Local publishing company Engen Books is always looking for new talent, and its upcoming book launch showcases a variety of different voices from across Atlantic Canada.
Chillers from the Rock will mark the third installment in the modern From the Rock series by Engen Books.
Matthew LeDrew, co-founder of the publishing company, says Chillers from the Rock focuses on the aesthetic of chilling tales, while still staying in the zone of science fiction and fantasy genres – featuring eerie monsters like vampires and zombies.
The anthology will showcase 25 short stories from 20 different writers across Atlantic Canada – some experienced and some not-so-experienced.
Michelle Churchill, a 31-year-old mother of two, has submitted to other publications before, but her short story Leopold’s Cherubs Princes is the first that has been accepted.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby; I only recently tried pursuing it in terms of publication,” she said. “There’s a really nice indie writing community here in St. John’s, so it’s really supportive and really fun.”
Churchill’s story centres upon vampires and is her interpretation of what a “Canadian vampire culture” might look like.
When Churchill was a child she overcame cancer. She says going through so many medical procedures and surgeries left her feeling stuck in the ways of social interaction. She had to spend most of her time with adults whom she didn’t know how to engage with and was left unsure how to relate to kids her own age. She says she channeled these struggles into the three main characters of her short story, who are all brothers as well as princes of the night.
Anastacia Hopkins is another newcomer. She studied theatre at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus, and has been involved in the arts for more than 20 years.
Hopkins submitted her short story The Cache to the anthology in late January 2017. She didn’t find out she’d been selected until December, but she says she felt really validated by the news.
“(I felt) excited, and humbled that I was one of the ones selected, considering the amount of talent that I know the island contains and just the sheer amount of entrants that they received,” she said.
Her short story focuses on a young man and his misadventures with fairies, a subset of folklore tales here in the province that has always fascinated her. She also says a big inspiration for the story came after reading Newfoundland folklore tales from Dale Gilbert Jarvis, who will also be featured in the anthology.
As for the overall experience, Hopkins says she loved it.
“But, as a first time being published, it was very difficult at the same time because I haven’t shown my work outside of my friends and family – and of course they’re all going to tell you that you’re good, but to send it somebody else, it was a little bit nerve-wracking.”
With Chillers from the Rock, Churchill says she hopes that seeing someone like her will give others the confidence to seek out publishing for the first time.
“(I’m) hoping that these anthologies will encourage more people to write and also encourage more people in the province to read genre fiction,” she said. “I can’t wait to see when it comes out and I can’t wait to see who’s going to submit for the next one.”
The official book launch will take place at the A.C. Hunter Library on March 28.