Showing posts with label Thirteenth Child. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thirteenth Child. Show all posts

10 March 2013

The Dean of SleuthSayers

David Dean
Chief David Dean
by Leigh Lundin

When I began David Dean's The Thirteenth Child, I didn't know what to expect. I'd admired the Baroque cover art and read David's article of a semi-feral child who haunted his neighborhood, but all I'd heard were rumors that it wasn't really a paranormal novel, which sort of hints at paranormal elements, doesn't it? I mean if someone says Mr. Soprag isn't really an alcoholic, you'd think umm… But when Fran and David say it, I believe them.

Besides, I know David Dean is a good writer from his stories in Ellery Queen. Thus with curiosity, I delved into the 226 page novel and I began to understand those not-really-paranormal rumors. I shy away from analogies with other writers, but the novel bears comparison with the best and most intimate of Stephen King. I won't give away anything more because I want you to discover what it's all about like I did.

The two main protagonists, Police Chief Nick Catesby and the town egghead/drunk Preston Howard, find themselves dealing with a child abductor. To clarify, the Police Chief tries to find the abductor and Preston is trying not to be taken for the perpetrator and not succeeding very well. To further confuse the situation, Chief Catesby tangles with office politics and becomes caught up in a relationship with Preston's daughter, Fanny.

She's a sweetly fetching daughter, and here the author paints an appealing picture of the girl next door– kind, intelligent, patient, generous, and unfortunately long-suffering when it comes to her father. One of the wonderful lines from the novel is that she doesn't stop forgiving because she can't stop loving. She's someone we want to know, the woman who cushions the hard edges of society and life.

Thirteenth Child
And finally, the author gives us not one, not two, but three people we love to hate: two cruelly vicious teenage boys and a backstabbing police captain who attempts to exploit the situation. I like to think the boys might learn a lesson, but I doubt Captain Weller ever will, despite a well-deserved comeuppance. (I identify with this because the dynamic between Chief Catesby and Captain Weller is surprisingly similar to a situation in some of my own work.)

The author enhances the texture of the plot with an underlying fabric of history, making the plot a richer experience. Dean sets scenes well– we see and feel the woods, an abandoned rail line, the inside of a church, the room where Preston lives, and a mouldering burial crypt. The author adeptly builds an atmosphere of menace.

At one point, the peril from two teen boys feels more immediately deadly than the perpetrator. The story perfectly captures the essence of young bullies. The reader has no doubt any of the three will kill, but the perpetrator is what he is, albeit with a scheme of his own, while the teen boys choose to be cruel.

The author, a Jersey Shore police chief, gives the reader confidence he knows the policing side of the case, and he manages it subtly without drowning us in procedural details. All in all, he creates a town we'd love to live in, at least when Chief Catesby is on duty and David Dean is there to tell the story.

If you like classic Stephen King, you'll love David Dean's The Thirteenth Child. It's murderously good.

04 February 2013

And Where Is THAT?

by Fran Rizer




St. Mary, SC, is my town, and Surcie Island is my island.

When I wrote the first Callie Parrish Mystery, I created St. Mary, a small town on the coast of South Carolina, not far from Beaufort and Fripp Island. It's located near Highway 17. To get to Columbia or Charleston from St. Mary, take I-95 north to I-26 where a turn to the east leads to Charleston and circling round to go west leads to the midlands. I Googled carefully to be certain neither St. Mary, SC, nor Surcie Island exist. Surcie is actually based on Edisto Island before it was commercially developed (with a little Daufuskie thrown in), yet inevitably, at book signings, readers assure me that they've been to St. Mary or Surcie Island. I don't attempt to enlighten them, but it does set me thinking about fictional places I've been.

Most photos of William Faulkner are formal and solemn head
shots, possibly because of his height of 5'5".
I like this one because it's more relaxed than most..
The first and most memorable is Yoknapatawpha County in northwestern Mississippi. I traveled there frequently in my youth and return occasionally even now. It's bordered on the north by the Tallahatchie River and on the south by the Yoknapatawpha River. William Faulkner referred to it as my "apocryphal county."

Fourteen of his next seventeen novels after Sartoris were set in Yoknapatawpha County, including my personal favorites: The Sound and the Fury; Absolom, Absolom; and The Reivers. The eight short stories set in Faulkner's own county include my favorite Faulkner short story of all time--"A Rose for Emily."


This marker directs visitors to William Faulkner's
grave in Oxford, Mississippi.


William Faulkner drew this map of
Yoknapatawpha County for
The Portable Faulkner (1946).

Now travel with me from Mississippi to Maine where we'll visit Stephen King's town of Castle Rock. This town is part of King's fictional Maine and first appears in The Dead Zone. Writings set in Castle Rock include Cujo, "The Body" (which became the movie Stand By Me), "Uncle Otto's Truck," "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut," The Dark Half, "The Sun Dog," Needful Things, and "It Grows On You."

Castle Rock is also referred to in about ten short stories as well as fourteen novels, including 11/22/63, Bag of Bones, The Stand, Gerald's Game, and Pet Sematary.

Stephen King's Maine
King openly admits to being a fan of H. P. Lovecraft who created a series of fictional small towns in New England. King follows this idea of Lovecraft's with Jerusalem's Lot (in Salem's Lot), Castle Rock, Derry (in It, Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, and 11/11/63), Little Tall Island, and Haven.

There are several real Castle Rocks in the United States in southwest Washington and in Colorado, south of Denver. King denies his Castle Rock evolved from those real places and acknowledges that he got the name "Castle Rock" from the fictional mountain fort in William Golding's 1963 novel Lord of the Flies.

Stephen King, creator of Castle Rock, Maine
King's Castle Rock has been referred to in several works by others. A signpost in Peter Jackson's alien invasion movie Bad Taste points to a town named Castle Rock. This has been confirmed as a reference to King's town. In her 1993 novel One on One, Tabitha King mentions Castle Rock and thanks "another novelist who was kind enough to allow me to use the name."
Angela Lansbury as Jessica
Fletcher in Murder, She
Wrote
While we're in Maine, let's stop off at another fictional place I've visited many times: Cabot Cove, Maine-- the small fictional fishing village where Jessica Fletcher lives when she's not flitting around New York and Europe in the Murder, She Wrote series. I have friends who will argue that Cabot Cove, Maine, really exists. "After all," they say, "we see it all the time." The fact is that the television series was filmed in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and in Mendocino, California.

David Dean revealed a few weeks ago that a reader of his The Thirteenth Child pointed out "mistakes" he'd made about their town, not noticing that Dean's town had a different name. I'm an avid Faulkner, King, and now Dean fan, but I confess I think a writer creating his or her own location is the easiest way out. (That's why I took that route, but now I'm finding that as I'm working on the sixth book in the series, I'm having to check back on some geographic facts that I myself created.)

I admit that I have even greater admiration for those who recreate accurate, believable, historical settings in their fiction. An example of that among SSers is Janice Law's Fires of London. For more examples of impressive locations, see David Dean's recent blog Location, Location, Location.


This began with my emphatic statement that St. Mary, SC, and Surcie Island, SC, are my creations. I'll close by telling you that a writer friend of mine has sold a story he set in St. Mary, SC. He used a low country ruins scene I made up for another series and actually had his character mention Emily from my story Leigh likes: "Emily's Ghost Story." He called me on the telephone all excited about the sale (and when he has a publication date, I'll share it with you), but I confess that though he called it "homage," I wasn't really joyful about it. However, if Stephen King gives his wife permission to use his town in her novel, my friend can borrow some name from me.

I never introduce a song performance nor a prose reading with an explanation. I feel that the work should stand on its own. I also am not fond of books that begin with a list of character descriptions and/or a map of the location. I prefer to learn these things as I read, yet, after writing this, I actually considered making a map of St. Mary, SC, showing locations of events such as where Bill was caught making out with Loose Lucy during the candlelight vigil when Jane was kidnapped and where Little Fiddlin' Fred is buried in his gold-plated casket as well as recurring places like Callie's apartment, Middleton's Mortuary, Pa's homeplace, June Bug's burned out "Club," Rizzie's Gastric Gullah Grill, and other spots.

On second thought, that sounds like far too much work. Callie's readers will have to be satisfied with word descriptions.

Until we meet again, take care of. . . you!

27 November 2012

The Next Big Thing– Dean Version

by David Dean

As John Floyd has so ably explained in his post of the 24th, "The Next Big Thing" is a sort of promotional tag game being played by writers across the country, perhaps the world for all I know.  I guess it can be described as a "grass roots" publicity gambit to which you, dear reader, are now being subjected.  I didn't want to do this to you, but the alternative was breaking the "chain", and I'm sure you all have some idea what can happen when you do that.  You know the urban legends, it's not pretty according to the films– the best you can hope for is to just painlessly disappear; the worst… well, it doesn't bear thinking about.   

However, in order to make a clean getaway I've had to snare others into the scheme.  Again, I didn't want to, but what choice did I have– to be the last in the chain?  No, thank you.  So I lured the redoubtable and deeply talented, Janice Law, as well as the rising literary star, Tara Laskowski, into my web, where they are now stuck fast, desperately trying to line up someone, anyone, to "tag" and be next in the chain.  Sorry, ladies, but surely you can understand the predicament I found myself in.  Blame Barb Goffman if you must; she snared me!  In order to take the sting out I've included links to all of these writing dynamos at the conclusion of my own shameless self-promotion.  Please do go to their sites on the appointed days and read their thoughts on their work.  It will, undoubtedly, be both entertaining and illuminating, as I hope the following on my own is.

First, let me set the scene.  Picture, if you will, a room full of clamoring reporters, and perhaps a scattering of ardent, young literature students, all attempting to gain my attention and ask the following, burning questions:

What is the working title of your new book, Mr. Dean?  "Oh please, just call me David, we're all friends here (there's relieved chuckling; they didn't expect me to be so personable, so accessible).  Well, the working title has come and gone, I'm afraid, as the book, "The Thirteenth Child" was released over a month ago.  The publisher and I are expecting a sale any day now.  The original title was more of a short story– "A Child Twixt Dusk And Dawning", it was called.  My editor questioned the pithiness of my choice and suggested (strongly) I go with his recommendation, which I did in the end.  We are no longer speaking, however."

Where did the idea for the book come from?  "That's an excellent question, young lady, and one which I am anxious to answer.  I was thinking of old legends, and ghost stories, concerning travelers meeting spirits and demons at lonely crossroads, then disappearing, dying, or having misfortune follow them from that moment on.  These tales appear in a number of cultures (European, African,etc...), and sometimes concern the taking of children by these same fairies, trolls, or other supernatural beings.  So, I took it one step further, I thought, what if this creature that waits on lonely paths was not supernatural at all, but very real, and no longer haunting forest and fields, but suburban streets and yards; forced out of its comfort zone by the steady encroachment of civilization?  That was the beginning."

What genre does your book fall under?  "Unquestionably horror, though it has an underpinning of police procedural and even a touch of romance." 

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  "I'll leave that to the experts, like Mr. Spielberg.  He's done wonderfully well at that sort of thing.  Undoubtedly, when hell freezes over and he decides to do a film version of my book, he'll make the right choices in casting."

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  (I chuckle tolerantly at this) "Obviously, my boy, you have not read my book.  A book, such as mine, containing the depth of character and breadth of thought that it does, cannot be contained in a single sentence.  However, since you've asked, I'll do my best to reduce it down so that everyone can understand it: When children begin to go missing from Wessex Township, disgraced professor, and now town drunk, Preston Howard, encounters something he wishes he hadn't, and soon faces a terrible decision--save the children...or his only daughter.  How's that?"

Is your book self-published, or represented by an agency?  "Neither, old man.  I've somehow managed to get my book published by Genius Book Publishing of Encino, California without representation or payment of a fee."

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?  "It took about six months for the first draft...and probably another three months in rewrites and edits, followed by several years of anxiety." 

What other books would you compare this to in your genre?  "Phantoms by Dean Koontz, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and the short story, Gabriel Earnest by H.H. Munro.  How's that for reaching for the stars?"

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  "I haven't usually written horror, but the idea behind "The Thirteenth Child" struck me as so original that I felt compelled to give it a go."

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?  "It contains a good deal of history and myth from southern  New Jersey, including some Native American lore from the Lenape peoples of the region."

"Well, that's all the time I have now.  I appreciate you press guys and gals turning out like you did; especially when you could have been covering something actually newsworthy."  (This gets a big laugh, and a lot of shaking of heads– they had no idea how humble I am.)  "Thanks so much for your time.  But, before you go, I just want to throw a little something your way… in fact, I'm gonna give you guys the inside track on the next big thing times three!"  (The scramble for the door ceases and a sudden quiet descends on the room, the pens and pads come back out in the expectant silence.)  "Jot this down, boys and girls, and follow it up--you won't be sorry, let me tell ya; cause the three gals at the end of these links are hot and gettin' hotter in the writing field!  Let me make the introductions:

"First there's my sponsor, Barb Goffman, who writes about her newest story, "Murder a la Mode" on the Women of Mystery blog.

"Next up is Janice Law, whose book, "The Fires Of London" is already garnering some rave reviews and a growing public.  Read about the workings of her formidable talent on Dec. 3rd.

"And last, but never least, and brimming with originality, is Tara Laskowski, who will post about her newest collection of short stories, "Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons" on Dec. 5th.  Don't you love that title?  Well, read her post and, amongst other things, you'll find out how it got conjured up.

"Well that's the scoop– follow my lead on these stories you mugs, and maybe a few of you will be pulling down some Pulitzers.  No… no… no more questions, I'm bushed.  Besides, I've got to get to work.  These books don't just write themselves you know!"  (Big laugh on this one– who woulda thought the ol' man had such a great sense of humor?)

29 October 2012

Guest Blogger

by  Callie Parrish


EXCERPT FROM Mother Hubbard Has A CORPSE IN THE CUPBOARD

 CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Anyone who’s read a Callie Parrish Mystery knows I’ve never written a thirteenth chapter.  I’m not superstitious, but I, Calamine Lotion Parrish, have not and will not write a Chapter Thirteen.  It started with my first book when I thought about buildings with no thirteenth floor and why that might be. 

                     When I was a child and went to Charleston or Columbia with Daddy, we rode in elevators, and he let me press the buttons. I didn’t realize there was no floor called the thirteenth.  I thought they just left out the number between twelve and fourteen because there was something evil associated with thirteen.  I believed the thirteenth floor existed, but it must have been a place of secrets.  That fascination with hidden doings behind closed doors and the slight fear triggered by those thoughts probably account for my enjoying horror stories along with the mysteries I’ve loved since my first Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew books.

                     This time, I have a really good reason for being scared of thirteen and refusing to write a Chapter Thirteen.  I just finished reading The Thirteenth Child by David Dean.  I’m telling you:  When I got to the last fifty pages of that book and what happened on Halloween, I wet my panties.  I’m not kidding.  Problem was where I was reading.  In bed.  I was snuggled all cozy under the blankets reading when my bladder protested being full of Diet Coke, and I was  too scared to get up and go to the bathroom by myself.   
Big Boy

                     All one hundred and forty pounds of my full-grown dog Big Boy slept like a puppy on the rug beside the bed, but by the time I woke him up to go with me, it was too late.  Of course, then I had to go to the bathroom for a shower, to the kitchen to put the wet things in the clothes washer, and to the linen closet for dry sheets.  After we did all that, Big Boy wanted to potty, so I took him outside.  He thought we’d go for a walk, too, but I only let him hide behind the oak tree and do his girl-dog squat to tee tee like he always does.  Made him come right back into the house. Feeling a little guilty about refusing to walk him, I gave Big Boy a banana Moon Pie. His vet doesn't like for me to feed him my favorite--chocolate--so I have to keep two boxes in the cabinet at all times.

                     I’m not telling anyone why David Dean chose The Thirteenth Child as the title of his book.  Let ‘em read it, and find out for themselves.  I will say it was a good decision, and I’m going to visit  that book again.  I might read it in the bathtub next time so that I won’t have so far to go if it scares the—oops!  I’d better not go there.

NOTE FROM FRAN RIZER:  Thanks to Callie for blogging for me this week.  I thought with Halloween upon us, it would be nice to hear what she thought of David Dean's new book, but please excuse her references to bodily functions. I try to control Callie, but she says and does as she pleases.  There's a great Halloween scene in The Thirteenth Child.  Check it out, but you might want to read near the bathroom.  .

15 October 2012

The Thirteenth Child


A Review by Fran Rizer

Okay, I confess I don't like writing reviews. For one thing, while I lie for a living, I refuse to mislead readers by glorifying books that, to me, don't cut it.

David Dean checks out his new novel.
The title of David Dean's new novel could have made me afraid this was an out-of-date story about The Dugger Family, but knowing the genre, I assumed The Thirteenth Child referred to the number of children who disappeared, were kidnapped, or murdered. Not so, but I won't clue you in on the meaning of the title, and I won't give away any of the secrets of the novel in this review. Read this book for yourself. You'll definitely be glad you did.

If you enjoy being scared to go to bed alone, this is your kind of read. With a well-written, well-paced, yet steadily climbing, plot, The Thirteenth Child is a terrifying journey that will make the reader crazy with intrigue that turns to fear and then crashes into sheer horror at the end. It's not the customary roller coaster ride mentioned in many reviews. Instead, it's a fast uphill trip in a
police cruiser.

David Dean doesn't bog the reader down with info dumps or excessive backstory. The characters come alive on the pages through their actions, thoughts, and feelings. As the main storyline progresses, they grow to be so captivating that the reader fears for them and shares their pains and apprehensions.

Preston Howard, a former English Literature professor, isn't interested in anyone or anything as much as his bottle of high quality scotch or rotgut whiskey, depending on how much money he's swiped from his daughter Fanny that day. Preston doesn't grow inebriated--he gets stinking drunk. In that condition, he prefers to sleep in a shanty hidden in the woods near an elementary school instead of in the comfortable bed his daughter provides. He befriends a feral boy named Gabriel who is dangerous as well as spooky. This lands Preston smack in the middle of the cases of a missing seven-year-old girl and two teenaged boys.
13th Child
Nick (Police Chief Nicholas Catesby) has more than his share of problems. Single since his wife stepped out on their marriage and then left him, he's attracted to Preston's daughter Fanny, but how will that work when her father becomes a person of interest and then a suspect? A leak in the police department further complicates his life while deceitful betrayal by one of his officers looks as though it might cost Nick his job as well as control of the investigation of the youngsters who have disappeared.

Fanny Howard, Preston's daughter, is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of supporting her father financially and worrying what kind of new troubles his drinking will bring them. About the time that the chemistry she shares with Nick Catesby fires up the pages as well as Fanny's bed, the relationship is forbidden because her father's situation creates a conflict of duty for Nick. Even more chilling, though Fanny is a grown woman, she becomes the monster's next target.

Tension begins on page one and rises constantly with characters and action that pull the reader in. There's a monster to be vanquished, and identifying who (or what) he is creates an urgency that makes it impossible to stop reading until the explosive final confrontation.

Author David Dean describes the book as a horror story with "a bit of police procredural woven into it. It's not a gore-fest, but it is scary."


Available from Genius Book Publishing as paperback or eBook, David Dean's The Thirteenth Child delivers in all areas. How many stars? On a scale of one to five, I give it six stars, and I'll read it again.

Here are links for your convenience:

Until we meet again...take care of you and treat yourself to a good scare with David's new book.

02 October 2012

The Thirteenth Child, or, It's Alive! Part Two

by David Dean

As I warned in "It's Alive" Part One, if my horror novel actually made it to press, you would hear from me about it. Well, come October 5th, The Thirteenth Child will be ushered into the light of day. My days at the hands of a cruel and callous developmental editor are at an end!

He had his say… oh yes indeed, he had his say! His perverse delight at savaging my work was evidenced on page after page of my manuscript. His "notes," as he referred to them, full of delight at every perceived deviation in story logic, every imagined run-on sentence. Not content with these, he trod heavily upon my golden prose, stamping out similes and metaphors inspired by the gods themselves; descriptions so colorful and vaulting in their imagination that he could only have been driven by envy! Oh yes… he had his say!

My book… my wonderful book lay in tatters when he had done. My publisher, Steven Booth of Genius Book Publishing, was deaf to my cries of outrage. Instead, he urged me to get on with it, and hung up the phone. Even Robin, my wife of thirty-four years, appeared indifferent to the many wrongs I had suffered. As I said in the previous posting, she never showed any real enthusiasm for my horror novel. She too, I perceived, was part of the problem.

I hid in my room with the curtains drawn and refused to come down. Robin, it would appear, has a busy social schedule, and was in and out of the house. After a few days, she stopped asking me to join her for meals, or a morning at the beach. She went to wineries and restaurants with our so-called friends, their laughter drifting back to me as they drove away. No one cared. Time passed.

One day, I don't know which as I had lost track of such things, I scratched at my growing beard and glanced over at the odious "notes." I fingered a few pages loose from the stack. They came away smudged; it had been awhile since I had thought to bathe. No matter… I was all by myself in this world. I read a few paragraphs, then flung them down again. Blasphemy!

Sitting in the dim room, I selected just a few of them… the least unreasonable suggestions, and studied them once more. Perhaps… just perhaps, one or two slight alterations might not damage my work overly much. Besides, I had to throw some kind of bone to my surprisingly intractable publisher. One or two little alterations might not hurt.

I did it. Then I read the affected pages. Not bad… not too bad. He might have been on to something with those after all. I tried a few others. The results there weren't completely awful either. Those passages read a little better, maybe… but just a little. I went on.

It was like a fever. Now that I had started, I couldn't seem to stop. Tearing through page after page, I went to work on my novel, stripping it down to the bare essentials, trimming the fat… it was addictive. I began to laugh as my fingers tore across the keyboard. Someone pounded on the locked door, I thought I heard Robin's voice calling, "David… honey? Are you all right in there? What are you laughing at, sweetheart? You're scaring me!" I ignored her and went on… and on… and on.

A month later, I was suddenly done. I read the book one last time. Cautiously satisfied, I sent it on to Steven. A few days later, he responded, "It's on… The Thirteenth Child is on for October 5th." I started to laugh again, to laugh long and hard, but Steven interrupted, "Knock that stuff off! Go get a shower and shave and stop scaring people… and tell Robin you're sorry for being such a jerk!"

So October 5th, it is. I hope that you give either the paperback or ebook version a shot. I don't think you'll regret it, even if you're not a horror fan per se, as The Thirteenth Child also has a bit of police procedural woven into it. It's not a gore-fest, but it is scary, and features a unique (if I do say so myself) antagonist in the character of Gabriel. And it's just in time for Hallowe'en which is when the climax of the book occurs. A perfect read for the season. Marvelous Christmas gift, as well.

Since the rewrites, I've showered and shaved, as Steven suggested, and come down from my room. Our dog has stopped barking at me, and Robin and I are on speaking terms again. Though sometimes I find her watching me from the corner of her eyes. No matter. She may think me mad, but no matter. All that's important is the book… it's alive, you know… oh yes… it's still alive!