Monday, July 18, 2022

Something About Bellairsian Influences

John Bellairs continues to influence today's readers and writers in various ways:

Publishers Weekly includes some questions and answers with Lora Senf:

The seed for The Clackity was planted in October 2019. I got a text message from my sister, and all it said was “haunts for Halloween.” She [added], “I’ve got this idea. I’m never going to do anything with it. It’s yours.” I loved the idea of an otherworldly advice columnist who had a column in a local paper, and maybe her advice was kind of absurd. 

...

First and foremost, the books by John Bellairs. He wrote children’s Gothic horror before anyone else was really doing that kind of thing. The book most people are familiar with is The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which was turned into a movie a few years ago. But he had a whole series of books featuring these very real, imperfect young characters. He was my first influence as a reader and a writer, especially for The Clackity. From there, I got into Stephen King.

The Globe and Mail highlighted the varied works of Naben Ruthnum:

The Winnipeg-born, Kelowna, B.C.-raised writer read widely as a child and into adulthood, ultimately helping him make these literary leaps. Ghost stories by John Bellairs were a favourite growing up, and he moved from children’s books to more mature reading seamlessly through his parents’ well-stocked library – from Encyclopedia Brown to Agatha Christie.

While his two thrillers – Find You in the Dark and Your Life is Mine – were the first book-length fiction Ruthnum published, receiving rave reviews, his first book was non-fiction. Published by Coach House in 2017, Ruthnum wrote a book-length essay criticizing diasporic South Asian fiction. 

His latest offering, published in May, is completely apart from the very contemporary discussions on identity. Helpmeet is a novella set in New York in the year 1900 as a nod to Edith Wharton and Henry James’s stories from that era.

Ruthnum’s next book, which is YA horror, will be published by ECW Press next year, and in the meanwhile, screenwriting will keep him busy. 

The Battle Creek Enquirer profiles local author J. Gabriel Gates:

[Girl of Hearts] is a contemporary fantasy set in modern-day Detroit about four factions of gods based on the four card suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. They control luck; so the red suits control good luck, the black suits control bad luck, and they are always tussling for dominance and control.  The second book coming out at the end of this month (Mother of Spades: on July 27). Third one will have to be later because I have to write it, but it will be a four- or five-book series."

I think Marshall is definitely a place where creativity can thrive. Where we can have an independent book store surviving and thriving, wonderful teachers and supporters growing up here. I do a writing workshop at The Franke Center, so it's fun to continue fostering that environment of strong arts and culture in the area.

Historically, it's been a weirdly fertile spot. I'm a small fish in the historical context of Marshall as a literary pond. We've had some good ones.

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