Two-time Bram Stoker Award-Winner Norman Prentiss has a new book, but it’s not yet available for purchase. ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER is currently on preview at Kindle Scout, hoping to win enough reader nominations to sway Amazon into offering the book a publishing contract. It’s currently halfway through the month-long campaign, so I thought we’d ask him some questions about this “odd” novel!
What’s different about this book, compared to your other books/stories?
I’ve written several novellas–INVISIBLE FENCES, THE FLESHLESS MAN, and THE NARRATOR (in collaboration with Michael McBride)–and have one collaboration that’s the length of a short novel, THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN with Brian James Freeman… but I only had to do about a novella’s worth of writing on that one, with Brian writing the other half. For that reason, I consider ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER to be my first novel. Definitely my first big book “flying solo.”
More importantly, though, the content and tone of the book is different from my other stuff. It’s still horror, but it fits a lot of other categories as well. I call it a queer road-trip adventure with horror/fantasy elements, all wrapped up in a coming-of-age frame tale. It’s about an adopted daughter who learns about her deceased father by hearing the supernatural tales her surviving father tells her. The adventures should definitely please horror fans, with creepy scenes and some unusual monsters, but the daughter’s story is important too (and ultimately, I think, gives more meaning to the adventures).
Why try Kindle Scout to publish it? Can you explain the process a bit?
Mostly for the same reason I mentioned above: the book fits so many categories, so I thought I might have a chance to reach beyond the small-press horror audience I’ve aimed at previously. At the same time, it’s also so unusual that a conventional path to publication didn’t seem right, either. Kindle Scout seemed like a nice way to connect with different groups of readers, maybe build some momentum and buzz.
At Kindle Scout, authors post a description, cover, and 5,000 word excerpt from a book, and readers vote for stories that intrigue them. The nice thing is, if Amazon selects a book for publication, everyone who nominated it gets a free pre-publication copy of the eBook. The process seems to be going well so far, but I’m only halfway through the month.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I’d have to say the ending, because it was a tricky emotional moment that I worked really hard to pull off. Of course, I can’t be more specific without spoilers, so I’ll pick a moment from early in the book, when Jack has been abducted. Shawn has recently learned that Jack has a psychic way to communicate with him—and with him only—by projecting images into his boyfriend’s mind. It’s a shared bond, but also a kind of curse, since Jack can only project disturbing images. This excerpt also conveys some of the interaction with the daughter, Celia, while Shawn narrates the stories:
I crawled blind, scraping forward along my stomach, elbows out and legs bent to scoot me forward. I expected the roof of the tunnel to open up once I’d crawled and slid forward a few feet. The ground opened up instead.
I felt the drop-off with my hands, the slide of the tunnel breaking away along a rough ledge. I dug behind with my toes to keep from sliding further, then paused for my eyes to adjust to the limited light.
The ledge formed the lip of a small pit. The distance wasn’t too far—about ten feet or so, and if I twisted my body as I emerged from the tunnel, I could probably land without hurting myself.
Only one problem. Spikes pointed up from the floor of the pit. Blood gleamed from the sharp tips of two dozen wooden spears. The carcass of a possum was skewered on one post, through the bottom of its neck and out the eye socket. The body slid partway down the spear, but the eye jelly remained, blood gleaming on the tip.
It was impossible, like so many other things Jack had shown me in this haunted forest. But I thought about those strangers who abducted Jack. They beat him and dragged him off a parking lot and into the woods. Wouldn’t that be the same kind of people who’d set an awful trap, pretending to catch animals but hoping for human prey?
“It’s too real, Jack. I can’t follow you. I can’t…”
I let myself fall.
Now, I’m going to bring it close to your face. Sit still. Try not to blink. I’m bringing this pointed spike right to your nose. There.
Did you feel it? I didn’t touch you at all. But you felt it, didn’t you? And not on your nose. In your eyes.
That’s what I felt as I dropped, head down, into that pit. Spikes coming towards me, toward my eyes, poking each of them, tearing through them, through my brain and out the back of my head.
A horrible sensation. Because your eyes always wince, don’t they?
Even at something false.)
What impressed me about the story was that I felt it could be about any relationship. Was it your intention to point out that a gay relationship was just like any other?
I don’t know if it was my intention, but I’m very pleased you read it that way! Jack and Shawn’s relationship begins in the 80s, which is also when their adventures take place. They couldn’t get married at that time, so Jack’s psychic gift is a kind of “compensation.” It sets them apart, in some ways, but you’re right to pick up on the fact that every relationship is like this: a couple shares a private world that others don’t have access to (supernatural, in this case), and that brings them close.
Do you have anything else in progress?
I’m planning a sequel to this book called HAUNTED PLACES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER–which I haven’t told anybody about yet, so you’re the first! I also have a short YA novel that’s almost ready to go, called LIFE IN A HAUNTED HOUSE. And Cemetery Dance announced a new mini-collection last week called THE BOOK OF BABY NAMES, and I was very surprised that the book sold out its limited run in less than 24 hours!
Thank you so much for letting Cat After Dark help promote your book, Norm!
Be sure to tell everyone you know about this “ODD” Promotion! You won’t find the excerpt from the book anywhere but here. Then get yourself over to Kindle Scout and VOTE for Amazon to publish ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER! My husband and I both read it, and it’s a must read for horror fans, for parents, for teens or for anyone in a relationship. It’s damn good writing.