The Next Big Thing: The Ghosts of New Years

by Suzanne Long

Photo by Suzanne Long

I sit here at my cottage, the fire flickering, the rye warming, looking out at the snowy landscape and I can’t help but feel my future is staring back at me. It’s daring me to reach out and grasp it. To choose one path and fill in the vista with rich colours as I go.

It is also a time I reflect on what was. BUT I quickly steer away from that dark path even though it may be paved with brightness, the fact that it is now the past is what throws a pall over it. At least for me.

I count my blessings. My two girls, who fill me with pride and wonder each and every day. Old souls with a mischievous bent, the pair of them. I truly pity the boys they eventually lock their sights on. My wife; I don’t know how I was so lucky to find someone who gets me. The fact that she’s smarter than I even dreamed to be and gorgeous to boot, has me grinning from ear to ear. And my family, a collection of nuts and oddballs brimming over with talent and large hearts.

I also have the extremely good fortune to have surrounded myself with some pretty awesome friends.

Being part of one of the biggest and best writing communities, is nothing to sneeze at either.

That said, it was a bit of a surprise when I opened up my e-mail and there was a note from someone I admire. Ruth Walker, a teacher, an editor, owner of one of the best storytelling voices I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, and the author of Living Underground asked me to be part of a unique blog chain. For those of you that don’t know what a blog chain is, it is a way for blogger or, in this case, writers/authors to get themselves out to a larger market. In the process (this is the part I really like) promote their fellow writers.

Ruth’s version is here I highly recommend reading it. She is a wonderful writer.

This particular blog chain is to introduce readers to our up-coming or “in the works” projects aptly titled, “The Next Big Thing”. As Ruth put it, “It is a wonderful opportunity to look at a work in progress and gain some insights into the work.”

There are ten questions we were to answer and then tag five other authors. The authors I chose will follow after the questions. Not all of them have agreed to participate yet but I’ll include them anyways as I feel they are worth the mention. They are also the sites I read most often, not including the ones already noted by Ruth.

So, without further ado, The Ten Questions.

1. What is the working tile of your book?
Ok, I cheated on this. I am actually working on several projects at once. Don’t ask how that is working out. Suffice it to say, the one(s) I will, and want to, talk about are my novels, Echoes and Appetites.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Both came from writing prompts at Durham College writing classes.
Echoes was a prompt to write a book report. The twist was to write it with a creative bent. A non-standard book report, if you will. I chose Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. My angle was to write it from the point of view of Lord Byron receiving Mary’s first draft in 1818. The more research I did, the more I was drawn into not only their story, but also the time period. What struck me were the parallels to the 1960’s, like feminism and free love, but I’ll stop there because I could go on for pages.

For Appetites, the writing prompt was, believe it or not, a tube of lipstick, a silver earring and a pick-up truck. My mind immediately plucked out the silver earring and leapt to werewolves and Red Riding Hood. We were to write our piece in the point of view that comes most naturally to us and then to transpose it to the other points of view, IE Third Person, Second Person, First Person, and Third Person Omniscient. My teachers said that Second Person was the hardest to write so, naturally, that is what I started with. The curious thing was, that with each change in P.O.V., the story grew instead of staying as just a retelling. It also sparked the idea that evil comes in many forms and the question that when faced with one evil, does that make the other, lesser evil, good?

3. What genre does your book fall under?

My books have garnered a number of different labels. This can be a curse when it comes time for publishing. It is also something I struggle with as I don’t like to be labelled. The most common label, though, is horror. The thing is, I don’t consider them horror. Sure there aspect of horror but not the massive amounts of gore normally associated with that label. To me, true “horror” instills aspects of all the emotions. So, to that end, I prefer the label, Literary Thriller.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a very good question because I write very visually. In that, instead of bits of dialogue or dribbles of description, the stories play out in my head as movies. I see every scene and every character.
Taylor Swift as ClaireSo, for Echoes, I had this image of Taylor Swift for Claire. Not necessarily because of her acting chops but because of this picture:

kat denninds as MaryFor Mary, I’m still a little unsure. Mary is curvier than Claire. At first I thought Selena Gomez or Debbie Ryan, but I’m thinking Kat Dennings would make a good Mary:

For Matt, I was thinking along the lines of Zac Efron and Jason Dolley as John.

Dennis_Quaid as Lou Garou

As for Appetites, so far I only have one, Denis Quaid as the Cajun, Louis Pierre Garou.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Echoes: John wants nothing more than to have his childhood sweetheart, Mary, see him as more than just a friend and during a trip to England, with a group of University friends, he plans to change that. When time overlaps and fate, or something more sinister, has them literally and mortally following in Mary Shelley’s footsteps, only John can save them. The problem is, John doesn’t want all of them saved. (sorry, I broke it into three sentences)

Appetites: When reformed ex-con, Peter, returns to his hometown to try and rebuild his life, the townsfolk can’t accept that he is, indeed, reformed and a rash of mysterious disappearances and grisly murders has all their fingers pointed at Peter with chants of rapist, murderer and even werewolf following him around town. Peter doesn’t think he did it and neither does the outspoken, young, pet store owner, Dee. The problem is, Peter begins to doubt himself as he digs into his past to try an prove his innocence and restore the quiet life he so desperately craves.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Call me old fashioned, but when the time comes, I want to be represented by an agency. That is what I am actively pursuing right now.

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Both books took one year, thanks to A Novel Approach. Now that’s just the first draft. Echoes has been in the spin cycle of edits and revisions for three years. I hope to speed that up a bit. Ideally, I would like to write a book every six months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to, within your genre?

I’m not a big fan of comparing myself to others in any way, shape, or form. Especially when it comes to my writing. I would hope that my writing is unique. That said, Echoes is similar in form to a mash-up of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. And Appetites would be comparable to the movie The Wolfman and the novel, The Howling by Gary Brandner.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My inspiration is a deep-seated love of the old style thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allen Poe, Sherlock Holmes and the list goes on. I cut my reading teeth on The Hardy Boys and moved to fantasy like Piers Anthony, J.R.R. Tolkien. But the dark, psychological stories of Dean Koontz pulled me in.
What keeps me writing is the look of horror or grin of satisfaction on my readers’ faces. That, is what fuels my passion. Well, that and my wife and daughters believing in me.

10. What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?

Both books deal with the dark corners of the human psyche. While Echoes explores the notion of whether you can believe what you see, hear and taste, Appetites deals with self-doubt and the capacity for people to forgive.

Again, both books rely, heavily on the strength of the characters; both books have strong and quirky female characters; both books run the gamut of emotions.

I love history and I love bending actual facts to suit the needs of my stories. Echoes takes place in the sixties and the 1800’s, while Appetites is more modern but delves in tradition and family history.

Essentially, there is something for everyone in both books.


And that, in a nutshell, is the man behind the curtain for Echoes and Appetites.

Here are the other writers. Please take a moment and visit their sites. I wish I could list more, but the rules say only five. But if you need more, there is also the list to the right. All worth a look.

Tobin Elliott, who of course visited The Author’s Voice in October. Tobin writes horror but is also adept at humour. He is a writing teacher as well. A triple treat, one might say. Drop by his site and say hello.

Lisa Llamrei, likes to romp in the Pagan fields of the fey. She weaves history, fantasy and even science fiction with a deft hand. She also visited The Author’s Voice and is currently hard at work on her third novel. Visit her at

Claire Gillian, the Darkly Romantic Curmudgeon, when she’s not writing romance, she weaves a dark web and dips into the horror genre but always with a sense of humour. Visit her at

Diane Dooley, visited The Author’s Voice as well. Diane has a thing for aliens. Ok, not really, but she is a true Sci-fi nut. Yes I called her a nut. Another romance writer with a great sense of humour. She has three Science Fiction romance books under her belt. Visit her at

Aimee Laine, isn’t always what she seems… sorry, that’s her character in her books. Aimee writes paranormal romance but can also reach into her bags of trick and pull out the thriller card every once in a while. Visit her here

And, like Ruth, I have to mention Phil Dwyer. He originally pitched this very same idea to me a while back but I took too long, due to family issues, to get back to him. He is a co-conspirator in writing workshops and a writer with a vast arsenal of writing skills. His dark humour is outstanding. Please visit him here

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my drink has been reduced to broken embers in a dying glass. 2013 is staring at me through the window and, quite frankly, I’m afraid to blink.

Happy New Years, happy reading and thank-you for making my blog, and The Author’s Voice, a stopping place in your busy days.

Edit: Since this chain started, it has taken some unusual twists and turns. Fellow author Deepam asked as well. Only problem is, her request got tangled in her outbox, so I am breaking the rules yet again and adding another name to the list, since I am on her chain. So, please visit Deepam (Susan) Wadds‘ site here Deepam writes in rich emotional layers and turns common perception on it’s ear with her novel The Cost of Weather.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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18 Responses to The Next Big Thing: The Ghosts of New Years

  1. Deepam (Susan) Wadds says:

    This is a great post, Dale… gives a clear and intriguing picture(s) of your projects and an idea of what it takes to get those puppies done. I was sure I had sent out the invitation to do this to both you and Ruth, as Lauren Carter sent me the invite several weeks ago. But I just went through my emails and discovered it was till in DRAFT form. Ooops. Oh well, well, done, Dale. Wishing you success in getting agented and published!

  2. Happy New Year, Dale. Looks like you’ve got it all in hand for 2013!

  3. Pingback: The Next Big Thing | deepamwadds

  4. Claire says:

    Happy New Year, Dale! Thanks for tapping me, especially giving me a nod for horror. I suppose I need to write more to live up to the “darkly” part of my moniker. LOL I was intrigued you tried writing in second person. I’ve tried it twice for short stories (cannot even imagine doing a whole novel) and it really is tough, tough, tough.

    • Dale Long says:

      I always strive to stretch myself. I’m one of those “don’t tell me I can’t do something because I’ll prove you wrong” jerks. 😉
      Always happy to promote my fellow writers.
      Sorry to “out” you as a horror writer too.

  5. Pingback: The Next Big Thing: A blog chain of works in progress | Revise, Revise, Revise

  6. Phil Dwyer says:

    Nice post Dale. Funny how, once you start digging into the research, everything is connected. As you say, there are many parallels between Byron’s time and the modern age. He was a rock star for sure — the Mick Jagger to Shelley’s Brian Jones. But what fascinates me the most is the universal fascination with those gothic themes they mined: vampyres, monsters and ghouls. You’d think in our post-modern, science-obsessed world, these story memes would all be dead, but it seems they are as strong as ever.

    • Dale Long says:

      It gets better, William Godwin was an anarchist, and Mary Wollstonecraft was what many consider, the first feminist. Plus, the whole summer of 1816 was reminiscent of the 60’s love-ins.
      As for the whole Vampyres (Nice catch on that!) I believe it isn’t about the monsters, per se, but about one’s own mortality and or the freedom from societal constraints. Which is a timeless fear.
      Thanks Phil!

  7. Pingback: The Next Big Thing…if I can think of a good title for it. » Claire Gillian

  8. Diane Dooley says:

    ‘Literary Thriller’ has a nice ring to it. Best of luck nabbing that agent!

    • Dale Long says:

      Thanks Diane! I like the ring of Literary Thriller too. I tend to write character driven stories.
      This year is the year. I can feel it. Now, that might be breakfast repeating on me. 😉

  9. Pingback: The Next Big “Things” | When we're not writing, we're probably reading.

  10. Pingback: Bad News, Good News? | Inkstroke's Blog

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