Welcome to the Darkness… This was the first line in the first ever story I wrote.
Apart from the fleeting attempt in high school, the first ever story I actually gave time to writing was titled Shack of Evil. That was back in 1989. In 1989 I was living in a small town called Winchelsea Victoria, when my days and nights were spent writing, writing and writing some more.
I can remember the first ever draft I wrote of Shack of Evil. It was based on a hobbytex picture my mother had hanging on the wall of her dining room. I remember vividly I was sat at the dining table staring blankly at this picture – red velvet canvas and drawn on it was a rustic shack and a painted yellow full moon in the background. The image of that picture is burned into my mind, like a master blueprint of darkness, or insanity… Or maybe I just like the picture.
Of course the story wasn’t written in it’s entirity there. But the foundation of what was to become The Chosen was birthed from that picture.
Soon after I had moved to small-town Winch, I found that the passion for writing began to kick in, and so started this journey that would take me down a long road to being published.
Wincheslea was a town like you would expect to see in The Chosen. A town that had 1 bank, 1 bakery, a newsagency which doubled as a post-offiice, 1 police officer and 2 pubs. Winch had a population of less than a thousand people. A town where you couldn’t sneeze without the whole town knowing about it, and ideallic enough for a horror setting.
I lived about 5 miles out of town, on a piggery, own by the Sorenson’s. (Nothing like the fresh smell of pig-crap in the morning). So you can imagine what mischief and scenarios would pop into my mind back then. There is alot that can be said about a town like Winch. It certainly can give one alot of inspitation for any writer who wants to write a scene about a small town 🙂
Getting back to the theme: Not far out of town, but far enough from where I lived, was a canyon of sorts, which looked more like the beginning of a quarry which actually never got started. To describe this area would be like calling this area dunes of hardened clay, set amongst the backdrop of the bush. Okay, maybe not entirely eerie, but try going there at night, when the sky is clear and the moon is full…
That area, which I called “The Dunes” became the setting place of The Clearing, where Lutancix made his first appearence to the occultist, Jeff, in The Chosen.
Okay, so I had the setting. The rustic shack and the dunes. Perfect combo for a horror story. Shack of Evil was developed.
The original story was about Jamiesonn and his life. A supernatural being trapped in his own hell, and who wanted to reap revenge on the decendants who murdered him. Of course, the ghost hunter who had the fun of confronting Jamiesonn seemed more like an immature teenager rather than a professional parapsychologist.
So began Shack of Evil. A 9 page epic which I thought was absolute brilliance. But it wasn’t perfect. I knew that, and SOE needed alot of work to get it to the level I wanted it to be. The entire story was set in the first person POV.
It was around that time when I first started to read Stephen King novels. The first one I read was Misery. After reading that, I knew that I wanted to write full length novels rather than short stories which one could read in 30 minutes.
SOE was set in the first person POV, and so to develop it to the level I expected, I had to write in the third person. For someone who had never mastered literature in high school, that was going to be a challenge in itself, which meant alot of reading to see how other writers did it.
I read afew other novels by King and some Lovecraft, to learn how they wrote. I knew I could do better than what I had wrote, and even today I still consider Lovecraft the grand-master of horror.
SOE was put on the back-burner for some time… Well, 5 years to be exact. It took me 5 years to pick up the story, read it and then begin to rewrite it.
In 1994 I wrote a 300 page, two-part novel. This time around, I kept the original character of Jamiesonn, as well as the ghost hunter, but changed it to the scenario where the fate of the world was left up to one man, and his struggle to fight against supernatural beings. Jamiesonn had evolved with this new draft. His shack had a new setting, in the backdrop of Gympie, a small town that was once the boom of the gold mining rush.
The new draft was handwritten, and I managed to write this draft in 9 months. Day in, Day out. Everyday I sat at the dining table at my father’s house and wrote while I listened to TripleM belt out the hits of rock. (I’m a rocker boy at heart).
That novel was the first real novel I wrote, and a step up from what I had previously written. I had managed to switch from first-person POC to third-person POV. I had written the character of Jamiesonn so well that one guy whom I worked with once, read it (I think his name was Trevor) and actually believed that Jamiesonn was real. (I kid you not, one time I heard him whisper before he went into a sales meeting “Give me power Jamiesonn!”)
I seemed to have done well, but I knew in my heart it still was not perfect. I knew it could be developed alot more. Of course, I had no idea that what was yet to come would be a trilogy. In 1996, I began to write the sequel.
In 1996 I was living in Indooroopilly, which is a suburb of Brisbane. I was sharing a house with these college kids. Nikki and her boyfriend Craig (who was a Doom addict), and not to forget Julianne, (who looked alot like actress Teresa Russell when she was younger), and not to forget Julianne’s cat, Max, who followed her everywhere (even to the store).
What can I say about the crew I shared a house with? Good people. Always the life of any party. Craig was a teacher at a Uni, Nikki was a student who always got around in a summer dress (tease), and Julianne was… well, I will just say Julianne was a free-spirit.
I only knew Julianne for about 18 days until she went to go live with her mom, but those 18 days seemed to span years. Her and I shared a kinship, a soul connection if you will. For the first time in a while I had found a reason to write again, full on. She gave me inspiration and ideas for my new story and a new character. Back then, in 1996, she was more than someone I shared a house with and more than a friend. She was the first woman that I loved. That love lasted a long time. I never saw again after December 1996, but in my heart I loved her for many years after. She knew that I loved her, and I am sure she felt the same… Especially since that last night we spent together.
The above paragraph is important part of this, as Julianne’s persona is what I based the new character of Alison on.
A new character had been spawned, and also a new love interest for one of the characters. But even then in 1996, when I started the second book, I knew that the whole thing needed a major rewrite. It was good, but it was not what I wanted. I wanted to take the characters into a new direction and add more terror.
Enter Tanzac… In the original version of The Chosen, Lutancix was one of the major players in the story, while Tanzac took a back-seat. So I had to rework that, and give them a history, and why they were like they were.
I heard a preacher once say in a sermon, I think it was Kenneth Copeland, “A person doesn’t wake up one day and decide that they are going to be a hitman for the mafia“. And neither would supernatural beings. In life, death plays a natural part, and there are ghost stories of tormented souls in limbo who walk the earth. Ghosts are not naturally evil, it is how they lived that caused them to be like that…. Or so it is believed. So Tanzac needed a history, as I will explain another time…
More to come….