Upcoming interview with Holly Bennett on Wednesday, January 30th

Holly Bennett is a fantasy author living in the same city as I, Peterborough Ontario, and I was excited to find another author in the same area. She is primarily an author of Young Adult fiction, and it is great to get the perspective of a Canadian YA author since many of the authors I have interviewed write primarily adult fiction.

In a very typically Peterborough way, I first encountered Holly through her books and only later discovered that we knew many of the same people. Peterborough is one of those strange towns where even if you think you may not know someone, odds are that you have a connection to them – the perfect space to inspire fantasy writing because the unusual just seems to happen here.

In our upcoming interview on Wednesday January 30th, Holly Bennett discusses her transformation from being a non-fiction writer to suddenly developing the confidence to write fiction, the appeal of fantasy to our society, the difference in writing fantasy for teens versus fantasy for adults, the ability of fantasy to deal with social issues, the role of the mythic,  the power of music, hauntings from the past, and the strength of characters to wrestle the plot away from author and make their story their own.

Here are a few teasers from our upcoming interview:

Holly Bennett: “I didn’t turn my hand to fiction until I was past 40. Don’t ask me why I waited so long, or what suddenly put it into my head to try. It seems like I transformed over the course of about a year from being sure I didn’t have the imagination to write fiction to being completely addicted to it.”

Holly Bennett: “The yearning for the expansive possibilities of the supernatural and the fear of its dark face are very primal, I think. It allows us to play with the idea, ‘What if the rules and constraints we think we operate under didn’t apply?’”

Holly Bennett: “For audiences of any age, the characters have to feel authentic, real, rounded. Teens aren’t drawn to cardboard stereotypes anymore than adults are.”

Holly Bennett: “It’s funny, I’ve never set out to write about outsiders but I see I very often do bring in characters who are “outside” in some way, and I seem to become quite attached to them too!”

Holly Bennett: “Outsiders do play a special role, don’t they? They bring a different perspective, a way of looking at the dominant culture and people that helps the readers see more complexity and shades of grey.”

Holly Bennett: “At a certain point, if you’ve really gotten to know your characters and developed them adequately, they do seem to take on a life of their own. And now you can’t just make them do what you want them to do; they have to do what they would do, given who you’ve turned them into.”

Holly Bennett: “Music can give a strong sensory, emotional context, and it can also evoke a certain culture, history or personality.”

Holly Bennett: “I think we have a real yearning for ghosts, along with the fear.”

Check out Speculating Canada on Wednesday January 30 to see the full interview with Holly Bennett. You can check out my review of her book Redwing at https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/haunting-lullabies/ if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet. You can also explore her website to find out more about her at http://www.hollybennett.net/ .

Upcoming Radio Interview With Ian Rogers

Trent Radio icon headphones 1This Saturday, January 26th, I will be posting an interview on Speculating Canada that I conducted with local Peterborough horror author Ian Rogers that I conducted on air at Trent Radio.

Mr. Rogers is the author of the supernatural noir Felix Renn series, weird westerns, and general horror literature. He has published novels such as SuperNOIRtural Tales, Deadstock, and Every House is Haunted. I conducted a previous written interview with Mr. Rogers on Speculating Canada at https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/interview-with-ian-rogers/ that you can check out.

In our upcoming interview, Mr. Rogers and I discuss how local Peterborough events inspire his stories, the difference between the urban environment and the rural when it comes to inspiring him to write stories, the terror that can be embodied by the woods, haunting and place, and his own fears and how they inspire his written work.

Check out the audio file of our interview on Speculating Canada this Saturday, January 26th.

Performing the Monster

A Review of Ian Rogers’ Temporary Monsters (Burning Effigy Press, Toronto: 2009)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Peterborough author Ian Rogers’ Temporary Monsters is a novella about illusion and performance, the insubstantiality of life and the performativity of everyday existence.  Rogers sets his story of monstrosity amongst a performative group of people, actors and actresses, who need to be ‘on’ while on-screen and while off-screen. Every moment of the life of an actor is under public scrutiny, publically examined, and career-influencing, so fame brings with it a need to be constantly in the act of performance turning the world into a stage in which they perform their lives.

Many of the actors in Temporary Monsters take drugs to supplement their performance, remaking themselves for their audience and indulging in their own escapes from reality into a self-indulgent created reality of the mind – a performance of the psyche.

There is a performative quality to the monsters of this novella as Rogers’ protagonist detective Felix Renn discovers when the monsters he encounters begin reverting to humanity, only temporarily taking on the guise of the more-than-human. Even Renn’s personal life has a performative quality to it as he discovers that he and his ex wife (an actress, herself) are fixed in a role, playing tired old parts in a cinema of marriage. They realise that they are repeating old patterns, clichéd patterns of relationships, but they also can’t break out of these patterns, trapped in the performance.

Rogers explores the temporariness and insubstantiality of actor identity and uses his novella to illustrate the shallowness of elite society in the public eye. Readers are put into a position of examining themselves and society as a whole, looking at how we are often stuck in our own performative roles, repeating patterns that have almost become social archetypes that are inescapable.

This cinematic quality suffuses Temporary Monsters, and Rogers writes his novella with an awareness of the cinematic medium and with a writing style that focusses on dialogue and action with sparse descriptions of scenery or setting. This adds to the action of the novella, propelling the reader from one scene to the next with a level of excitement that makes it hard to put down the book.

This first book of his Felix Renn series about a world on the edge of darkness, straddling this reality and the Black Lands, a realm of the monstrous whose gates cut through our world like pins in a voodoo doll. It is at its core a supernatural series, but it is also a window into reality, with a very real hero who is not in a Joseph Campbellian hero role with an epic romance, but rather a detective who would very much prefer to be outside of the main action, a man who is not at the doorway to a relationship… but through the exit of it, looking over his shoulder with regret at the romance that has passed. The reality of this book and its universality in the human experience speaks to the talent of its author. Rogers plays with the unusual type of chemistry that exists following a relationship: the confusion of emotions, the mix of love and hate and regret, and that unusual something else that infuses the relationship of loss. Rogers is not interested in the build up of a romance, but in its decay and the awkward, confusing, chimerical mix that occurs when people are reassessing their relationship to each other and dealing with change.

Rogers’ first book in the Felix Renn series is fundamentally about change and impermanence and that makes it an exciting beginning to a new set of books. There is nothing predictable and the reader, like the characters, are placed on uncertain, shaky ground and feel the need to read through the book to have some sense of permanence to grasp onto at the end.

You can read more about Ian Rogers at http://www.ian-rogers.com/ . To get more information on Rogers’ world of The Black Lands, check out his site http://theblacklands.com/ , which contains a history of the Black Lands, background on the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, and a list of the Felix Renn books and short stories.