The specialty publishing company Hippocampus Press will take my first novel THE WITCH AT SPARROW CREEK to print in 2015. This was such terrific news. My editor S.T. Joshi has helped to shape this book over the past several years and he has been incredibly supportive of the novel. There were many other folks who have read earlier version of the book and helped me to keep going.
Title: The Witch at Sparrow Creek: A Jim Falk Novel
This novel is the first in a series to follow James Falk. The figure of Jim Falk is an almost immediately recognizable archetype whose stunted character and horror-ridden childhood make him accessible and nuanced. His tales are meant to be expanded and serialized. The fuller world that Jim and his emerging companions live in will be revealed throughout a pilot trilogy. The working title of the sequel to this novel is – The Angel in the Wyddr: A Jim Falk Novel.
The novel was originally inspired by the compilation book Appalachian Ghost Stories and Other Tales, and another by the same editor, James Gay Jones. Jones gathered weird, supernatural folk tales from his native state West Virginia. While these stories were not adventure stories, they ignited my imagination toward writing a book set in a misty, legendary Appalachia. Incidentally, Appalachian Ghost Stories and Other Tales was a book that a friend of mine and I had stolen from a local library when I was a teenager, later I would marry the niece of the author, never making the connection until I saw the book on her father’s shelf. (Yes, that really happened.)
This book is not intended to fit in with the many more commercial novels that stock the shelves and the digital book world today. Those books are great reads and have so many imaginative, entertaining, and rich worlds to offer, but they are in their essence all cut from recognizable molds. This novel, while it has emerged from those same dreamy architectures from which all stories arise, is older craftsmanship attempting to stretch and break into new forms.
My influences as a writer include (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) Robert E. Howard, C.S. Lewis, Lord Dunsany, Phillip K. Dick, and Richard Brautigan. I love these authors because the writing is not only adventurous, but the themes, language, and subject matter of their works always knocked at the shimmering shell of something unknown, murky, and transcendent.
What might truly catch readers’ imaginations can often be something that cannot be said – a “thing” that leaps away from definition, or seems like plain faced nonsense. Pick up a Grimm’s Fairy Tale compendium and you will see repetitions upon repetitions of nonsense. The familiar becoming unfamiliar is what creates endurance for these tales and allows them to breathe and grow and exist through the years. It’s a big thing to reach for, but with such influences, I felt that to be truthful in my fiction, I needed to stick to beautiful older traditions, voices, and ways of storytelling.
At the same time, it’s 2015. There are so many energized ideas zipping about and new ways that readers can engage with stories that I wanted to try to write with a more clipped pace. What you’ll find in the pages of my book (hopefully) is a poetic and frightening adventure story that presses forward without apology or hand-holding through blind turns, teeth, and wild beauty. Hope you like it!