Stop at Pipa’s for ‘Red Light’ event

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We’d like to congratulate a friend of C-U Blogfidential, the writer and micro-filmmaker Colin Price, on the release last month of his first book, Red Light and Other Tales. He and wife Lissa will premiere it locally with an event later tonight, Sunday, July 14, 8 p.m., at Pipa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr., Champaign. Both hardcover and paperback are available from the imprint, Page Publishing of New York, NY, although they will only have the paperback edition for sale. Fans can still bring their pre-bought copies for signing and a photo with Price for a few extra bucks, while those who will not make it to Pipa’s can pick up Red Light from the Barnes & Noble off of Marketview Drive and e-tailers like Amazon. In other words, dearest readers, it’s time to support your local author!

Price took a few moments from booking appearances and developing projects to talk with CUBlog about Red Light and Other Tales, in particular the novella referenced in its title. “I worked really hard to treat the dynamics between certain characters as very harmful,” he explains with no irony; dark corners tend to surface in his otherwise escapist fare. “[The lead characters] are two quite different but quite damaged people, with one choosing to turn their back on their own humanity altogether. I have become sickened by certain books and movies lately that attempt to see abuse and abusive relationships through rose-tinted glasses.” Elements more aligned with the realistic grit of crime fiction and noir also have a place here.

“Red Light” concerns a reluctant prostitute named Mia, barely of adult age and weighed down by a tart cynical streak, who makes a break for it and runs smack dab into a stranger on the sidewalk. An awkward type with equal parts charm and arrogance worn on his sleeve, Dean offers to give Mia shelter at his late uncle’s house until she is ready to move on. Instead, Mia is ensnared by Dean’s twisted expectations in their nascent relationship to one another, resulting in a terse game of one-upmanship that could cost the lives of several in their not-exclusive circles. Bonus stories fill out the 168-page volume and push into disparate areas such as Gothic horror, romance, surrealism, and TWILIGHT ZONE-style metaphor: “The Midnight Show,” “In Your Dreams,” “Evening Mass,” “Six Cups of Water,” and “On the Mountain.”

“[Page Publishing is] dedicated to getting the word out and helping to promote the book in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to do myself, and I’m very grateful,” says Price about his arrangement with the label. Such assistance will include a Web page dedicated to Red Light and a promotion on YouTube, where he has already broken the ice with his own “Priceless B Movies” channel as seen above. The hope is that a successful run would do its part to launch a writing career for Price, of course. “I have already started work on a new book called Diagnosis,” shares the author. “[I]t will be very different in plot and themes [from Red Light, and] the story will revolve around a psychologist who is treating a 12-year-old boy convinced that he is becoming a vampire. It’s going to be a unique chance for me to engage the reader with a mystery while examining the doctor-patient relationship.”

The release of Red Light might also serve as catharsis for its creator in other respects. “Red Light” itself was originally going to be made as an underground feature film in Champaign-Urbana. “At this point, I have written and re-written ‘Red Light’ over 10 times [including as a screenplay],” offers Price on the subject. “I really feel as though the characters in particular have evolved with the story … the main positive of writing the book was that I could write it in first person, thereby offering insight into the individual choices made by Mia, in particular. This allowed me to ground the more outrageous elements of the story in a way that a screenplay wouldn’t have.” The battle of wills unfolds almost exclusively through the eyes of Mia or Dean, who both hold an upper hand several times through the ordeal.

It is clear that Red Light and Other Tales may not satisfy the tastes of everyone as far as reading the “mature and happily impolite genre fiction” for their entertainment, but it will certainly serve an audience who craves credible plots, literate dialog, palpable flavor in the details, and uncanny developments unfolding before their mind’s eye. What is more apparent is how Price turned the attempt at making RED LIGHT into a positive outcome with this book. It is satisfying to see a storyteller finally let loose a sampling of their output that had previously been kept private. We will see in the near future if Red Light has given Colin Price the qualitative push to pursue his storytelling art at full speed ahead. Green light, go! 

~ Jason Pankoke

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