I wrote “Goblins” during December of last year when we had a big snow storm. If you live in the Greater Philadelphia Area, I’m sure you know the one I mean. There was over a foot of snow on the ground. The roads were like a bumper car arena on an iced surface. And it was cold. Damn cold. Being a San Diego native, my body does not respond well to such chilly temperatures. No matter how much I layer my clothes or stay indoors, I feel the iciness. I seem to attract it like we’ve got a really fucked up symbiotic-parasitic relationship. It drains the life out of me until the inevitable happens. I’m left with nothing but the winter flu to keep me company.
It’s no surprise that during this time of year, I try to think about other things. One of my favorite hobbies, which is an unfortunately expensive one, is taking road trips down South. My wife and I share such a mutual love for this hobby, that we did it on our honeymoon this past summer. It wasn’t the first time we’d gone and it won’t be the last. This hobby of mine was still fresh in my mind around last winter. We had just driven to New Orleans and back for the previous Halloween. While Bourbon Street itself is hard to remember, the majestic highways, with its Pilot stations, acres of forest, and eighteen-wheelers roaring down the pavement like they themselves were alive, are hard to forget.
I thought about those roads a lot while I was holed up in a heated house, trying to ignore the icy fingers reaching in from outside, hoping to infect me with crippling influenza. I was also thinking about writing a horror story. I had gotten the idea when talking about horrific creatures that don’t always get the attention in the genre. Most horror fans would agree that the “big 3” are vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Demons, ghosts, and serial killers get honorable mentions. However, one only has to examine the rich libraries of folklore to see that there are many, many other creatures out there who would intend to do us harm.
I’ve always been a fan of goblins. They’re ugly, mischievous, and, depending on the story, able to use magic. Unfortunately, outside of Troll 2 (one of the best worst movies ever, up there with Plan 9 and Manos), there hasn’t been a whole lot of goblin activity in the horror genre. Mostly, these creatures are populating the forests of fairy tales or doing battles in a Tolkein-esque tale of sword and sorcery. I thought it would be cool to do a modern horror story, and cast those mean creatures as the antagonists. I was also thinking and reading a lot about cults.
So I had my ideas, and they lived with me during a week where I was snowed in and house-sitting for my soon-to-be uncle-in-law. These ideas remained mere embers in the creative fireplace, until my characters showed up and threw in some kindling. I’m sure most writers have had similar experiences. There is no story until there are good, solid characters. Before that, there are only ideas. The ideas are cool to think about, but are unable to catch fire until there are characters to interact with them.
While I’ve covered where the ideas for “Goblins” came from, pinpointing the characters’ origins is a little bit trickier. What do know is that they came within the first couple of paragraphs, and they brought their agendas with them. I put into practice the theory that a first line is often the deciding factor for the reader to move forward into the story or read something else instead.
And the first line of “Goblins?” Connor vowed silently that when they found Jack, he was going to kill him.
The synopsis? Connor and his sister, Christine, go driving to the town of Yester Castle, TN looking for Christine’s wayward husband, Jack. Instead they find the town completely abandoned and signs of a struggle. Soon, Connor and Christine are in the fight of their life when they uncover that Yester Castle has been overrun by a cult of goblins and their high priest, Christine’s husband, Jack.
“Goblins” will be available on Smashwords October 31. Watch for Part 2 of this “making of” feature early next week.