Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading.
Describe your desk
It's an organized mess. A row of books on writing and on a variety of supernatural topics sits directly behind my laptop--grist for the mill. Meditation music CDs I play when I need inspiration help tease the muse out of hiding. I keep magazines and brochures on research topics near at hand, so they tend to get stacked up in piles on and around my desk. My travel mug of coffee or tea is always within reach, and so is my glass bottle of water. Then, for atmosphere, I have candles (never light them), crystal skulls, yarrow sticks in a jar (don't ask), a slinky, a box of vitamins, a box of my favourite snacks, and photos of my friends and family.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in North York, Ontario. In Ontario, the weather affects a lot of what you do. It can change or kill plans, especially in winter. People focus on it. Weather and climate play an important role in my stories.
Three Exciting Novels from Award-Winning Author Val Tobin: The Experiencers and A Ring of Truth plus, as a bonus, prequel novel Earthbound.
Not killing her might be the death of him. Black-ops Assassin Michael Valiant questions his agency's motives when he's ordered to silence a group of UFO enthusiasts who look less like terrorists than they do housewives and nerds.
Voted #23 in ReadFreely's 50 Best Indie Books of 2017 Awards. A spirit refuses to cross over and becomes earthbound when she discovers the shocking details behind her death. Prequel to The Experiencers.
Assassin Michael Valiant atones for his brutal past by helping psychic medium Carolyn Fairchild escape the aliens that repeatedly abduct her and the agency that wants to claim her. But when Carolyn discovers her daughter's life is in danger, Carolyn makes a decision that could tear her away from Michael forever.
on June 08, 2014
If you're looking to be horrified, this'll do it.
Specimen & Other Stories
on May 28, 2015
It doesn’t matter what Alan Annand writes, I’ll read it. Over the years, I’ve come to trust him as an author, and when I saw he had a short story collection out, I downloaded and devoured it.
Specimen & Other Stories is a mix of the creepy, the icky, and the hilarious, some of them falling into more than one category.
The offerings begin with the humour piece “Bananarama.” This one also falls under icky though with a side-benefit of laughter. You might think you don’t want to read about someone else’s bowel troubles as he struggles to go vegetarian by eating nothing but bananas and drinking only orange juice, but it’s worth it despite the mental images seared into your brain. I laughed out loud until the tears flowed, and I’ve only done that with a Dave Barry offering before. Kudos to Annand for providing what they call the best medicine.
“The Date Square Killer” tells the story of a hitman scoring a date before he goes to work. The creepiness factor heightens as the killer ruminates on life and social justice. The story captured my interest and held it, a typical feature of Annand’s writing.
“River Girl” is all wry humour and middle-aged angst. Stanley the cad has a life-changing experience with a free-spirted woman he encounters in Toronto’s Don River. It’s an excellent sample of Annand’s writing and why I always come back for more.
“Specimen” brings back the creepiness and dispels the idea that twins can read each other’s minds. Annand plays with twin relationships as he did in “Hide in Plain Sight,” and the results are just as deadly and just as entertaining.
“The Bassman Cometh” takes us back to all-out humour and doesn’t disappoint. I would have enjoyed knowing Annand in university, but perhaps from a distance, as an observer. His description of his escapades with Margaret Atwood again made me laugh out loud.
“The Naskapi and the U-Boat” tells the story of Germans in World War two installing a weather station and finding themselves flummoxed by members of an aboriginal family. It’s the one I found most emotionally engaging as it engendered empathy for the innocent family.
While I don’t typically go for short-story collections, I enjoyed this one. Each story was different though unmistakeably Annand. Well worth the read, and if you haven’t read anything before by Annand, it’s a good place to start.
on June 22, 2015
Alan Annand’s talent for writing makes reading a pleasure, and in Antenna Syndrome, he’s in top form.
Keith Savage, a cynical detective of the future, has been hired to find a politician’s missing paraplegic daughter, and the big question is, was she kidnapped or did she run away?
Antenna Syndrome paints a bleak but frighteningly plausible picture of New York in 2026. Here, paranoia is a survival strategy. The air is poisoned, the streets infested with over-sized vermin. No one can be trusted, especially the cops.
This world is the perfect setting for Annand’s hard-boiled style of crime fiction.
Things start off hopeless for Savage as he struggles with loss and PTSD, and go downhill from there when he takes on the case to find the missing young woman. Between cops who want to frame him, criminals who want to kill him, and a mad scientist who makes the guy from Human Centipede look like a social worker, the job seems impossible to complete.
The enjoyment comes from the twists and turns in the plot, the entertaining and clean prose, and the well-developed characters. If you liked Anannd’s other stories, or you like a good hard-boiled crime novel, you’ll enjoy this one.