Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Guest Author and Giveaway: Sean Cummings on Inspirations and Influences

β€œInspirations and Influences” is a new series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

We are delighted to welcome Sean Cummings, Canadian UF writer as our guest for the day. His debut novel Shade Fright is coming out next week and it features a female protagonist who can see the preternatural world and whose job is to locate other people who can too, for the Government. She will do that with the help of her best (zombie) friend and the ghost of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Sean is here today to talk about his inspirations for writing the novel.

Ladies and Gents, Sean:


First off, I’m really very grateful to The Book Smugglers for joining my blog tour and doing a giveaway, good luck to everyone who enters.

What inspired me to write Shade Fright ?

1. Comic books

From an early age, I developed a passionate love affair with comic books and in particular, a series of comics Marvel put out in the 70’s called “Werewolf by Night”. It was, and still is the starting point for urban fantasy in my eyes. Think about it for minute – it’s 1977, you’re ten years old and there’s a second hand comic book store on the way home from school. I collected pop bottles and delivered flyers to make enough to replenish my supply of comics and while I loved Batman and Spidey, I was completely blown away by a character named Jack Russell who could turn into a werewolf any freaking time he wanted – forget about the full moon. He lived in an urban setting and he battled all kinds of supernatural baddies, so you can imagine, I was hooked! Voila! Urban Fantasy!!

2. Canada, eh? Why the heck not?

A second inspiration for Shade Fright and one that is featured throughout the novel is that it takes place in Calgary Alberta Canada as opposed to Chicago or New York or Paris or some other world class city. (Not that Calgary isn’t world class – I mean we did have a winter Olympics there twenty-two years ago. Holy crap! Has it really been that long?)

I wanted to write an urban fantasy that was uniquely Canadian because I think hey, why the heck shouldn’t there be a Canadian ass-kicking female protagonist who throws magic at supernatural bad guys? Shade Fright is inspired by Jim Butcher’s bestselling series, The Dresden Files. There’s a splash of Simon R. Green, a sprinkle of Tanya Huff and a smattering of Kelley Armstrong. It’s a uniquely Canadian take on urban fantasy and it’s chock-full of little known facts about Canada and how we look at the world.

3. My final inspiration: Writing a book in three days! What are you nuts?

I wrote the first draft for Shade Fright on Labour Day weekend 2007. I’d entered the 3-Day Novel Contest to see if I could actually pull it off and after 72 hours of coffee, typing, retyping, swearing and banging my head against the desk, Valerie Stevens emerged as my main character and the ghost of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (who in life was a big time occultist) showed up to help Valerie solve a mystery that threatened to kill everyone in the city. After revising the crap out of the story, and doing a full rewrite, I started submitting it to publishers and agents in the fall of 2008. In May 2009 I received an offer from award winning independent publisher Snowbooks so I decided to jump at the opportunity.

Since then I’ve completed the second volume in the series, Funeral Pallor, and I’ve introduced some new characters not to mention a few surprises that speak to the entire story arc. (I have six books outlined.)

I’m kind of pinching myself because I’ve been writing for more than twenty years with the goal of one day getting a book in print. Some of the stuff I put out two decades ago should have been burned and buried instead of submitted to publishers in a self addressed stamped envelope – oh those poor editors! My writing was so bad it probably made their eyes bleed! But you know what? I kept at it because I believed in myself – that’s really my advice to any fledgling author. Keep at it, learn the craft, make mistakes, take your lumps, take NOTHING personally because writing is entirely subjective.

I do hope readers get a kick out of my debut novel. Oh – and if you’re wondering whether it was difficult for me to write a female protagonist in first person POV given that I’m a guy, all I can say is that Valerie is an amalgam of all the women I served with in the military. She’s not overly feminine, she’s definitely not butch. She’s got a soft spot for Greek food and she has a hate-on for evildoers.


About the author: Sean Cummings is a comic book geek of the highest order and self-described nerd. He’s been writing since 1978 (as a means of liberating his “inner nerd”) He’s a huge fan of the television series Being Human and asserts that if urban fantasy happened in the real world, Being Human is as close to real as you can get. His interests include speculative and science fiction, the borg, cats with extra toes, east Indian cuisine and quality sci-fi movies/television. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada. You can read a great review of Shade Fright here.


Thank you, Sean!!!


“I fell into this job quite by accident, when I discovered that I possessed the ability to see the preternatural world. There are a handful of people with similar abilities, and part of my job is to locate them, since Government Services and Infrastructure Canada likes to keep track of these things. Don’t ask me why.”

There’s a malevolent force in town, and it’s quite literally Valerie Stevens’ job to determine who’s behind it and why they want to destroy the world, starting with Calgary.

She’ll have help, in the form of her best friend (now more or less a zombie, unfortunately), a powerful dwarf troll, and the ghost of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (but he goes by ‘Bill’ these days). But that’s not all – Valerie has some tricks up her sleeve and, she hopes, luck on her side. Oh, and her boyfriend, Dave. He drives a dump truck.

We have one copy of Shade Fright courtesy of the author to giveaway. In order to enter, leave a comment on this post telling us which is your favorite movie or book set in Canada. Contest is open for residents of UK, US and Canada ONLY and will run till Saturday February 27th 11:59pm (PST). We will announce the winner next Sunday in our weekly stash! Good luck!

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  • Woodge
    February 24, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Favorite movie set in Canada is Never Cry Wolf (with the guy pissing with wolves and eating mice– nice!)

  • Amanda Isabel
    February 24, 2010 at 7:58 am

    My favourite is probably “A Complicated Kindness” by Miriam Toews. It’s about a Mennonite girl in Manitoba. Wonderfully introspective.

    In movies, I like the Anne of Green Gables series – I am a sucker for the classics! πŸ™‚

  • Rose Lerner
    February 24, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Oh man, this is hard to choose just one! I especially love Canadian road-trip movies, they have such great scenery (and are so obviously proud of it! In “Lunch with Charles,” an adorable romantic comedy I watched recently and LOVED, there are about four different scenes of characters saying to each other “It’s so pretty here! Canada is so beautiful!” and you have to laugh except then there’s like, a stunning shot of the highway going straight into these enormous mountains and…well played, Canada, you win this round). I think my all-time favorite has to be “Hard Core Logo,” Bruce McDonald’s movie about a punk band reuniting.

  • Sean Cummings
    February 24, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Oh man how much do I suck? Those are great answers and I’ve only seen Anne of Green Gables and I live here for crying out loud!

  • Maya M.
    February 24, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Kudos on setting the story in Calgary! I don’t think I’ve ever read a commercial fiction novel set there, so points for originality.

    Book – ‘The Blue Castle’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery, set in gorgeous Muskoka, one of the authors rare departures from YA

    Movie – ‘Snowcake’ set in northern Ontario’s Wawa (meaning ‘Big Goose’, and the town’s enormous statue of a Canada Goose gets a shot), the story of the fragile, surprising and complicated relationship that develops between Alan Rickman’s newly-released-from-prison character and Sigourney Weaver’s adult autistic character after the car accident death of her daughter.

  • Maya M.
    February 24, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Ok, i’m not trying to influence the chances here, but i’ve got to mention another book:

    ‘The Flying Troutmans’ by Miriam Toews, road trip of a highly unusual (i.e. dysfunctional) family. The fact that there is a pelican on the cover gives a clue about unpredictability.

    and I’m going to drop in Michelle Rowen’s ‘Bitten’ series of vampire paranormals set in Toronto, and of course Kelly Armstrong’s ‘Bitten’ series of werewolves (and others) that starts out in Toronto

  • Marie
    February 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Fave book set in Canada? Anne of Green Gables
    Fave movie set in Canada? Strange Brew πŸ˜€

  • Wanda
    February 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I loved “Larry’s Party” by Carol Shields.
    Please enter my name in your wonderful draw.

  • Sue R
    February 24, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I am big fan of Tanya Huff’s blood books. Who doesnt love Henry Fitzroy? Count me in this wonderful giveaway.

  • Erin Kellison
    February 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Ok, since Anne of Green Gables was already mentioned, and in light of the Olympics, I’ll have to go with Cool Runnings. Hook me up with your book, Sean! I can’t wait. πŸ™‚

  • Belinda B
    February 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I’m going to say Anne of Green Gables. The scenery is so beautiful. I can’t wait to read this book.

  • ninefly
    February 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    fave movie: Last Night Directed by Don McKeller
    yay for a multicultural cast! very interesting take on the “world is ending” theme =)

  • Sara M
    February 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    My favorite book set in Canada is Bitten by Kelley Armstrong.

  • Rosie Carlo
    February 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    My favorite books set in Canada are the Tanya Huff “Blood” books. Those were awesome!

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    February 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I think my favorite book set in Canada would have to be “Blood Trail” by Tanya Huff. I was going to say “Bitten” by Kelley Armstrong, but that is mostly set in New York.

  • John J.
    February 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Okay, I know it’s been said a million times by now, but Anne of Green Gables (and the rest of the series) have always been my favorites. Anne is just the p-e-r-f-e-c-t type of protagonist – witty and dramatic but light-hearted and prone to deep thoughts. Plus, I always loved everything about PEI in the books – Montgomery had a way of describing the surroundings in such a way that you couldn’t help but fall in love with it. As for movie, I’m gonna cheat and say the movie/tv series version of Anne of Green Gables, because it frankly was just as good as the books.

  • Sarah
    February 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    There are a ton, but I’m gonna throw in a mention for Double Happiness, a mid-90s flick starring a very young Sandra Oh as a Chinese-Canadian woman dealing with family, identity, dating — all that good stuff. Some very lovely moments, dying to watch it again right now.

  • Rose Lerner
    February 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    ninefly–Eee, I love that movie! In fact, I love pretty much everything Don McKellar’s ever done. Have you seen “Highway 61”? Sadly not as racially diverse a cast, but it’s a brilliant movie.

  • Rexe
    February 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Favorite movie set in Canada?

    Three way tie:

    Wilby Wonderful for being a beautiful ensemble piece.

    Men With Brooms because AWESOME CAST PLUS CURLING.

    Last Night because it might be my favorite end-of-the-world film.

    Shade Fright sounds so awesome. MUST READ.

  • Hannah
    February 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Oh that is a hard question…I love and adore Snow Cake with Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver, which is tragic and yet also not at all tragic, and very hard to describe. But should be watched by everyone.

    I also really liked Johnny Belinda with Jane Wyman. Sure it’s kind of mad but also fantastic, and it’s got Lew Ayres in it!

  • Adri
    February 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Book: Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. Anne is great and all, but she’s got NOTHING on Miss Emily Byrd Starr, tyvm!

    Movie: Ginger Snaps! Best werewolf movie EVER as well.

    Nope, I’m not remotely opinionated, not me πŸ˜‰

  • Doreen R
    February 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Last Night is a great movie 😯

  • Donna S
    February 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Book is Michelle Rowen’s vamp series.

  • Cecilia H.
    February 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Well…I have to say that Canada’s best(?) or at least funniest is “Trailer Park Boys” (the movie & the shows). I’m not saying that all Canadians are like these guys (are they?)…but if you want a laugh (along with drinking, drugs, jail and potty mouths)…these guys are it! And…like myself, if you don’t do these previously listed evils yourself…you can watch the Trailer Park Boys do all these things and face the hilarious consequences. Cheers, all!

  • Rita Vetere
    February 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Hey Sean–I love that Shadefright takes place in Calgary. Okay, great Canadian movies… how come no one mentioned Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz? Or Goin’ Down the Road? Hmmm… maybe no one’s old enough to remember those great 70s flicks. As for great Canadian books, I’d say give Runnaway by Alice Munro a try.

    Congrats on your upcoming release, Sean!

  • Anne G
    February 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

    My favorite book set in Canada would definitely be Anne of Green Gables, I loved those books as a child.

  • Sean Cummings
    February 27, 2010 at 2:30 am

    I’m old enough to remember them Rita! Thanks for entering to everyone and good luck!

  • Escapist Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 3) | Literary Escapism
    March 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    […] Sean Cummings, author of Shade Fright, at the Book Smugglers […]

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