So, my novel Adventures in Terror: Mostly the 1980s finally releases tomorrow (Wednesday, September 3).
Here’s a little introduction:
Allow me to indulge myself with some self-important final discussion. Inside baseball, as they call it. I have always loved those “making of” documentaries that accompany so many movie discs, and I suppose the last few pages of this book are my version of that. If you’re not like me and you don’t care about “that shit,” feel free to close the book now.
But just know, if you do close the book right this very second, it’s your loss, not mine.
First off, a few words about my dear friend Steven Goldmann, to whom Adventures in Terror: Mostly the 1980s is dedicated, and who departed this Earth after a long fight against multiple myeloma on April 30, 2015 – just as I was finishing up the story you’re reading now.
From where I stand, he fought like a motherfucker. He told me enough stories about his battles with cancer to prove beyond all doubt that he was a numero uno badass. Steven would have made Jasper Bohanon and Grady Claremont oh so proud. He made a lot of people proud, I’ll tell you that much, which you can see for yourself through a quick search of the various Googles and Facebooks and Yahoos and whatever other mystical interwebs exist out there.
I’m sorry that he never got to read this book. He would have loved it. I held out hope that I could send him these adventures of Jasper and Grady and that it would cheer him up just a little, and I was writing hard in those last days for that reason if nothing else, but I came up short. Alas.
The day Steven died, I posted a short tribute on my website. It’s not likely that I could say anything better about my friend than what I said that day, so I’ll say it again here:
We always joked about how crazy it was that a Jewish guy from Montreal and a heathen from the hills of Eastern Kentucky could think so much alike, but we did. We really did. Politics, movies, music, Fangoria magazine. Whatever. We weren’t 100% on everything – he used to marvel at how much Ale-8 I drank and I used to marvel at how much time it must have taken him to get his hair ready in the morning – but we shared way more interests than you’d ever guess from our backgrounds. He was the first person outside of “back home” that ever stood up for my writing; I sold him the screenplay for The Rassler and even though that story like so many other great stories has never quite made it to the lighted screen, it was validation for me. It brought reassurance that I knew what I was doing. That meant a lot.
I worked for Steven for a year, and then I worked with him on myriad projects for 15 years after that, right up until his battle took its final turn in these last few months. He did so much great work. He was a real artist. He made movies, like Trailer Park of Terror and Broken Bridges). He made music videos – at his peak, he made some of the biggest in the biz, for superstars like Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, and the Mavericks, among many, many others. One of our great unfulfilled projects was a movie starring the Mavericks, meant for release with their first greatest hits package and based on the Coen Brothers’ absolute masterpiece The Big Lebowski. (If you don’t know the Mavericks or The Big Lebowski, all I can say is obviously, you’re not a golfer.)
He loved stories and he’d do everything he could to tell them, in whatever medium would let him through the door just long enough to get a good hold. I’ve lost count of how many different ideas we kicked around, and I was just one person that he kicked them around with. There were so many others besides me, and I’m sure that’s because no one person could hope to catch all of the man’s creative energy in one basket.
But he wasn’t just a professional, and he wasn’t just an artist. He was a kind, intelligent, and generous man. He dreamed Big and he believed Big – I think I appreciated that about Steven Goldmann more than anything else – and when he talked about his dreams he had a way of making you believe Big, too. One of the last conversations we had, he wanted to take another run at a Sewerville television series with me and Alan Brewer. Giving me more script notes, talking up the idea, lending it all hope. Of course he was.
There are a few times that Adventures in Terror references Ray Bradbury’s classic Something Wicked This Way Comes, starting with the quote that opens the proceedings. (“It was in their friendship they just wanted to run forever, shadow and shadow.”)
I’m telling you that right now, so those who are familiar with Bradbury’s story of fantasy and friendship don’t think I was trying to slip a few fast ones by you fine folks. Bradbury is a bit of a jumping off point for Adventures in Terror and it’s not unintentional.
Jasper and Grady’s birthdays – born in the same year, one a few minutes before Halloween midnight, one just a few minutes after – are shared with Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, the two friends in Bradbury’s book.
The “book” where Grady read that “no carnival comes after Labor Day… the carnival comes when it wants. On its own clock, at its own speed” and which also says that carnivals only come at dawn is, of course, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Actually the entire chapter “The Carnival” is partially a tribute to that great book and author. I could never equal or even approach that masterwork and would never even try. What I can do is pay my respects and encourage everyone reading these words to put down this book immediately, go find a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, and enjoy. Read it for the first time. Read it for the hundredth time. Just read it. You’re welcome.
For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing this first volume of Adventures in Terror is that it’s engaged me in a bit of universe building.
Obviously, the story is almost entirely set in fictional Seward County, Kentucky, the same Seward County where my first novel Sewerville takes place. Where Sewerville is real-world darkness and takes on topics that interest (and worry) me about this crazy little Planet Earth that certain members (?) of our dear human race have managed to turn into such a giant fiasco, it was always my intention that Adventures in Terror be the horror/sci-fi/fantasy flip side of that world. Grady and Jasper live on the “other” end of Seward County, and that’s no accident.
Just like the boys in this story, I spent my school years on the “other” end of my county (Powell County, Kentucky). There wasn’t any Whistle Mill-like town on our end, though – just some houses, farms, and the occasional country store all scattered about the wooded hills and hollows, with only a single two-lane (that sometimes was really only wide enough for one lane) highway snaking through to connect them. It wasn’t really that far from the county seat of Stanton – maybe six or seven miles – but to a little kid with no sense of the world’s true size, it felt like we lived in the hinterlands.
My friend Brinton Epperson and I grew up together out there. We hiked the hills from as long ago as I can remember. When we were second graders, we tore through the underbrush, swinging tobacco sticks as swords, pretending we were Greek gods. We spent most every weekend from elementary through high school at each other’s houses. There were countless conversations about philosophy and science, history and politics, the Beatles and Twisted Sister. (Brinton is a Beatles man. I’ll always be a hard rock guy.) Both of us even had the same car as Evie Fallon – the dreaded Olds Firenza. His was green, mine was brown. He got his a few years before I got mine but I don’t think either one of us would claim we drove a sex machine.
There’s an awful lot of Brinton in Jasper Bohanon, and when he reads this book I have to think he’ll recognize himself.
But, there are a few other people in Jasper too, and I want to make sure they know that. Michael Saylor (my brother), David Rogers, Daylan Kinser, Anthony Gabbard, Daxon Caudill, Kevin Hall, Cory Graham, Kelly Hobbs.
Yes, I am well aware that “me and Jasper” is not correct, grammatically speaking. But it’s the way I wanted it, it’s the way I wrote it, and it’s the way it stays until Jasper finally reaches the edge of infinity that intrigues him so.
Nyah nyah nya-nyah yahhhhhhhhh, grammar police. It’s how the characters talk. Leave us the hell alone.
Randall, in “Me and Jasper and the Little Red Pills”? You either get it or you don’t.
Back to the universe building.
There are several direct references to Sewerville – at least the town of Sewardville – which readers of that novel will recognize. It makes sense to me; the towns are in same county and I own all the real estate there.
In addition to those references, Adventures in Terror also exists at a crossroads with some other work that will be coming down the parkway soon enough. An older Jasper Bohanon appears in the second Sewerville book, The Gentleman from Kentucky. And the Peak family from “Me and Jasper and the Little Red Pills” are significant players in the novel Lords of the Dark. Both those books will likely be out within the next couple of years.
Why am I telling you this? ‘Cause I want to. I enjoy it. Plenty of writers cross-pollinate their different works; I’m doing the same. Maybe it just comes down to the fact that it’s plain old fun, having your own world in which to play. If you don’t believe me, give it a try sometime.
Anyway, the aforementioned books will be out before you know it, and when they’re all out there for your reading pleasure, please feel free to judge my little universe for yourself.
The next volume of Adventures in Terror is subtitled Mostly the 21st Century. It continues the story of Jasper and Grady in some ways you might expect and others that I am thinking you probably won’t. Time will tell. I expect the book will see release a year or so from now and then everyone can find out together. Until then…