Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why I Wrote Winter

Last summer, I wrote the rough draft of Winter in about 10 weeks. At that point in my career, I'd signed contracts with Samhain Publishing to release the first three books in the Crow Creek series over a period of eight months. I was excited and couldn't crank out the pages fast enough. The first draft wrapped shy of 90,000 words (I've since trimmed some 5,000 off the total). If you've followed my career at all, you know that my deal with Samhain fell to shit. They downsized their company, threatened to close their doors, announced their resurrection, threatened to close again, and I don't have any idea where they stand now. They reverted my rights, however; so I restored Crow Creek and Queensboro with Gold Avenue Press and await the release of Winter. I've been out of the author game for 18 months, so trying to regenerate interest in my work has proved daunting.

Anyway, as the presidential election gained momentum last year, I watched the rise of the candidates and assumed Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would win the nominations. I thought for sure we'd see a rematch of the 1992 election, only with different family representatives and a bigger, crazier billionaire as the third-party candidate (sorry Ross Perot, but the Donald trumps you). Things didn't turn out exactly as I expected (what the fuck happened, Jeb?), but I think the novel's premise still holds water. I have concerns about the concept of an American royal family and political nepotism. The Kennedys are probably the most recent example of an elite American dynasty, so I knew when I drafted the book that I wanted to connect the Kennedys with the absurdity of the current presidential election and my fictional Crow Creek universe.

Enter the Goldsboro bombs.

For those not up to speed, two Mark 39 nuclear warheads were accidentally dropped in rural North Carolina in the early 1960s. They didn't detonate. I can't recall exactly why I remembered hearing about those, but at some point, I posed the question to myself, what if those two bombs had been a failed attempt to assassinate JFK a few years before the real hit in Dallas? Further research told me that JFK toured North Carolina during his 1960 run (the first candidate since George Washington to do so, by the way) against then incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. How perfect! I tweaked a few dates, combined some events, created a fictional mastermind, and presto - I had my conspiracy: kill Kennedy. The bombs go off and wipe out the entire town of Winter (yes, I couldn't resist the nuclear winter play on words - I'm a smart ass, remember?), save one farmer and his pickup truck and lazy old hound dog.

Flash forward fifty odd years and Amanda Simmons, the covert rascal who devastated the Red Queen in Queensboro, finds herself at the center of a new assassination attempt with her fingertips on the nuclear trigger. Sheriff Brad Gleason returns, so do his ex-wife Shana, shaman Black Jesus, my original breed of dragons, vampires, and zombies, familiar villains, new heroes, and plenty of jiggery-pokery to go around.

I hope you have as much fun reading this one as I did writing it. The action is nonstop; the emotions, a rollercoaster ride; and the twists and turns exactly what I hope you'll want from my series. I don't think I'll ever leave Crow Creek, honestly. The people and places have become my friends and neighbors. I see them in my dreams. Well, they haunt my nightmares.

If you'd like to read a couple of good books about the historical incidents, try The Goldsboro Broken Arrow and John F. Kennedy's North Carolina Campaign. They both helped me a great deal.

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