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  • Writer's pictureblaine daigle

The True Story That Inspired The Broken Places

Release day is finally here! In celebration, I thought I'd write about something only a few people know. The Broken Places is a work comprising many different inspirations and creative processes as well as personal experiences and tragedy. However, there is a true story that inspired a big part of the book that I want to share with you all. As you can tell by the cover, the deer plays a vital role in the story, and its inclusion stretches all the way back to the summer of 2010.

I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old, and I knew horror was my favorite genre. I also knew that I wanted to write a scary story involving a snowy forest.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put a significant damper on the summer plans of many gulf coast dwellers, my family included. Our usual beach plans were no longer viable as the authorities attempted to corral and contain the environmental disaster. I had just graduated high school and my family was looking forward to one more vacation together before I went to college. With the beach out of the question, we decided to spend a few days in a cabin in the mountains of north Georgia, near the Tennessee border. The trip itself was quite a lot of fun.

But one night.

It was the second night of our stay and I was sleeping in the upstairs room. At around 1 AM I woke up thirsty and went downstairs. The cabin had these large windows that stretched higher than what I considered "normal". The only light in the mountains at night came from whichever cabin was closest to you. In this case, the nearest cabin was about a quarter mile away, and whatever light might have been given off was nonexistent. The only thing lighting the outside world was the soft glow of the waning moon above.

I couldn't tell you, even today, why I didn't turn on the light. I guess the digital readouts from the oven and microwave were enough to guide me to the refrigerator, but there was this weird ethereal effect upon the darkness outside. I remember it was creepy, and there was this part of me that really...really..didn't want to look out those windows. So I grabbed the gallon of milk in the fridge and took a few gulps before putting it back. Then I turned to go back upstairs, and my eyes glanced out one of those high windows.

There was a deer standing on the porch of the cabin, looking in at me.

Now, there was nothing wrong with the deer. I didn't see a shadow growing behind it. It didn't look at me with baleful eyes. It was just a curious wild animal. But, and I'm not ashamed to admit this, it scared the shit out of me.

I don't know what it was. The lighting? The eerie part of the morning where you're not sure what's real and what's the extension of a dream? The fact that I'd never seen a deer do something like this? I didn't know then, and I don't know now. But I will never forget the feeling of ice moving up every vertebra in my back until it cooled the nape of my neck. The staring contest lasted only a few seconds before the deer turned and calmly walked back into the forest as though nothing had happened.

That scene always stuck with me, and it was one of the things that made me realize just how important atmosphere is to a good scary story. So when I sat down to plan The Broken Places with all my themes and ideas, that image of the deer was still there. As though it had patiently waited for a decade to raise its antlered head in my direction once again. So, I included a version of it and the scene has gone on to become a favorite of mine as well as almost all of my early readers. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

If you read The Broken Places and find yourself creeped out by those black eyes and risen antlers, you should have seen it under the ethereal glow of an early summer moon in the mountains of northern Georgia.



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