Hey my nugs, as promised, I wanted to give you some behind-the-scenes info on one of my story lines. Today, it’s The Artist, my main horror/suspense stories. For the past two Halloweens, I used the same inspiration for that month’s special. Many people enjoyed it and I got a lot of positive feedback. So I’m going to give some refreshers for those who have read, and a bit of introduction to those who haven’t read, The Artist stories.
Thank You for Your Donation (2020)
Thank You for Your Donation was my first attempt at the Halloween special style story line. A complete story in a month. This was crazy to me then because it was after I’d concluded my Practice of Susbandry story line. I posted a new entry every other day, and while I intended to write all the episodes in advance, I ended up writing each post between posting days. It was fun and stressful. Here’s a quick synopsis.
Thank You for Your Donation is a suspense/horror blog fiction based in the fictional city of Eos, Utah. The story follows seven kidnapped employees held hostage in their workplace, BioLite. With the promise of a death every other day, the employees try to work together through sickness, hunger, and loss to identify the killer. But will anyone remain before they can identify the killer?
I like to refer to this story as a workplace horror and it taught me a lot. One of the biggest lessons I learned was using someone I knew as source material, but staying a little too close to the source. The characters mother is involved at some point and he came to me the day after the post saying his mother would never just turn away if her son was missing. I knew his mother, and that was true. So take a note from my own errors and don’t create characters too close to the source, unless you’re writing non-fiction.
The Exhibit occurs a year after the events of Thank You for Your Donation and follows the one survivor as they near the anniversary of the BioLite killings. I wanted to do a story that might mirror the antagonist’s fantasy a little more and thought an art exhibit was a perfect opportunity to show his work. I tried to do a dual protagonist story line, which helped me write a post each day. Here’s a little synopsis.
The Exhibit finds Ben in a stable relationship, working at a new job, and just made it past the anniversary of events from last year. Melody, Ben’s girlfriend, tells him she got much sought after tickets to a top art show on Halloween Night. At her constant begging, Ben fights his internal worries and agrees. Everything at the art show is going fine until they hear a woman scream. Ben gets a quick text out to the only person who might help them that night.
I wanted to introduce the Artist, or Cass Lawrence, a little more because he’s a character I find intriguing. I felt like someone with his personality would want to give the proper presentation of his abilities after an imposter used his name. Also, I first created Cass Lawrence in college with a couple of short stories. I’ll get into more of that next. The one lesson I learned from The Exhibit was just another reminder that preparing a story line could make an enormous difference and ease stress.
The History of the Artist:
Cass Lawrence first appeared a short story I wrote for a class assignment in college. I also wrote a sequel during the same class. I even wrote a poem in poetry using the list method that made the people who knew shudder. Let’s just say some of my classmates were worried about me. But in reality, the concept of Cass Lawrence began back in high school. I was a theater student looking for some extra cash when my buddy asked me to try out for the haunted house he and his family worked at. I got the job and ended up working with him in what we called the Blood Room, where they’d already gotten the idea of killers considering themselves artists and using humans as their medium. Back when I worked in the blood room, I never thought of it as anything but a living story. And I thank the guys I worked with that really helped me learn how to do improvised horror. The biggest take-away was that intelligent horror is scarier than pop-scares. Which, as a writer, we know you can’t pop scare as easily on the page. It wasn’t until I needed a short story idea that I used my haunted house experience and early story lines there.
I hope everyone enjoyed learning a little more about the Artist story line. I’ve written the rough draft to a novel that uses Braxton as a retired police officer, but it’s not something I’ve been ready to go back to yet. The first short story was the origin story of Cass Lawrence and the second comes a few years after The Exhibit. It’s been fun to reminisce and share some details I may not have brought up before. I’ll drop the links to both story line pages if you’d like to catch up, re-read, or just enjoy that Halloween vibe.