You might have been in line behind the monster at the supermarket, or filling your car at the next pump. Maybe you hushed him in a movie theater, or she cut in front of you in traffic.
The monster doesn’t live under your bed or in your closet, doesn’t come out of a coffin when the sun goes down or transform into a vicious beast under the full moon.
The monster looks like you and me and your boss and the guy behind the counter at Wendy’s.
I enjoy reading tales of vampires and zombies, witches and werewolves, ghosts and haunted houses and all the rest. Those are the traditional monsters, the stuff of classic movies and the fiction of fear, and they’re fun to check in on from time to time. And I’ve written more than my share of vampire fiction (eleven novels about Buffy’s pal Angel, the vampire with a soul, and four set in the world of 30 Days of Night, for instance), and a zombie story here and there. My next novel, 7 SYKOS, written with my partner Marsheila Rockwell and coming in February, is sorta kinda a zombie book, but with some huge twists that keep it from really being a zombie book. But it’s in that neighborhood, anyway.
I dig zombies and bloodsuckers and demons and all the rest. But that stuff doesn’t scare me. It’s not real. It’s not a threat. I’m not going to turn a corner on a city sidewalk and bump into one.
It’s the real monsters that I find truly scary. The ones you can bump into. The ones you might regret having bumped into.
They’re human beings. They’re predators. They’re out there. They might be reading this over your shoulder.
They might be you.
EMPTY ROOMS is a dark thriller that grew out of a nonfiction book I wrote, called CRIMINAL MINDS: SOCIOPATHS, SERIAL KILLERS & OTHER DEVIANTS. The good folks at CBS-TV asked me to write a book describing the real stories behind the crimes and criminals that inspired and were mentioned in the first five seasons of the Criminal Minds TV series. That book demanded tons of research, and that research—studying the most horrific things people can do to each other—took me to some pretty dark places.
One of the things I learned doing that research was just how close my life’s path has taken me to that of various serial killers. It’s spelled out in the book’s introduction—check it out. Finding those intersections, while I was doing that research, raised the hairs on the back of my neck like no vampire has ever done.
In EMPTY ROOMS, the “monster” is a human being. He’s a predator of the worst kind—the kind who preys on children. The book is not, I believe, salacious or triggery. It is as authentic as I could make it, sensitive to the horror of what’s predators do to children, while avoiding sensationalism. It’s been praised by victims of childhood sexual abuse and by fellow authors, including folks like Michael Connelly (who called it a “searing, no holds barred journey into darkness” and said “I highly recommend it.”) and T. Jefferson Parker, who wrote that it’s “as good and moving as a thriller can be,” and added, “Keenly observed and deftly written, it’s something you’ll want on your shelf as long as you have one.”
It’s scary, I believe, because it’s real. Those monsters, those predators . . . they’re out there. And you won’t always recognize them, because they don’t sport fur or fangs.
Most of the monsters in the MONSTERS Storybundle are the more traditional kind. And they’re fun, spooky stories, perfect for Halloween-season reading (and beyond). Many were written by good friends and some are by authors I’ve yet to encounter, so I’ve got some great reading ahead of me, too.
You probably know the deal by now—you pay what you want for the 12-book set. A minimum of $5 gets you the first 6 books, for $15 or more, you get ‘em all. You decide how much of that goes to charity, how much to the authors and to the storybundle folks for their costs. The set was curated by the mega-talented Kevin J. Anderson.
You can’t go wrong with these tales. You can’t go wrong at these prices.
Just don’t look for real monsters to be clawing their way out of graveyard earth or fluttering around in the form of a bat.
Real monsters are much sneakier than that. And much scarier.
Real monsters look just like us.