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Inspirations for Tree of Souls

The Tree of Souls

(A Collection of Dark Tales)


Ol’ Betsy: 2018 - Inspired by the Mercyful Fate song, The Old Oak written by King Diamond. It’s about an old oak hanging tree. I love trees and have learned a lot about them. I’m a landscaper, and have diagnosed tree conditions, and sold pruning and large tree removals. The Southern Live Oak tree is my favorite, and when an opportunity came up to enter a writing contest for Seattle’s 2018 Crypticon event, I dove in, wrote, and what came out surprised me. It had to be 2500 words or less, and my story came out to be 5000 words. It took some creative editing to narrow it down, but it kept its integrity and shined better for it. It won 1st place at the Crypticon! The judges were from the deep south and commented on how accurate I was with my tale, and how it touched on more human elements than just horror. It made me feel pretty good.

My Third Eye: 2018 - HP Lovecraft all the way! I was first introduced to Lovecraft’s work through two movies, Re-animator and From Beyond in the eighties. (Which I was able to meet both Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, stars of both films, at Seattle’s Crypticon) I was enamored with the films, and it lead me to the stories written by Lovecraft. I’d already been a fan of his friend, Robert E. Howard, and I’m a huge fan of this writing style. It’s very image and atmosphere driven and written mostly in prose. Horror started with Poe and Lovecraft and I’ve always wanted to pay homage to their writings, and My Third Eye is that tale.

The Woman from Tallahassee: 2000? I can’t recall the exact year I wrote this, but it’s one of my oldies but goodies. I was travelling out of state constantly for work during this period, and I stayed in a lot of cheap, crappy hotels. I wanted to capture a frightening ghost story about a travelling salesman, and this leaked out of my head. I like justice being served, and the creep in this story deserved it.

The Nightmare and the Beast: 2000? Robert E. Howard!!! He is the creator of Conan the Barbarian, as well as Solomon Cain and many other others. Howard is very influential to my work. I received a collection of Conan books for Christmas when I was fourteen, and I fell in love with them. Howard created one of the greatest heroes of fantasy fiction, and Conan was fierce, vicious, and despite current depictions of him, was also intelligent. His character transcends decades. What’s great about Howard, is the horror he created in the Conan stories with the use of necromancers and evil magic and the world they lived in. If you love horror stories – you need to read Howard’s collection of short, horror stories. Fantastic! This was so fun to write. I found a concept that allowed me no limits with this tale, and it is violent, dark and full of everything I love about dark fantasy.

The Phone Call: 2019 This story came out of nowhere. One day our landline phone rang, which rarely rings anymore now that we use smartphones, and it reminded me of playing prank calls as a kid. Ideas led to ideas and I began to write. Much like The Other Side of Elsewhere, this allowed me to pull out memories of my childhood and re-visit a ‘coming of age’ tale which I am always a sucker for.

Hind Sight: 2002? High Concept. This is a case where I came up with a concept that I fell in love with, and it took me several tries and re-writes to get it to the story that sits before you now. It’s more along the lines of science fiction, which two of the best come to mind; Ray Bradbury and Alan Dean Foster. It’s a ‘what if’ story. If this happened, where would the story take us? Hopefully on a fun adventure that leaves us asking more mind-bending questions.

Remnants of a Fragmented Mind: 2000? (originally titled The Ignored). It was written for a writing contest. The challenge: Start with the provided line ‘A black car came over the hill…’. Like Ol’ Betsy, it had a word limit. I believe it had to be under 2500 words. I have fun with these because it forces my imagination to come up with something and gets the wheels turning. Although it did not win anything, I enjoyed what came out of it.

The Uninvited: 2000? I’ve always wanted to write a scary ghost story. Nothing supernatural scares me more than ghosts. Perhaps because I believe in them? I loved Mandy’s character, and how she was spoiled rich and a bit naive, and how her insecurities were put to the test. If a story doesn’t have another element to it than horror, something a character can grow from, then nothing about it is intriguing. I’ve always strived for that.

The Broken City: 2003? High concept again, like Hind Sight, or a ‘what if’ story. I love the concept, and furthermore, I believe in it. Hope is never lost – neither in this life or the next. This one means so much to me, that it took several re-writes and tries over the years to get it right, and I’m still not sure I have it where I want it. But a writer is never fully satisfied with their finished work, and who knows, maybe this one gets re-visited down the road. I can see it developing into a full novel.

The Lake: 2019 If you like Stephen King, this feels like the alley he walks in. He is the ‘king’ after all, and his writing has inspired my work more than anyone, ever since I discovered horror and thrillers. No one can tell a story like King. They feel like campfire tales with the depth and dialogue of characters unmatched by anyone, and you never want them to end.

I spent a vacation at our friends’ cabin in Island Park, Idaho in 2019, like we have many years in a row. Beyond that, Island Park served as a family vacation spot for my family as I was growing up, and we’d spend time at our cousins’ cabin on I.P. Bill’s Island. I got the chance to visit with my cousins up there last year and sat around their fire next to the lake. We got talking about what lies beneath that lake. It’s a mystery that sparked a lot of ideas, and my cousin’s husband suggested I write a scary thriller about finding bodies in the lake.

I went back to my cabin that night and had the whole story plotted out in my head. When I got home to write it, I had to fill in background on my main character, and what developed out of it was beautiful. It became my story within the story. The human element that plays an important roll in our growth. The finished product became one of my favorite stories thus far.

Deadman’s Pass: 2019 Westerns have a special place in my heart. The first story I wrote was a western called The Ten Steps to Death. I haven’t written one since. Until now. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour westerns and watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. I’m still a sucker for a good western, and I’ve always wanted to have one take place in a winter snowstorm. This idea popped out of nowhere, and I promised I’d never write a werewolf story, but this was a great idea. It was a lot of fun and I think it turned out great.

Inspirations for the tales within Tree of Souls

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