As I once stated in an earlier blog post, I like horror, but most horror today is…crap. Silly, stupid, and gratuitously gruesome are the three normal categories they fall into. In film, I have to go back to the 1970s and 1980s for ‘classics.' In books, for example, Stephen King is a favorite, but I still think I like his earlier work better.
So back in 2013, I decided that I’d try my hand at writing in the genre. For anyone who has read my science fiction After Eden Series, I already have elements of horror (and mystery)—in addition to other genres I will be debuting this year.
For my first horror novel, I decided not to create something new, but to go back 30 years to a short story I wrote as a child of a favorite tale—The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I probably was more influenced by the 1949 Disney movie short, than the original Washington Irving book, but I read it and I clearly had read it before, back then.
My short story was surprisingly close to my 2013-2014 outline. The Sleepy Hollow Horrors duology is in four parts. My childhood short story only had the first, but the main thrust of the story was the same and so was the main character.
(Note: there will be spoilers in this section!) Hollow Blood takes place ten years after the disappearance–and presumed murder–of Ichabod Crane by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Not only did the town’s sole schoolmaster vanish from the Earth, but in my story, so did the Horseman.
A stranger rides into town claiming to be the representative of a wealthy businessman’s estate with the task of finding out the whereabouts of Ichabod Crane—and anyone who can help him with his quest will be handsomely compensated.
It is all a ruse. The stranger is actually Julian Crane, a US Marshal, and the nephew of the late Ichabod Crane. He’s not in Sleepy Hollow to hand out money for information—he knows his uncle is dead, but cold revenge. He's there to hunt down and kill the “foul murderer of his uncle, Ichabod Crane.” He is even is certain who it is—but he is terribly wrong.
Originally, it was only one book that I had planned to release in October 2014, but I waited. I’m glad I did because I felt that there was a whole section I was leaving out. Splitting the book in two and expanding the second book to create The Devil’s Patch, proved that my instincts were right. I created a much better work.
Besides creating a very entertaining story, I had three aims with this two-book series:
1) Maintain the spirit of the original Washington Irving work. Clearly a 2015 version of an 1820 book is going to be updated—something Irving could have appreciated having also written the short story Rip Van Winkle—we’re in the future. He wrote a short story so I shouldn’t be writing some six hundred-page opus.
2) Keep it for general audiences. It was after all a Disney movie that the kids could go to and enjoy. It shouldn’t be some gratuitously violent, tortuous crap that passes for modern horror entertainment–not that I ever plan to write something like that.
3) Deliver a genuine work of horror. There’s violence and there’s a lot creepiness. But the horror is also the atmosphere of the world Julian enters every bit as much as his encounter with the Horseman. It’s the ever-present feeling that invisible forces of darkness are following him (and others) in his quest for the “foul murderer” of his uncle. There are strange happenings and inexplicable occurrences all along the way.
The other thing I so enjoy about being an author is working with great artists. The cover of Hollow Blood is simple, sharp and conveys that overall foreboding of evil. What’s Julian at? Answer: The thing on the cover of the second book, of course.
Cover Reveal of The Devil’s Patch next month in March.
Hollow Blood is available for Pre-Order now. Both books of my Sleepy Hollow Horrors duology will be on sale 3.30.15.
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