Sugar’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes (Part 1)

With All These Crooked Streets having launched on Tuesday (Nov. 21st), I figured now would be an appropriate time to take a behind the scenes look at my story, Sugar’s Last Dance (don’t worry, no spoilers).

The first thing to talk about is the fact that this was not the story I was planning to write at all. I had spent a couple months prior to beginning the actual writing process, plotting out a completely different novella. I won’t get into what that story was about (I still may write it!), but I will say it had a decidedly Die Hard vibe to it.

You may be asking, what kind of work had gone into the plotting of this original story (or maybe not, but too bad, I’m gonna tell you)?  Like most of the stuff that appears in my books, I started with pen and paper. In this instance, I had broken the entire plot down into sections and events, leading all the way to the finale. I really liked what I had come up with, but it just didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book (compared to Ed and Ben’s stories, mine didn’t feel all that crimey). Which is why at the 11th hour, I scraped it and went with something completely different.

So, I guess that leads to the next obvious question, where the hell did the idea for Sugar’s Last Dance come from? Simple. A song. Let me elaborate.

I used to do this thing where I would pick a random album, listen to it, and come up with a story that was inspired by the songs. One such album was Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children by Mushroomhead. Besides being a pretty rad album, the opening track really spoke to me, and was ultimately the main inspiration for what would eventually become Sugar’s Last Dance. That song was a rocking little ditty called Come On. Oh, by the way, this was back in late 2011!

While jamming to this track, this is what I wrote (just a heads up, it is point form):

The main character is one of the strippers. Her name is Sasha but her stripper name is Ginger. She is a natural red head and so she uses that as her gimmick. She is new to the strip club. She used to work elsewhere but ended up moving because she ripped off some bad guys. Sasha is not really accepted by the other girls.

On the outskirts of town there is a strip club called the Pink Kitty. The club has to be so far away from schools and such so the only logical place is outside of town.

Usually the place is pretty busy but a freak snow storm has caused business to be non-existent. Inside the club the only people there are employees.

There are a dozen people in the club. The bouncer, the bartender, two waitresses, the DJ, the owner and six dancers.

Outside the snow continues to come down in a relentless white-out. Some of the girls are worried about getting home.

One of the girls decides to go out and have a cigarette. In the parking lot having her smoke she sees something. It is hazy at first but as she squints her eyes she can see into the dense white falling snow that a man approaches. As he walks past her he asks if they are open. She says yes and watches as he goes in. She looks again towards where he came from and sees no car. Wherever he came from, he walked.

And that’s it! That’s all I had. I promptly saved it in my ideas folder and moved on with my life.

Flash forward to the end of Dec. 2016, with only weeks before I’m supposed to begin writing my contribution to All These Crooked Streets, and that idea came back to me. Although conceived as being more of a horror story, I quickly realized that the plot could also work quite nicely as a tense little crime thriller.

I had to decide; either use what I had been working on, or go with the stripper story. Throwing caution to the wind, I went with the latter and I think the book is much better for it.

Come back next week to find out who the real life inspiration for Ana, AKA “Sugar” is!

Digital Death (Part 1)

Level 1. The time my 10 year old ass got rocked by a guy named Rick

Hey, know what I love? Horror video games! Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Some of my all-time favourite horror stories have come in video game form. When done right, a video game can be the most immersive story you can experience. Don’t believe me? Imagine the scariest movie you’ve ever seen. Got it? Now instead of an hour and a half, make the story stretch for days (even weeks or months, depending how fast you play your games). On top of that, the story is completely interactive. You are not just along for the ride, you actually get to control the fate of the protagonist (to a degree).

Nothing beats a scary game. With that in mind, here are some of the ones that have left the biggest impression on me.

Splatterhouse (1990).

My cousins had a turbo Graphix 16 (I know! Lucky little bastards!). I was stuck with a broke ass Nintendo while they were rocking 16 bit graphics. The Nintendo had waaaaaay more games, but it didn’t have anything even remotely close to Splatterhouse. I could remember sitting on the carpet in front of their 20 inch television, watching glorious bodily mayhem explode across the screen.

Splatterhouse_arcadeflyerYou played as a hockey mask wearing, 2X4 swinging fellow by the name of Rick. Being a huge (HUGE!!!) Friday the 13th fan, I was already down with the guy based solely on his choice of facial armour, but then when I witnessed the first creature get spattered against a nearby wall Jackson Pollock style, I officially joined the Rick fan club.

Besides the gratuitous gore, what really stuck with me about this game was the setting. You had to traverse a house so haunted that it would have sent Father Merrin running for the hills. Every floor of this place was a nightmare. The best part was, none of it made sense. You would exit a room on one level…then come out into a cemetery on the next, and then walk into the attic after that. I really didn’t notice the odd-ball architecture as a kid, but yeah, The Winchester House wishes it was as weirdly designed as West Mansion in Splatterhouse. Continue reading