Guest Post: 55 Years In The Making
I am an author 55 years in the making. What does that mean exactly? It means that I can finally call myself an author, after a long journey. I published my first novel back in the latter part of 2011, when the trend seemed to be vampires, werewolves, and zombies. These three staples of horror ranged from modern-day bloodsuckers with angsty teenage girls seeking romance. We were also seeing a resurgence of the zombie genre exploded, with the remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and a graphic novel series called: The Walking Dead was adapted for cable television by director Frank Darabont.
Right around that time, I was dusting off a half-finished horror manuscript I had fished out of a moving box. It had been sitting in that box for over a decade. As I flipped through the dog eared manuscript, I wondered if I should try and finish the story. I thought it over for a few days, and speaking with my mentor, I decided that I was going to take try and finish it. This story was much different than the current trend of angsty vampires and brain-eating zombies. It was about a skinwalker that is hunted by a relentless pursuer, as it kills its way across North America.
I got down to work, and in the latter part of 2011, I published: The Equinox.
I’d been writing my whole life, but this was my first attempt at publishing a full-length novel. To tell you the truth, I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was excited because I always wanted to be a published author, but scared that my peers and critics would tear me apart roast me on a spit. To my surprise, The Equinox got a lot of love. It made the quarter-finals in the Amazon Breakthrough Awards ABA, and it was an underground hit with horror podcasts and readers alike. Philip Perron, of The Dark Discussions Podcast, went so far to say it was the best horror novel he’d read in the last ten years. I was ecstatic.
Bring on the movie options!
Huh? What? No movie options.
The reality is that most writers, even when they write a work that receives accolades, often must keep a day job to pay the bills, and I was no different. I drove truck for a living, and I was at a point in my life where I did not know whether or not I was going to write another book. Then something happened, and I decided to do something completely different.
In January of 2012, I signed up with a company to run the world’s longest ice road. My task was to drive fuel across frozen lakes to a diamond mine located below the arctic circle. As I drove a Super B fuel tanker across the protesting ice of the Northwest Territories, an idea began to percolate in the back of my mind. That idea was fueled by night driving with the Aurora Borealis twisting and turning in the sky above. By wolf packs, ravens, foxes, and creatures of the north joining me on those treks which spread on an endless sea of ice.
That idea was a science fiction thriller called: Acadia Event. The premise of the novel was that the Acadia Diamond Mine finds a machine buried in the ice. Foolishly they turn it on and open a portal into another world that transforms the north into the beachhead of a full-scale alien invasion. A year later, I published Acadia Event, and it received positive reviews from readers. It was also a time of revelation. The reality was, as an independent, I was very limited in books sales and promotion. I was 49 years old at this point. I’d been a soldier, a trucker, and now I had two novels to my credit and a handful of short stories. I knew I was going to write a couple more books, but for all the love my writing was getting, the audience was still not what I envisioned
So, this time I decided to go old school and submit my next novel to a publisher. My new book was going to cross into a different genre. There would be no more supernatural or extraterrestrial creatures, but still, there would be a beast. One more terrifying than a skinwalker or a bone-eating alien; because this monster would be real.
I finished the manuscript in the latter part of 2018, submitted it to the publisher, WildBlue Press, and they loved it. The book was called Highwayman. It was about a serial killer who was being hunted by the FBI. I suddenly found myself under contract to write a second Highwayman book, and as a bonus, WildBlue Press also signed my first two independent books as well. The second book, FOUR, was published this year, kicking off what has now become the Highwayman series. The first two books in the series follow the same story, while future books will use characters from the first two books to tell different stories in the same genre.
I hope you have enjoyed my author journey, 55 years in the making, and the encounters on the way that have inspired me to write. To seek out and discover the characters and creatures floating in the murkiest reaches of my mind. Over these years, I have seen and done many inspiring and making me the writer I am today. The cool part about that is the journey isn’t over.
I hope you’ll join me because the adventure has just begun.
M.J. Preston’s is the author of the novels: THE EQUINOX, ACADIA EVENT, and the HIGHWAYMAN Series, Books 1 and 2. He has also published scores of short stories in anthologies around the world.
In addition to writing, M.J. is also an artist and an amateur photographer.
He resides in Alberta, Canada, with his wife, Stormy and beagles, Jake, and Milo.
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!