history in the aftermath of the Mongol conquest of the Islamic states, and Nabokov, so he could teach me about chess and butterflies.
Q: What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you as a child?
A: One of my most creatively formative memories is of my grandfather gifting me his copy of A Confederacy of Dunces when I was eight or nine years old. Though at the time I was too young to understand much of it, I have valued that book (and the literature of the American South) very highly ever since.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote? (From a book, film, song, speech…)
A: ‘Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests. / I’ll dig with it.’ – Seamus Heaney, ‘Digging’
Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: Baghdad during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, so that I could witness the peak of the Islamic Golden Age.
Two months ago, Anna’s mother withdrew from public life and began collecting assassinations. Her first acquisition, according to most reports, was a cumbrous reproduction of Gérôme’s The Death of Caesar, which she dangled above the fireplace of her dimly lit sitting room. The exact order of her subsequent purchases was not established, but by all …