Passionate about becoming a religious-studies scholar, Lobel enrolled at Concordia to earn her PhD in religion by studying the oft-overlooked field of the history of astronomy in Judaism. She is also an ordained rabbi who sits on the board of ALEPH Canada, which works to foster Jewish renewal across the country.
With a master’s in information studies from the University of Ottawa, Lobel is now employed as an academic librarian at the university.
She recalls how Concordia professors were flexible and empathetic during a challenging moment for her: After recovering from a c-section delivery, she appreciated the kindness of Ira Robinson, who visited her at her home to offer private tutorials so she wouldn’t miss out on her education.
“He was not just supportive but gave me a lot of confidence, too.” Another mentor, Lorenzo DiTommaso, professor or religions and cultures, was also supportive and encouraging, she adds.
Shainblum additionally has fond memories of his time at Concordia, where he earned a BA in creative writing. “I learned how writing as a lifestyle [was a possibility] and it also showed me the rigours of academic study,” he says.
Raised in the City of Côte Saint-Luc, Shainblum was “the prototypical science-fiction nerd” enamoured with comics, as he remembers. Throughout his life, those two themes have made their mark on his writing career.
A recipient of the Aurora Award for Canadian science fiction, Shaiblum wrote stories and also dove deep into writing comics, including the creation of Northguard, a post-modern Canadian superhero, with illustrator Gabriel Morrissette. Shainblum and Morrisette also came up with the idea for superhero Angloman, a satirical take on the intense politics happening in Quebec at the time of the referendum in 1995.
Shainblum additionally wrote a column for Montreal’s alt-weekly Hour and helped create SMS video games for an entertainment company making content spun out of popular shows and movies such as Jurassic Park and Six Feet Under.
Now a library technician at the Ottawa Public Library, this shift in his career isn’t much of a surprise for Shainblum. “It’s a bit strange to start a new career in my late 50s but I’ve noticed I tend to reinvent myself every 10 years or so.”
As for what future timelines might for the two writer-editors, an upcoming speculative fiction anthology and other creative projects are in development. “Stay tuned,” Lobel says.