Friday, August 1, 2014

Bob Freeman: Five Things I Learned Writing SHADOWS OVER SOMERSET

What evil lurks in the heart of Cairnwood Manor?
Michael Somers is brought to Cairnwood, an isolated manor in rural Indiana, to sit at the deathbed of a grandfather he never knew existed. He soon finds himself drawn into a strange and esoteric world filled with werewolves, vampires, witches… and a family curse that dates back to fourteenth century Scotland.
In the sleepy little town of Somerset, an ancient evil awakens, hungering for blood and vengeance… and if Michael is to survive he must face his inner demons and embrace his family’s dark past.
What are the five things I learned from writing Shadows Over Somerset? Good question, and one not easily answered. Shadows was my first novel, written under both the best and worst of circumstances. Let's take a look at how that unfolded.
1. I was married on the first day of Autumn in the year 2000. As luck would have it, I walked out on my job as manager of a retail chain bookstore just a week prior. So there I was, newly married, without meaningful employment, and a job search that was getting me nowhere.
My new bride suggested I use the time to write a novel, something I always talked about doing but never got around to. Call it a lack of motivation, or the fear of failure, or what have you. Regardless, it was something I aspired to, and she damn well knew it.
She saw this as my opportunity and inspired me to drum my fingers on the keyboard while she went off to make ends meet. And that's what I did.
Each night after she left for work, I sat down at my computer, armed with a pack of smokes and a head full of ideas, and I wrote, feverishly. When she got home, she read what I'd spent the night writing.
This was my motivation — to have something worthwhile to share with her when she got home. It was a magical, bonding experience for us.
Three months passed and the first novel in the Cairnwood Manor saga was a reality.
Ummm, yeah, I'd be getting the heck out of there too.

2. The setting for Shadows — The Mississinewa Reservoir and surrounding State Forest, the town of Somerset, et al — was (and is) my old stomping grounds. I spent years combing that area, and I'd had a long fascination with its local history.
It was a natural fit for that location to find its way into the novel.
As they say, write what you know, and I knew Somerset and its environs like the back of my hand.
3. Speaking of writing what you know.
Shadows is littered with actual events, culled from my personal history. The names were changed to protect the guilty, of course. If you're looking to add verisimilitude to your stories, there's no better way than to keep it real. That means bleeding on the page. Your pain is your audience's gain.
4. The genesis for this tale about a clan of werewolves living in the backwoods of Somerset was born from a real enough event.
My brother, a couple of our friends, and I were out along an old stretch of abandoned road near Goose Creek in the late '80s when we heard the low growls of something fierce. Several somethings actually. We could see the glow of their eyes in the deep woods, moving toward us.
Needless to say, we were each gripped by an unnatural fear. Suddenly, one of our companions bolted, racing up the fractured road, hellbent for the safety of our car parked at the top of the hill.
That's when the beasts came at us, fast and furious. We fled like we had hellhounds on our trail.
It's certainly a night I'll never forget.

5. The truest thing I learned from writing Shadows was that the old adage about putting your ass in the chair and doing the work was gospel.
Writing was something I knew that I was born to do, but the thing that was holding me back was the motivation to do the actual work.
And it is work. Don't kid yourself.
The thing is, it's satisfying, and once you bite the bullet and park yourself in front of the keyboard and just let it go, you'll wonder what took you so god damn long.
Anyway, that's how it played out. If you'd like to hear me ramble more on the subject, you can find me at or on twitter/occultdetective.
Shadows Over Somerset (The Cairnwood Manor Series Book 1) can be ordered through your favorite bookseller (you know, the ones you actually physically walk through the door), or found here:
The Occult Detective himself: Bob Freeman