Synopsis: Something is wrong in Arcadia Falls. The first boy vanished without a trace and with just as little fanfare. Even the second disappearance amounted to little more than a few passing remarks and another name skipped over in the classroom roll call. As far as Riverside High and the rest of Arcadia Falls were concerned, it seemed, it was as if nothing had happened at all. Tyler John was no different. He had barely given the matter a second thought, but then a wrong turn sent him on a path straight into the dark heart of the mystery, and the deeper he peered into the shadows, the more he realized that something was looking back. Now, the hunter has become the hunted and time is running out. With nowhere else to turn, it’s up to Tyler and his handful of friends to stop the evil thing that’s been preying on Arcadia Falls, and if they fail, they might just be the next ones to vanish. Yes, something is desperately wrong in Arcadia Falls, and it’s like nothing anyone has ever seen before.
CH: Today’s International Guest Author is Ken Stark. He writes stories to chill the blood. Welcome to my blog, Ken.
CH: Can you sum up this young adult horror in 20 words or less?
KS: Something is preying on Arcadia Falls, and a small group of friends have to either stop it, or die trying.
CH: Why did you decide to write this book on this topic?
KS: I asked my best friend’s teenaged daughter one day what kind of book she’d most like to read, and her answer was, “Something scary, with a monster, and some kind of mystery.” Well, scary was right up my alley, and a mystery could only add depth to the story, but it was her insistence that the monster be something entirely new that really hooked me. I mean, what horror writer doesn’t want to unleash a whole new monster on the world? I started hashing out a story that very night, and the more developed the ‘monster’ became, the more I knew I had to let it loose.
CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing about kids disappearing and the townspeople not seeming to care?
KS: I tend to get caught up in the details, so the logistics of this story were a bit of a challenge. Without giving too much away, the ‘thing’ that’s been preying on Arcadia Falls has a way of hiding in plain sight, so it was a constant balancing act with different characters knowing a little more than the others and with how long each one might retain those memories.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues?
KS: It isn’t easy to keep a story grounded in reality when it’s specifically designed to scare the snot out of the reader, but if it’s going to be scary, it has to be believable—and to be believable, it first has to be imaginable. I can create any kind of monster I want, but if the reader can’t imagine such a thing existing or if the characters don’t act the way real people would in those situations, then the whole thing falls apart. It’s like capturing that single moment where we’re just waking up from a nightmare and everything is familiar; yet, anything is possible. That moment is fleeting at best, but I have to make it last through an entire book, so it can be tricky at times.
CH: There are several characters in the group of teens. Which character was hardest to develop?
KS: Niki is by far the most complex character I’ve ever created, so she was a handful to say the least! She’s sweet and she’s snarky and she’s vulnerable and she’s strong, and I was never really sure which side of her was going to show up at any given moment, so she demanded a lot of attention. But it was important to me that I get her right, so all of that work really was a labor of love.
CH: Which characters experienced growth and change over the course of the story?
KS: Certainly, everyone was affected by the experience, but where most of them were changed more was in how they perceived one another and the world around them, than in any physical sense. I think Roly underwent a real metamorphosis along the way. He showed his true colors, he proved his courage, and he might just have become the hero no one ever thought he could be.
CH: Which character was your favorite to write?
KS: Niki was my favorite character, but Sarah was my favorite character to write. She’s sarcastic and she’s a smart-ass, so it was a sheer joy to me every time she opened her mouth. Plus, she has a heart of gold underneath that tough exterior, so it was great letting her reveal her gooey center to the others, if only in tiny little glimpses.
CH: You have captured your readers, teens and adults alike, when writing horror stories, and most of your readers come away from your books wanting to read more. How have you perfected this hook?
KS: Honestly, I have no idea! I simply write what I write and hope that someone out there likes it. When I first started out, I figured my stuff would appeal to a fairly tight demographic, but the feedback I get is from everywhere across the spectrum.
The best I can figure, it’s because I write from the heart. I try to screw words together in a way that will scare the crap out of people, yes, but there’s always within it a glimmer of hope. The world may be crashing down around your ears and every nightmare you’ve ever had might be coming to life, but as bad as things get, there might just be a way out, and maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to go through the nightmare alone. I guess that kind of story just resonates with people. Tell you what, though…if you can figure out for sure what makes one book successful, while another gathers dust, you tell me and we’ll patent that sucker.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?
KS: Well, I don’t feel particularly compelled to adhere to rules of grammar set out by some bespectacled professor centuries ago, so I write in a very natural way. When you’re talking to a friend, you don’t worry about dangling participles or splitting infinitives, so why should it be any different just because it’s in print?
Arcadia Falls was written with a younger reader in mind, but I didn’t do anything different to fit the story into the ‘YA’ genre. In fact, I don’t think that there should even be a specific genre based on age. Young people are every bit as smart as their elders, and quite often smarter, so they are perfectly capable of deciding what they want to read.
CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write horror?
KS: They can come from anywhere at all, and I mean that literally. Sitting in traffic? What if that kindly old gentleman one car over has a child’s body in the trunk. Or that sound that woke me up in the middle of the night? What if that was the last dying gasp of a neighbor? Literally anything and everything can be turned into a horror story if you look at it a certain way. A visit to an elderly aunt, a stray cat, a knock on the door, a siren in the night, sitting on a toilet, taking a shower…
Tell you what, the next time you’re about to pull back that shower curtain, take a second or two and let your mind wander. How many horrors can you imagine waiting for you on the other side?
CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?
KS: I admired so many authors growing up; Poe, Asimov, King, Conan Doyle, Wells… I’d love to meet them all, but I honestly don’t know if I’d want to work with any of them. Writers are a solitary bunch after all, and we all want the story to come out as we see it in our heads, so collaborations are tricky. If I worked with any one of those masters, I’m sure I’d be relegated to coffee-monkey, so I’d much rather just hang out and pick their brains and maybe steal a peek over their shoulder from time to time, as they went to work.
CH: What is your favorite horror book? And why?
KS: I have to go with a classic: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yes, scarier books have been written since, but for sheer creepiness, nothing beats the book that first introduced us to the modern vampire.
CH: From a feedback perspective, and without a spoiler, did most readers find the ending to be satisfying and met their expectations of the plot?
KS: I’m happy to say that from what I’ve heard, the ending fits the story perfectly—scary, exciting, and with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure.
CH: What is your next writing project?
KS: I’m hard at work on the third book of the Stage 3 series, entitled Stage 3: Bravo, and I have a couple of short stories in the works as well, one of which will be part of an anthology due out for Halloween. Everything else is up in the air for now, right where I like to keep them.
CH: Can you give my audience your website address?
KS: Absolutely! I invite everyone to drop by and have a look. There’s no mailing list or newsletter to sign up for, so stop in, read a short story or two, and use the contact page to drop me a line. I can’t promise to answer every message, but I promise I’ll read them all.
CH: How to Find Ken Stark:
- Ken’s Website: www.kenstark.ca
- Ken’s Author Page: http://tiny.cc/5z0nqy
- Ken’s Amazon Link: http://tiny.cc/400nqy
CH: Can you tell my audience where they can purchase your book?
KS: Arcadia Falls is on Amazon right now, with a special release price of 99 cents, but the sale will only last until mid-February, so act fast!
CH: Any closing remarks?
KS: This was a lot of fun! Thank you, Cheryl! I’m always grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about myself and my books and the writing process, and if anyone wants to know more, they can find me on my website or on social media. Just search for my name or PennilessScribe, and you’ll find me.
Happy reading to you all!
CH: Thank you so much, Ken Stark, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience. And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book. I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.
Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Ken Stark and Cheryl Holloway.
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