Halloween Fun With Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Why I Wrote A Time of Demons
(First book of the Before The End series)
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721313
Around 2003 or so, as many times before in my roller coaster thirty-nine year long writing career, I had about given up. Again. I had eleven published novels (mostly romantic horror and horror) and six short stories to my name published between 1984 and 2003 with Leisure, Zebra, and Avalon Books.
In 2003 I’d had a dark murder mystery called Scraps of Paper from Avalon Books come out, had finished the second All Things Slip Away in the series for them. I was proud of the mysteries and the books themselves. The two had fairly decent, but mundane covers, and were hardcovers…my first. I believed the novels were my best so far. Contemporary and simple, but people loved the characters and the quirky town they lived in I’d tongue-in-cheek called Spooky. The price was steep, I thought though, at $26 dollars each. But I’d already seen the writing on the wall. I’d gotten a $1,000 advance for each but there was this sneaky little clause in their contracts I’d learned that said I wouldn’t see a dime more of royalties until 3,500 books were sold. That alone would probably keep me from seeing any more money – unless the books were run away hits and more would be printed, or other rights would be sold. That rarely happened I’d been told by other authors for they only printed about 1,750 units at a time and that meant it would have to go into a third printing to gain me anything else. And Avalon didn’t usually go after outside subsidiary rights of any kind. Of course, over the years, though both books have had great reviews, A’s really, neither book has gone into a third printing. Oh, well. As warned, I haven’t seen another penny though the novels still seem to be on sale everywhere. Everyone loves them and wants a third. No way. I’ll wait until my long ten year contracts are up before I write another Spooky town mystery for Avalon Books. You live and learn. It seems like over my career I’ve had a lot of such lessons to learn. Ha.
Anyways, I’d missed my horror genre so much and had been thinking for a while about this new book of mine. Oh, okay, yes, I said I was ready to throw the towel in…but stupid me, I never do. When will I learn? It all started with a tiny seed. Two characters. Siblings. These characters, a loving brother and sister, Cassandra and Johnny Graystone, would be nightclub playing musicians who’d lost their whole family (five brothers and sisters and a mother and father) twenty years before and in the present would be living with and taking care of their elderly aunt and uncle. The aunt would have Alzheimer’s and the uncle, age catching up with him, would be frail, as well. They’d be Catholic. As I’d been raised. The uncle would believe the end days had come. Cassandra would be happy with her life singing out with her brother and living with her sick aunt and uncle. Until…she’d begin to know when people were going to die and she’d begin seeing these hideous creatures – demons–hiding behind some of her human audiences’ faces; bad things would start to happen around her, and she’d think either she was going insane or something terrible was happening to the world.
Turns out her uncle was right. The end days had come. I saw demons and angels swirling around her that only, at first, she would see. Then I saw her with a glowing sword that she’d use in battles with other human soldiers of her kind she’d meet along the way fighting a growing horde of demons. The apocalypse not far behind.
Ah, it would be an apocalyptic novel. That’s it. But one with heart; characters you could root for and love, more a layman’s view of the biblical end-of-days, and not near as much preaching as The Left Behind series which I’d read years before and liked.
Since I’ve always wanted to write an end-of-days novel –I’d loved Stephen King’s THE STAND so much– the story had taken firm root and wouldn’t leave me alone until I started writing it. I had to. It would be my masterpiece! The book called to me that strongly.
The woman eventually discovers she is one of many who will have powers to see and fight demons, with the help of angels, as the end days draw near. She must seek out others like herself and convince them to join the fight. She must begin to battle the powerful evil entities she alone is aware of, as well. In the process I send her, her brother, aunt and uncle, and their friends, on a rousing but dangerous quest across the country in a RV…after tornadoes and demons destroy their homes. The world is falling apart around them. Catastrophic earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes are everywhere. A rise in terrible human crimes…most caused by demons or demonic influences. But I tried to make it a story of family and human love as well as a survival story in the face of overwhelming odds as the world spins to its end.
Many agents, editors and publishers turned it down. Too religious. Not religious enough. Not enough this, not enough that. .. I wasn’t a big enough writer. How dare I write something on such a huge religious scale. Oh, no, you have angels in it? Oh, no, you have demons in it! Whatever. But I believed so much in the book I didn’t give up. I kept sending it out.
In 2010 I finally sold it to Kim Richards at Damnation Books, her brand new publishing company (and now she also owns Eternal Press and Realms of Fantasy Magazine). She read and loved it. She got it. By then I’d also finished another horror novel, more a romantic horror tale about a witchy vampiress resurrected from her Civil War era tomb and now haunting her old home, an atmospheric lovely bed and breakfast run in the present by a loving husband and wife. The wife has to fight to save her husband’s life when the vampiress believes he’s her reincarnated soldier/lover from the Civil War days and tries to take him back for her own. A real eternal love story. A dangerous love triangle. Of course dead drained corpses show up all over the place. I called that book The Woman in Crimson. Kim loved and contracted both of them.
An editor, Lisa Jackson, helped me polish up A Time of Demons until it shone and Annie Melton created a striking, scary, cover in vivid scarlets with the two main characters at their microphones and a demon-hiding-behind-its-human face customer at a nearby table.
So that’s how the BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons was given life. Hopefully, in the next few years I’ll write the second novel in the series…when I get all my old Leisure and Zebra paperback books (going back to 1984) all rewritten and out again between June 2010 and July 2012. Kim offered to reissue all ten of them, revised and with astonishingly striking new covers, and I couldn’t say no. It’s been a heck of a lot of work, but a labor of love. What writer wouldn’t want a second chance to make an old book a better one and have it rereleased all over again? Not me, for sure. Grin.
And A time of Demons? Since its release last May it’s gotten fantastic reviews (see there all you naysayers!) and has even won the She Never Slept’s 2010 Nightmare Award, as one of the three best romantic horror books they’d read in all of 2010. Yeah! Now if more people would give it a try, a read, I’m hopeful they’d like it, as well. It’s far more than a simple horror or religious parable…it’s a family and earthly human saga. All I can do is pray, hope…and promote, promote, promote!
I’ll never give up. How can I? It’s my masterpiece. As my mom used to say, winners never quit and losers never win. And me, I’m not a quitter. Or I try not to be. Sometimes the crazy book/publishing world can drive me plumb nuts. But I always get over it. Grin.
So thank you all for letting me ramble on and on…warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith
P.S. Below is the blurb and an excerpt of A Time of Demons. Hope you like them.
A Time of Demons Blurb:
Since Cassandra Graystone was a child and her family perished in a fire she knows and sees things other people don’t…when someone will die or that a demon lurks beneath a human skin. She sees phantoms. Yet she craves a simple life singing out with her musician brother, Johnny, and caring for her elderly aunt and uncle; to be with her friends, Sarah, a psychic, and Walter, a clown in a carnival circuit. But when Sarah sees apocalyptic events in her tarot cards and demons are everywhere, Cassandra fears she’s going insane or something terrifying is happening in the world.
Rayner, an ancient blood demon, lodges next door. He becomes obsessed with her. Never having felt pity or affection for a human before he believes he loves her, would die to protect her. The demon realm gathers for the final confrontation between us, Rayner warns. The apocalypse comes. You and your friends must prepare.
Cassandra flees that knowledge until an angelic being, Manasseh, appears. Your powers will grow. You must fight for humanity’s survival after the first wave is taken. Seek out others like you. Persuade them to join the battle. Only these can see and challenge the demons until the end when all eyes see them. She doesn’t want her life to change; doesn’t want to be a nomad who battles demons. Doesn’t want to be anyone’s protector. Until a tornado flattens Sarah’s house. Johnny’s apartment. There are monsters maiming and killing everywhere. Demons persecute her and those she loves, burn down her home and force her family and friends onto the road, as everywhere cataclysmic weather and signs of the end days make things hellish for humans. Cassandra and her friends can no longer deny their destinies. They must fight…or see the remnants of humanity engulfed in flames.
A Time of Demons Excerpt:
Beyond the windows, darkness and rain had arrived, slamming a storm surge against the glass. Thunder and streaks of electricity ripped and echoed across the sky. The windowpanes rattled in their mountings and the lightshow brightened the world. Even with the downpour, the temperature had become warmer. The humans drifting into the bar were soaked in water and perspiration and were short tempered as the heat and the noise level rose to a shrill crescendo.
Manasseh recognized demons behind several of the human faces.
More than usual tonight.
They were one of the reasons Manasseh didn’t like going into buildings where there were crowds. The ratio of demon to mortal was shifting quickly. There were demons everywhere.
Manasseh detected and avoided them and they couldn’t see him. For now. There’d come a time when the blinders would be lifted from everyone’s eyes, including theirs, and he’d have to kill them. They’d have to try to kill him.
His foot tapped softly at first and then faster. His body tensed. He couldn’t wait for the day when he could raise his sword and strike all the fiends down once and for all. It’d been coming for so long and he was tired of waiting.
There were demons, disguised as humans, drinking at a table beside the bandstand. “When’s the damn music going to start?” one griped.
“Yeah, when are we going to get some entertainment in this dump?” His friend threw the remaining contents of his drink at the waitress as she scooted past, barely missing her. He stuck his booted foot out and tripped a man returning from the restroom. The guy sprawled on the floor, stunned surprise on his face. But when he looked up at who’d waylaid him, he just lowered his eyes and stumbled off to hide in a corner. Demon mind control. The weaker the human mind, the stronger the control.
Dressed in T-shirts, ball caps, and blue jeans the demons appeared to be ordinary mortals of different ages and races. Manasseh never understood why, but most of them wore beards and never robed in bright colors. They especially hated yellow and sky blue. Most were wearing dark glasses. That he understood. In certain lights, their eyes, empty as their souls or, when angry, burning like crimson embers, betrayed them.
Manasseh could hardly bear to be in the same room. Demons had a stench of burnt blood and ash around them and their minds were as dark as the place they’d come from. They mingled among men and committed the crimes that made humans cry: arson, wife beating, torture, and murders. Manasseh scowled. If there was a heinous crime being committed somewhere, there was most likely a demon perpetrating it or somehow behind it.
They were making him angry. He had to remind himself why he was there and that his first responsibility was guarding Cassandra. It was difficult because all he wanted to do was to exterminate them.
Not here. Not yet.
Cassandra, guitar case in hand, wandered in with her brother in tow. They set up their equipment, tested microphones, got something to drink, and after tuning their instruments began to play.
The demons were instantly agitated at the sound of Johnny and Cassandra’s voices. One of them glared balefully at the girl as another snarled something to his friends, his face shifting into a sneer.
Manasseh didn’t like the looks of any of them. They were a fight waiting to happen. Malevolence glinted in their looks and their pretend smiles had no mirth. But he knew their kind. Most of them were cowards and wouldn’t hurt Cassandra or Johnny in such a public place. It’d garner too much attention and they wouldn’t want that. They usually waited until they could get the humans alone somewhere to do their damage.
An omen of things to come, thunder rippled through the sultry air and eerily mimicked the resonance of human screams. Manasseh shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
Still there was no sign of the demon, Rayner. Perhaps he wouldn’t show, though there was enough danger lurking in the crowd without him.
Manasseh listened to Cassandra and her brother. Choir music was more his style, yet their voices were harmonious and their instrument playing skillful. There was an innocent goodness in their demeanors and the messages of their songs that made their performance compelling. And behind the melodies, their souls were luminous and shone like beacons from their eyes. Both of them were pure of heart and strong, the brother not quite as much as the sister, and would need to be because the future wouldn’t be easy for either of them.
An hour went by. The songs and sibling banter were entertaining. People drank, conversed, and socialized. Rayner never showed up.
The demons behaved themselves as much as they were able, hiding their impatience behind their smirks. No doubt they were planning something wicked for after they left the bar.
He was about to see to Obadiah, when one of the demons behind him threw a bottle at Cassandra. She ducked before it made contact and smashed into the wall.
Another demon flung one and hit Johnny in the head…and the brawl was on.
Everyone shoved and kicked each other. Fists and flesh collided. The demons had instigated the clash and notched it up and that alarmed Manasseh. Though it was in their nature to cause pandemonium wherever and whenever they could, they were usually less obvious about it. Another bad sign.
The room was an erupting volcano and people spilled into the stormy night to escape the flying glasses and bottles.
Crouched down behind the bar, Maggie shouted into the phone: “Morey, you better get over here quick. There’s a big fight and everything’s being busted to hell. I’ll try to call the police–” The phone obviously went dead in her hands. “Damn!” She dropped it and ran out the door.
Someone threw a table through a window and wind and rain splattered in. Everyone was screaming, slugging each other, or trying to escape through a door or window.
One of the demons hurled itself at the two singers as if it wanted to tear them apart. Cassandra nimbly stepped aside and the fiend overshot and ended up beneath a table scrabbling to keep from being booted by a bunch of furious cowboys.
Amidst the chaos, Cassandra shoved her wounded brother towards the back exit, their guitars protectively cradled in their arms.
Manasseh followed them into the alley. He’d shield them if he had to. But Cassandra knew what to do. Survival was an instinct she’d been born with. Through the falling water, she aimed her brother towards her car and they scrambled in.
The sound of police sirens rivaled the thunder.
There were demons behind Cassandra and her brother and Manasseh slammed the door in their faces as the pair of humans drove away. ***
About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in August 2011)
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in September 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella and bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out again from Eternal Press in January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Out from Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Out from Damnation Books September 2010)
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I love to hear from my readers.
Comments Always Welcome!