WITHIN THE PAGES
The Inside Info or behind the scenes
On Series One of
Wicked Harvest: Michigan Monsters & Macabre
Why I wrote what I wrote....
Stone Hollow (originally titled "Welcome to the neighborhood") was my first spooky story written the fall of 2017 and it was the catalyst to creating these Wicked Harvest books. When I think about the story I feel good about how I used my new neighborhood and town as part of the story. Yes, I currently live in Stone Hollow subdivision in the town of Grand Blanc. That part was also the catalyst with using Michigan towns and cities for every story setting. I love Michigan and love the idea of mentioning the towns in my writing.
I remember talking about spooky stories with my wife and daughter that fall and my daughter said something like, “Well Dad, why don’t you just write one.” And it wasn’t too long after that conversation I was on our porch and I could hear the train go through in back of the subdivision and within a few seconds the story just ‘popped’ into my head. I grabbed a notepad and began writing as fast as I could.
This story is part of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers book “Ghostlight” published 2018. It is under the original title of “Welcome to the Neighborhood”.
The Halloween Party
This was basically written based on a true story about the Halloween party my mother and I had back in 2006. My mother loves Halloween and wanted to host a party at their new house for years. Finally in the summer of 2006 the decision was made and the plans started. I think she went out and spent $3000 on decorations and food. I placed stereo speakers outside and created a spooky playlist of all Halloween and scary related songs. We had lots of games for everyone to play and the food was fantastic; my mother did a great job of making everything look gross or spooky, but taste delicious.
We invited neighbors, family and friends to participate in either enjoying the party and/or assisting in the haunted trail. The trail was mapped out long before the fall season and we drew a map with all of the scary stage areas.
The party was a huge success and people were talking about it years later. Hopefully we’ll have another one sometime soon.
This story was thought up when I lived in an apartment building in Lansing around 2013. There was a small wood line separating the apartment complex and the freeway. Most of the trees were normal looking maple and pine, except for one. There was a large oak tree in the middle that had been dead for some time. It just looked extremely creepy every time I saw it. I remember saying to myself…”I bet that thing eats children.” And the idea stuck with me. Every time I would sit down to write the story the image of that tree was always in my head.
This story also features name real names of my family; Sadrie = my daughter, Kylan = my son, Jake = my step-son, Shana = my wife, Fran = my mother-in-law and Vern = my father-in-law. I love being able to immortalize some of my family and friends into my writing and this one has a bunch. I also used the town of Clio which is where my wife grew up and my in-laws live today.
I originally wrote this story is part of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers book “Erie Tales 11 – Tales from the Asylum” (published 2018). They were looking for a story that took place in an asylum based in a Michigan town. I thought, what a great way to kill two birds with one stone…write the story for a GLAHW publication and also incorporate it into the Series One book.
The asylum I chose was one from my hometown of Ionia Michigan. Originally called the “Michigan Asylum for the Criminally Insane” it was torn down well before I was born, but you can still pull up photos of it and read about it on the Internet. It certainly looked ominous and it made for a great story.
When I read that it was torn down, the first thought in my head was…”I wonder if they transferred everyone…or did some stay behind…either physically or spiritually” I decided to go with the physical aspect of the patients being abandoned there and basically turning into some form of wild feral creature fending for themselves and becoming like some sort of living zombie.
After reading the story there are two scenarios of thought…
1 – Did the mother actually go through what she went through or is she just crazy? Was it all in her head or did the events actually happen just as she wrote in her journal. No one believed her story, she frequently sees a therapist and where is she now; an asylum perhaps? The kids ask the grandfather if when the building was torn down, “was there anyone inside?” He replied “No”, which could mean there actually were no creatures and no one inside or…
2 – Perhaps the events were absolutely true and once the asylum was torn down, the creatures escaped the ruins and now live in the woods near where the building once stood. The end of the story has the children staring out the window into the woods.
The nice thing about being a fiction writer is that I can do whatever I want to do in my made up worlds and it’s perfectly fine. Take for instance the four people in this story. I would consider them all bullies and terrible people who probably deserve the demise they got. Let’s call it “an eye for an eye” type of thing.
The characters are not real, but perhaps based on people I’ve heard about from time to time. I don’t like bullies and people who treat other’s poorly, so this was a good story to teach them a lesson…the hard way.
There’s also the seven deadly sins mixed into the story; Nancy (Envy), Todd (Wrath/Greed), Jim (Pride/Lust), Samantha (Glutton/Sloth)
The inspiration for this story came from a friend of mine named Dan. We had worked together back in the mid-90s. He was an Irish kid who lived in St. Johns, loved Mustangs and metal music. When I talked to him about being the inspiration for a story about a guy who kills drunks with his car he said “That’s awesome!”
Duel of Battle Alley
My wife introduced me to the quaint town of Holly Michigan in 2015. I fell in love with it…especially the pub, well, and the history and architecture of the small downtown area. We visit the town and businesses at least twice a month. We even enjoy participating in the Ghost Walk they have every fall discussing the tales of ghosts that haunt the town.
Battle Alley is a true street that goes through the town. History says it got the name when Holly was a major railroad hub in Michigan. Thousands of people would visit the town via railroad. The story goes that a circus was passing through one day, they met up with some townsfolk in Battle Alley and a fight ensued. I’m not sure why the fight started, but it was quite a spectacle.
I believe my wife talked to me about a rumor of a duel that occurred in Battle Alley, but we couldn’t find any real info on it. My mind started to think about a duel, but a twist at the end…you know…like a werewolf.
Mr. Cole arrived into town on August 20th…my wife’s birthday.
The Grave Robbers
I wanted to make this a little fun basically with two bungling idiots as the main characters. The idea of grave robbing always irritated me and I always thought it would be great if someone came back from the dead to teach these guys a lesson of not stealing from the dead. Goat and Boomer certainly learned the hard way with that lesson.
I really liked the characters of Goat and Boomer as in, I think they got what they deserved, but I still liked them at the same time. I wish now I had done something more with those two.
Also liked the bit of humor in this story. Once I had the realization for the two characters, I knew there had to be some humor missed with horror.
Class is Dismissed
There really is a one room school house named Spaulding that I used to attend for 4-6 grades. The story has it set in Carson City, but in reality it is in Ionia County. There are many similarities and real aspects in that story; Mrs. Hague was in fact my teacher and she was outstanding and wonderful, I did shoot off a fire extinguisher, I did always want to ring the bell and the description of the building and the land is exactly how the real school was.
I absolutely loved going to that school as a kid. We had a lot of fun playing kickball and football. A few friends of mine and I would sneak off at recess and visit the local John Deere tractor dealership across the road. They had a Town Club pop machine for $.25 cents a bottle. I’m not sure if the teacher ever knew we did that. If she did, she never said anything.
Ice Cream Man
I thought of this story thinking about how when the ice cream truck used to roll into my neighborhood as a kid, everyone bolted out of their houses with change sweating in their palms. It was like the ice cream man had mystical powers over all of the children when they play that music. I thought the idea of a circus like ring master would make a great sinister ice cream man.
I also thought the idea of incorporating the old classic monsters would be nice also. Many people forget the classics like the Wolfman, Mummy, Frankenstein and Dracula. I thought a nice nod to them would be a fun thing to do.
The only aspect about this story was that the main four characters were loosely based off of me and three of my childhood friends. When I was ten years old we moved to a trailer park and I became friends with Denny P., Jeff C. and Jeff G. The four of us did everything together.