In the realm of art, culture, and literature, I’ve decided to dive into the works of one of our own student writers here at UBCO. Bane Janzen, a current history major, expresses his creative side by creating literary works. He has authored several short stories — including his nearly completed novel Valerious and his published short story “What Remains of Edmond Fisk.” His stories are filled with intriguing mysteries, comedic humour, and valuable lessons that stimulate contemplation and introspection. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Janzen and pick his brain. He shared ideas about his stories, his life, and profound points to reflect on, but he also shared advice on his creative process, should you consider writing yourself. I first asked him to briefly explain the plots, without spoilers, of the two highlighted works noted above. 

Here’s what Janzen had to say:


“Imagine what would happen if you were trapped inside a small chamber for eternity. Would you slowly lose your mind as you have nothing to keep you entertained and no one to speak to? Would you eventually start creating a false interpretation of reality and start to have relationships with an imaginary person? That’s something I wanted to explore with ‘What Remains of Edmond Fisk.’ It is a diary-style short story where we follow Edmond Fisk, a man who has become trapped inside of a painting. Over time, he slowly starts to lose his memories of his past life until he can only remember his time inside the chamber. Eventually, he starts seeing things [and] he counts the 4384 specs of dust upon the floor. But then, halfway through, everything changes! He becomes convinced that he lives in an alternate reality that whenever he goes to sleep and dreams, that’s the real world, not the chamber. He believes he’s a king conquering the white cliffs of YarlHein, but reality eventually sets in.”

Janzen’s novel, Valerious, is a fantasy-themed adventure. It follows Hector Valerious, an eccentric sorcerer obsessed with discovering the secret behind immortality. Valerious embarks on a quest involving historical artifacts, dungeons, and unexpected alliances to achieve immortality. The novel explores the themes of heavy ambitions and the mortality of man. Janzen cleverly mixes elements of fantasy, humour, and philosophical introspection to convey a powerful message about the importance of living life fully rather than being consumed by our fear of death and being crushed by grand ambitions. Some portions of his book can be heavy-hitting, such as one of the author’s favourite quotes from his novel:

“Many men have lived and died having made no impact upon this world. I am not one of those men. I will not fade from existence. I will live forever in legend.”

This quote demonstrates to us how ambition is one of the central themes tackled in Janzen’s book. Ambition can obviously be very motivating and inspiring, but we often ignore its drawbacks. And we should understand its issues in order to use ambition as our driving force in the most efficient, healthy way. Janzen explained this quote and his perspective on ambition by stating:

“This is an ambition that I’m not being critical of, I’m embracing it as a good thing. But also showing the issues that come along with it. That quote, it’s sort of inspired from a book called The Wrath of Maul, where the master of a young Darth Maul takes Maul to a desert planet and shows him the skeletons, the fossils of ancient fish inside the stones on this desert planet. His master says that this planet was once an ocean. It was once filled with fish and with life — intelligent life. But when the oceans dried up, everything died. They had lived their whole lives having made no impact upon the universe, and they were forgotten. And I myself, when I was very young, read that, and it had a huge imprint on me. It became my worst fear, having lived and died, having made no impact upon the world. I, of course, do not want to be one of those men; I want to live forever in legend, and that has a double-sided meaning. It either means I want to live forever immortal, or I want to make such an impact upon the world that history will remember me after I’ve died. That’s what that quote is supposed to mean. It’s supposed to have that double-edged meaning that Valerious is going to get at the end and it’s going to finally click. He doesn’t need to be immortal to live forever. As long as history remembers him for his good or evil deeds — it doesn’t matter too much to him — then he’s going to live forever.”

Janzen’s works do not only have a philosophical nature to them, but they are also humourous and delightful. His stories are quite creative, so I asked him what could have possibly inspired him to come up with these stories, and the answer was quite surprising. He told me, “What inspired it was a weird dream that I had where I had a painting that I could go into at will to hide from pursuers.” 

Continuing with his dream explanation, he stated:

 “I was a thief inside some sort of museum stealing historical artifacts when I was being chased by guards, and I was like, ‘Ah ha! I'm gonna disappear and go into the painting.’ One of the guards steps on the painting, shatters it, and I become trapped inside for essentially eternity. Then I woke up, but I decided, what if I continued that thought with my short story.” 

It is really unique to come up with a story inspired by a dream. But there are more regular ways of finding inspiration for stories. Janzen shared some valuable advice on the creative writing process. I asked him what wisdom and tips he has to share with students interested in getting into writing and literature. He shared:

“Here’s what you do. Grab yourself a notebook, and you’re going to do two things with this notebook. First of all, whenever you hear someone say something that catches your attention, because it's either really smart or really dumb, you write it down. For example, one time when I was in a café, I heard someone just burst in through the door and say, ‘You are the stupidest person I have ever known’ to some random person sitting at another table. And that person at the table replied saying, ‘I never claimed not to be!’ I immediately wrote that down. My second piece of advice would be a very simple piece of advice. If you have any sort of unique ideas, perhaps you remember a weird dream that you had — write down interesting ideas like that.”

Adventures and stories always leave us with a feeling of growth or a sensation of having learnt something valuable. Either moments of awe-filled memories, philosophical reflection or valuable lessons. So I asked Janzen, “What message or feeling do you hope readers will leave with after travelling across your pages?” 

Here’s what he said: 

“For the short story, I originally wrote two endings for it. In the old one, he tried to kill himself but woke up again in the chamber. He realized that to be able to live for eternity by himself, he had to accept that he could think and dream about other worlds, that’s what kept him sane-ish, but couldn’t become obsessed with them and have them take over his life. That is how one lives in boredom for eternity. That is the ending that I got rid of, but the original message is still what exists. You can believe that there are other worlds, you can get caught up in your own imagination, but don’t let it take over your life. And for my novel, with Valerious, it can be summed up in a quote from [Hector] Valerious,”

 “If you live life in fear of death, then you have already died.”

“Valerious is obsessed with discovering the secret behind immortality. But in the end, he discovers that he values his love of the other protagonist more than he does eternal life. But also, he discovers that by pursuing immortality through his whole life, he has forgotten to live his life. It’s taken over everything, and he’s not experienced the things that he thought getting immortality would allow him to experience.”

Bane Janzen has a personal website appropriately named Here you can learn more about him and his literary works, including the option of reading his short stories such as “What Remains of Edmond Fisk.” This story is also published and accessible on the Ryga website. On his site, he has listed not only this story but all his other short stories. So whether you’re simply looking to replace your Instagram scrolling with something more meaningful or are just genuinely interested in what you’ve read so far, check it out!