Hopefully in time for Halloween, my novel Descending Lines is coming soon from Blackwyrm Publishing.
Megan and Carter Anderson’s 6-year-old daughter Caitlin is dying a slow, horrible death from bone cancer. Unlike most people in their tragic situation, they are cursed with knowing how to save her. Carter has a copy of The Alchemy of Will, a book by Dr. Allen Fincher, a book familiar to readers of Burning the Middle Ground. Dr. Fincher shows how to tap into the power of “disembodied wills” using very particular sacrifices to bring about very particular effects. To save the life of a first-born, to cure any disease imaginable, you have to sacrifice the life of a second-born. The trouble is, Megan and Carter don’t have a second child. Yet.
I learned a lot about pregnancy in order to write this book. I guess that’s the bright side. But if you’ve just read the premise and thought, “You know, that could get really dark…,” yeah, it does. I should probably get a prize for Worst Pitch Ever, as I approached my publisher and led with reasons why a decision not to go with this manuscript would be perfectly understandable. Hmm. In what directions might such a premise point? Stem cell research and organ harvesting? Something to think about. Abortion? Characters do bring it up more than once. Historical and present-day devaluation and murder of baby girls in societies that practice primogeniture and population control (please don’t let that sentence scare you away from buying the book–nothing in it is that hard to read, honest!)? You betcha.
But more than that, I took the supernatural story–and trust me, even though it’s pretty unrelentingly dark, it gets twisty and goes way beyond the basic premise–from very real emotions I felt and observed living in New Jersey and often visiting New York City in the early 2000s. Even before 9/11, I always found the city stifling and Gothic, nothing more isolating than being amidst millions of strangers, nothing more imprisoning than a city so high it blocks out the sun, but of course after 9/11, even after the stench and the dust went away (which took such a long time), the city carried this horrible symbolic burden forced on it by warmongers mostly from other regions, and it added weight to the air. I tried to express all of that through Megan’s sense of her own entrapment within an inevitable course, however flawed it may be, because that’s how I felt, and I think that’s how the whole country felt.
And did I mention that the story is really nasty? It builds from tense domestic drama to moments that I think any hardcore horror fan will appreciate. So if that’s your thing, skip all the aforementioned emotional and political BS and just know that you’re in for a wild and truly disturbing experience.