On Monsters, Deadlines and Space
Guest Post By Author Hunter Shea
Giveaway of Swamp Monster Massacre after the post
I’m such a silly bastard.
Way back when I started dabbling in writing (in a time before cell phones were common and Toni Braxton won the Grammy for best new artist), I had all these fanciful ideas about what a writer’s life would and should be. To write, one had to have a magical place to retire to, preferably a study with heaps of books, the smell of sweet pipe smoke, a view of a rolling green and utter silence and privacy. One book every couple of years seemed like a prodigious enough output. There would be lavish lunches with publishers and agents and my first book contract would set me financially for life.
Cut to many years later and as I’m signing my first bonafide book contract with a class-A publisher (Samhain Publishing), my editor (the best in the biz) asks when he can expect book number two. Oh boy. The second contract, signed a few months later, was followed by a request for book number three and…well, you get the point.
It was book number three, Swamp Monster Massacre, that completely changed my view of the writer’s life. My editor and I were emailing each other at midnight and he asked if I had a novella that I could send him for publication around Halloween, which was only 6 months away. I told him I could write a new one that would be more in line with my current ‘voice’.
“Great!” he said. “I’ll need it in 3-4 weeks.”
Naturally, I said, “No problem. I’m on it.”
“Can you tell me what the story will be?”
Somehow, despite my insomnia, I was quick on my feet and said, “How about a book about skunk apes (the Bigfoot of the southern swamps) who try to murder a criminal who crashes a hijacked airboat full of tourists in the Everglades?”
I hit SEND and cringed. Thanks to a lifetime devoted to all things monstrous (God bless Leonard Nimoy and In Search Of,) coming up with a beast to write about was easy. Hell, I love Bigfoot…and the Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, you name it. I know more about them than my neighbors or even 90% of my family. Monsters are mystery and magic and everything that keeps my spirit young and wondering.
To my surprise and delight, he replied, “Sounds pretty cool. Have fun with it and shoot me over a first draft as soon as you can.”
Great! Now I had a concept. I only had to tap out 30,000 words and do about 5 revisions in less than a month. Cue the loud slap to my forehead with the palm of my hand.
It felt like Catholic high school all over again. I was just given a deadline that would make a grown man cry. Failure to meet it was not an option. So the very next day, I did some research on the Florida Everglades and started writing.
Remember when I mentioned the dream study earlier? I do have a nice spot in my house where I do most of my writing, but for some reason, I could only keep up the pace in our very busy kitchen. Here’s where I wrote every line. Pure chaos!
Somewhere between the microwave and bottle of Gatorade, I lived in a balmy swamp filled with vengeful skunk apes. It made me think of Stephen King’s book, On Writing, where he talks about writing Carrie and Salem’s Lot in the laundry room of a trailer. Also, after his major accident in the late 90s, his wife set him up with a folding table outside the pantry so he could write again. He had a fan, some pencils and paper and his laptop. That’s it. And man, did he write.
I learned a lot about myself and the writing process thank to Swampy, and for that, I’ll always love the book. A deadline can be a very good thing. You don’t need to have the perfect conditions to write. Just the passion. And skunk apes make very good companions.
A little about Swamp Monster Massacre:
Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.
ONE lucky reader will win an electronic copy of Swamp Monster Massacre just by commenting below or on the Facebook link. You may also email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com. Of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts, but a comment is enough to enter. Anyone can enter, so don’t be shy. The contest will be open until Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The winner will be notified by email on Jan. 24. Please make sure to leave your email with me so I can contact you.
Hunter Shea, Biography~
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal, Swamp Monster Massacre and the upcoming Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.
STAY TUNED for more on my blog from Hunter Shea as we have an interview next week and discuss his upcoming novella The Graveyard Speaks and novel Sinister Entity!! Both are set for April release. The Graveyard Speaks takes place between Forest of Shadows and is a prequel to Sinister Entity, the sequel to Forest of Shadows.