|Kathryn Meyer Griffith|
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Around 2003 or so, as many times before in my roller coaster thirty-nine year long writing career, I had about given up. Again. I had eleven published novels (mostly romantic horror and horror) and six short stories to my name between 1984 and 2003 with Leisure, Zebra, and Avalon Books.
In 2003 I’d had a dark murder mystery called Scraps of Paper from Avalon Books come out, had finished the second All Things Slip Away in the series for them. I was proud of the mysteries and the books themselves. The two had fairly decent, but mundane covers, and were hardcovers…my first. I believed the novels were my best so far. Contemporary and simple, but people loved the characters and the quirky town they lived in I’d tongue-in-cheek called Spooky.
BOOK PRICING AND HARD LESSONS LEARNED
The price was steep, I thought though, at $26 dollars each. But I’d already seen the writing on the wall. I’d gotten a $1,000 advance for each but there was this sneaky little clause in their contracts I’d learned that said I would not see a dime more of royalties until 3,500 books were sold. That alone would probably keep me from seeing any more money – unless the books were run away hits and more would be printed, or other rights would be sold. That rarely happened I’d been told by other authors for they only printed about 1,750 units at a time and that meant it would have to go into a third printing to gain me anything else. And Avalon didn’t usually go after outside subsidiary rights of any kind. Of course, over the years, though both books have had great reviews, A’s really, neither book has gone into a third printing. Oh, well. As warned, I haven’t seen another penny though the novels still seem to be on sale everywhere. Everyone loves them and wants a third. No way. I’ll wait until my long ten year contracts are up before I write another Spooky town mystery for Avalon Books. You live and learn. It seems like over my career I’ve had a lot of such lessons to learn. Ha.
MOVING ON TOWARD NEW ADVENTURES
Anyways, I’d missed my horror genre so much and had been thinking for a while about this new book of mine. Oh, okay, yes, I said I was ready to throw the towel in…but stupid me, I never do. When will I learn? It all started with a tiny seed. Two characters. Siblings. These characters, a loving brother and sister, Cassandra and Johnny Graystone, would be nightclub playing musicians who’d lost their whole family (five brothers and sisters and a mother and father) twenty years before and in the present would be living with and taking care of their elderly aunt and uncle. The aunt would have Alzheimer’s and the uncle, age catching up with him, would be frail, as well. They’d be Catholic. As I’d been raised. The uncle would believe the end days had come. Cassandra would be happy with her life singing out with her brother and living with her sick aunt and uncle. Until…she’d begin to know when people were going to die and she’d begin seeing these hideous creatures – demons–hiding behind some of her human audiences’ faces; bad things would start to happen around her, and she’d think either she was going insane or something terrible was happening to the world.
Turns out her uncle was right. The end days had come. I saw demons and angels swirling around her that only, at first, she would see. Then I saw her with a glowing sword that she’d use in battles with other human soldiers of her kind she’d meet along the way fighting a growing horde of demons. The apocalypse not far behind.
Ah, it would be an apocalyptic novel. That’s it. But one with heart; characters you could root for and love, more a layman’s view of the biblical end-of-days, and not near as much preaching as The Left Behind series which I’d read years before and liked.
Since I’ve always wanted to write an end-of-days novel –I’d loved Stephen King’s THE STAND so much– the story had taken firm root and wouldn’t leave me alone until I started writing it. I had to. It would be my masterpiece! The book called to me that strongly.
The woman eventually discovers she is one of many who will have powers to see and fight demons, with the help of angels, as the end days draw near. She must seek out others like herself and convince them to join the fight. She must begin to battle the powerful evil entities she alone is aware of, as well. In the process I send her, her brother, aunt and uncle, and their friends, on a rousing but dangerous quest across the country in a RV…after tornadoes and demons destroy their homes. The world is falling apart around them. Catastrophic earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes are everywhere. A rise in terrible human crimes…most caused by demons or demonic influences. But I tried to make it a story of family and human love as well as a survival story in the face of overwhelming odds as the world spins to its end.
A LESSON FROM DISAPPOINTMENT:
Many agents, editors and publishers turned it down. Too religious. Not religious enough. Not enough this, not enough that. .. I wasn’t a big enough writer. How dare I write something on such a huge religious scale. Oh, no, you have angels in it? Oh, no, you have demons in it! Whatever. But I believed so much in the book I didn’t give up. I kept sending it out.
In 2010 I finally sold it to Kim Richards at Damnation Books, her brand new publishing company (and now she also owns Eternal Press and Realms of Fantasy Magazine). She read and loved it. She got it. By then I’d also finished another horror novel, more a romantic horror tale about a witchy vampiress resurrected from her Civil War era tomb and now haunting her old home, an atmospheric lovely bed and breakfast run in the present by a loving husband and wife. The wife has to fight to save her husband’s life when the vampiress believes he’s her reincarnated soldier/lover from the Civil War days and tries to take him back for her own. A real eternal love story. A dangerous love triangle. Of course dead drained corpses show up all over the place. I called that book
The Woman in Crimson. Kim loved and contracted both of them.
An editor, Lisa Jackson, helped me polish up A Time of Demons until it shone and Annie Melton created a striking, scary, cover in vivid scarlets with the two main characters at their microphones and a demon-hiding-behind-its-human face customer at a nearby table.
So that’s how the BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons was given life. Hopefully, in the next few years I’ll write the second novel in the series…when I get all my old Leisure and Zebra paperback books (going back to 1984) all rewritten and out again between June 2010 and July 2012. Kim offered to reissue all ten of them, revised and with astonishingly striking new covers, and I couldn’t say no. It’s been a heck of a lot of work, but a labor of love. What writer wouldn’t want a second chance to make an old book a better one and have it rereleased all over again? Not me, for sure. Grin.
WINNER OF AN AWARD!
And A time of Demons? Since its release last May it’s gotten fantastic reviews (see there all you naysayers!) and has even won the She Never Slept’s 2010 Nightmare Award, as one of the three best romantic horror books they’d read in all of 2010. Yeah! Now if more people would give it a try, a read, I’m hopeful they’d like it, as well. It’s far more than a simple horror or religious parable…it’s a family and earthly human saga. All I can do is pray, hope…and promote, promote, promote!
I’ll never give up. How can I? It’s my masterpiece. As my mom used to say, winners never quit and losers never win. And me, I’m not a quitter. Or I try not to be. Sometimes the crazy book/publishing world can drive me plumb nuts. But I always get over it. Grin.
So thank you all for letting me ramble on and on…warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith
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