1. Are the Black Lands real?
  2. Yeah, but didn’t Flight 19 really disappear?
  3. So what happened to Flight 19 in your world?
  4. How much difference is there between real history and the history of the Black Lands? Do these stories fall into the genre of “alternate history”?
  5. Are the Felix Renn/Black Lands stories urban fantasy? horror? mystery?
  6. In what order should the Black Lands stories be read?
  7. How did you come up with…?
  8. Do you plan on writing any Black Lands stories that don’t feature Felix Renn?
  9. Can I write stories set in the Black Lands?
  10. When will the next Felix Renn/Black Lands story be coming out? (Updated: November 2016)

Are the Black Lands real?

It may sound like a stupid question, I know, but seeing as how there are people out there who still believe The Blair Witch Project is real, I feel the need to state up front what should be fairly obvious: The Black Lands does NOT exist. It is the product of my very active imagination. Same goes for Felix Renn. The characters in the Black Lands stories are not based on real people, living or deceased, no animals were harmed in the writing of these stories, etc., etc.

Yeah, but didn’t Flight 19 really disappear?

Yes, Flight 19 was a real group of five U.S. Navy planes, and yes, they really did disappear.

Having said that, it has never been proven that their disappearance was the result of UFOs, Atlantis, Cthulhu, or a space-time warp.

It’s generally believed that the flight leader accidentally led the group off course, and instead of taking them back to the mainland, he ended up leading them further out to sea. The planes eventually ran out of fuel and ditched into the ocean. A horrible tragedy, to be sure, but there’s nothing supernatural about it. (Follow the link to read the true story of Flight 19.)

For the sake my fiction, I chose to make the disappearance of Flight 19 the defining moment in the history of my world. In my version of events, the search effort sent out to find the missing planes ended up finding the Black Lands instead. From that moment on, every man, woman and child on the planet is forced to deal with the reality that they are living next door to a supernatural dimension filled with monsters that find their way into our world from time to time.

So what happened to Flight 19 in your world?

I’ll tell you. One day.

How much difference is there between real history and the history of the Black Lands? Do these stories fall into the genre of “alternate history”?

Yes and no.

While I’ve taken some liberties with a few historical events, I’m reluctant to describe the Felix Renn/Black Lands stories as “alternate history.” The changes I’ve made are more additions than omissions to existing history, and they were done to facilitate my fiction rather than to postulate questions of what the world would be like if x didn’t happen or if y didn’t die.

Things are not that much different between the two worlds, except that in mine the supernatural exists as a matter of course and people have learned to live with it (more or less). Major world events like the Moon Landing, Vietnam, Chernobyl, and 9/11 still happened.

A detailed description of the history of my world can be found in The Black Lands section.

Are the Felix Renn/Black Lands stories urban fantasy? horror? mystery?

Urban fantasy, horror, mystery — I don’t care what people call them, just as long as they’re reading them.
For the record I call them “supernatural noirs” or “supernoirturals.”

In what order should the Black Lands stories be read?

There aren’t enough stories for this to be a problem yet, but I’ll probably have to give it some thought at some point down the road.

For now, I think it’s safe to say you can read the stories in the order in which they are being published.

How did you come up with…?

The idea of the Black Lands was inspired by my love of all things horror and supernatural. That sounds very general and non-specific, but it’s really the only way I can describe it.

I’ve always admired Stephen King’s work, especially the way he subtly interweaves characters and events from one story into another. It’s world-building at its finest, and I’ve always wanted to do something along the same lines. Stories that work as standalone pieces, but at the same time function as parts of something bigger. My plan was to create a series with the intent of building an audience, but in such a way so as not to exclude the casual reader.

The idea of using a private investigator to explore this supernatural world came not so much from my interest in horror fiction as it did my interest in detective stories. There are plenty of “supernatural detectives” (Harry D’Amour and Marty Burns are two of the best), but Felix Renn really owes more to the likes of Spenser, Lew Archer, and the Continental Op.

In 2007, I decided to put Felix and the Black Lands together and ended up with a short novelette called “Temporary Monsters.” It was published by Burning Effigy Press in 2009, and the response has been extremely positive. The rest is history.

By the way, the name “Felix Renn” is a nod to the Felix characters from the John Steakley novels, Armor and Vampire$, and James Woods’ character, Max Renn, in the David Cronenberg film, Videodrome (one of my personal favourites). Felix’s ex-wife/assistant is named Sandra Clifton, and he often calls her “Dee,” as in Sandra Dee from Gidget (another fav of mine).

Do you plan on writing any Black Lands stories that don’t feature Felix Renn?

Yes. I have plans for another series with a different character, and I’m also writing a number of standalone Black Lands stories.

Even though Felix Renn won’t feature prominently in any of these stories, that isn’t to say he may not appear in a minor role. One of the great things about world-building is bumping into a familiar face from time to time.

Can I write stories set in the Black Lands?

My work is nowhere near popular enough to be the product of fan fiction, but I figure it’ss best to be proactive and state my opinion up front on this rather touchy subject. Here goes:

If you feel the desire to write stories set in my world or featuring my characters, please keep these three things in mind: One, you are NOT allowed to make money from these stories. Two, you must include somewhere in your story a note that says “based on characters and concepts created by Ian Rogers.” Three, please oh please do NOT send your stories to me. I’m not allowed to read them. Don’t blame me, blame the lawyers.

When will the next Felix Renn/Black Lands story be coming out?

As of this writing (November 2016), the most recently published Black Lands story is a Felix Renn tale called “Eyes Like Poisoned Wells,” which appeared in the special Joe Hill double-sized issue of Cemetery Dance.

Work also continues on the first Felix Renn novel.