Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.
LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.
Today, bestseller Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society, is championing After Elias, by Eddy Boudel Tan.
She writes, "After Elias, by Canadian debut author Eddy Boudel Tan, promises from the start to be a puzzle: an airline pilot about to be married is killed in a crash and immediately pegged as the main suspect in the disaster. But this is no simple mystery, and the layered psychological struggles and revelations of Elias's grief-stricken fiance kept me furiously turning pages until the very end. With chapters that shift through time along with the narrator's emotions, a cast of very real but relatable secondary characters, and a haunting sense of the past, After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down."
49th Shelf: What particular something have you managed to achieve with this book that you’re especially proud of?
Eddy Boudel Tan: Despite this being the story of a pilot’s death in a plane crash before his wedding day, I think I’ve struck the right balance between light and dark. The themes in this book are heavy, but the story isn’t only about trauma. Like life itself, there’s pain, joy, and everything in between. I want readers to feel all of these things. My favourite reviews are the ones in which people say they found themselves crying and laughing at different points.
49th Shelf: Tell us about your ideal reader, and where you imagine them reading your book.
EBT: This book celebrates how flawed and imperfect we all are, so I wrote it for everyone who has ever felt defective. They may be struggling with something in their lives, and I hope they’re reading it somewhere restorative, like a forest or beside the ocean.
49th Shelf: What authors and works inspired you on your journey in creating this book?
EBT: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is so immersive. The human elements are heightened by the atmospheric setting, and I wanted to recreate that interplay between the emotional and the physical. I was also influenced by Christopher J. Yates’s style of telling a human-centered mystery.
49th Shelf: What’s something you know now that you didn’t know when you set out to write your book?
EBT: Publishing a book is even harder work than writing a book, but it’s also much more collaborative. Seeing a team and community of people come together to support my work has been the highlight of this journey.
49th Shelf: What inspired your book’s setting?
EBT: The present-day storyline is set on a colourful island in Mexico, while scenes from the past take place in my hometown of Vancouver. The Mexican people have such a deeply rooted reverence for death, and this is evident in the ways they understand death and honour those they’ve lost. These customs, from both their Indigenous and colonial cultures, play important roles in the story as Coen, the protagonist, confronts the aftermath of the plane crash.
49th Shelf: What bookstore are you most excited to walk into and see your book displayed on the shelf?
EBT: Iron Dog Books in Vancouver, who also took part in my virtual book launch celebration.
49th Shelf: Who are you most grateful to for support in bringing your book into the world?
EBT: My tenacious agent, Jessica Faust, for believing in this strange and wonderful story that’s not easily categorized.
I must also give a shout out to Thomas, my husband, to whom the book is dedicated. His support has been unwavering from day one, doing everything from critiquing early versions of the manuscript to brainstorming titles to filming promotional videos. He’s who I turn to when I need therapy or a celebration. I’m a lucky man.