The Underwood

The novel is finished.

I wrote every single day from November 4, 2015 to March 22, 2016. Final word count: 124,762 words. 493 double-spaced pages. This is a first draft, so that number will come down in the rewrite. But it's done!

Now, time for a drink.

Oh, and the book is called The Underwood.

First draft of "The Underwood"

The 2015 Year-End Review

Phew... so that was 2015. Looking back at last year's review of 2014, I'm reminded of what an up-and-down year it was. 2015 was quite different in that it was neither a year or ups or downs. It just sort of... was.

On the writing front I was in a bit of slump. I'm not proud of that, but I can admit it. I had just come off an important meeting with my literary agent in which we both agreed this was not the right time to publish the first Felix Renn novel in a market oversaturated with urban fantasy and supernatural noir fiction. It's true what they say, timing is everything, and this was not the right time for Felix.

When I decided to capitalize on the small success of my debut collection Every House Is Haunted, I had an idea for what I thought would be a great standalone horror novel. I'd been squirrelling away notes on this book for years, and I was very excited to write it.

I wrote two chapters and stopped. It was the last thing I wrote for almost the entire year.

At the time I didn't know what was happening. I'd never had a problem with writer's block before. I had almost the entire book outlined and ready to go. I knew the story, the characters, all the beats and broad strokes. All I had to do was write the damn thing. Easier said than done, I guess.

I thought maybe I was more upset than I thought about having to switch tracks from working on the Felix Renn novel. In my mind I had planned to write many books in the Black Lands series, and now I wasn't writing any of them. It made sense that I was still upset about that, maybe even nervous about what people would think of this new idea.

Despite that, 2015 wasn't entirely unproductive. Universal Pictures renewed the option on "The House on Ashley Avenue" and work continues to progress on the project. I had three short stories published, and they were all big ones for me. I had what was probably my biggest anthology appearance to date with "The Lighthouse of Midian," which appeared in Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed. I was also invited to take part in an exciting project, a collection of unauthorized James Bond stories called Licence Expired. I wrote a story called "Two Graves," which I'd describe as "What would happen if James Bond was a character in Nevil Shute's On the Beach?" It was a lot of fun to write and it's one of my proudest accomplishments to date. My final published story of the year was "The Veils," a spooky tale about hidden images in stock photography, which appeared in the The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror.

On a personal note, the year's biggest highliight was bringing a new cat into our family. Kathryn and I weren't sure when it was going to happen – we've still been feeling the loss of Thor from last Christmas – but these things have a tendency of announcing themselves. So it came as no surprise when, a couple of months into the new year, we ended up going to a local animal shelter and getting a new cat. The part that was a surprise was finding out how much we needed him. Barnabas (or Barney, as we affectionately call him; as well as Titus Barndronicus, BarnTown, and Shithead) has brought a much-needed dose of happiness to our lives.

Two very good friends of mine got married over the summer, which was wonderful, and two others got very sick. One of them spent several months in the ICU, while the other passed away. I don't know if it was any of these things individually – more likely it was all of them combined – but I was eventually able to crawl out of my writing funk and get back to work.

I remembered a piece of writing advice I heard, not just from one author but from lots of them. They said to write something every day. It doesn't have to be a lot, but try to stick with it, do something, anything, every day. It will help to turn your writing into a routine, and even if it's only 250 words, one page of writing, then at least it's something. And it adds up over time.

Like all writing advice, there are people who don't agree with this method, and that's fine. I think the only universal truth of writing (and I'm sure it's the same for the rest of the creative arts) is that you should do the thing that works best for you. Some writers love to go on about their routine as if it's the One True Way. If I've learned anything from writing and publishing it's that there is no such thing as the One True Way, and those who say otherwise are usually selling something (probably a book on writing).

The point is, writing every day worked for me. It kept me honest when I was tempted to slide back into depression and self-pity (neither of which was going to get my book finished). I started with 250 words a day, and after a month, when I saw I was exceeding that on a regular basis, I bumped it up to 500. One of the ways I held myself to this was by recording my daily word counts in a small notebook. It got so that I didn't want to miss a day because I didn't want any gaps in my record. It was a small thing, but it worked. I started writing again on November 4th and I haven't missed a single day, not even Christmas or New Year's. As of today, I'm currently sitting pretty on 45,000 words of the new novel. Not too shabby for two months' work, but mostly I'm just glad to be back in a place where I enjoy writing again.

If I can maintain my current pace, I should have the first draft completed around the end of February. Wish me luck.

See you on the flip-flop.


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.

Currently reading: Red Moon, by Benjamin Percy


Favourite Reads of 2014

In 2014, I read 35 novels, 17 novellas, and 157 short stories.

Instead of limiting my favourites to lists of ten or fifteen titles, I’ve included everything I liked. (As usual, not all of these were published in 2014.)

Favourite Novels

A Walk Among the Tombstones — Lawrence Block
The Girl with All the Gifts — M.R. Carey
Dead Men’s Boots — Mike Carey
Pines — Blake Crouch
The Deep — Nick Cutter
The Peripheral — William Gibson
Death Bed — Stephen Greenleaf
Grave Error — Stephen Greenleaf
The Glass Key — Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man — Dashiell Hammett
Dying Is My Business — Nicholas Kaufmann
Revival — Stephen King
Our Lady of Darkness — Fritz Leiber
The Ritual — Adam Nevill
Eutopia — David Nickle
Galveston — Nic Pizzolatto
Wild Fell — Michael Rowe
Night Moves — Alan Sharp
Letters from Hades — Jeffrey Thomas
The Fall of Hades — Jeffrey Thomas

Favourite Novellas and Novelettes

The Good Husband — Nathan Ballingrud
Jaws of Saturn — Laird Barron
Texas City, 1947 — James Lee Burke
All Through the House — Christopher Coake
Mefisto in Onyx — Harlan Ellison
Poachers — Tom Franklin
Arbeitskraft — Nick Mamatas
Faithless — Joyce Carol Oates
The Green Hands — Jeffrey Thomas
Midnight Emissions — F.X. Toole

Favourite Collections and Anthologies

North American Lake Monsters — Nathan Ballingrud
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All — Laird Barron
Turn Down the Lights — edited by Richard Chizmar
The Best American Noir of the Century — edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler
Voices from Punktown — Jeffrey Thomas

Favourite Short Stories

“The Hospice” — Robert Aickman
“The Same Dog” — Robert Aickman
“The School Friend” — Robert Aickman
“Clean Slate” — Lawrence Block
“The Gulf” — Poppy Z. Brite
“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” — Carrie Cuinn
“The Paperhanger” — William Gay
“Render Unto Caesar” — Ed Gorman
“Iris” — Stephen Greenleaf
“At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom” — Amy Hempel
“Paranoia” — Shirley Jackson
“Old Doc Yak” — Louis L’Amour
“The Naturalist” — Maureen F. McHugh
“Elevated” — Gary McMahon
“Dial Tone” — Benjamin Percy
“Ghost Birds” — Nic Pizzolatto
“The House on Cobb Street” — Lynda E. Rucker
“The Last Reel” — Lynda E. Rucker
“Fry Day” — Melanie Tem
“The Color Shrain” — Jeffrey Thomas
“Saigon Dep Lam” — Jeffrey Thomas
“Spider Gates” — Jeffrey Thomas
“The Swing” — Don Tumasonis
“Bookends” — Michael Wehunt

Currently reading: Consumed, by David Cronenberg


The 2014 Year-End Review

I honestly didn't think I would write one of these things this year. It's not that 2014 wasn't without its highlights, but more that I wasn't up to writing it. The year ended on a sad note for me, and it has painted the rest of the holidays in such a way that they haven't felt like holidays at all. I'm still in recovery mode and I don't have much energy or enthusiasm for anything right now. But I'm here, writing this now, so we'll see how it goes. Apologies in advance if I end up rambling.

On New Year's Day, Kat and I went bowling with her family and friends. It's a yearly tradition, and because I'm a big movie nerd, it always makes me think of The Big Lebowski. This year I was reminded of the scene where someone asks The Dude how things are going and he responds, "Strikes and gutters, ups and downs."

That tends to be the way life is for everyone, every year, but this year in particular seems to have been one of extreme highs and lows. I'm not the only one glad to see 2014 in the rear-view mirror. They say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and perhaps that's true on some level, but I'm not feeling particular strong right now. Having said that, I'm not writing this to illicit pity or "hugz" or anything of that nature. It's just life.

It's hard to look back on a year that felt about five years long and talk about the good things. But there were good things. I have to remind myself of that. From a writing standpoint, I didn't have a lot of stories published in 2014, but that's only because I spent the year writing. Sometimes I'd look around and see other people doing things, publishing stories, novels, etc., and feel like a loser, like I wasn't doing enough. But unless you're doing this gig full time, it can be difficult to put out new stuff every year. Everyone works at a different speed, even those who are writing full time. This was the year for me to realize that I don't have to have something out all the time. I'm not going to produce work just because I'm worried about being forgotten or some such crap. I'm fortunate enough to work in one of the creative arts where I can actually take my time to produce a piece of work.

My lone short fiction sale was a new Felix Renn story, "Eyes Like Poisoned Wells," to Cemetery Dance's anthology series Shivers. I'm pretty excited about that one. I'm a big fan of the series and CD in general. It's also nice to see more Felix tales getting out into the world.

Speaking of Felix, I've spent the last few months working hard on the first full-length Felix Renn novel, Sycamore. At the present time I'm about half-finished, and I hope to have it completely done in the next few months. My agent has read the first thirty thousand words or so, and he hasn't suggested I go to law school, so I guess that means I'm moving in the right direction.

I only published two stories in 2014. One was a new Black Lands tale, "Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law," which was released by ChiZine Publications as an eShort. The other was a short story called "Train Girl" that appeared in Broken Pencil magazine.

I did a few readings this year, at Canzine in Toronto, at the ChiSeries in Ottawa, Toronto, and Peterborough, and one event that Kat and I organized ourselves here in town, An Evening with the Nice Guys of Horror, with my good friend Craig Davidson. All were well attended, and at ChiSeries Toronto I finally got to meet Glen Hirshberg, one of my favourite authors, who turned out to be as nice in person as I hoped he would be.

The biggest news of the year is that I signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions to develop my novelette, "The House on Ashley Avenue," for television. I was also hired to work as a consultant on the prospective series, which is a pretty big coup, and I'm excited to see where things go. It was pretty wild to see the news reported in the trades, and to see my name up on the IMDb. It was also great to see the news reported in the two big horror magazines, Fangoria and Rue Morgue, in the same month.

As a result of that deal, some doors have opened and I've been doing a bit of screenwriting work. Again, I'm not sure where any of it will go – Hollywood is a fickle beast – but it's been a great learning experience.

2014 ended on a sad note with the death of our cat, Thor. He was sixteen years old and not doing so well. I don't regret having to put him down, but it's still been a rough time. Despite some good things in 2014, I'm happy to put the year behind me.

If there's one thing I learned from 2014 it was about focus and perspective. I feel that my only responsibility as a writer is to produce the best stories I can. Everything else is secondary.

So, 2015 will be the year I put my head down and work harder. I've got a lot of books I want to write, and lately I haven't been enjoying the writing. I want to get back to that place where I wrote to be happy, not because it was something I felt I should be doing.

Hopefully this will be a year with more strikes than gutters, more ups than downs. That's the plan, anyway. We'll see how it goes.

See you on the flip-flop.

“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.

Currently reading: Pines, by Blake Crouch

A tale of two magazines

I think it's fair to say that if you work in the horror industry, be it in film, television, publishing, etc., one of the coolest things that can happen in your career is to be featured in Fangoria.

For years, Fango has been the mag of all things horror. When I was a kid I used to race to the local convenience store every month to scour the magazine racks for the latest issue.

So it goes without saying that I am beyond excited to have a mini-feature in the October issue discussing the option of my novelette "The House on Ashley Avenue" by Universal Cable Productions.

I'm equally proud and excited to also be featured in the October issue of Rue Morgue. While it would be easy to say that Rue Morgue is simply the Canadian Fangoria, the fact is both magazines bring something unique and special to the horror field.


Both issues should be on newsstands soon, if they aren't already, and they're also available for purchase online.

Currently reading: The White Road, by John Connolly

"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.

Currently reading: Freezer Burn, by Joe R. Lansdale


So this is happening...


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 (, and Rogers’ literary rights are repped by Ron Eckel of Cooke International (