As you may have heard, my latest novella STRANDED is available for pre-order from Unnerving, and will be released on October 16th. Along with that, Unnerving will be releasing LICKING THE DEVIL’S HORN, a paperback collection that includes Stranded, as well as Cats Like Cream and Church. These covers are phenomenal, right?
Let’s do that thing where I tell you guys how a story happened. Okay? All right.
I was watching a lot of reality shows last year, including one called Naked and Afraid. There was one episode where they froze their balls off in a Canadian location (because obviously) and I wondered if any of these survival shows have ever used a truly cold region as a location. Sure, this episode got cold, but it wasn’t even close to the Canadian winter we’re used to up here. (They were naked, though, so I understand how even a bit of cold would be excruciating.) I decided survival when your snot freezes in your sinuses is definitely challenging. Imagine 30 days in an isolated location, where the air hurts your face and the animals are practically prehistoric.
The Arctic has a lot of land that’s unexplored and completely barren. What if we dropped a few suckers on an island up there? No one and nothing for miles and miles… scares the shit out of me.
Well, that alone wasn’t enough horror, so I looked into a few legends that originated with the people indigenous to the arctic regions, and I came across the Wendigo and the Amarok.
The Wendigo is part of Algonquin folklore, and means ‘evil spirit that devours mankind.’ Some legends say they were once human, but naughty things like greed, lust, murder and such have turned them into these ugly creatures whose hunger for human flesh will never be sated. I love me some wendigos, don’t you?
Now, the Amarok is a giant wolf from Inuit folklore. It hunts alone, unlike your typical wolf, and kills anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night. Some sources say the Amarok originated with stories about dire wolves (which, apparently, is an extinct species of dog), and of course that caught my interest, because Game of Thrones. I didn’t realize these magnificent beasts actually existed. Did you?
Anyway, not wanting to use something that’s been done and done again, I tweaked these legends, so Stranded’s monsters are the best of both (in my opinion, of course) and a few extra details to heighten their awfulness. Add some moral lessons about greed, lust, envy and other deadly sins, and Stranded took on a new shape.
And then I harassed a couple of writer friends while outlining to make sure I wasn’t the only one who loved the idea. Yes, I totally outlined, because you can’t make up a legend, craft an entire game with multiple players, or use such a fantastic setting without some planning and research. Sadly, it still didn’t do a lot of good, because when Eddie at Unnerving got hold of it, there were issues that needed addressing. For example, I still screwed up the damn location. I know where it is supposed to happen, but when I described it in the story, it was just bad. Back to the maps and the research for me.
Actually, there was a lot of bad in the draft, but thanks to some honest feedback, and a bit of ego damage, I rewrote the bad out of it. Once again, thank God for editors.
What I’m saying is this story was a lot of work from beginning to end, and it’s one I’m pretty proud of.
So, pre-order your copy now and while we wait, tell me, do you think you could survive 30 days in an arctic hell?