Exciting news! The latest installment of my short fiction series ‘Sky Horns Growling‘ has released, and I’m really happy with the results. “In This Twilight” is a very different animal than either entry before it; and I wanted to take a little time to share some of the influences and thinking that went into it.
The concept for ITT started to come together while I was wrapping-up “We Are Alive Tonight” and I was plotting what was to follow about 12-16 months ago! The first chapter was also inspired by a dream, similarly to the first installment, but albeit a very strange one all on it’s own! The more I thought about where the series was going, the more I really wanted to underscore that the dream elements and strange coincidences readers had seen so far weren’t for nothing. There were very deliberate reasons for how things were described, what the characters were experiencing, and how that all would fit into the broader framework of the overall story.
The first chapter being starting point, I had a blast just swinging for the fences to make it tonally completely unique in the series. That chapter alone was influenced by Castlevania, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, The Monster Squad, a very obscure real-life UFO close encounter, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and even Transformers, among others. It’s a rich gothic setting with crazy characters on a grand scale, and it’s a key piece to the puzzle regarding who really is the central figure of the series and where things are going. In keeping with the previous installment, this one was also inspired by music along the way. Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor and tracks from the album Year Zero, specifically “In This Twilight” and “The Great Destroyer“, really helped get my creative juices flowing. Even years later that album retains a raw, unfinished energy and soundscape that tonally fit this part of the series. The lyrics of those two songs in particular complement some of the themes you’ll find being explored.
Candidly, that first chapter was a tough one to get just right. From there, I had very specific moments that I felt needed to fall into place next. Readers of the first two entries deserved to start getting some answers, and see characters and events come together that pays-off in a satisfying way. This, was what scared me.
I had the outlined notes for this whole installment scribbled down for months, but the thought of bringing it to life was daunting. It’s really easy to throw a lot of weird stuff at the wall, see what sticks, and then never explain it. I’ve done that intentionally in some other short stories for effect, especially for more horror-themed tales. That’s a tried-and-true approach that leaves it all up to the readers’ imaginations, but here I was going for being able to make my cake and eat it, too.
The “Sky Horns Growling” series is all about taking readers on a wild ride, with each chapter and book seemingly pivoting and challenging their expectations about what comes next while keeping them entertained in the moment. When it comes time to deliver on some of those promises, though, I knew what worked for the story but was challenged with how to execute that in a way that wasn’t just a bunch of exposition. To keep that immediacy and sense of mystery it meant that I needed the revelations that come to feel earned, and explained in a way that made sense for the characters in the moment. Of all things, The Wizard of Oz seemed to literally reach out to me in my darkest hour and inspire not only a new character, but a means to how to start pulling this huge story and growing cast together.
In the end, there are definitely plenty of unanswered questions, but hopefully also a greater sense for the scale of the story and a promise of even bigger things to come. I really hope you check it out, and I sincerely believe there’s a lot to like waiting for you.
Until next time!