The Long Road to the Black Lands

Recently I had a long talk with my literary agent about my writing career — past, present and future. It was a good talk, and while there were parts that I didn’t particularly want to hear, I knew it was only because he was speaking the truth.

Although the creative arts may seem exciting and mysterious to some people, a writing career is really not all that different from other careers. Some parts can be planned, others cannot.

I have always wanted to write books for a living. Ever since I was a little kid and stumbled upon my mother’s collection of Stephen King novels and my father’s collection of Louis L’Amours and National Geographics. It was all I ever wanted to do.

When I first came up with the idea for Felix Renn and the Black Lands, I felt I had struck upon something special. I didn’t know if other people would feel the same way, but I knew this was what I wanted to do as a writer.

Even though I was completely happy with the idea of spending the rest of my life writing Black Lands books, I also planned to write other, standalone novels. The first one I ever wrote was a science-fiction comedy called The Zane Conspiracy, a twisted tale about UFOs and family that I think of as The X-Files meets Arrested Development. I also had ideas for several horror novels.

In the past ten to fifteen years (maybe longer), the urban fantasy genre has kind of exploded. Laurell K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher may be two of the genre’s most successful authors, but they are certainly not alone. It’s a crowded pool, and even if the genre isn’t necessarily oversaturated, I think it’s fair to say that an author attempting to launch a series at this point in time certainly has his work cut out for him.

As such, my agent and I came to agree that this is not the right time to publish the first Felix Renn novel.

This was not an easy decision to make, especially since the book in question was already half written, with the next two in the series outlined and ready to go. But I decided it was better to wait until the time was right than to rush ahead and finish the book, publish it, and watch it vanish into the overcrowded urban fantasy market.

Some may say there is no right time to publish a book, and market trends be damned, and I would agree with that, to a certain degree. A trip to the bookstore will show you that I’ve got a lot of competition in the urban fantasy field, and frankly I don’t know that many of these authors will see their series continue past the second or third book. I believe in my series, I believe in my skill as a writer, but sometimes it is better to wait. Timing, as they say, is everything.

The current state of the urban fantasy genre was only part of the reason for this change in plans. The other was a bit more personal.

Although I released two books in 2012, back to back, it’s clear that the first one, Every House Is Haunted, received much more attention than the second, SuperNOIRtural Tales. There are reasons for this, which aren’t particularly relevant here, but the situation never really bothered me. I always figured that once I published the first Felix Renn novel, those readers who enjoyed it would end up seeking out SuperNOIRtural Tales.

It was my agent who emphasized the important of an author’s first novel. There was nothing wrong if said novel was the first in a series, especially if I was content to write those books for the rest of my career, but considering the attention I received for Every House Is Haunted — the ReLit win, the Shirley Jackson nomination, the Universal Pictures deal — he thought it would be in my best interests to follow it up with a standalone horror novel.

Even though I was disappointed to put away Felix and the Black Lands (at least for the time being), I had to admit he made some very good points. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Consider the progression of my writing career to date, this felt like the next natural step.

So for those of you waiting for a Felix Renn novel, I’m sorry to say you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. I don’t expect this will be a crushing blow for a great many people. Felix doesn’t have a huge fan base, but like all things in life, it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality, and the fans I do have are very important to me, and I know some of them will be disappointed.

All I can tell you is that the new book I’m working on, a woodsy supernatural thriller that I pitched to my agent as The Blair Witch Project meets Videodrome, is coming along well, and I think at the very least it will tide you over until I get back to the Black Lands.

I don’t know how long it will be until you finally see a Felix Renn novel, but I can promise you it will be worth the wait.

“Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law” now available!

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with the publication of a new Black Lands story!

Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law

Jerry Baldwin sells haunted houses for a living.

A dangerous job—but in a world where paranormal has become the norm, someone has to do it. When the daughter of a former client ends up possessed by a supernatural entity, Jerry enlists his friend, private investigator Felix Renn, to help him perform an exorcism. Unfortunately, Jerry is a better salesman than he is an exorcist, and he soon finds himself in over his head, despite the best laid plans of monsters and men.

CZP makes damn fine-looking books and this one is no exception. Big thanks to my editor Sandra Kasturi, proofreader Klaudia Bednarczyk, and Vince Haig for the phenomenal cover art.

I also want to thank Ursula Kehoe, my former elementary school teacher who has become one of my best beta readers.

I should mention that “Possession” is not a full-length novel, but rather an eShort, clocking in at approximately 10,000 words. There are no plans at this time to produce a print version, so this is the only way to read the story until it pops up in my next Black Lands collection.

You can pick it up in the following formats:

If you order it today (October 31st) from ChiZine, you’ll get it for 50% off, which comes out to a whopping $2.00.

One final shout-out to those of you who continue to support my work, especially the Black Lands stories. It really means a lot to me. I shall reward you all with a Felix Renn novel someday soon. I promise.

“Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law”

I’m very excited to announce that my new Black Lands story, “Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law,” will be released this fall as a mini-eBook, called an eShort, by ChiZine Publications.

“Possession” features Jerry Baldwin, the huckster of haunted real estate from my Felix Renn novella “The Brick,” as he attempts to help a couple whose daughter has been taken over by a creature from the Black Lands. Jerry employs his friend, Toronto PI Felix Renn, to assist him. Hilarity, and horror, ensues.

Not only is this my first story to focus on Jerry Baldwin, but it’s also the first story to show Felix from a perspective other than first person. It made for a very unique writing experience, and I enjoyed seeing Felix from the point of view of other people.

I’ve read an excerpt from “Possession” at both the Toronto and Ottawa ChiSeries, as well as a reading in Peterborough where I live, and the reception has been very strong. I really think people are going to dig this one when it comes out this fall.

So this is happening…

UNIVERSAL CABLE PRODUCTIONS AND ROY LEE EYE “THE HOUSE ON ASHLEY AVENUE” FOR TV TREATMENT

Universal Cable Productions and producer Roy Lee (THE RING, THE GRUDGE, THE DEPARTED, BATES MOTEL, THE WOMAN IN BLACK, et al) have optioned TV rights to Ian Rogers’ novelette, “The House on Ashley Avenue,” from his debut collection EVERY HOUSE IS HAUNTED.

The story, published in late 2012 by Toronto’s ChiZine Publications, follows the exploits of the Mereville Group, an insurance company that secretly investigates the supernatural. The Group has in its possession a collection of haunted buildings that are so dangerous that their existence must be kept from the public. These properties are known as The Eight.

“The House on Ashley Avenue” was nominated for the prestigious Shirley Jackson Award, and was reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR, VOLUME 5. The collection won Canada’s ReLit Award in the short fiction category.

Lee will supervise development and executive produce, while Rogers has signed on as a consultant for the show.

EVERY HOUSE IS HAUNTED received a strong blurb from Andrew Pyper, whose novel THE DEMONOLOGIST was optioned by Robert Zemeckis and Universal for feature film treatment: “Ian Rogers’ stories are old-fashioned in the very best sense: classic chillers in the spirit of Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson. EVERY HOUSE IS HAUNTED is full of well-crafted, satisfying twists, a fine companion for any reader of literate horror.”

Rogers’ and ChiZine Publications’ TV/film rights are repped by Jeff Alpern at The Alpern Group (jalpern@alperngroup.com), and Rogers’ literary rights are repped by Ron Eckel of Cooke International (REckel@cookeinternational.com).

ChiSeries Toronto

I’m very excited to announce my return to the Toronto ChiSeries on July 16th. I will be reading along with Charlene Challenger, Glen Hirshberg, and Sally McBride. There will also be musical performances by Kari Maaren and Peter Chiykowski.

I will be reading from my new Black Lands story, “Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law.” If you make it out, I plan to reveal the exciting news about where this story will be published. And there might be some other groovy news to report, as well. Yes, I’m very vague, and I’m sorry about that.

The ChiSeries takes place at The Round Venue located at 152A Augusta Avenue, starting at 8:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

An Evening with the Nice Guys of Horror

Save the date! And check out the Facebook event page!

An Evening with the Nice Guys of Horror

“Possession” reading and an update

This past Tuesday I travelled to Ottawa to take part in the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, along with Sandra Kasturi and Alison Sinclair. The reading went very well, easily one of my best, and the audience seemed to really dig my story, which was a new Black Lands tale featuring Jerry Baldwin called “Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law.”

Geek Inked Magazine was there to film the event, and they’ve posted videos of my reading, as well as a very favourable write-up.

While “Possession” makes the rounds in search of a home, I’m back working on the Felix Renn novel, Sycamore, as well as a couple of shorter Felix stories for some anthologies. There’s some other cool stuff coming down the pipe that I can’t quite talk about yet, but it’s been a while since I posted an update and I wanted to let y’all know what I’ve been up to lately.

“Eyes Like Poisoned Wells”

Very excited to announce I’ve sold a new Felix Renn story, “Eyes Like Poisoned Wells,” to Cemetery Dance Publications for the next instalment in their Shivers anthology series. Cemetery Dance is one of the best horror publishers around and I’m very honoured to have a Felix story in one of their fine books.

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What are the Black Lands?

The Black Lands is a dimension filled with supernatural creatures that lies next to our own. This alternate reality is the setting for a series of stories by Ian Rogers.

To find out more about the Black Lands, read the history.