The Story behind the Story, Living Bones by Jared Agard

I can still remember how the darkness seemed to be alive when I was a child. How it seemed to reach out for me. The thick, blurry-edged shapes would form and flee on my closet door, wisps of smoky purple against the moonlit dull yellow paint. I first saw the skeleton there when I was three, but I remember him vividly.
My three-year-old self was sure that I had been wide awake when I saw him emerge from the billowing shadows. A chill slithered up my spine and my blood pumped cold through my veins. The face was yellowed bone. The eye sockets glowed red with malignant spiritual evil. His head was crowned with three horns growing straight out of the bone.

Skelly

My body shook uncontrollably under the covers where I hid. I knew he would come for me. Why else would he have appeared in my room? He was going to kill me.
Finally, I could no longer stand hiding. I slowly pulled the covers down from around my head. He was gone, but I expected he would reappear the minute my foot touched fluffy brown carpet fiber. I slid my back against the wall and moved as stealthily as a chubby little boy could, inching my way toward escape. Once I reached the hallway, I ran for my life and threw open my parents’ door.
“There’s a skeleton in my room,” I panted.
My parents were not in any way concerned. In fact, my father rather crossly commanded me to return to the place that I knew would be my end.

LivingBones

Amazingly enough, I lived to tell the tale. In fact, I have lived long enough to have children of my own who throw open my bedroom door and proclaim that monsters hunt them in their rooms in the darkness.
The darkness doesn’t come for me anymore. Even if it did, I wouldn’t notice. With adulthood comes fatigue, which I believe firmly accounts for the disappearance of Nyctophobia. It’s not that adults are too brave to be afraid of the dark, we’re just too tired.
It is strangely satisfying to feel that fear again. Aren’t we odd as human beings? We abhor having certain emotional responses, but in a way we revel in them. Why else would we create stories to force ourselves to feel vicariously through the characters we read about? It is a great thrill to feel with them as they save the world or fall in love. For some reason, we love to cry with them, feel rage with them, and tremble in fear with them just as much.
Living BonesSo, Living Bones started as a dream that I had. A nightmare. It became a book as I was driving home from the Willamette Writers Festival where I had spent the day learning about writing and pitching stories in hopes of landing an agent.
The day had been fun and successful. I had successfully pitched my stories to many agents. I then met an agent named Bree Ogden, who listened to my pitches politely but then told me that she was really looking for middle grade horror.
I don’t write horror, I thought to myself.
On the drive home, another thought came to me. An agent had just told me exactly what she was looking for. Why in the world wouldn’t I try? The next questions that I asked myself were very logical now that I knew I was going to try to scare young people.
What scared me when I was a kid? What scares me now?
And that darn skeleton popped right back into my head. I smiled when I saw him there, in my brain, because he still gave me the creeps. I had my villain, but there was so much left to decide about who he was and how he was able to move around as a bunch of bones. The story really took off from there.
I’ve always believed that a really good story has to have a really bad villain. Villains have the ability to either deflate or inflate the conflict. My skeleton lost the red eyes and horns and became Mordecai Bleak. And Mordecai has been giving people the creeps ever since he turned up on the pages of Living Bones.

To make a long story short, Bree read Living Bones and became my agent. Spencer Hill Press agreed to publish Living Bones. It has always been my dream to be an author, and now I am one.
In other words, my nightmare made my dream come true.

Learn more about the author, Jared Agard, by visiting his author page. Learn more about Living Bones by visiting it’s book page.

Happy Book Birthday to Niles Wormwart, Accidental Villain! Plus an interview with the author!

Happy Book Birthday to

Niles Wormwart, Accidental Villain!

This month’s release is Niles Wormwart, Accidental Villain by D.M. Cunningham.niles_final_t

 

In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla’s work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles.

After Niles blows up his school’s science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to man up, make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem.

The only problem is that Niles’ father thinks it’s a role-playing camp. Well, it’s not.

Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. A place for real kids to realize the real villain inside them. Niles sharpens his focus on escaping the camp while everyone inside wants him to sharpen his focus on discovering his own dark powers. There’s a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it.
Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem-the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.

SHPMG:  What inspired you to write NILES WORMWART: ACCIDENTAL VILLAIN?

A culmination of so many things. I think staying out of jail was the first thing. Because if I didn’t right books I would have to be a villain and that’s no good for anyone. Especially me. I don’t do good in small spaces for long periods of times. Plus I heard the coffee in jail is no good.

SHPMG: In NILES WORMWART, our hero is sent to a camp for villains. Are you secretly (or not so secretly) a villain?

It’s NO secret, I am a villain. Which totally contradicts the first question you asked me. Which is what a great villain does. I said no, then WHAP, cold fish slap out of nowhere. Full mastery of distraction. Oh hey look over there it’s a turtle wearing a sweater! (That’s where turtle neck sweater came from – just in case you didn’t know that).

SHPMG:  What’s your writing process like? Do you plot everything ahead of time, or just let the words flow?

Hold on, let me process this question…. Okay. First thing I do is watch and read and listen to everything that inspires me toward the new story I am about to write. Then I totally rip it off (score one for the villain!). Ahem, I’m only kidding about that part. I sit for days and let it marinate. I only recently started really outlining in great detail. I was much looser early on. Like a 70s disco queen (can I say that?) I spend a lot of time on the outline, massaging it, looking for holes in the story and so on. Then I write like a mad cow and vomit out that first draft. THEN I realize that I completely abandoned my outline because the characters took me somewhere else.

SHPMG:  What sort of reader would enjoy NILES WORMWART?

Only people who love awesome books and pumpkin flavored anything. If you like Oxen you’ll like this book up to a certain point. I don’t think this book is for everyone, because if it was…  J.K. Rowling would be serving me soup. Nikola Tesla would love this book. I’m thinking of using that watch of his to jump through a wormhole and give him a copy and rewrite all the Harry Potter books to be Niles Wormwart.

SHPMG:  What’s next for you as a writer?

I was thinking of walking to the coffee shop and getting a latte. Want to join me? Oh, wait, that’s probably not what you meant. I’m working on a middle grade horror. I told my super amazing agent Bree Ogden the story line and her head exploded. Figuratively, not literally. Because if that did happen I would have to look for a new agent. And we know what a task that is!

Want to learn about the inspiration for Niles Wormwart? Click here!

Interested in purchasing ? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM

Get to know the author by visiting his author page.

 

 

Happy Book Birthday to The Book of Kindly Deaths, and read a free short story!

Happy Book Birthday to

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black

The Book of Kindly Deaths!

This month’s release is The Book of Kindly Deaths,  by Eldritch Black.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THE MONSTERS IN A BOOK BECAME REAL?

When twelve-year-old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.

In defiance of her controlling mother, who has always forbidden her to read anything strange or imaginary, Eliza takes the book. As night sets in, Eliza reads one haunting story after another. And the further she journeys inside the book, the more the boundaries between our world and a shadowy land of monsters and forbidden places begin to blur.

When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare-book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him, she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather–and write an end to the nightmare she’s caught inside.

To read a new short story from The Book of Kindly Deaths,  click here.

Interested in purchasing The Book of Kindly Deaths? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM

Get to know the author by visiting his author page.