Coffin Hop Post 2: The Origin of The Dark Horde.
“Some things can lie dormant and hidden, festering for an apparent eternity, before eventually manifesting into reality… Such has certainly been the case with The Dark Horde!”
This is how I begin the acknowledgements section of my horror novel The Dark Horde, published for the first time in 2012. And it’s no exaggeration… It is with good reason that the book is set in 1989, for that is when I first began to write it.
A (dodgy) scan of my Dormitory photo from Timbertop, 1989
If I can pinpoint the beginnings of the story to a particular event, it was the writing of a short story for an English class exercise where our teacher, Russell Allthorpe (or “Mr. Allthorpe” as the students addressed him), asked us to write something on theme of “There’s something you should know about me.”
My writing has always inclined to horror, fantasy and science fiction in particular (even my first short story I wrote at the age of six or seven in 1980 or 1981 was horror!) and so I took that theme and created a horror short story. But what happened as a result of that story was unexpected. Mr. Allthorpe didn’t just give it top marks, he used my piece to set an English exercise on mood and pacing for the entire year. He cut my story up into individual paragraphs and set students an assignment where they had to work out the order that the paragraphs went in based on the building mood and tension. It was something of a revelation to me that my story should be considered an appropriate example for such an exercise, and began to foster in me a sense of self-belief that I was capable of writing fiction that others would respect and enjoy.
I present you now with this short story (unaltered save for typos). You may only catch the faintest glimpse of what would evolve into the story of The Dark Horde within this work, and indeed it wasn’t until 1991 that I actually began to write a novel under such a name, but nonetheless I still think it holds up *reasonably* well to this day… Well at least considering I was only fourteen at the time (and had yet to master certain concepts such as “less is more” and “show don’t tell”). Anyway, good enough to share I think, even if just for interest’s sake. J
The dark was cool, the air was sharp. All was fresh and crisp on a summer’s night. Two shadowy figures stood alone in the gloomy classroom. Only one would leave alive…
One of them spoke, “There’s something you should know about me,” he paused for a brief moment, gazing deeply into Mr. Allthorpe’s eyes and making his teacher feel a little unnerved, “Mr. Allthorpe.”
The taller of the two smiled and replied, “Oh yes, I know Andrew that you’ve got a little bit of an organisation problem and you need a little help.”
Andrew only grinned and took a step closer, shaking his head.
“You’re an asthmatic or… Or a loud snorer… You wet your bed at night perhaps?”
Andrew only answered with a firm no, shown by the movement of his head.
At this point Andrew shifted his iron gaze from Mr. Allthorpe and peered out through the panelled window. He stared for long moments at the mysterious, drifting clouds, as if anticipating something or waiting for something to happen.
“Is there anything wrong?” suggested Mr. Allthorpe, his lungs beginning to feel heavy and his hands slippery.
It grew darker.
“No, nothing wrong,” returned Andrew, his eyes once again firmly fixed on Mr. Allthorpe’s as if nothing on Earth could move them. Andrew took a further pace towards Mr. Allthorpe. Now only a mere metre and a half lay between them. The moon by now had half-appeared over the grey crest of one of the shimmering clouds…
“Please tell me,” Mr. Allthorpe said, almost begging. He was getting very anxious now.
The fluorescent moon, like a glowing dish, was unveiled. Andrew began to laugh a deep, mocking boom. Mr. Allthorpe’s eyes increased dramatically in size, opening up to the grisly horror that was now before him. His dry mouth opened up to a silent scream…
* * *
-Was all that could be heard from outside. Soon after, the classroom door was suddenly torn bodily off its metal hinges and a huge, hairy wolf bounded through it and away, out into the translucent moonlight…
As you (hopefully!) observed, I’ve gotten better at writing. But I see many of my tendencies, particularly when writing horror, in this early work. And more importantly I think, I kept going with it and eventually did publish my horror novel, even if it did take another twenty-four years! (But that’s a story I’ll elaborate on another time).
The Dark Horde has won a number of major international indie awards and the ebook version is currently available on Amazon for only $0.99 and the UK paperback version dis available (with free delivery) for only £2.99.
As part of COFFIN HOP 2013, I am having a giveaway where you can win either one of three pdf copies of my horror novel The Dark Horde, or if you win the grand prize, I’ll mail you a signed copy of the paperback version completely free. (And if you already have a copy, I’ll send you a copy of my other published novel Evermore: An Introduction instead). The grand prize winner will also get a free t-shirt of The Dark Horde (if you want it that is - I only have a single L size one left).
Not only this, the grand prize winner will also win an ebook copy of the Coffin Hop Anthology DEATH BY DRIVE-IN featuring some of the best work of several of the Coffin Hop authors, released especially for this very event! (This competition ends when midnight strikes on Halloween - EST time in the US)
The COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN anthology is available for sale here and the best part about this is that all profits will be donated to LitWorld.org to help encourage children’s literacy throughout the world. The COFFIN HOP store is also selling a range of COFFIN HOP merchandise and the proceeds of these sales too, are being donated to charity J
To coincide with this special event, I have also released a promo video for my forthcoming project The Calling, which is a musical prequel to The Dark Horde. You can view the video on You Tube HERE.
Lastly don't forget that the full list of all the other awesome horror maestros taking part. Happy Hopping!
Very cool story. My wife's a teacher so i thought she might enjoy that. We're both hiding in the bedroom because The Walking Dead is on and my 15 year old has the television hijacked. Actually, she's hiding. I'm trying to stay away from the distractions so I can get as many sites as I can visited tonight. Ok, I might be hiding a little bit. I'm a vampire guy - not really huge on zombies.
It is amazing how hard you hold to that idea. Many 14 yo would've let it go. Congrats! I think the Dark Horde is a great story. Happy Halloween!
I love looking at earlier versions of writers and their work.
Hope you have been having an awesome CoffinHop.