Twisted Pines follows Abe as he takes a job at a summer camp where children are going missing under mysterious circumstances. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
Having worked at a camp during my summers in college, I understand the pressure that comes with looking after children. Parents entrust you to ensure their children’s safety; and so the thought of having a child completely vanish is a nightmarish one to say the least. Although I never personally had a camper go missing, I hoped to tap into this anxiety to give the story a pervasive sense of tension.
I felt that the story did a great job of keeping things consistently ominous and otherworldly. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?
I’m drawn to the theme of an unknown force that lurks out of sight, and yet pulls very tangible strings – wreaking all sorts of havoc. I also like the theme of helplessness, of paralysis in particular – the vulnerability that comes with being a guinea pig, subjected to the whims of others.
Abe is an interesting and well developed character. What were some ideas that you pursued during his character development?
In my life I’ve known many camp counselors, as well as many film students. And although Abe’s character is not based on any one person, I’ve pulled traits from real-life characters that I’ve come to know over the years. I’ve also been acquainted with people whose parents have had run-ins with the law, and had a chance to see how the delinquent actions of one’s parents can affect the attitudes and behaviors of their children. On a personal level, I can related to Abe’s desire to tell an engrossing story.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book also falls within the realm of sci-fi. I’m a fan of genre mash-ups, and so my follow-up will be a contemporary sci-fi thriller. No idea just yet as to when that one will be come available. So I better get back to typing…
Where have all the children gone? At rustic summer camp Mendocino Pastures, that’s the question on everyone’s mind. First one, then two, then three campers vanish – only to reappear a short while later with no recollection of the missing time. The disappearances raise questions about the children’s safety, not to mention the camp’s time-honored reputation.
When Abe, a freshman camp counselor from UCLA film school, stumbles upon a ghoulish-looking humanoid roaming the coast, he suspects this creature may play a role in the children’s unsettling disappearances. Armed with camera, journal, and a thirst for the truth, Abe sets out to pry the lid off the uncanny mystery shrouded among the camp’s TWISTED PINES.
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Twisted Pines is an intriguing tale that utilizes elements from multiple genres to produce a unique effect on the reader. Mixing science fiction, thriller, mystery and action, this story unfolds in a mostly linear fashion while offering up a healthy dose of surprise twists and turns.
The plot of Twisted Pines centers around the experiences of a first-year film school student named Abe. After completing his first year at UCLA, he decides that taking a job as a summer camp counselor is a better option than going back to his hometown to spend the summer with his mother. Being a film student, he is on the lookout for a story and a story worth telling is certainly what he finds. The big question is, however, who will be the ones to hear his tale?
The narration provided by the protagonist helps the reader identify with him, the setting, and characters he becomes acquainted with at the summer camp, Mendocino Pines, as well as the premise that the story is built upon. Readers can easily relate with the well-crafted characters, plot and setting, as a result. As a perfect complement to the natural feel that the story provides, there is an ominous, otherworldly force intertwined with the protagonist’s story that provides most of the entertainment value of Twisted Pines.
The only small issue I had was that I felt like there was a lack of sensory cues in descriptions. I felt that there was a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’, mostly because we’re in the ‘inner voice’ of the protagonist.
Otherwise, Lane Baker has crafted a wonderfully interesting story that is definitely worth a read. Written for young adults, Baker uses aspects of classic thrillers along with science fiction to craft a unique story. For readers who like to be surprised at the end of a novel as well as those who like a vivid storytelling style, Twisted Pines could very well be right up their isle.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: B07VCC2GRB
Pigs is a thrilling crime drama following an ex-con on a bloody mission to get revenge for his slain family. What was the inspiration for the setup to this suspenseful novel?
The original conception was vastly different, starting out as a supernatural horror where the deeply traumatised cardiologist Dr Jensen lures Isaac, Roach, Wyndorf and the rest of their heist gang to “test” a new security system in a private warehouse, with the promise of a substantial cash award upon completion. Shock horror, it’s all a trap, and since recovering, Jensen’s been employing a small, private firm of scientists to experiment with technology which can bring his deep-seated psychological trauma to life, using it send a bunch of unstoppable, violent, homicidal pig men to chase down Isaac and his crew within the private complex. So yeah…a few things changed, but the core ideas remained, primarily the heavy burden of guilt around Isaac’s neck for what happened with Jensen, and the hostilities between Isaac and Wyndorf. After boiling it all down to these primary constituents, I reimagined it as a much more down to Earth crime-suspense novel.
Isaac is a deeply developed and layered character. What were some ideas you wanted to capture with his character?
I hate to sound like a spiteful and vindictive individual, but I love revenge stories. And who doesn’t? That was the primary motivation behind this story, Isaac’s burning need to exact revenge and how far he is willing to go in order to achieve it. But at the same time I wanted him to be struggling internally with his hatred and his moral compass, the needle of which is being guided by his recently lost family whom he had been hoping to become a better man for.
Isaac is a man who has made some bad choices in his past, but he always had a code, and therefore, in my eyes, he isn’t beyond redemption.
I enjoyed how the criminal underworld in this book is well defined and felt natural. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
Thank you. One of the major niches of the criminal underworld is that of the meth dealing doomsday preppers…and they just felt like a natural fit for Wyndorf. That guy is a complete psychopath, disowned from his more stable criminal associates and family, but he can be useful in a way so why not stick him with a network of drug-running heavily armed militants?
In terms of themes, I’d say the predominant one is definitely the internecine nature of vengeance and how it tends to destroy all involved, at least to varying extents. We see this in the characters of Isaac, Wyndorf and Jensen, all of who are primarily motivated by their need to settle the score. Cue bloodshed.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My agent Ethan Ellenberg — along with his great team — are currently shopping my fantasy horror novel, Fable, around the publishers. It’s about a high school senior and his few outsider friends who get on the wrong side of the school’s (and the town’s) drug dealers. It’s also about a synthetic hallucinogenic drug, the eponymous Fable. As the animosity builds between our hero and the bullies and their criminal connections, he realises to his dismay that his unstable, drug-induced childhood friend has returned, and could be the only thing capable of protecting him and his friends from the violent reprisals.
I also have a first draft manuscript called Night Collar, about a female NY cab driver who is mixed up in the local black market organ harvesting business, who must try to survive the night in an Odyssean chase across the city with a young Chinese triad member — the son of the organisation’s leader — as they attempt to deliver empire-toppling evidence to an FBI handler, and all the while staying one step ahead of some colourful psychopaths.
And I’m currently tidying up the first draft of an action/fantasy manuscript called Hourglass. Ghosts, guns, secret agents, talking hoodoos, demons, the 9 kingdoms of the dead, and probably a healthy dose of existential dread.
Isaac Reid, a former professional thief, has just finished a ten-year stint in prison for a botched job turned bloodbath. Now all he wants is to go straight and make amends with his wife and young son. On his first night of freedom his loved ones are brutally slain by a bitter enemy. Surviving the encounter, Isaac struggles with his choices: do right by his late family’s wishes and abide by the law, or seek vengeance. But he’ll need to decide quickly, as another mysterious force from his past is now in play: a cold killer wearing a wolf mask, leading a band of pig-masked assassins. To Isaac, these men are strangers, but they’re prepared to kill any who get between them and him.
Neither Light Nor Dark is about the journey of a young girl, Lily, who unknowingly bears the weight of an immense prophecy. It is an immersive fantasy novel that takes us through the incredible lands of Arcadia. From her childhood, Lily’s own family has protected her from the secrets of a dark and tumultuous past. However, her destiny reveals itself soon enough. She has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of the loathsome Reficul. A ragtag group of friends follow her as they face troubles, misadventures, and battles.
This was an enjoyable and unique read because of the strange fairytale-like narration throughout. The descriptions of Arcadia and its elements were elaborate and fascinating. The characters and their dialogue appeared to be out of another era altogether. However, perhaps because of these anachronisms, the text was a bit dry in places. Nonetheless, the consistent tone and style were a refreshing break from contemporary reads.
The complex relationships between Henry, Calev, and Lily were also surprisingly well-navigated. I’m not the biggest fan of garish love triangles but I was able to perceive and accept the individual perspective of each character, which was refreshing. I was astonished at how quickly I was able to jump ship between characters without too many regrets. I was definitely rooting for some of the quirky personalities that were woven throughout the story.
From the beginning, the family dynamics in Lily’s world appear to play a big role in her life. The strained relationships between Lily and her grandmother was palpable from the beginning. It was clear that these dynamics and relationships were intricately crafted. However, at times, it was difficult to establish a connection with some of the characters. I think this was because the dialogue and style of the characters were a little less believable than I would prefer. This story does take place in an entirely different time and place, and it is not difficult to ascribe this issue to the nature of the story.
Neither Light Nor Dark is a fantastically enthralling read, and a perfect setup to a riveting fantasy series.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B01LW35M4V
If the answer is a lie… the truth is murder
Journalist Emmeline Kirby is reeling from the recent discovery that her parents were murdered while on assignment, when she was five. She flirts with danger as she sets off on the long-cold trail to find their killer. At the same time, her probing questions about the suspicious death of Russian national Pavel Melnikov gain her a coterie of enemies. To complicate matters, her path crosses with prominent industrialist Victor Royce, who turns her world upside down.
Gregory Longdon, her dashing fiancé and jewel-thief-cum-insurance-investigator, has grave problems of his own. His past has caught up with him. Alastair Swanbeck, a ruthless entrepreneur with ties to Putin and the underworld, is alive and intent on revenge. Swanbeck’s cat-and-mouse taunts reveal that he can get to Gregory–and Emmeline–anytime he desires. When evil’s poison lurks in things that are better left alone, the quest for justice could prove fatal for Emmeline and Gregory.
Makers of a Destiny by David Crane is an enthralling mash-up of dystopian fantasy and a pulse pounding thriller.
The book is set in a post-apocalyptic New America, where Tanya Grey is one of the Panthers. The Panthers are a superior race, with a host of special forces that they intend to use for the growth and development of the other races in New America. However, a national emergency leaves Tanya Grey in the wake of a situation that requires all of her skills and power to fight the antagonists. They are the Neo Spartans, equipped with technological prowess and ruthlessness, they will stop at nothing to take down New America. Apart from this, an increasingly unstable political situation threatens the nation and Tanya Grey’s personal life.
Although this is a sequel to the novel Die to Live Again, reading that book is not required to read and enjoy this book. There are plenty of detailed explanations for all the characters, elements, and creatures. The descriptions of the Panthers’ lives and motivations were particularly fascinating. I wouldn’t be surprised if in our own post-nuclear holocaust (I don’t suppose it’s too far) we find ourselves in the company of these creatures. Apart from the Panthers, there were elaborate depictions of new species and animals, like the Hunter leeches. Although these were equally fascinating, I felt that they were a bit lengthy and did not contribute much to the plot.
Apart from these elements, equal amount of focus was devoted to Tanya’s personal lives and the characters that surround her. Her attachments and vulnerabilities made me especially empathetic to her decisions.
While reading, I was struck by the number of antagonistic elements in the book that were comparable to the realities of today. From racism to an endless lust for power that threatens the foundation of humanity, it was not a far stretch for my imagination to conjure up this world. The possibility of technology being used for evil, suppression of minorities, colonialism, and other parallels can easily be drawn between our world and this one. History always repeats itself and it is quite likely that we will find ourselves in a future which echoes our past. This novel provides a perfect and terrifying depiction of such a world.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B074YH9GJD
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The Line Between follows an apocalyptic cult escapee who finds the end of the world is actually happening. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
In 2017, soon after Firstborn released, I met with my publisher in New York to talk about what was next. I had a short list of favorite story concepts—the idea of a cult escapee starting over and a pandemic rising from the permafrost (inspired by real headlines, scarily enough) among six or seven others. My publisher said, “I like both of those. I think you should put them together!”
It worked out strangely well! I wish I could take credit for the combination, but it was my publisher’s idea.
Wynter is an impressive character that I enjoyed watching develop throughout the novel. What were some ideas that drove her character development?
Thank you so much. Wynter’s a really intriguing character to me because she has so many challenges—she’s oppressed and imprisoned within this cult and when she finally gets out, she’s a complete fish out of water. She doesn’t know how to drive or work electronics, or much about how the outside world works at all. She struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (as I do) and has issues with PTSD. She’s not your usual hero with a “special set of skills.” But she never gives up. She’s also kind of funny, which I love about her.
The disease that comes out of the permafrost causes madness in its victims. How did you develop the idea for the disease in your novel?
My sister is a physician and also teaches medical school, so I spent some time picking her brain for just the right combination of different yet plausible, and very scary. The idea of a fast-track prion disease (best known for its Mad Cow variant) is exceptionally frightening. In humans, prion disease cause very slow deterioration and dementia usually over decades. There is no cure, it’s always fatal, and as of right now there’s no way to even test for it except for posthumously. A rapid version of that seemed like a very formidable foe.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Good question! I’m up for contract now, so we’re shopping a few ideas around. I really love these new concepts, so am very much looking forward to bringing them into the world.
When Wynter Roth finally escapes from New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.
As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play: that the prophet they once idolized has been toying with the fate of mankind, and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter, herself.
Blood on the Chesapeake is a suspenseful murder mystery that involves the civil rights movement in some unique ways. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Like many Americans, I have been concerned by the country’s still pervasive tendrils of racism, even decades after the civil rights struggles of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I’ve personally witnessed this discrimination in the classroom, in the school and in the community, and the harm such bigotry has wrought on young people. I decided, with this work, to illuminate this issue. The selection of the setting of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay gave me the opportunity to capture this social tension in an unusual manner. As I have journeyed there, I was overwhelmed by the quiet, scenic beauty of the region, but also intrigued by the dichotomy of the cultures there. This region bears the hallmarks of a proud New England tradition, but also with roots still very much in the South. (The area was home to famous slave plantations and was split in loyalties during the Civil War.) In this most peaceful and beautiful of settings on the Chesapeake Bay, what if some horrific racial injustice occurred in this small town—and they tried to cover it up?
Darrell Henshaw is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Like most teachers and coaches, Darrell is driven by his deep concern for kids, concern for their learning and concern for their lives. He commits most of his life—certainly professional and sometimes, even personal—to give his kids a chance at a better life. When he stumbles upon an horrific crime against a student, even one perpetrated decades earlier, he’s moved to do something, do anything to find justice for the youth. But Darrell carries his own demons. In his teens, he had an encounter with a ghost, an encounter that left one a friend dead and his brother crippled. He still carries the scars of this encounter, a severe case of OCD. In order to help this young man he didn’t even know, Darrell has to confront his apprehension of the spirit world and deal with his condition. In the end, he finds his desire to secure justice for his student is greater than the sum of all his fears.
This novel seamlessly blends paranormal, urban fantasy and history. Was this intentional or did this happen organically while writing?
I did a great deal of research to complete this novel—research about the area, about sailing on the Chesapeake, about small town lynchings, about commonly accepted beliefs regarding the spirit world. My goal was to make the story as credible as possible within the limits of the genre. So, even though the narrative occurs in 1998, only twenty plus years earlier, I worked to make every detail authentic to the time and place. Even though it’s paranormal, the ghost sequences are closer to documented spectral occurrences that I had researched. Although the inspiration for parts of the story happened organically, the blending of these threads was carefully planned to render a tale that was fast-paced, engaging and satisfying.
This book is a part of your Haunted Shores Mysteries. What will the next novel in this series be about and when will it be available?
I’m currently completing the second installment in the Haunted Shore Mysteries series—tentatively titled Crimson at Cape May. Like Blood, Crimson is another ghost story/cold case murder mystery with even more romantic elements, this time set in the beautiful, historic resort town of Cape May, New Jersey. By the way, Cape May happens to be the most haunted seaport on the eastern coast and that doesn’t bode well for Darrell’s aversion to the ghost world or his OCD. In this second installment, not only is Darrell haunted by more ghosts, but he’s forced to confront another horror of modern life, human trafficking. Crimson at Cape May is scheduled to be released by the Wild Rose Press in September, 2020.
Wilshire, Maryland, a quaint shore town on the Chesapeake, promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world, Darrell doesn’t want to get involved, but when the desperate ghost hounds him, he concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
Imprisoned for a crime he cannot remember committing, Max awakens on a strange world where time is fragmented and everything is a different colour. To make matters worse, he discovers that he has been exposed to a potent virus with only three days to find a cure before it renders him dead.
Max escapes, but comes into contact with the strict warden of the prison. He is coerced into taking part in a worldwide dangerous game through which he hears of a possible cure: a mystical magical door. The only problem is that he is not the only prisoner on this strange world, nor the only threat…
Fabric is an enticing fantasy novel which follows a prisoner as he takes his chances to escape from the worst possible setting and a world that is most peculiar. Tackling several different scenarios, Max is brought closer to the truth of his situation and brings to light the opinions of others that are in the same situation.