Once again, I will delve into spoilers from the book. Consider this your last warning!
– The character of Henry Ray is inspired by an inmate that the news station I work for has reported on many times. He’s a mean SOB that terrorized anybody who would have the misfortune to interact with him. During one of the many reports of his transgressions, I thought to myself what would happen if he were to escape. The switch was flicked in my head and I knew I had my monster.
– Henry Ray’s backstory and motives were kept vague for a reason. If I wanted to write a prequel novel, I didn’t want to be stuck with something I shoehorned into this novel. With it vague, I now have the option of switching things up as I see fit. I do know why he ended up going through the ritual, but with it not mentioned in this book, I can change it at a moment’s notice.
– The genesis of the story had been digging around in my head for years. I never had a set timeline of events, but I had individual scenes that would occasionally reemerge into my consciousness. On Labor Day in 2011, I sat down with a pad of paper and a pencil to write down a few things so that I wouldn’t forget them. About 6 or so hours later, I finished with a basic chapter by chapter summary of the novel. Needless to say, I was excited that what I had wrote was a complete story and was something that I could turn into a story. The next day I began to write the first draft of the book.
– The title of the book went through many iterations. It began as something generic, “The Prisoner.” At the time, I was well aware of the BBC program of the same name so that title was simply a place holder. Eventually, I tried out “The Convict” and “No Outlet” as possible titles. None of those thrilled me to say the least. I began to call it “Henry Ray Has Escaped” as another temp. However, I loved that kind of pulp feel the title had. I felt it set up perfectly the type of book I was aiming for, so the name stuck.
– A trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with a few of my friends is where the story began to take some shape.
– Kingsborough, Kentucky is a made up town. When I was writing it, I knew I did not want to have an actual place be the center of the story so the town came into existence. My creating the town, it also allowed me the benefit of changing things around to fit the story I wanted to tell.
– To me, Meghan Baxter was the mother of the core group. To symbolize this in the initial drafts, she was the mother of a two year old kid (I know, very deep of me). With this in mind, I aimed to do something that I wish more horror films wouldn’t shy away from. But when the time came to follow through on my initial plans, I found that I couldn’t do it (I’m such a wuss). So, in keeping with the mother motif, I made her six months pregnant. Even that made me question my decision. Eventually I decided on three months. It was still the hardest chapter I had to write.
– The question becomes, why did I have to kill off a pregnant woman (told you there would be spoilers)? This was in direct response to one of the movies in the Friday the 13th series. A character in the third one made in off hand remark about how she was pregnant. Nothing was made of it afterwards and many people forgot about it when she ended up getting Kevin Baconed on the hammock. That had always upset me about that movie (among other things but that is a discussion for a much later time).
– The group from the rental cabin were designed to be more of the generic slasher victims that one would see in the horror films from the 80’s. They were inserted for the express purpose of getting Sam and her friends out of their cabin. None of the rental group were supposed to live past their needed chapter. However, when writing the second draft, I ended up giving Court a mild reprieve as I thought one of them should have some effect on the rest of the story. As I inserted her into more of the story, I began to love the dynamic she brought to the survivors, so her death kept getting pushed back and back until it got to the point that she became more of the second lead. It wound up being a major rewrite but to me, it felt right.
– Of course, with Court’s new prominence in the story, a few of the other characters got the short end of the stick, namely Frank and Terry. In the first draft, Frank survived his initial encounter with Henry Ray and was the one gravely injured. Court took his place and Frank ended up deceased a lot sooner than expected. Terry was also supposed to be the second to Sam in the theater at the end. Sam was to accidentally shoot Frank and Terry was the one to snap her out of it. Because of Court, the situation changed to the current status.
– The initial climax of the story took place in a cave Sam had found on her jog on the second day. But as I was writing towards that end, it just felt off. I took a day off from writing to figure out how I wanted to end it. That’s when it struck me, I had the perfect place for the ending. I set up an abandoned town earlier in the novel, and did not utilize it like I should have. It worked towards the escape aspect and was a great set piece. Because of this change, certain scenes that I always had a problem with were excised and the story is much better for it.
– Bryan and Autumn’s situation was one that had been digging itself into my head since college. Initially, it wasn’t Henry Ray being the killer but Jason Voorhees. In fact, this whole tale began as a kind of fan fiction to the Friday the 13th series. I never wrote it down that way, as if I were to write something, I wanted to be able to profit off of it.
More tidbits to come. If there is a specific question, please click on the Contact Me page and I will get back to you.