Lynda Williams

Science Fiction author Lynda Williams lives in Quesnel, B.C. during the week but can usually be found in Prince George, B.C. on the weekends visiting with her family. This is because after 15 years with the University of Northern B.C. in P.G. Lynda took a management position as associate regional director of the College of New Caledonia in Quesnel and hasn’t sorted out the complications of having kids in high school yet. Born and raised in Prince George, but having lived for ten years in Ontario where commuting over an hour every day wasn’t a big deal, Lynda figures it’s just another example of her mild eccentricity. Lynda’s magnum opus is a ten novel, space operatic saga featuring larger-than-life characters belonging to the bioengineered race known as Sevolites who have thrived in her imagination since childhood. The sixth book in the series will be released by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy of Calgary in April 2009. Lynda also edits a series of anthologies set in the universe featuring stories by other writers, has published short stories online and in print, produced the northern B.C. online journal “Reflections on Water” for ten years, wrote for the Citizen Newspaper, and does a column for Cutbanks magazine. She is married to David Lott with three daughters: Jennifer, Angela and Tegan. 

Reality Skimming is the name of the main Okal Rel Universe blog. The easiest way to find it is to google “Reality Skimming”. It can also be found via

The Okal Rel Universe has a page on facebook that everyone is welcome to join.  Lynda also uses Twitter where she tweats something from the Okal Rel saga every day, one page at a time. She is currently working her way through Part 1: The Courtesan Prince.

                “I hunted up Von’s poetry,” D’Ander answered, stone-cold sober. “That’s why I wasn’t at H’Reth Manor when Prince Taran was attacked. I went looking for princesses with good judgment who had watched Von dance.”

                Di Mon felt as if he had stepped, unprepared, into a Demish parlor game where the stakes were much, much too high.

                “Don’t you see?” D’Ander counted off points on a big, splayed hand. “Von is a gifted poet, a performing artist — ”

                Vretla, Di Mon thought dryly, might agree on that score.

from “Part 1 of the Okal Rel Saga: The Courtesan Prince”  by Lynda Williams, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy (2005).

1.    Please describe your writing/ art? 

The Okal Rel Saga is brain candy for people who like passionate characters, strange but well-thought out cultures and dramatized ethical dilemmas. The challenges arise from culture clash and the potential of science to change human beings and the societies they live in. But the stories recycle familiar archetypes and are full of love, conflict and sword fights. The Sevolite characters are, themselves, the products of biotechnology although they deny it and have created a pseudo-feudal social system underpinned by religious beliefs which are all variations on Okal Rel – a doctrine for permitting conflict without destroying precious, life sustaining worlds.  On the Reetion side of the universe natural humans govern themselves via the agency of benign but impersonal artificial intelligences. Sevolites are superstitious about bio-science. Reetions are humanists who rely on science. The saga is built around the life of Amel, a 100% Sevolite born heir to the empire who is raised as a commoner. Amel kicks off the series in Part 1: The Courtesan Prince, when an inept plot by his unsavory master throws him into the company of a Reetion pilot named Ann – the woman featured on the cover.  A couple sentences describing each of the ten books is online at
2.    what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date? 

The way young readers I’ve had contact with, in high schools, have taken to the series and got “into” the characters. I hadn’t expected this to happen. I was leery about it at first, in fact, because I deal with topics like torture and sex abuse in places. But it’s wonderful. Throne Price is the darkest book,  and was definitely written for an adult audience. Even the first three books are challenging because no one is utterly bad or utterly good and the stories overlap in time, showing the same events from different perspectives. But I think we underestimate teenagers sometimes. They can enjoy books written at an adult level readily if the characters and situations motivate them.

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish? 

I want to broaden exposure to the Okal Rel Saga, once the saga is finished, and complete the ten companion anthologies that go alone with it, as well a handful of novellas that take care of side stories that have cropped up over the years. I also have some other ideas, but I think I’ll wait and see who I in 2012 when the saga is scheduled to be complete, in print.

4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why? 

You can live close enough to where you work that you can go home for lunch. People know each other. In Quesnel, total strangers will still talk to each other the way I remember things being when I was young, in Prince George. It’s home, as well. It’s hard to explain exactly why or how I feel that, but it’s always been home. I like driving in Northern B.C. especially with someone to talk to or an audio book playing.  The length of time it takes to drive between cities is roughly comparable to how long my characters fly between worlds in the saga. I wrote a blog entry on “Reality Skimming” once about that.

5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC? 

For a writer, the biggest disadvantage is not being close to a literary scene that’s compatible or to marketing opportunities that reach a larger public. I go to two cons a year, but there’s so much more I could do to support my publisher more and spread the footprint of the saga if I was in, say, Vancouver. Or Toronto.
6.    are there are other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you?  (if so, why?) 

I used to be feel left of out of the literary scene in Prince George because of my genre. That changed over the last few years. Robert Budde and Dee Horne at UNBC have been important to me as a writer. When I read Rob’s book, Misshapen,  I felt for the first time that it was going to start being okay to be a speculative writer in the north. And just last year I discovered and befriended historical fantasy author Nathalie Mallet of Prince George who writes world-class adventure books set in quasi-historical settings.  Virginia O’Dine was a founding member of the NorSpec Writers group launched by myself and Elizabeth Woods, who has since started Bundoran Press.  All the people who have edited or written or done art for Okal Rel Universe anthologies have a special place in my heart, of course. Locally, this includes Elizabeth  Woods, Sarah Trick, Virginia O’Dine, Krysia Anderson, Mel Farrow, Amanda DaSilva,  Michelle Milburn  and Hal Friesen (since moved away).  I like many kinds of writing as a reader, and I’ve sampled well known local fare such as Vivien Lougheed’s Tibetan travel book Fobidden Mountains and books by writers like Bev Christensen and Jack Boudreau. I am particularly fond of poet/playwright Michael Armstrong,  poet Jacqueline Baldwin and literary writer Betsy Trumpener.

7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).

At the moment I’m living in a small trailer in South Quesnel which I call “the hovel”.  I’ve only been in Quesnel for a month but I already know that the community support for the North Cariboo Community Campus where both CNC and UNBC are located, is pretty awesome. Ed Coleman has made a particularly big impression on me. My husband and two younger daughters still live in Prince George, B.C. I grew up in Prince George and returned there after doing two masters degrees in Ontario and working for a short while in the Toronto software industry. Northern B.C. is a great place to raise a young family.

8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?

There are fancier places to eat, of course, but my all time favorite restaurant is Cafe Voltaire in Books & Company in Prince George. I’m getting to know Granville Coffee in Quesnel, too.  I was fond of the Empress Tea House on Nicholson Street in Prince George, too. It’s now on Brunswick and I haven’t visited since it moved.

9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why? 

Deer. It’s no fun finding bears in the parking lot, and even moose are a bit scary. But it always gives me a good feeling to see deer walking across campus either when I worked in Prince George or here in Quesnel.

10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.

People say to write what you know. It used to make me nuts because what I wanted to write about was a story set on far away planets a thousand years in the future. But everything I’ve ever been or done has been grist for the mill in creating the Okal Rel universe and the place where I’ve lived most of my life is no exception. The most obvious example is the connection between reality skimming – my method of faster than light travel – and driving northern B.C. roads. But I’m sure there are many others.

11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place) 

Books & Company again. Never was much for the great outdoors despite my northern roots. My dad used to make me traipse around in the bush with him when I was young, and what I remember most is getting eaten alive by black flies and mosquitoes.

12.   Please share anything else you feel/ believe is important to share about northern BC in 200 words or less.

Always felt that if there wasn’t something there ought to be, a handful of dedicated people could make it happen. I had that experience founding the freenet in Prince George in the early 90s.

13.  do you have a dream for or relating to the north and if so, what is it?

I think the north is growing up. Over the next few decades the population will swell and the economy will become more diversified. I hope that as the North becomes more sophisticated, it will manage to retain the art of just living. And develop sound, sustainable solutions for maintaining the beauty of the region as well as growing more food here, perhaps by means of improved agricultural practices for small scale production options.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. It’s nice to put a face to the name considering I’ve been reading about you and your stories for several years now. Have a wonderful Christmas, Lynda. Hopefully, we’ll meet at the spring meetings, after the snow thaws.

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