Where fact meets fiction, and fear meets the monster which creates it. This is more than just another scary story.
Demons are Everywhere!
They’re inside of us. Sometimes the focus on the external monster in a story takes precedence over the main character struggling with their own internal monster.
The main character of Stone’s Shadow is a troubled youth. Trying to work his way through college, he’s taken to spending very long hours studying and working. He’s had to work for everything he’s ever gotten, including paying tuition. As a result, his opinion of his fellow students isn’t the brightest.
He’s never had luck in love, and he’s been know as the sickly kid his whole life. To put it briefly without revealing too much of the story, he’s a very troubled youth. But his troubles pale in comparison to the demonic entity he’s about to meet.
Still, through the course of the story, he’s fighting not only the monster at hand, but the result of his own fears and angst. When an external force, like some kind of Cryptid that he’s never heard of, presents itself, it forces him to look at his own shortcomings as well.
By the way, Stone’s Shadow officially releases on October 11th, you can pre-order it here.
Philosophy as a Premise
One of the survey courses that Scott is studying is Epistemology. This is a specific philosophical discourse that searches theories of knowledge. In other words, how to know what is true and what isn’t. If you’ve never heard of it, you might take a look. Most of histories philosophers dealt directly with this troubling problem, from Plato to Descartes, and every philosopher before or after.
The main problem is this. Knowing something to be true requires evidence, but how much evidence is needed? What kind of justification is absolutely irrefutable? When searching for such purity in a matter of knowledge, one finds quickly that this is no easy problem.
Assumptions restricted, the little matter of whether something an insomniac is seeing in the dark is actually real, or just a hallucination brought on by sleep deprivation, becomes a real problem for him. His sanity will be tested, not once, but over and over.
His coursework in school will only drive the question deeper.
The Monster Inside
We all have little skeletons hiding in our respective closets, don’t we? For Scott, working in public service and carrying the background of a perpetual nerd drives him, in moments of extreme passion or isolation, to hostile feelings that beget more negativity.
I thought of such a personality perfectly suited for a horror audience, or really any speculative audience. People in our personal “weird” category know what it means to endure torment from others who often misrepresent our little quirks. I think anyone can remember a particular time when they were torn down by their peers, and how it felt. I wanted to capture that, personify it, and create a character at least as memorable as the monster I’ve been thinking about for the last fifteen years.
Buried inside of Scott are two internal monsters. One of them is his personal tormentor, reminding him of how small and insignificant such experiences have made him feel through the course of his life. The other is hidden from view at first, but represents two decades of repressed rage, which only expresses itself when he feels cornered.
Ignoring the main plot (which is a little difficult to do, this is all Easter-Egg type subplots that you might not otherwise notice while reading), these two forces compete for dominance over his character, and he would be better off without either. I think these two monsters can be present in anyone, and just like Scott, we’ll eventually have to face them.
It’s only fitting that they would come to a head at some point in the story.
Not one unknown monster, a new genre of monsters.
Striving for originality while looking for traces of real monsters in real life, the demonic entity in Stone’s Shadow isn’t a demon, a ghost, a zombie, a vampire, or anything of the like. While I related some actual historical events to “evidence” of these creatures, they sidestep most burdens of truth by their very nature.
While the story itself focuses on on in particular, I’ve left open the door to a whole industry of creatures which have certain similar traits. To point these out would probably be considered a spoiler, even if they aren’t covered in high detail in the story. I didn’t want to bash the reader over the head with specifics like molecular analysis, chaos theory, and superposition principals in electromagnetism, but I can assure you that I’ve done plenty of homework on this matter over the last fifteen years.
These creatures aren’t as fantastical as they might appear. In fact, the same driving elements behind my own philosophical and scientific study of the human soul, through the CODY project (my artificial intelligence experiment), various philosophies on the soul as a solution to the mind-body problem (another philosophical idea), and studying the quirky nature of strange attractors in chaos theory, and superimposing these ideas of resonating alpha, delta, and theta waves created by living things. This part is mostly speculation, as the physics behind it is incredibly difficult to measure, but it played a role in Viral Spark as well.
Science Fiction and Horror being driven by the same engine? Yes, I’m insane. But you already knew that.
Back to your normal programming
I got the urge tonight to talk about my book a little bit tonight, so I figured that I would toss this out there, not as a teaser so much as a brain-tickling post with lots of things to think about. These aren’t story points, but subtleties that participation of my creation of both the monster and the book. The story behind the first draft, as it were.
My original idea was to make a script about the monster, and the monster itself has been the connecting link throughout the last ten years. Since then, I’ve changed everything about it. The only remaining piece of the original concept is the coffee shop, in fact. The monster had to be revised, over a dozen times through short stories. Hope you enjoyed the write-up!