by Edgar Swamp
On July 15, 1991, an isolated village in Northern Wisconsin is ground zero for an unprecedented, fiery tragedy. Of the community's 600 residents, there are only five survivors. Detailed accounts by the victims contradict each other; the only link is a man named Anthony Guntram, but because he is presumed to be dead, this claim can't be verified. Further investigations reveal a culture enshrouded in mystery. What are the survivors hiding?
Only the villagers know the secret of Amber Hollow, a place where sanity is checked at the town line and the parameters of reality become blurred. An unconventional horror story by design, Edgar Swamp delivers an action-driven page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the calamitous ending.
Please note, this book is only $0.99 on Kindle:
“I’m not going back!” the woman screamed, her eyes rolling in terror. “You hear me? I’m never going back!”
“We understand,” Sadie said, approaching carefully from the opposite side of her partner, although her reply couldn’t have been farther from the truth. So far, she didn’t understand anything. However, she knew for certain that this woman’s passing wouldn’t do them a damn bit of good at getting to the truth. They needed to keep her still so she wouldn’t let go.
“We’re here to help you,” Jeremy said, “in fact, we were on our way to the hospital to visit you, to ask you some questions—”
“You have questions, you can ask Anthony Guntram! It’s his fault, all his fault!”
“I’m afraid we can’t do that, ma’am.” He gazed down, saw a police boat approaching from the mouth of the river. Good timing. “Please, let us help you. Take my hand.”
“I don’t want your help!” she screamed, and in her exertion one of her feet slipped and she almost fell, the only thing keeping her from plunging over the side was her grip on the cable, which apparently was pretty tight. “You can’t help me, no one can!”
“Let us try,” Jeremy begged.
“Never,” she croaked in a husky voice, and then she let go of the cable.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. In fact, in school, the only things I was good at were reading, writing, and music. I was THAT puny kid getting beaned by five dodgeballs at once during gym! That said, I was actually pretty good at hockey (I’m from up near Canada, ey!), and for as long as I have been drawing breath, I’ve wanted to be a professional writer/musician/actor. Two of those avenues I explored (music, writing) one I did in high school but didn’t pursue later. When I’m not penning the next Great American Novel, I am busy taking care of companion animals, mostly cats and dogs, but I also care for a bunny, and I’ve looked after birds, fish and reptiles as well. I have this profession because I worked as a veterinary technician for about a decade, and the pet sitting business just sort of evolved. My latest novel, “Amber Hollow,” was released on Oct. 15, 2019, self-published through KDP, a division of Amazon, in both ebook and paperback. This is my fourth self-published novel, and it is at this juncture I am hoping to attract the attention of a traditional publisher because I’m finally really getting the hang of it!
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I write in multiple genres; my four self-published novels in order are: horror, science-fiction, crime caper, and mystery (with elements of horror and fantasy). I’ve always had an overactive imagination and am a lucid dreamer; every monster in the world and three of their closest friends lived either in my closet or under my bed as a kid, but that didn’t quell the thirst I had for scary stories! I don’t know why, but I guess I enjoyed torturing myself. My ideas come from anywhere, but they are always darkly tinged through my skewed view of reality. In fact, I presently have more ideas than I have time to write them. If I were a paid writer, I’d have material for the next several years practically in the can! My latest novel, “Amber Hollow,” was actually an exercise in making myself come up with a specific idea, and I didn’t want to commit a single word to the page until I had a solid plot with a rockin’ steady beginning, middle, and end. I did come to an impasse at a stage in its creation, though, and that is where I used (for the first time) elements of fantasy to help tell my story. It was one of those things that wasn’t planned — it just came to life on the page randomly on a free Saturday afternoon, and it helped shape the tone and style of the novel.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
There are many writers that have influenced my writing since I was kid; some I practically plagiarize while others just wrote stuff that gave me the desire to write. This will sound wildly improbable, so I’ll confess I’m exaggerating slightly, but I practically went from Dr. Seuss to Stephen King within the span of only a few years, both of them very influential upon me. In regards to the former, he actually wrote a book that was (to me) somewhat scary, although having just gone through an entire catalogue of his work online I can’t find it, but I recall it was made for TV, and it was environmentally themed. It’s probably in one of his short-story collections; it’s a dystopian future where all the trees are gone and the world is just dust. The latter had me at go with “The Shining,” a book so good I faked being sick and read it in three days while eating chicken soup and pretending to cough and have diarrhea. Dr. Seuss captivated me with the tone of his story, motivating me to write something like it, whereas at one point I just wanted to write like Stephen King. I accidentally plagiarized something verbatim of his in my first novel “The Gyre Mission” without knowing it at the time — that’s how many times I’ve read his books over and over. That said, I am also a huge fan of Jack London, Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk. Again, I’d like to go with the former for writing engaging stories I then wanted to emulate, and the two latter writers for me wanting to stylistically write like them. Alas, at the end of the day, you need to find your own voice if you want to stand out, and after a lot of practice, I am getting closer and closer.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
The very first novel I tried to write (again, talk about being a thief!) was a sequel to Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Cough…ahem…yeah, I didn’t get past maybe about 40 pages because I was 13, but my next whack at it when I was 18 didn’t fair much better, and when I was 30, I finally made myself write what would be my very first finished novel…and it was a dreadful piece of crap. However, at the time, I didn’t know that, so I tried to get it traditionally published. I attended conferences, I sent query letters to any related publication/publisher/editor, and over the course of two years, I realized I was getting better at how to submit my work, but the work itself was terrible. I then wrote three more crappy books in which I learned the mechanics of writing, editing, and storytelling, and then I finally wrote another one that I decided to self-publish. My decision to do that was based on the new print on demand technology; this wasn’t vanity publishing anymore — this was entrepreneurial! I figured all I had to do was write it, hire someone to help promote it, and I’m off to the races. Turns out I wasn’t the only genius who came up with this idea, and by 2012, the market for indie books was a staggering 200,000 or more titles per year, in addition to the 300,000 (maybe more) traditionally published titles available. Readers are simply overwhelmed with content screaming for their attention; it’s shark-infested waters out there fellow writers! So, in hindsight, with four self-published titles now, I’d have to say I have mixed feelings. A part of me wishes I had stuck with the traditional route because to be honest, self-publishing means YOU do all the work (or pay someone big bucks to do it), so it isn’t an easy way out. That said, I may not have written my latest novel (or the two before it) if it wasn’t for self-publishing because I wrote it knowing I was going to do exactly that, and was genuinely trying to write it for a wide, specific audience I could possibly generate through reading sites, social media and Amazon. I’ll tell you how it all worked out six months from now!
How did you come up with the title?
“Amber Hollow” is a detective mystery at heart but seen through the lens of “The Twilight Zone,” or “The X-Files.” I based the novel in my home state of Wisconsin, set in four primary cities, one in which I am from so I am very familiar with the area. I wanted to do an homage to my home state (I now reside in California, and the only way I’d ever go back to Wisconsin to stay is either in an urn or a pine box!) and showcase its surrealistic seclusion, as well as personally enjoy a trip down memory lane as it is a period piece set in 1991, and that is around the time when I lived there. Writing it brought back a lot of memories, but almost everything within the book is fabricated, except for the captain of the Brown County Sheriff’s Department. I cast my father in my book because that’s what he was doing in ’91, working for that police department, although he tells me he has no recollection of the two detectives I have him bossing around! While writing this book, I had a very strong goal in mind: to come up with an ending that no one (unless they paid close attention to the clues laid out throughout the book) could guess. Actually, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to end, so writing that part of the book wasn’t fun, but reading it sure is! Earlier in the book, I was trying to find a hook, a way to tie all of the crazy events together in a clear and smooth manner, and on the day I had that breakthrough, it was glorious indeed. It’s the part of the book I reference as “fantasy,” and writing the scene that would introduce me to that angle, to that way of telling the story, was so much fun I worked on it for about four hours straight…which is about two hours more than I can normally sit still. The title of the book is very important, and I had to research it up and down to find something that wasn’t already out there (there is actually a brand of scented candles called Amber Hollow, but no book or movie of that name), and that’s about all I can tell you because I don’t want to give anything away.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
The biggest critique I receive from readers is that my books are too long and have too many backstories and subplots. So, with each progressive novel, they are shorter and shorter! “Amber Hollow” has only passing backstories (paragraph at most) and NO subplots. Everything that happens is all in relation to the mystery and getting to the bottom of it, period. Anyone who has ever read my books and written a great review is by far the best praise I can get, and I’ll be honest: “Amber Hollow” has brought out the best reviews I’ve ever gotten. One of them actually made me want to cry…in a good way! God bless their heart. It’s no secret that most writers will tell you not to write for money (seriously, I know) and ultimately, they are right. A lot of great writers DID write for money, some of them with good results (Stephen King), and some with bad (Edgar Allen Poe…he died broke and despised). Writing for the joy of the craft, or the story, or simply the feel of slapping the keys helps a lot, especially when you are looking at the very real eventuality that you will never sell enough books to pay one months rent. You do it because you WANT to, not because someone has a gun to your head. However, I sure wish someone was aiming a twelve-gauge in my direction right now needing finished copy stat for something professionally published…I’d love the challenge! Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this post, and thank you for hosting me!
Edgar Swamp is the author of the “Gyre Mission,” “Glitch in the Machine,” and “Blackout.” His short stories have appeared in Alienskin, Macabre Cadaver, and Urban Reinventors. When he isn’t holed up in his office playing online poker, he likes to dig up the recently deceased and make furniture out of their skin. He lives and works in San Diego, California.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
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