I write horror because I enjoy it as both a writer and a reader (or viewer). There’s nothing quite like having someone tell me they read one of my books and it scared them; warms the cockles of my heart.
For example, my latest Kindle book is my 1994 novel ON WINGS OF LEATHER. It was published by Leisure as THE DEVOURING. It received some nice notices and was named one of the best horror novels of the year by Science Fiction Chronicles.
People tell me it’s a scary book and reviewers liked to point out that the creatures in the book were vicious and blood-thirsty and not worthy of our pity. I would add that they were horny, too.
Leisure had a book scheduled entitled THE DEVOURING and it apparently fell through. All the publicity had gone out and orders were coming in and there on the editor’s desk was my query letter. He snapped up my book to fill the void. Hence the cover — evil yellow eyes staring through a broken door — that had nothing to do with the story. I hated the title from the get go, but in a phone conversation with the editor, I was told ON WINGS OF LEATHER was too similar to a romance Leisure had just published entitled ON WINGS OF LOVE. Somehow I doubt the readers of ON WINGS OF LOVE would get confused by my books, since they most likely would never consider reading it.
Sales might have been stronger if Leisure had not marketed it by Douglas D. Hawk and Robert Kangas. I assume Kangas was the author who didn’t deliver a manuscript. The double names confused buyers and made book signings exceedingly difficult to schedule.
Additionally, the book became part of a class action lawsuit against Leisure. Typical of New York publishers, Leisure was cooking the books and an audit showed that they owed a lot of money to a number of writers. What the owed me was not a fortune, but was the royalty for more than 7,000 books. (I’ll save my diatribe on the corruption rampant in the publishing industry for a future blog.)
I conceived ON WINGS OF LEATHER while working at the University of Denver. I had a window in my second floor office that looked towards Mount Evans and the Front Range and in some daydreaming fugue state I visualized a winged creature flying around a mountain peak. The image haunted me for years until I exorcised it by writing the book in which winged death paralyzes a small Colorado mountain town as FBI agents and local law enforcement officers seek a solution to a series of horrific deaths. Overseeing the investigation is Roberta Ferris and FBI Special Agent Richard Case aided by Morgan Blaylock, a reluctant local with enough problems of his own.