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Category Archives: brian hodge

Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Brian Hodge talks about the dark inspiration for his story, “This Stagnant Breath of Change.”

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Horror and crime and whatever it is that David Lynch does nail it best: Small towns may look placid, even idyllic, on the surface, but more often than not, they’re festering underneath.

 

Just the other day, I saw — I wish I recalled where — the summary of a study concluding that, despite all the fears directed at the big bad city, you’re more likely to be murdered in a small town. The worst murders I’ve ever heard about took place in a tiny town twelve miles from the one I grew up in, and still lived at the time. They haunted me for the twelve years they went unsolved. They did not happen in a vacuum; they were the worst in an aberrantly bloody time. A few years ago, I wrote an essay about them, and the era they emerged out of, for a book benefiting the West Memphis Three … victims of another multi-layered small town nightmare whose extended cast of characters would strain credulity if you tried to pass them off as fiction.

 

So I found the idea of placing a Lovecraftian story in a retro small town setting instantly appealing. I loved the juxtaposition of the comfortably familiar and the unfathomably alien.

 

But the more I tossed around ideas, the more I felt compelled to not just use the small town setting, but try to pry away at the reverence American culture has for them in the first place. What better vehicle for this than a town that not only hasn’t changed, but can’t?

 

We excel at conjuring up Golden Age nostalgia that celebrates what’s genuinely good about small towns by overlooking everything about them that wasn’t worth preserving. For instance, the legacy of what have been called “sundown towns” … that is: If you have the wrong color skin, you may get away with walking our streets in daylight, but make sure you’re gone by evening. I grew up a few miles from one of those, too; spoke to people who remembered seeing the sign along the road in.

 

Even more crucial was getting at how the good old days were really the province of the good old boys, with their networks and a vested interest in preserving the status quo, so everything remained ripe for the picking. Which, to me, is the real relevance for today, as Main Street scales up to Wall Street.

 

I tapped quite a few memories of where I came from to weave into “This Stagnant Breath of Change,” and they were good ones. I hope that comes through. Just the same, I was reminded of Hemingway’s subtly barbed comment on St. Louis: that it was a good place to be from.

 

– Brian

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Brian Hodge accepted his destiny as a writer early, when as a preschooler he used to scribble on scraps of wood and affix them to unsuspecting trees. Eventually he learned the alphabet, which proved to be an enormous help.

He is now the award-winning author of eleven novels spanning horror, crime, and historical; close to 120 shorter works; and five full-length collections. His first collection, The Convulsion Factory, was ranked by critic Stanley Wiater among the 113 best books of modern horror.

Recent and forthcoming titles include Whom the Gods Would Destroy and The Weight of the Dead, both standalone novellas; Worlds of Hurt, an omnibus edition of the first four works in his Misbegotten mythos; an updated hardcover edition of Dark Advent, his early post-apocalyptic epic; Who We Are In The Dark, his next collection; and his next novel, Leaves of Sherwood.

He lives in Colorado, where mountain air and brewpubs keep everything in the works. He also explores music, sound design, and photography; loves everything about organic gardening except the thieving squirrels; and trains in Krav Maga and kickboxing, which are of no use at all against the squirrels.

Brian’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShadowsOverMainStreet

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