Writing what you don't know.

While writing the first book of the Dreadland Chronicles, coming of age in a post apocalyptic world, I was confronted with a small dilemma. Most of my fiction takes place around where I live, in Western Maryland, an area I’m intimately familiar with. Though sometimes I run across a place that surprises me right in my own back yard.

In All Roads Lead to Terror, book one in the Dreadland Chronicles my main character Meat, and his three closest friends, Window, Einstein, and Billie-Bob travel to Richmond Virginia to rescues a group of young children who had been taken by a savage band of survivors.

I’ve been through Richmond several times, and when I was driving a truck I’ve delivered several loads to different businesses in that city. But I didn’t have the intimate knowledge needed to create a realistic setting for my characters. Realism in my fiction is very important to me, I believe it’s imperative that the reader feel like they’re actually at the location I describe. With that in mind I use real world settings as backdrops for my characters.

Faced with this dilemma I turned to Google Earth. The program contains a little gem called street view, where one can go down to street level and view 360 degree photographs of the actual street and buildings that lined it. That was how I learned Chef Mamusu’s Africanne Café was located across the street from an Enterprise rental store. The café was a small place, the main entrance right on the corner. A drive thru bank had been built directly behind the café with the entrance on one street and the exit on the street that ran perpendicular to it.

Something else happened while I was researching their path through Richmond. Two blocks down the street from that corner café stood a nondescript row of buildings. One in particular had been painted white. Above the single glass door the word hope had been written in black paint. Around it that same sentiment was repeated in a multitude of different languages.

It’s gone now. I’ve gone back to look, and the wall of the building that was once white has been repainted a drab brown. But when you stop and think about it, it’s strange really that given my mindset as I worked on the first book in the series, struggling to get the story just right. It’s important, at least to me, that the story be right. Hovering on the verge of just giving up and working on something else, that I should run across a message like that.

It was a message that not only gave me the desire to continue the series, but also offered up the answer every writer struggles to uncover as we write. The underlying theme that transforms the story from simply words on the page to a living thing that breaths with a life of its own. That message of hope has become the cornerstone of the foundation that the Dreadland Chronicles rests upon. Hope is what these four boys offer in a dangerous, post apocalyptic world.

All Roads Lead to Terror

Click on cover for more info or to order!


On the day of his birth the dead walked and society crumbled. His mother took one look at him and pronounced him Meat. He survived, she didn't.

Fourteen years have passed and obscurity means survival in an increasingly dangerous world. For the survivors compound at Bremo Bluff that obscurity is threatened when a savage band abducts a group of children from the compound.

Accompanied by his three friends Window, Einstein, and Billie-Bob, Meat embarks on a quest to rescue the children. A journey that will lead them into adulthood, with a brief detour through the Dreadlands, as they confront the harsh reality of a brutal world beyond the barriers that had served to protect them.

In the dead city of Richmond, Meat and his friends will confront a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. These creatures, once considered the nightmare imaginings of a fevered mind, are now awake in a world where the population that once served as their food source has been severely reduced.

Awake and very, very, hungry.

Also available through these fine online retailers.

    Barnes & Noble  

No comments:

Post a Comment