Fan of the dark and unknown? How about the perennial mysterious presence in the woods? I’m talking about the predator that never rests, knowing nothing of death or actual pain, possessing no fears… man always finds a way to stumble into uncertain territory and immanent danger, ill prepared for the worst. If you’re still unsure, I speak of the hungry thing in the night that’s turned countless men into mounds of broken bone shards. The “myths” spoken of around campfires in the early a.m. hours, after the witch has beckoned and the restless have finally fallen into the pitch black expanse of unconsciousness.
If that’s your kind of story, you’re going to drool over Brian Moreland’s upcoming novel, The Devil’s Woods. I’ve yet to get my hands on it, but the early synopsis is an attention grabber and the prologue and first chapter (which are available to read right now over on Brian’s blog, The Crypt of Horror) read wonderfully. I’ve got to say, the novel’s launch is absolutely mean. We’re nowhere near penetrating the heart of this tale and a few thousand words in, the hook catches, tearing the cheek in a jagged reciprocative pattern that stretches the length of the face, from lip straight back to the earlobe. The reeling in follows immediately thereafter.
The Devil’s Woods already feels like a fantastic read, and when an author can tap that nerve that early, it’s a special thing. Moreland’s got the talent, and he’s got the work ethic. I don’t even feel I’m going out on a limb when I say ‘this one is going to be a smash.’
But that’s the thing about Moreland. He’s got more than just a single (it’s hard to decide exactly what to get excited over) egg in the basket. We’re still a few releases away from The Devil’s Woods believe it or not!
The Witching House (witch also has a free prequel set to be released before long) is a novella about a quartet of thrill seekers who stumble upon an abandoned house and decide a little exploration is in order. What they don’t initially realize is that there’s something in the cellar, and it’s tired of all the alone time. It’s hungry, and it’s ready for company and the proper meal.
This is a story that sounds – flat out – vicious and unforgiving. We’re talking great 80’s horror cinema transferred to page for the freaks… a little something for the hounds of terror, to just sit back absorb and enjoy.
I for one, am looking forward to this release like you simply would not believe. The Witching House sounds exactly like my kind of story. I’m holding out hope that my anticipation doesn’t go unrewarded. But the truth is I’m not really all too concerned. Brian’s a kick ass writer, no two ways about it.
But Brian’s more than a kick ass writer, he’s just a cool guy. A man who’s refined his craft, obviously chosen the correct career path, and is open to his fans. He’s extremely approachable and just carries a sense of positivity with him.
I can really appreciate those qualities. I think after reading (and learning of the new projects lined up) this interview, you’ll get a feel for what I mean by that.
Check it out, in its entirety.
HorrorNovelReviews: So tell me, how is Dead of Winter doing?
Brian Moreland: It’s doing well. Reviews have been fantastic on blogs, Amazon, and Goodreads. Sales are steady with a few spikes when I market it.
HNR: What kind of promotion are you doing for the novel? Are you squeezing in plenty of readings/signings etc.?
BM: Mostly online promotions – blog tours, reviews – and quite a few radio interviews. I’ve also been going to horror cons and signing books at my publisher’s booth. That’s been fun. I’ve found that regular book store signings aren’t that cost effective.
HNR: You know I’ve been working with a lot of authors who are really excited about the results that blog tours produce. Is that really one of the stronger marketing angles for authors these days?
BM: I believe so. It generally only costs the author’s time answering interview questions or writing guest posts and we get exposure to all the readers of those blogs. It’s especially beneficial if the blog fits our audience. I’ve also had success cross-promoting with other authors. We write guest posts for each other’s blogs and make announcements on social media sites.
HNR: I think it’s a pretty intelligent avenue to pursue these days. And speaking of Blog tours, you should definitely make HorrorNovelReviews a stop on your next run.
BM: That would be great. I’ll be doing another run this summer leading up to the release of my novella The Witching house.
HNR: We’d definitely love to book a date when the time comes. You know, Dead of Winter was one of the very first novels covered on the site. You showed a little faith, sent out your work, and we got it covered. I’m pretty happy to say that if we keep pace this year, we’ll surpass more than 160,000 page views in 2013. I owe a lot of that to you.
BM: Wow, I didn’t realize that. I was happy to be a part of the launch. I really enjoyed your review of Dead of Winter. Not just the praise. I thought it was very well written. I’m happy to support your site in the future. It’s a win/win.
HNR: I couldn’t agree more, and speaking of the future, tell me a little bit about The Witching House. I’ve been really curious to see what you’ve been cooking up.
BM: Well, this one’s very different than my previous novels. For one, it’s shorter, only about 90 pages. I wrote this to publish between my longer works. Also, it’s set in present day. I wanted to write a story that I could have fun with without having to do a lot of research. And it’s the first set in Texas, in the woods just a couple hours from where I live.
Here’s a brief description:
The Witching House – In this present-day novella, two young couples go urban exploring in a mysterious abandoned house set deep in the East Texas woods. The adventurous double-date turns to terror, when they discover something is living down in the cellar. And it hungers for human flesh.
HNR: Okay, I’ll be honest: that sounds absolutely bad ass! I think you just obliterated about a half dozen questions I wanted to ask you in one fell swoop.
So this story takes place present day… how different did it feel to work a contemporary tale? You’ve clearly got an affinity for the historical approach.
BM: Thanks. Writing present day is so much easier, because my characters can just talk away and I don’t have to stop and question whether or not people use that lingo. With Shadows In The Mist being set during WWII, I had to make sure every detail was right: the way people talked in the ’40s, the clothes they wore, what kind of weapons they used and so on. It was even more challenging with Dead Of Winter, because when I started I knew next to nothing about the 1870s fur trade and all the historical details I eventually added. While the other projects took me years to finish, I wrote The Witching House in less than four weeks.
HNR: That’s a wild time difference, but it goes to show that it takes a whole lot of time to really take in the information required to make a period piece accurate. I remember there were a few things in Dead of Winter that I wondered about and double checked. Finding your details to be fact was pretty rewarding. It’s easier to appreciate thorough work than something that was thrown together with little regards for the smaller aspects.
BM: When writing a time period piece, I make it rule that if I can’t find something in a credible history book or website, then it doesn’t go in the book. I do a lot of cross-checking. I can be quite the perfectionist, because I know there are many historians out there who know the time period better than me. When I was writing Dead Of Winter I even went so far as to look up many words on an entomology site to see if the word had even been invented prior to 1870. For instance, there’s a scene where Willow is playing Solitaire. I had to ask myself if Solitaire was invented back then, so I looked it up and sure enough it had been around for quite some time. I think being anal about the details has paid off.
HNR: It has. It was a good book. A rule for me is this: anything I read twice or more (of my own free will) is a quality piece.
BM: Thanks, I love hearing that. It makes all the hours typing alone worth it when somebody enjoys the experience of the fictional world I created.
HNR: I can understand that. I spent about 10 years pursuing music. It was a mean grind that forced me to really question myself on a regular basis (positivity is needed).
Now, The Witching House focuses in on four people. Give me a one sentence, super-brief summary of each character. I’m all about the characters and based on that synopsis alone it sounds like there’s an amazing opportunity here.
BM: My main character is Sarah Donovan. She’s about 30, recently divorced and just started dating this adventurous thrill-seeker named Dean Stratton. Sarah is afraid of heights, the dark, and tight places, but she’s falling in love with Dean and will do just about anything to prove she’s woman enough for him.
Dean is a pretty cool, out-doors kind of a guy, a skilled rock climber, and for a hobby he loves to break into abandoned buildings and go explore them. He even shoots video and creates maps for his urban exploring website.
The second couple is Meg and Casey, who are visiting from L.A. They’re also thrill seekers and have explored many abandoned buildings in the past with their close friend Dean. So Sarah, being a newbie, is the odd one out.
HNR: I’m really interested in this. When I read the breakdown my immediate thought was ‘this might have some Evil Dead influence going on’. But these characters sound like an obviously different brand. Any nods to Sam Raimi in the story?
BM: No, it’s quite different than Evil Dead, which happens to be one of my favorite horror movies of all time. And I love Sam Raimi. But I wasn’t thinking of him when I wrote this and I can’t even think of a comparison that would match his characters or storyline.
HNR: I’ll find that comparison, even if I’m forced to manifest it from thin air. Just because I too am a huge Evil Dead fan, and why not?
BM: If you do, it would be a high compliment to be compared to such a classic film. I was definitely thinking about it when I wrote Dead of Winter.
HNR: I can completely see that.
BM: In fact in my pitch to publishers I was calling it a cross between Ravenous, The Exorcist, and The Evil Dead.
HNR: Whoa. That’s a startlingly accurate comparison actually! It didn’t hit me when I read it initially, but that’s got Ravenous all over it! I can totally see Guy Pierce as Tom Hatcher.
BM: Yeah, I loved that movie. And Guy Pierce would make a great Tom Hatcher.
HNR: Okay so, back to the new book… give me the details on The Witching House. When is this available. Is this digital exclusively or will physical copies be available as well? Pre-orders, the whole nine yards. Let’s let the people know when and how they can get this one.
BM: The Witching House releases the first Tuesday in August as an ebook only. Pre-orders should be available in late June/early July. This week I’m writing a short story prequel that I will release for free prior to the release date. I don’t yet have a title for it, since I just started writing it yesterday. The short story will expand upon some of the back story and set up the mystery of the boarded-up house my four characters break into.
HNR: When the prequel is prepared to see publication will it be available on your personal website or Samhain’s website, or both? I’m assuming you are still working with Samhain at this point?
BM: Yes, still working with Samhain. It will definitely be on their site, as well as Amazon and probably BarnesandNoble.com and iBooks.
HNR: Okay great. I know it’s getting late for both of us, so before I let you go, I’ve got to ask: anything I’m missing? Any details we missed? Dates, websites, events you’d like to plug?
BM: Sure, I’ll be signing books at HorrorHound Weekend Cincinnati, March 22-24 and World Horror Con in New Orleans, June 13-16. People can find me at the Samhain Horror booth. Also, my new novel The Devil’s Woods will release in paperback and ebook in December 2013. This is the book I’m most excited to release.
My website is http://www.BrianMoreland.com
A quick note: I’ve just got to throw another quick thanks out to Brian, who sat up and chatted with me into the later portions of the evening. Just further proof that this is a cool cat who knows that connecting with fans, and the people who can help expose them to fans, is crucial to success. This is a good guy right here, and I can’t wait for The Witch House, it’s prequel, and of course, The Devil’s Woods.