We’re giving away 5 copies of the Roulette ashcan edition this month! Enter via Goodreads by clicking the link above!
Roulette, the fourth novel in the ten book Black Womb series by Matthew LeDrew gets its international release this fall with a new cover and a larger format, trending away from the “pocket paperback” size of the original eight releases from Engen Books.
The Pitch: As the teen suicide rate in Coral Beach starts to climb astronomically fast, Xander travels to Los Angeles to fight his most terrifying adversary yet… and learns that the only thing worse than looking for release… is finding it.
The novel, which occurs simultaneously with The Tourniquet Reprisal, is receiving a new edit from Infinity co-author Ellen Curtis, which is appropriate as the novel marks to first published appearance of Infinity mainstay Leigh Blackheart.
“We’ve been pushing to get the series complete and into the format we want it — in its entirety,” said LeDrew, who started the series (and the Engen Universe) in October 2007. “As we move more and more into a digital realm, it’s important to have all of the series available on that format so that readers and fans can find it all how and when they want it.”
I was asked once at a convention by a fan of the Black Womb series if I had accepted any money from the Coca-Cola company to feature their product in my novels. This was in response to that reader noticing — quite astutely — that one of that series’s protagonists, Cathy Kennessy, is exclusively seen drinking Coca-Cola. Cherry Coke, to be exact.
The short answer to the question of “Do I accept money from Coca-Cola to feature their product?” Is an easy-to-give no, but rather than leave it at that, I think the question deserves a little unpacking, because there was a time (years ago) when this really wouldn’t have been a question. But now media saturation of product placement has gotten to the point that any time we see a product in our art of in our fiction, we have to ask ourselves: is this Product Placement, Native Advertising, or K-Mart Realism?
Let’s start by looking at each of these, respectfully.
Product Placement is something we’ve all become familiar with, as it is in our face all the time. Sometimes, it’s more egregious than others. I remember seeing a movie (and I honestly can’t recall what it was, sorry) recently where a couple was getting into a car to escape someone, inciting a high-speed chase. I’m assuming this was an action movie, but it may have been a horror film. In any event, the characters get in and we cut away from them as the door closes to a shot a the car’s tail lights and them speeding away. Well that’s fine, that’s a pretty standard way of telling a story. But, at the last second, the camera tilted jarringly downward to get the silver-lettered brand name of the vehicle into center frame before the car sped off. As someone who studied cinematography (albeit briefly) this is a blatant product placement. The camera shifted in such a way that no professional cameraman would do it accidentally: he’s be fired. It was intentional product placement, and worse, it’s to the detriment of the shot and the story that shot should be telling.
I think for me that’s the line between acceptable product placement for me personally: does it take me out of the story? And that line is going to be different for different people. For example, the Transformers movies have reportedly been some of the most lucrative product placement deals in history, as the main characters of the films themselves are in fact GM vehicles. But that never takes me out of the movies, even the glamor shots of the cars when they first show up: it doesn’t say to me: look how cool GM is, it says: look how cool Bumblebee is. Some will have a different experience, of course. I find the product placement in the later seasons of Dexter to be some of the most damning, as they will frame the brand name on his stool while the action is almost happening off-panel.
But this has been quite a long digression. The point of product placement is that (or should be) that products will be needed to move the story along and make it so the character’s world seems like our world. This is K-Mart realism, which we’ll get to in a second. What changes this to product placement is that, instead of making up your own product (like Friends did with its “Big Brown Bags”) or just going with whatever feels right, the creators basically open up the bidding: whichever car company places the highest bid, that is the company that gets their car driven by the characters.
Engen Books was present for a historical event that took place on October 24th and 25th in Corner Brook: the very first Newfoundland West Coast Con.
Engen was out in full force the entire weekend, signing books and leading seminars along with actor Paul Weston (Return of the Jedi, Space 1999) and film producer Darren Hann (Star Wars: Inner Demons, Stargate: Replication).
“It was an amazing weekend,” said LeDrew. “Every time we do a convention it’s a lot of fun, but I find when you do a inaugural one there’s a lot of energy and a lot of comradery. It really was a great weekend.”
Book Launch: Compendium
Engen pulled out all the stops and did a double book launch on Saturday, October 24th. Emcee’d by Sci-Fi on the Rock founder and all-around science fiction guru Darren Hann; the event was the perfect place to launch Ellen Curtis’ debut novel, Compendium.
Engen fans old and new arrived to purchase the new title, excited about the new author. Curtis read from her short story The Tourniquet Revival to enthralled listeners and stayed afterward to sign copies.
“Compendium resulted in almost half our sales for the entire weekend,” gushed Engen founder Matthew LeDrew. “We’re really excited about what this means for Compendium and for Ellen’s future with Engen Books.”
“I had a lot of fun,” said Curtis. “Darren was a great host and people seemed to like my work. It was my first convention, and I had a blast.”
Book Launch: Roulette
The novel features the continuing adventures of Xander Drew, Mike Harris and Cathy Kennessy as they meet new horrors both at home and abroad, taking their show on the road to L.A.
“This book is a big stepping stone in Black Womb history,” says LeDrew. “I think people will respond well to it. People have been responding well to it, so far.”
As with every convention, there are loads of writing seminars designed to help potential authors that Engen loves to participate in. NWCC was no different, holding versions of the popular Writer’s Toolkit, Get Published! and Writer’s Circle workshops that have made previous conventions so successful in locating fresh talent.
Ellen Curtis led a new addition to our seminar lineup, entitled The Art of the Short Story; chronicling how she puts so much story into a smaller page count in the breakthrough novel, Compendium.
New Engen Vendor
Also at the con, BuddyToad comics, one of the provinces leaders in the comic shop / science fiction market, became an official vendor of Engen Books.
BuddyToad’s main office is located in Gander, but they are at the Avalon Mall in St. John’s every Sunday and are available there to purchase copies of all five Engen titles! More on this in the weeks to come!
All said, NWCC was one of our most successful conventions yet, with an average of 1 in 5 attendees purchasing an Engen Book! We hope to be back next year with more titles, more authors and more action!
Never Look Back!
This weekend at the Greenwood Inn in Corner Brook, Engen Books will be launching its latest novel: Compendium!
Penned by local up-and-coming author Ellen Curtis, Compendium will feature three short stories by Curtis that further explore the Engen Universe; and shed new light on the mysteries surrounding the events of all the Engen novels.
The title will be launching at 2pm on Saturday, October 24th as part of the Newfoundland West Coast Con; along with the newest title in the Black Womb series, Roulette.
Anyone not in the Corner Brook area can come to the Kenmount Road Chapters on November 14th from 1-3pm, where Curtis will be signing books and meeting with fans.