The People in the Neighbourhood

Now that Of Echoes Born has been out a while—and I recently finished page proofs for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks—I’ve been working on “Faux-Ho-Ho.” “Faux-Ho-Ho” is a gay romance holiday novella with a “fake relationship” trope at the core, and it begins (and ends) in my fictional version of Ottawa’s queer village (or, as the characters always just call it, “The Village.”)

Of Echoes Born: stories by 'Nathan Burgoine

There’s Easter Eggs in them thar pages.

Reviews of Of Echoes Born have pretty much all mentioned the interconnectedness of the stories, which makes me happy like you would not believe. It was absolutely the point, and—at least, I hope—went some of the distance to make Of Echoes Born a little bit more comfortable for readers who don’t maybe love short fiction as much as they love novels.

I, on the other hand, am loud and proud of the shorter fictions (novelettes and novellas included) and the sheer joy I got in releasing my first collection still hasn’t worn off. Even better? The positive response has me thinking my plan to continue the stories with these characters is actually a decent one.

There’s no stopping me now, in other words.

Speaking of those characters, while I plug away at “Faux-Ho-Ho,” I’ve already had a few cameos. Ru pops up almost immediately (the start of “Faux-Ho-Ho” begins with the main character Silas remembering how Ru reacted when he read the dedication page of Nick Wilson’s novel Ornamental). Later on, Phoebe helps Silas outfit his “boyfriend” for their visit to meet Silas’s family. Oh, and Silas rents one of the apartments over Bittersweets, and his landlord is Marion.

When I was working on Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, I snuck in a mention of Ryan from “Leap” (my story in Boys of Summer), as well as a certain teacher from “In Memoriam.” Bittersweets gets mentioned, too, tying things back in to Of Echoes Born and “Handmade Holidays.” Ru would be the first to say that small coffee shop chain is one of the cornerstones of the Village, and he’d be right.

All this to say I’m not done with Ian Simon, Dawn Solati, or Bao Nguyen. I’m not done with Nick and Ru and the rest of Misfit Toys, either. And while Gabe and Justin hit it off, there’s someone I can’t wait to introduce to Ivan (who runs the tea shop in the Village), and although I penned a flash fic piece about what happened between Michel and Clive after Hans Köhler’s wake, I’d like to return to them, too.

First up is “Faux-Ho-Ho” since the deadline for the holidays is at the end of July. I’ve already got Ivan’s story edited (it’s called “A Little Village Blend.”) And I’ve always wanted to try my had at a “proximity” romance, and I can’t help but think that Kevin might be just the guy who’d get stuck somewhere cold and snowy during the holidays, if I can just think of someone to strand him with…

The Village is full of stories, and I’m so happy I get to tell them.

In case you were wondering where the crossovers appear in Of Echoes Born, here’s a quick-and-dirty list:

  • Prescient and aura-seeing Ian (Christian) Simon appears in “There & Then,” “Heart,” and “Here & Now.” (All three stories are in Of Echoes Born, though “Heart” originally appeared in Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction).
  • Ian’s close high school friend Dawn Solati appears in “There & Then,” and “Here & Now.”
  • Bao Nguyen, Ian’s former friend and now nebulous something-else, appears in “There & Then,” “Negative Space,” and “Here & Now.”
  • Rick Barritt is mentioned in “There & Then,” and appears in “The Psychometry of Snow.” (Both stories are in Of Echoes Born, though “The Psychometry of Snow” originally appeared in Bears of Winter (you can read it for free at that link).)
  • Fuca, the small town in British Columbia on the Juan de Fuca Strait, is the setting of “Time and Tide,” and is mentioned in “Here Be Dragons.” There’s another Fuca story, “Wind and Tree,” which appears in the anthology Tales from the Den, and involves the creation of the cabins Dylan rents, as well as two other families in Fuca with gifted heritages.
  • Jill Binder, the art teacher, appears in “Pentimento” and “Negative Space.”
  • Michel, the owner of the Village gallery, FunkArt, appears in “Pentimento,” and is mentioned in “A Little Village Magic” and “Here & Now.” There’s also a free little flash fic piece I wrote about him and Clive here.
  • Justin Cochrane appears in “Pentimento,” stars in “A Little Village Magic,” and is mentioned in “Here & Now.” It’s possible you might recognize him from somewhere else, too, but I’ve got a bit of work to do to explain that, and that’ll happen in another story…
  • Marion, the matriarch of the Village, is mentioned in “Pentimento,” and appears in “A Little Village Magic.” But her first (unnamed) appearance goes back way further than that, to “Vanilla,” which was printed in Threesome: Him, Him, and Me, a story that also details the re-opening of the Village candy shop, and puts the owner of Bittersweets, Pete Marlin, on the page, too.
  • Bailey Haliburton is mentioned in “A Psychometry of Snow” before she appears in “A Little Village Magic.”
  • Julian Mitchell from “Elsewhen” earns a place on the memorial wall in “A Little Village Magic,” so it seems something about his life did indeed change thanks to the intervention of the other Julian.
  • The Byrnes vineyard from “The Finish” pops up again in “Here Be Dragons” and “Here & Now.”
  • Phoebe, the trans woman clothing designer, is mentioned in “Here Be Dragons,” but her first appearance is in “Handmade Holidays,” and she—and her awesome shop in the Village, Urbane Myth, shows up again in “Saving the Date.”
  • In “Struck,” the bookstore where Chris works, Book It, is usually managed by Tracey, who is on maternity leave. That’s the same store where Nick Wilson is working at the start of “Handmade Holidays,” before she goes on maternity leave.

There’s more, of course, but those are the connections within (and without) of Of Echoes Born. And it’ll blur more as time goes by.

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