I’ve chatted with Keith Deininger often via email regarding WITHIN and thought readers might be interested in bits and pieces of those chats as well as my impressions regarding this new novel.
The original spark of inspiration came from a random re-read of The Great Gatsby. Keith said that he kept thinking about the beginning of the novel, where Gatsby is this mysterious figure we know nothing about. What if his motives were more insidious? And so he came up with his own mysterious figure, Mr. Klimt, and went from there. It, of course, became something all its own and very different from The Great Gatsby, although there are still a few subtle thematic parallels, such as the idea of the American dream gone bad.
WITHIN is, at its core, a haunted house story; a haunted house that extends its ugly fingers into the entire town of Mesa Rapids. So, it’s a ‘haunted town’ story. He wanted a setup that would allow him to pack as many uncanny, nightmarish things into the narrative as possible.
He told me that he had a lot of his own nightmares while writing it, especially early on. A couple of them made it into the novel. I don’t think that’s unusual. I think Keith has a lot more bad dreams than he admits to. But isn’t that what makes for a great horror writer?
He also wanted to experiment with multiple viewpoint characters. The original manuscript had several sections from all sorts of different people living in Mesa Rapids, but it had to be cut because it was too convoluted. I did read a very early draft that was nothing like the finished version. It was extremely interesting to get a look into the very first stage of a work and then jump to the final without a glance in between.
WITHIN is a study of perception and madness. It’s also bleak. Colin, Maddie, Zach, and Lauren each struggle with their own psyches, although Colin’s descent into madness, I think, is the most horrifying.
WITHIN – Buy it at Amazon.com