In eleven weeks, my new book Gidion’s Blood (the next book in the Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter series) will be released. However, that’s not the only big news I have. That same day, my new publisher will release a collection of my short stories, some previously released and a few new ones. Since the collection will include eleven stories, today seems the perfect time to announce this.
Between now and August 11th, I plan to introduce you to the stories that will appear in the collection. I’ll post an entry each Tuesday between now and the release date revealing one of the eleven stories included. For today, I’m starting with the first story I ever sold, I am Sam.
In some ways, I am Sam doesn’t resemble a lot of my later work. It’s very grounded in reality and while I never state how old Investigator Sal Willis is, it’s safe to say he’s the oldest protagonist (well, the oldest human protagonist) from any of my stories. The story follows Sal as he hunts for a murderer. Not only is he desperate to catch the killer, but he wants to know why he witnessed the murder in a dream before the police even knew about it and he was assigned to the case.
The concept for the story was born from a twisted explanation I thought of for schizophrenia. For those who aren’t familiar with this mental illness, its victims hear voices or noises and will see people and things that aren’t there. I came up with the idea behind this story back in college in the nineties, and it wasn’t until after I’d spent about five years working as a 911 dispatcher that I had the law enforcement knowledge to make the story work. I’d originally considered this story for a novel, but I think it worked much better as a short story.Nine years have passed since Spinetingler Magazine originally published this tale. Since then, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation as a 911 dispatcher for how awful schizophrenia is. I’ve taken a call from a woman convinced people live in her attic, a man who heard people moving in the crawl space of his house, and a woman so certain that people are breaking into her home and stealing her belongings that she wants to buy a gun and has added a method to barricade her doors. The most heart-wrenching call I took came from a woman who believed a man followed her through a store. What made that call so awful was that she calmly admitted she’d been recently diagnosed with the early stages of dementia and that she knew there was a good chance she’d imagined it. She knew her mind was betraying her, and in some ways, that made it that much worse. Schizophrenia needn’t ruin a life, but it adds a hardship I don’t think many of us who don’t experience it can truly understand.
Not long after I am Sam was published, I ventured into writing young adult fantasy for the first time. I discovered a love for that market I didn’t expect, and while I still enjoy writing adult fantasy that’s somewhat less grounded in the real world and my young adult tales stay dark, I suspect it’ll be a long time, if ever, before I venture back into waters quite like I am Sam.