on May 7, 2013
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Fiction, Horror
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There’s something in the woods behind Jake Marsden’s house – and someone wants him to find it. A strange dream shatters his sleep, night after night, and a compulsion to find the dark presence in the forest wars with his logical and ordered nature. What’s a geek to do?
When his small hometown of Wynn falls under an ancient curse, Jake will find himself in a battle against creatures worse than any he’s faced in a game. Playing for keeps, it will be geek versus god in the fight to stop an evil force bent on destroying everything he holds dear.
It’s a big week at Happy Indulgence – this week is the Blogger Book Fair featuring a spotlight on indie authors! There will be reviews, interviews, discounted eBooks and of course, giveaways by a range of indie authors! Kicking off the start of the book fair is Frostwalker by Brandon Luffman, a super scary survival horror book.
For this week only, the price of the Frostwalker eBook has been reduced to $2.99 for the duration of the Blogger Book Fair! Click the Amazon link above to purchase and check it out.
Frostwalker was so freaking scary, that it made me not feel like reading, but in a good way. I mean, I had to make sure I was in a public place and surrounded by people and preferably in daylight at all times. It started off pretty tame, just had enough mystery and intrigue to draw you in and then BAM! The scary, rotting corpses resembling a cross between zombies and the leviathan on Supernatural came out. Vivid scenes also reminded me of that scene from Angel where the maggots are crawling all over Jasmine’s true form from the Powers of Be, truly terrifying and grotesque stuff.
And if I didn’t just demonstrate what a huge nerd I was, it was the most accurate way I could describe my feelings about this book. I love scary movies especially zombies, and Frostwalker just rolled all these scary experiences into one and it was truly spine tingling.
It starts off slowly by introducing us to Jake Marsden, an IT guy who runs his own business who suddenly finds a dead animal skull in his house and gets creeped out by it. He hears strange noises coming from the woods behind his house and has strangely vivid dreams about exploring the woods in the dark.
We also hear about Jake’s close friendship with his friend Eric and his wife Wendy, along with how Jake finds himself attracted to his secretary one day. The highlight of the book was when she revealed her Left 4 Dead T-shirt – one of my all-time favourite games! This must be one of the geekiest reviews I’ve written ever….Anyway, we’re given a heap of character development and intrigue at the start of the book, with strange happenings in his small town of Wynn to keep the pace going.
From a scary tree in the woods to mysterious deaths, smiling corpses, rotting zombies, there are so many creepy scenes here that will give you nightmares. We’re given some pretty decent characters to help us withstand the horrors not to mention the awesome zombie killing action.
My only criticism is that the whole reason behind the zombies arising was quite unexpected, with the Cherokee legends of it seeming to be a sudden addition at the end. It does tie it together though, and it seemed like the finale of the book was a bit too easily solved for me. The last half of the book was so creepy I kept on putting off reading it until I was on the bus too but hey, at least my house got cleaner.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 out of 5
About the Author
Born in Statesboro, Georgia in 1976, Brandon Luffman was raised in rural North Carolina from the time he was old enough to walk. In the sixth grade he discovered “The Chronicles Of Narnia”. Soon after that, he was on to Stephen King and Arthur C. Clarke. At the same time, he was making his first forays into writing fiction. After creating a series of short fantasy pieces for a class assignment that were received with praise, he was hooked on writing fiction for the entertainment of others. Now Brandon writes supernatural horror as well as fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. His short fiction is available online in various formats. Brandon still lives on the family farm in northwestern North Carolina with his wife and family. Taking inspiration from his homeland, he brings southern sensibilities and a modern flair to these classic genre themes. His first novel, Frostwalker, was released in May of 2013.
Hi Brandon, thanks for participating in the Blogger Book Fair and letting Happy Indulgence be a part of your book promotions!
1. Tell us about yourself and how you started writing.
Hi and thanks for having me at your blog – I’m honored!
I’m pretty much just your ordinary average guy. A bit of a geek and somewhat introverted. Also, I was the only son out of four kids, so I got used to entertaining myself solo. I’m often happy doing projects on my own – which is a good thing for a writer!
I started out writing for an assignment in the 6th grade. We were supposed to write a page, and I ended up writing four. The next assignment was six pages and it went on from there. We had to share these stories with the class, which was mortifying, but my teacher was willing to let me slide on that if I could find a volunteer to read them, which I did.
The best thing about all of this was the reaction of my fellow students. They actually enjoyed the stories, and I quickly became hooked on that. I twigged to the power of writing pretty quickly. I saw how a well-written piece of writing could impact the reader in amazing ways, and that reaction, the result of someone reading something you wrote and feeling something, that’s what drives me to write now.
2. How did the idea for Frostwalker come about?
It was in the winter of 2008, around December if I recall correctly, and I was walking out to the mailbox late at night, probably around three in the morning – I’ve always been a night owl! The ground was covered by leaves and the leaves all had this coating of frost. The world is very different in the middle of the night, especially in winter, and it was very silent. As I walked over the frosted leaves, my feet would slip just slightly with each step.
I had this image come to me, something that just popped up out of my imagination, of a man in a similar situation. Walking in the deepest part of the night over frosted leaves. Where was he going? What was driving him to be out in the cold and the dark?
That image stayed with me for nearly a year. It kept coming up from time to time, and then sinking back into the depths of my mind. By the time NaNoWriMo 2009 rolled around, I knew I had to write about it, if only to get it out of my head. I started writing on November 1st and had over 12,000 words written by midnight that night. I hit the 50,000 word target on November 16th, despite a couple of days when I wasn’t able to get any writing in. After 27 days, the first draft was finished at just over 80,000 words. All of that from just that one image, which was all I had when I sat down to write it.
Of course, every time I tell this story, I’m careful to point out that the title of the book doesn’t actually refer to this opening scene – but I won’t spoil anything by telling what the title does refer to!
3. Jake Marsden is a gamer and IT nerd, yet when the zombies come out, he doesn’t immediately label them as zombies. Can you give us an insight on how he must have felt during this time?
On the surface of it, the hesitance of Jake and the other characters to call these creatures “zombies” can be attributed to the fact that they’re not really zombies in the traditional sense. They can speak, they have some degree of intelligence, and they clearly have a more advanced agenda than merely devouring the living. However, at the end of the day, they are more like zombies than anything else in the characters’ experience, so that’s what they tend to think of them as once they accept that they are supernatural creatures.
One of the challenges you face when you write about supernatural events is determining how the characters are going to respond. In a fantasy setting, strange events are a part of the world, and the characters can be expected to accept things a little more easily. “Oh, a dragon just made off with my sheep! Must be Thursday!” That’s part of what we love about fantasy worlds – the fantastic is easily found there.
But, in a story that’s set in the “real world”, where the horror aspect hinges on something so out of the ordinary coming to pass, you have to address how the characters will deal with what should be impossible happening right in front of them.
Most characters try to deal with it as if it were just a mundane, if terrible, event. For example, in Frostwalker, a character who is on the phone with the sheriff’s office describes her husband being attacked as if it were simply a home invasion. People are hesitant to ascribe supernatural reasoning to an event, regardless of what it looks like. Everyone knows that zombies aren’t real!
In the case of Jake and his friends, they’re practical people, but they also have sufficient imagination to recognize pretty quickly that whatever is happening isn’t natural. They accept that regardless of whether these creatures are humans or something else, their first job is to survive. So, as soon as they get a little breathing room, they come to grips with the facts and try to accept it.
4. Frostwalker heavily features Cherokee mythology, what influenced your decision in this?
That’s somewhat difficult to answer, as there wasn’t so much a decision to bring that aspect in, but rather it just showed up. I always write by the seat of my pants, so when those aspects entered into the story, I had no idea what their significance was at first. I don’t really know where that angle came from.
Here in northwestern North Carolina, where I live and where Frostwalker is set, the Cherokee culture is a small but ever-present part of the local zeitgeist. Many people in the area have some connection to the Cherokee – a distant relative, or great-great-grandparent – even if they’re not directly involved in Cherokee culture. In fact, actual Cherokee people are rather rare in this area today, despite the impact they have had here in the past and the number of people who can trace their ancestry back to a Cherokee family member.
There’s this mystical and romantic view that people have of Native American cultures – a view that isn’t without merit – and that sort of attitude is a common part of the local mythology and social fabric. So, I imagine that played a part in my imagination bringing those aspects into the story.
5. What are your favourite games? Xbox, PS3 or PC?
While I started out very young as a console gamer (our first family console was a Pong clone with imitation woodgrain!) I’m primarily a PC gamer these days. A few years ago, I was playing Team Fortress 2 like it was a second job. But I finally burned out on it around the time Left 4 Dead came out. My wife and I played Left 4 Dead (and then L4D2) an enormous amount of hours, primarily versus matches. We, along with some of our clannies, considered getting into organized ladder play, but we really never were at that level – we just played for fun.
These days I don’t get to play as much as I used to, but in recent months I’ve played significant amounts of Minecraft, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Payday: The Heist, and Don’t Starve, among others. Most recently, I’ve been revisiting Fable – The Lost Chapters, after picking it up on sale on Steam.
But, you asked about my favorite games, didn’t you? Over time, I’ve had many that were special to me in some way or other. The Gradius series is great, along with Doom 3, which I revisit frequently. I once bought a used Sega Saturn for the sole purpose of playing the imported Samurai Shodown 3, which I loved. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a classic, as well. Of course, my first addiction was probably Asteroids, on the old Atari 2600. That was the first game I ever “beat”, when one day I played it until my score reset to zero!
6. Describe your writing process and how you formulated an idea into a novel?
Generally, ideas are always bubbling up. It’s a rare day that I don’t see something perfectly mundane and then my mind says “What if…” and goes off on some brief exploration. Most of these ideas come and go quickly. My more conscious intellect takes the idea, considers it for a bit, and then files it away. But every once in a while one of these mental jaunts will stick with me. It will come back, maybe the next day, or later that night, lying in bed. It will pop up and I’ll ponder on it a bit, then it will sink back down into the depths of my murky little brain.
Eventually, if it’s a “good” idea, after chewing it over for a few weeks or months, I’ll maybe try and write it and see where it goes. It’s like walking in the forest and finding a piece of string on the ground, leading off into the trees. You pick it up and start following it, seeing where it might lead you.
I just sit down and start writing. The rest flows from there. Sometimes, it flows easily and a story develops quickly. Other times, it can be like pulling teeth and I have to sit down and make myself follow that string. And, sadly, there are those times when you start following the string and it’s broken – it happens!
Once the writing is done and I’ve got a first draft, I do a proofread to clean up any obvious typos and then it’s on to my first reader – my wife – and my beta readers. Then I do another round of cleanup based on their feedback before I send it to my editor, the fantabulous Pauline Nolet. Once she’s gotten hold of it, I find out just how terrible my spelling and grammar is! She sends it back and I fix what needs fixing, then I send it back to her and so on. This might go on only a couple of times or, for a larger project or something that needs significant work, it might take several drafts back and forth. Once that’s done, you’ve got the final draft!
That’s probably something worth highlighting: We hear all the time about how important it is that we hire an editor, and that is certainly true. But one of the often overlooked benefits to having an editor is that you’ve got someone to work with, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone who understands the process and “speaks your language” when it comes to writing. A good editor works with you to make your manuscript something far more than it could ever be without their help.
Giveaway – open internationally!
Brandon is generously donating 1 paperback copy of Frostwalker to a lucky winner!
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