Sean has gallantly offered a signed copy of Shade Fright to one lucky commenter, so please introduce yourself and ask him something
SFG: Today is the official release day for Shade Fright. How do you plan to celebrate?
Well, I still have a day job so it’ll be a usual Monday for me. I’ll be checking your blog and adding to the comments. I’ll have a blurb over on our author blog and I’ll probably be ending the day by working on edits for the second book in the series, Funeral Pallor. I think that were I living in the UK where Shade Fright is now in book stores, I’d be running off to take a picture and post it to the blog – something like that. Instead, I’ll just hope the cover jumps out at enough people to make them want to pick up the book and take it home with them.
SFG: Shade Fright has a very striking title. How did you arrive at it and can you tell give us the highpoints of the story?
I came up with the title after after I’d written the first draft during the Labour Day weekend in 2007. I’d participated in the 3 Day Novel Contest just to see if I could pump something out in that short span of a time. After drinking gallons and gallons of coffee and swearing at my keyboard more times than I’d care to admit, the story took shape. When I finished the draft and then started editing it prior to sending it in for the contest, the title jumped out at me as a play on the term “Stage Fright”. Shade Fright seemed like an interesting title, so I decided to use it.
SYNOPIS: "I fell into this job quite by accident, when I discovered that I possessed the ability to see the preternatural world. There are a handful of people with similar abilities, and part of my job is to locate them, since Government Services and Infrastructure Canada likes to keep track of these things. Don't ask me why."
There's a malevolent force in town, and it's quite literally Valerie Stevens' job to determine who's behind it and why they want to destroy the world, starting with Calgary.
She'll have help, in the form of her best friend (now more or less a zombie, unfortunately), a powerful dwarf troll, and the ghost of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (but he goes by 'Bill' these days). But that's not all - Valerie has some tricks up her sleeve and, she hopes, luck on her side. Oh, and her boyfriend, Dave. He drives a dump truck.
SFG: Tell us a little about the supporting cast. Who or what are some of supernatural characters that surround Valerie?
Fifty-Dollar Bill is kind of a spirit guide for Valerie. He’s the ghost of William Lyon Mackenzie King and right from the get-go, I wanted to use him as a supporting character because he was a closet occultist during life and I thought it would be kind of interesting to have a character who like to commune with the departed during life, now refusing to cross over after death because he likes to commune with the living.
D.T. is a two-thousand year old dwarf troll mage who is Valerie’s mentor. He speaks in King James English and he lives in a cavern on the highest point of the city. He’s also key in the back story for the series and he provides Valerie with the insight she needs to learn about the nature of magic.
Anna Torborg is my editor and she’s also my cover artist. I cannot say enough about how fantastic she’s been. Anna is an author herself, having published a crafting book that is pretty successful, so she can do ANYTHING. We wanted to have a cover that looked completely different from all the other book covers in urban fantasy where there’s a female protagonist. (You know, tramp stamp tattoos, a woman with a perfect body wearing leather pants in a seductive pose.) I like those covers, but they really do all look the same. From the marketing end, we wanted to have a cover that really stood out, so I suggested that we include the main characters and Anna did the rest. It’s got a pulp fiction/comic book style to it. Anna wanted the cover to be in the style of some of Jasper FForde’s earlier covers and what she came up with exceeded my expectations. I love the cover and I hope readers will, too.
SFG: You have been writing furiously with a number of projects on the go. Can you tell us a little about the next Valerie Stevens book Funeral Pallor, your YA novel and Tim Reaper?
Funeral Pallor will be out July 1st – Canada Day, so I’m unbelievably fortunate to have found a publisher so supportive of the series that they’d publish the first two books in the same year. Here it is in a nutshell:
There's a nest of rotting husks in an old Calgary warehouse and they've got a hankering for human flesh, but that's the least of Valerie Stevens' problems. While necromancers are a dime a dozen, these mindless killing machines point to a plot that is going to shake Valerie Stevens to the core.Tim Reaper (the book) is a spin-off from Funeral Pallor. He’s grim reaper in human form that was thrown out of his order and stripped of his powers because he decided to destroy five percent of the world’s population by starting Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Since he’s a spirit, he occupies people’s bodies on a temporary basis. I won’t tell you how he is central to the plot in Funeral Pallor, but I will tell you that he’s a bit of Simon R. Green’s John Taylor, Bruce Willis and Peter Parker all rolled into one guy. I’m writing it for the new adult market.
The evidence points to Caroline, and to make matters worse, Val's best friend isn't exactly making life easy for the only mage on the Government of Canada's payroll. If Valerie plans to clear her best friend's name, she'll have to move fast: someone has dispatched a zombie assassin and Caroline's only hope may rest with a pair of middle-aged head bangers and a big freaking snow plow.
Poltergeeks is a young adult novel I’ve written for a series entitled “Strange Days”. Here’s the synopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn't all it's cracked up to be. When she and her best friend Marcus witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home and the old lady's cat launched through the chimney, it's pretty obvious to Julie there's a supernatural connection. The house is occupied by a poltergeist and in order to reclaim it, Julie's going to have to exorcise the spirit. Of course, she'll need her mother's help and what teenager in their right mind wants that?
Julie's mom might be skilled in witchcraft, but there's a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie's high school, her mother falls victim to endless night - a dark spell that rips her mom's soul from her mortal husk, leaving her in the supernatural equivalent of a persistent vegetative state. Now it's a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won't just lose her mother's soul - she'll lose her mother's life.
SFG: Will Valerie and Dave ever take a road trip? Where would they go?
I hadn’t really thought about that. I’m trying to keep the entire series in Calgary. That said, something is going to happen to Valerie and Dave in book two that will likely involve a trip of some kind. ;)
SFG: Tell us what inspired you to include our somewhat eccentric Prime Minister, William Lyon McKenzie King as a character? Did you consider other famous Canadians or do you maybe plan other famous guest appearances in future books?
Another prominent Canadian will be making an appearance in book three: this one deals with a ghost train that is about to make its maiden trip across the country. Unfortunately the angel of death has decided to take over the train and he’s got a hate on for humanity. Sir John A. MacDonald will be making an appearance and he’s the bane of Fifty-Dollar Bill’s existence.
SFG: The tagline on your website is “Canadian Urban Fantasy”. Is this a new sub-genre?
It should be! I love Canada and I hope readers do, too. I want to write about kicking supernatural bad guy ass and Canada is just as good a setting as Chicago, London or Louisiana for that matter. There are so many FANTASTIC authors in Canada and we all have stories to tell. Unfortunately, there are very few urban fantasy series that are entirely Canadian. I’m not trying to rectify that (not entirely) but I think readers will be happy to dive into a book about a Canadian hero just as easily as they would read about one who lives in the United States – so long as it’s a good story.
SFG: How does a Canadian author living in Saskatoon snag a UK publisher?
I’d read a few of their titles which are available even here in Saskatoon. Thomas Emson’s Maneater is a great book as well as Monster Island by David Wellington. Anyway, I submitted according to their guidelines around Christmas 2008 and in May 2009 I got an offer. I cannot say enough about Snowbooks. They’re an award winning independent publisher and their books can be found all over the place. They were really enthusiastic about Shade Fright and I just love to write for them.
What are your reading and viewing pleasures? Favourite SF or Fantasy movie? Favourite urban fantasy or paranormal books/authors? Do you or have you read romances?
My favourite sci-fi movie of all time is Logan’s Run. Period. It’s a classic and it still holds up well more than thirty years after it was made. I think the best werewolf movie ever made is An American Werewolf in London – I freaking LOVE that movie. As for authors, I love Simon R. Green, Jim Butcher, Nancy Holzner’s Deadtown is a fantastic read. Kelley Armstrong walks on water. Tanya Huff… just so many great authors. Have I read romances? Yes. Do I write romance well? Ummm… next question, please.
You can order on Amazon or purchase through Snowbooks. If you’re reading this and you’re in the UK, Shade Fright is in bookstores now. I don’t yet have a North American release date for Shade Fright or Funeral Pallor, though I am told it won’t be until later in the year. Will keep you posted!
Thanks Sean! We'll be sure to get the North American release info out as soon as you have it. In the meantime checkout Snowbooks to order Shade Fright!
- One signed copy of Shade Fright to giveaway courtesy of Sean Cummings.
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