Burning Effigy Press is unabashedly one of our favourite publishers here at DT, so when we found out about this event, we jumped at the chance to attend. This was an evening of wonderful people, conversation, and literature. An Evening with the Authors was an incredibly immersive experience, so please feel free to read the article and watch the video embedded below.
We began the evening as Burning Effigy founder/owner Monica S. Kuebler took the stage and thanked us all for attending, as well as expressing a very sincere gratitude for having made 2011 Burning Effigy’s best year ever. Monica hinted at new releases in 2012 from both Ian Rogers and Tobin Elliott, both of whom were featured performers this evening along with comedian/playwright Jeff Cottrill. Monica then recounted all of the books that B.E. had published in 2011 in chronological order:
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE – Nate Southard
VANISHING HOPE – Tobin Elliot
AT LOUCHE ENDS – Maria Alexander
GROUCH ON A COUCH – Jeff Cottrill
BLACK EYED KIDS – Ian Rogers
7 BRAINS – Michael Louis Calvillo
Monica then introduced us to our first author of the night, performing a scene from the hilarious one-man play GROUCH ON A COUCH, Jeff Cottrill. The scene is from the middle of the play, and rather than spoil it, please watch the video below and be on the lookout for my personal favourite scene – trash angels! Also, keep en eye out for a full review on the site in the coming weeks.
Upon completion of the scene, Monica joined Jeff on stage for a Q&A session. We begin with the obvious:
- Why a play? Jeff has always loved theatre but had an affinity for numbers and was forced into things like math and business, until he admittedly failed himself out of York and begun to live for his passion.
- What would he do differently? “Don’t listen to shitty advice.” Many people told him what he needed/didn’t need and he ended up getting conned, as a result he’s resolute to listen to his gut.
- Will he ever do another play? Jeff will definitely write more plays, but is rather hesitant to perform again.
- What is the backstory to GROUCH? Jeff wanted to mesh Avenue Q with Z Story. He also took elements of his personal life to apply to the character.
- Current projects? Jeff is currently studying sketch comedy at Second City, where he’s nearly completed the course and will have his sketches performed live. (Please watch the video or listen to the audio for exact dates.)
After a brief intermission, Monica introduced us to VANISHING HOPE scribe, Tobin Elliott. Initially, Tobin hired Monica to edit NO HOPE but, after reading the manuscript, Monica decided that she wanted to publish it. She requested that Elliott write a sort of ‘teaser’ chapbook for quick release, and the author obliged, producing VANISHING HOPE in response. The novel, NO HOPE, will be available sometime in 2012. Tobin thanked Jeff, Ian, DT’s own Colum and Monica for their support. Before the reading, Elliott noted that the cover model lives in Russia and recently reached out to him via Facebook. Her name is Natalie. (Those who’ve not read VANISHING HOPE, the protagonist’s name is Talia.) Tobin’s reading begins on page 39.
After the reading, Tobin is joined by Monica for his Q&A which Monica begins with a burning question:
- What took so long to break in? Tobin cites a lack of confidence in his work and his unwillingness to admit that he is a writer as his main reason for not pursuing horror fiction sooner.
- Are there any stories yet to be told? The novel, NO HOPE is still taking shape, and Tobin does have preliminary ideas for a follow up.
- How did VANISHING HOPE come about? The “squirrel scene” was originally a short story, and he expanded on that.
- What can we expect from NO HOPE? Set in 1981, there will be new characters, a broader world, and more antagonists. Set in a school, Tobin exorcised some high school demons through the actions of his characters.
- Why is a child (Talia) the protagonist? Tobin wanted to explore a loss and perversion of innocence, the character of Talia gave him those opportunities.
- Did any research or medical study go into VANISHING HOPE? Absolutely none, Tobin happily admits that he “faked all of it.”
- Will Talia be in NO HOPE? Only in cameos.
- Current projects? Tobin is working on a murder mystery that he was asked to write, and has made one of his characters a writer working on a murder mystery.
- Other appearances? None in the works, though Tobin will be at Darklit Durham as a fan.
After another brief intermission, Monica once again took the stage to present the final reader. She explained her love of long stories and epic series and the stark contrast between that love of long stories and the admittedly novella-favouring nature of Burning Effigy. When introduced to the Felix Renn series, Monica felt they’d be a perfect addition to the lineup. Ian Rogers then took the stage and read from BLACK EYED KIDS.
Prior to the reading, Rogers paused to explain the back story of Felix Renn and his world. Ian was once asked if the feel of dread in the books were a metaphor for 9-11, to which Ian understands the correlation, but did not write the books for that purpose. Ian then picked up a stack of printed pages, and read an excerpt of a completely new, unpublished Felix Renn story! Watch the exclusive footage of that reading below.
Ian remained onstage while once again Monica moderated the Q&A, which began with:
- Where did Felix Renn come from? Ian loves to read detective, noir and horror stories, penned by the likes of J. Russell, Robert Parker, Jim Butcher and felt that the genres could meld quite nicely. Ian has coined his genre “supernoirtural”, where supernatural things exist as a matter of fact. Ian also believes that Felix is a “wiseass, like me.”
- How did you build the world of the Black Land? The world is left very open and in the background, as Ian wanted to avoid over-describing the world and concentrate on plot, character and other fundamentals. Ian stressed that the world needed to be practical in order to maintain a suspension of disbelief.
- How many Felix stories can there be? Ian noted that he has 3 or 4 novels outlined, and a spinoff brewing for another character. He believes that Felix’s world is centralized in Toronto, which will eventually come to an end, but the spinoff has the potential to go nation-wide.
- Where else can readers find Felix? The story MY BODY can be found in Chilling Tales, while MIDNIGHT BLONDE will be found in and upcoming edition of British magazine Supernatural Tales. Ian mentioned the upcoming Felix Renn collection to be published by Burning Effigy will have at least 50% new material in order to keep readers sated.
- From the unpublished story, who is the dead person? The interior decorator, though she’s not dead.
- Tobin Elliott jumped in with a humourous request that Ian stop copying Tobin. “Kovac” is an integral character name in both BLACK EYED KIDS and VANISHING HOPE (though spelled slightly differently). The covers of both books feature creepy children. Monica chimed in stating that Tobin’s cover came first and the rights to the picture were purchased before Ian submitted his idea. Monica also assured us that Ian enjoys surprising her with plot details, and the initial drafts of both covers were virtually identical.
- Where else will Ian be? Like Tobin, Ian will be attending Darklit Durham, but as an organizer along with Michael Kelly and founder Joel Sutherland. Ian also has a signing of his weird west novella DEADSTOCK coming up in Peterborough and he will be a guest at Wizard World Con in April.
After the Q&A with Rogers, Monica mentioned that, in addition to new offerings from Ian Rogers and Tobin Elliott, Burning Effigy will be publishing a novella by Gemma files in 2012. She then announced that her YA serial novel, BLEEDER, will begin on January 1, 2012 with the cover and synopsis being revealed exclusively at Dreadful Tales on December 1st. Monica thanked us all for coming, thanked the Black Swan for having us, and the show closed.
Colum and I personally would like to thank Monica S. Kuebler, Ian Rogers, Tobin Elliott and Jeff Cottrill for a wonderful evening, and for chatting with us afterward.