Publishing a novel has not only been a dream of mine for decades, but has also handed me its fair share of pain and disappointment. I finished the first draft of “The Darkening” four years ago! FOUR YEARS! You don’t really feel that passage of time if not for certain touchstones along the way. Mine, unfortunately, have been life-changing.
My mother, for who I dedicated this book, was my biggest fan! I guess that goes without saying for the most part, but we would have weekly conversations about the manuscript, the progress on getting it finalized and out on the market, etc. I knew my mother would probably never read it, she simply didn’t enjoy horror novels, and wouldn’t appreciate my language or themes. Her support was tremendous.
After a few false starts, things started rolling a bit once Brian Keene (author extraordinaire) offered some services to help new authors. Just as this process was finishing up, my world was destroyed in August 2013, when my mother succumbed to a four year battle with cancer. Let me be the first to say – fuck cancer! I didn’t care about the book after that…I barely cared enough to shower regularly, and my visits to the bottom of a bottle were prolonged and profound.
By the end of 2013 I had buried 2 close friends, my mother, 3 grandparents, and an uncle. My stepfather followed in February 2014. The hits just kept on coming. Battling through my depression, steeped in alcohol and preferring rooms shrouded in darkness, the novel went on a back burner for some time. It just wasn’t a priority.
In the most cliched phrase ever: Life goes on!
And it did. I came back to the book and looked at it through new eyes. My tragedy changed some of the story, some of the writing, some of the characters. When writing about innocence lost, losing your entire family is a bottomless well of inspiration – one so dark that it can be easy to lose yourself.
As the book neared completion, I took another hit when one of my closest friends since childhood also succumbed to a short battle with cancer. My friend Nick was a huge part of the memories that went into building the setting for the novel – we were the explorers. It was an awful and tragic loss, just another along a road that was covered in bumps and potholes and dead ends.
I’d like to think that my mother and my friend would be proud of me for the accomplishment.
I proved to myself that pain can be managed, that loss can be overcome but not forgotten.
The novel is my tentative step in the right direction!