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Some people have asked me why I am calling this project ’40 Below’. The short answer is that I think it’s a pretty cool title for a book. Plus, if I can get some combination of 40 stories or 40 authors in the book that would be pretty sweet too. People say that it doesn’t really get to 40 below zero in Edmonton. That’s true. It has very rarely (if you count wind chill) and I always count wind chill because I am not a wind chill factor denier. Wind chill is real. It makes things colder. That’s science.

This week in Edmonton the temperature has been hovering around the freezing mark and the sun has been shining brilliantly every afternoon and it’s mid Movember. Who knows what the weather is going to do. Not me. Certainly not you (I’m looking at you Josh Classen!).

In December 2009 the temperature got to -46 degrees and -58 degrees if you count the wind chill. The media was all aflutter because Edmonton was basically the coldest place on the planet for the day. Only Siberia had a colder temperature without the wind chill. Amazing! Incredible! Another amazing thing is that a lot of people still probably went to work that morning. The majority of people treated it almost like any other winter day. Yes, some flights got cancelled and some power lines went down but it was definitely no Hurricane Sandy or Irene. A few days later things were basically back to normal and we all had a story to tell about exactly how cold it was.

“Colder than Siberia!”

“Almost as cold as the moon!”

“As cold as deep space!”

40 Below is more of a state of mind than anything else. It’s that extreme that we’ve all survived together. It’s a state of mind where things that don’t usually happen can happen. Noses or ears don’t usually just break off like pieces of gingerbread but sometimes it does get so cold that the automatic sliding doors at grocery stores can’t open. That’s pretty funny. Other times extreme cold has been known to set off fire alarms in some buildings. It’s happened and it’s hilarious. 40 Below is Edmonton.

40 Below zero is also the same number in Celsius as it is in Fahrenheit, so it’s one of the few times where Americans can understand us when we try to tell them about the weather. Unity!

So now that all that weather stuff is out of the way, 40 Below is the name of this anthology. It might have 40 stories or 40 authors or 40 pages. All of that is up to you. If you’re a writer you should submit something to the project. If you’re a reader then you should help spread the word so that as many people know about this project as possible. If you are an Edmontonian, a former Edmontontian, a new Edmontonian, or just like Edmonton then you should also get involved in this project.

Sit down this weekend and open up a new word document and look out the window. Allow this city and this season to inspire you and see what happens.