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  • Writer's pictureblaine daigle

The Road So Far...

With publication day still a bit down the road, it is interesting to look back on the last few years of this process. I don't know what exactly I expected, but I can safely say that the results did not match even my most banal expectations.

While the idea that would grow into The Broken Places was planted in my head at twelve years old, I didn't start writing it until 2020. By that point, I had gone through my pretentious phase (the ability of college literature programs to stifle creativity is another topic for another day) and my great quest to write "The Great American Novel"...

Sorry, just threw up in my mouth a little there. Anyway...

That quest had failed. I had a story full of symbolism, allegory, and deep character studies (or at least what I thought were deep) but there was one big problem.

Nothing. Happened. At. All.

There was no connection. No life. Talk about imposter syndrome, I was just plagiarizing, very poorly, writers who had already said the same things I was trying to say in much stronger ways. Seriously, if you want to get the gist of the message I was trying to convey in my pretentious drivel, then go read Alex Garland's The Beach or Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. They did it significantly better.

But a funny thing happened around 2018 or 19. I got back into genre fiction, specifically horror. I'd forgotten how much I loved it, how much it did speak to me. I devoured Adam Nevill's The Ritual and then I exploded from there. The list of pure inspiration is vast. Stephen Graham Jones's masterpiece The Only Good Indians, Andy Davidson's disgustingly beautiful The Boatman's Daughter, and Mike Flanagan's perfect (yes, I said perfect) adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House. It was like seeing an old friend and realizing it had been too damn long.

And that story planted in my twelve-year-old mind started scratching at the surface.

And then we went into lockdown.

So, with no job to perform and a second child on the way...I decided to let that story breathe. I wrote the first draft in about six months before finishing it in the hospital following the birth of my second son. And then I spent the next two years revamping and revising a story that I knew had good bones but needed the meat.

I searched for advice. I had some close friends who I trusted to read the early drafts, and they provided me with incredible feedback that greatly shaped the book you will see. I kept reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I rediscovered my taste for horror, what I liked and didn't, and edited my own story accordingly.

Then came the most disheartening part...sending the book out for submission. It wasn't so much that was I getting rejection after rejection. It wasn't that at all. I wasn't getting anything back. When the book finally got picked up, I actually had to go into four different submission portals and remove the entry that had been sitting there for nearly a year. Then, the publishers who did get back to me seemed as though the topics discussed in the book weren't what they were looking for. I understood that and at least appreciated the honesty. Everything has a market, my story didn't fit theirs. Again, I get that completely.

I had pretty much decided on self-publishing when I stumbled across a Facebook ad for Wicked House Publishing. I hadn't even been looking for publishing houses lately, so I don't know how the algorithm found me, but it did. I sent in the manuscript, and they asked for more, so I gave them more. I signed the contract about two weeks later with the biggest, dumbest grin on my face.

See, I've wanted to be a writer my entire life. While it took me a while to find my way back to my true first love of horror, the dream itself never died. As The Broken Places goes through its final editing stage, I look back on the book with pride for the process and the product. I am forever indebted to the names of Nevill, Jones, Davidson, and Flanagan for reminding me what this genre can really be and inspiring me to try it myself. The end result is a book that has symbolism, allegory, and what I consider to be deep character exploration, just like my original efforts.

But things actually happen in this one.



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