Why I Wrote Evil Stalks the Night
…and also The Heart of the Rose
Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 (in E-book and print)
Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition is special to me for many reasons. It was my first published novel in 1984 and as it comes out again on June 1, 2012, rereleased from Damnation Books, it will bring my over forty year writing career full circle. With its publication all fourteen of my old books will be out again for the first time in many years. Sure, it’s been a grueling, tedious two-and- a-half year job rewriting and editing these new versions but I’m thrilled that it’s over. I have my babies reborn and out in the world again…and all in e books for the first time ever. Now I can finally move forward and write new stories.
I’ll start at the very beginning because, though Evil Stalks the Night was my first published novel, it wasn’t my first written one.
That first book was The Heart of the Rose. I actually began writing it after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, no longer going to college, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read an historical romance one day I believed was horrible and thought I can do better than that!
So I got out my borrowed typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I’d tentatively called that first book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library, no computers or Internet back then, I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the Fourth. Edward’s infamous brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league, though. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version now (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) I have to laugh. Ironically, like that historical novel I’d thought in 1971 was so bad, it was pretty awful. That archaic language I’d used–all the rage back in the 80’s–sounded so stilted. Yikes! Yet people, mainly women, had loved it.
And so my writing career began. That was over 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.
Then one day years later I found it and decided to rewrite it; try again to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was so expensive.
Now to Evil Stalks the Night.
In the meantime, I’d written another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky ambiance to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the story into a horror novel. Like Stephen King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would sell easily, she said.
Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood and my young adult life–my heartbreaking divorce, raising my young son alone, my new love–as hers. It was more of a romantic horror when I’d finished, than a horror novel. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and began sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly to a mass market paperback publisher called Towers Publishing.
But right in the middle of editing Towers went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! What terrible luck, I remember brooding. The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a new husband, my son and my minimum-wage assistant billing job was one step above poverty at times. In those days, too, I was so naïve.
That was 1983, but luckily that take-over publisher was Leisure Books, now also known as Dorchester Publishing. Talk about karma.
As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor who’d bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to give it a read. She believed in it that much.
Out of the blue, in 1984, when I’d completely given up on Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy it! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and, liking it, too, she bought it in 1985; asking me to sex it up some, so they could release it as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?). It wasn’t a lot of money. A thousand dollar advance each and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But you must remember in those days the publishers had a huge distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, sent to bookstores and warehoused. So 4% of all those books over the next couple of years did add up.
Thus my career began. I slowly, and like-pulling-teeth, sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years–as I was working full time, raising a family and living my hard-scramble life. Some did well, my Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.
And twenty-seven years later, when publisher Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course, and all in ebooks for the first time ever) my 7 out-of-print paperbacks, including Evil Stalks the Night–I gave her a resounding yes!
Of course, I had to totally rewrite Evil Stalks the Night for the resurrected edition, as well as my other initial novels, because I discovered my writing when I was twenty-something had been immature and unpolished at times; and not having a computer and the Internet had made the original writing so much harder. Also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. There were so many mistakes in those early books. Typos. Grammar. Lost plot and detail threads. In the rewrite I also decided to keep the time frame (1960-1984) the same. The book’s essence would have lost too much if I’d updated it.
As I finished the final editing I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the life changes I’ve had since I’d first began writing it so many years ago. Though it was actually published in 1984, I’d started writing it many years before; closer to 1978 or 1979. I’m as old as my Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother and who the grandmother in the story was loosely based on, was back then. While I was first writing it so long ago, I was a young married woman with a small child holding down my first real job and trying to do it all. Now…my Grandmother, mother and father are all gone. Many other family and friends I’ve left behind, too. I miss them all, especially my mom and dad. It’s strange how revising my old books reminded me of certain times of my life. Some of the memories I hid from and some of them made me laugh or cry. This book, though, is the most autobiographical of all my novels as it contains some of my childhood, my devastating divorce, and what my life was like when I first met my second husband, Russell, who’s turned out to be the love of my life. We’ve been happily married now for thirty-four years and counting. Ah, but how quickly the years have flown by. Too quickly. I want to reach out, at times, and stop time. I want more. I have so much more life to live and many more stories to write.
So Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition (http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 ) republished by Damnation Books will be out again for the first time in nearly thirty years on June 1, 2012, and I hope it’s a better book than it was in 1984. It should be…I’ve had over thirty more years of life and experiences to help make it so.
Written this 30th day of April, 2012 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith
BLURB of Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition by Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Twenty years ago psychic Sarah Summers fled from the evil that lurked in the woods behind her childhood home after it killed most of her family, but a nasty divorce and financial hardships forces her back when nothing else could.
With her son, Jeremy, she returns to her grandmother’s dilapidated house and tries to begin a new life. She meets a man, police detective, Ben, who falls for her, and she prays her fresh visions of bloodshed and death deep among the dark trees are not true.
Then the murders begin again and Sarah is hurtled back into the familiar nightmare that has haunted her her whole life. The evil in the woods is awake again…and this time it wants her last remaining brother, her son…and her.
With Ben and Jim’s help can she defeat it this time…and live? ***
I stood in the doorway with Jeremy’s small hand in mine and together, we murmured our final goodbyes to the apartment that had been our home for the last eight years. It was the only home my son had ever known.
“Don’t cry now, Mom. You’re doing real well.” His voice was gentle. The pressure on my hand increased. I glanced down at his thin, freckled face and thoughtful blue eyes and offered a faint smile.
“Don’t worry, son. If I cry now, who’s going to drive? We’ve got a long way to go today and I’m afraid, for you, nine is still a little too young to be fighting the morning rush.” I threw in a tiny laugh and tousled his long blond hair. As usual it fell across his eyes and with an exaggerated gesture he pushed it away from his face.
“Ah, Mom, give me a chance. I’ll show you who can drive a car,” he replied stubbornly.
“Sure you will—over my dead body.” I bantered with him while my eyes kept sweeping the bare walls and stacks of neatly labeled boxes in the room around me. All that was left after ten years of marriage was an empty apartment and an empty heart. The boxes looked like giant children’s scattered blocks, forgotten and unwanted. I didn’t want to leave, but I had no choice.
On impulse, I knelt down on the familiar threshold and ran my fingers lovingly through the rug’s deep peach colored pile. Jonathan and I had picked the carpeting out last year. Was it only last year? As I laid my hand on the wall for support to stand I could see my reflection in the gold-veined mirror tiles on the opposite wall. Yellow sunbeams danced over their glossy surface and made the woman in them look golden, even beautiful with her long light brown hair and slim gracefulness. But looking back into her green eyes I could see the sadness, see the drawn face and the lips which had forgotten how to curve into a genuine smile anymore.
I’d lost twenty pounds since my divorce and still had no appetite. What I hungered for couldn’t be found in a shopping cart.
I’d again lost something precious and not known why. I could help so many other people, strangers really, but not myself. My psychic gift applied to everyone but me. It was as if receiving the gift sometimes forced me to shoulder the ill luck I saved others from. Someone else might take the lashes but I felt the pain in one way or another.
I smiled at the lady in the mirrors and took one last look at the apartment. I was flooded with memories as elusive as mist. Jeremy as a baby, romping from one room to the next. Jonathan reading the paper in his favorite chair by the fireplace as I sketched my pictures at the drawing table in the corner…it seemed so long ago. I put out my hand as if I could see and touch him now, as if there was a magic door into our past waiting for me to enter and undo all that had occurred in the last six months.
I was such a fool.
Quietly, I pulled the door closed and locked it. Inside I could hear the ghosts whispering. Snickering. But I couldn’t stay. I had to make a new life for us now the old one was dead. I couldn’t live in the past any longer. I couldn’t remain bitter, I had to nurture and cherish the good memories.
I slipped the key under the door in the exact place I’d told Jimmy he could find it. He was coming by in a few days to pick up the heavier furniture I’d had to leave behind. He’d fit most of it into his pick-up truck or rent a trailer.
“Are we going now?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes. It’s time to go.” The sun was a huge bright ball overhead. “Here, you can take these.” I handed him two carry-all bags and we walked out to the car together. Jeremy didn’t glance behind once. Originally we’d planned to start out at dawn, but it was already after ten o’clock. A beautiful last day of March, even if it was as cold as January.
I slid into the front seat of my red Pinto and closed the door. Jeremy thumped down in the passenger seat and for a few seconds we busied ourselves arranging the extra bags. I adjusted my seat and waited for the car to warm up.
At least it wasn’t snowing. The winter had been horrendous. I’d never seen so much snow.
Whenever I remember that winter, I remember grayish-purple skies and storms. Then endless snow. Night after night lying alone in our queen-sized bed, contemplating the white darkness with a heavy heart. The sky had been so white with flakes, it’d been like daylight. It was the worst time, the days and weeks right after Jonathan had walked out on me for another woman. For the first time in my life I was totally alone.
For weeks, a terrible apathy held me in its grip and I’d go to bed early to muffle my tears in my pillow and watch the snow fall outside my window. I lived in my own sad world of make-believe and memories, purposely shutting the real world away. Over and over I kept asking myself what had I done wrong? How could someone I had loved so long and so much do what he’d done to me…to all of us? How could he not love me anymore?
How could he have stopped the love and more importantly, how was I going to stop loving him? It’d been a painful rebirth for me, these past few weeks. I worked in an ad agency as a commercial artist in St. Louis and had taken a couple weeks off. I couldn’t face the world, I couldn’t face myself.
Who was I now? I slept, I read, I dreamed about the past, carefully wrapping it in the gossamer tissue of my bewildered tears, a priceless jewel, to be tucked away forever. I sifted through my life up until then and tried to make some meaning out of it. All the work, the love, and the loss. With every tear I mended myself, with every day I drew closer to the first light in a dark tunnel and made my way back to the world of the living.
Jonathan was gone. It was simple. I had to start my life over again. In the space of a few months I’d lost a husband, a home, and a job. Before I could return to work I got a telephone call to tell me not to bother. The agency was folding. We’d lost two of our largest clients and there wasn’t any work; what had been started so hopefully three years ago was no more. Blame the economy, God, or human fickleness, the result was the same. No work, no money, no agency. I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I’d expected it long before, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I had no tears left when I went in to empty my desk and say my goodbyes. I’d miss my friends more than the job.
Then there was the house.
The house my grandmother had left me when she’d died all those years ago. The old house on Suncrest. It was mine free and clear. It had been for some time and I’d run out of excuses to claim my inheritance.
There was nothing to hold me here anymore. I’d be a fool to stay. I had no job, no husband, and no way to pay the fancy rent on the overly big, plush apartment.
Yet, God, I’d fought going back to Suncrest where the horror had begun. It was bitterly ironic that after so many years of trying to run away from the past I was now literally trapped into returning. Heaven knows, I’d tried to sell the old place for years, but, for some reason, it wouldn’t sell. It’d sat there patiently waiting for me. Waiting until I was forced by unavoidable circumstances to reclaim it when I’d never dreamed I would.
I told myself as I had so many times before we wouldn’t stay there long. We were only going to fix the old place up enough to sell it, or rent it out, that’s all. We’d use it as a pit stop to someplace else.
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, over forty years ago now, and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories 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-four 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, ghost cat Sasha and live cat 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, June 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)
Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615724253
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2010) Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615722075
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZU77j_q4S8
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2011)
Damnation Books Buy Link:http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615723553
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Damnation Books Buy Link:
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 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, Eternal Press 2011) Eternal Press buy link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724437 My self-made
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cogCNYKzPqc
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724604)
You Tube Book Trailer address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZYCs2DVhHg
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615725182
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28HZqu-my1g
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3q9rZryFMo
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)
Damnation Books buy link: httphttp://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721313
You Tube self-made Book trailer with original song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-U9c2Lwfo
The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615721979
You Tube Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRBvDI5G4Y
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
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.
My books (most revised and out again from Damnation Books and Eternal Press): Evil Stalks the Night; The Heart of the Rose; Blood Forge; Vampire Blood; The Last Vampire; Witches; The Nameless One short story; The Calling; Scraps of Paper; All Things Slip Away; Egyptian Heart; Winter's Journey; The Ice Bridge; Don't Look Back, Agnes novella; In This House short story; The Nameless One, erotic short story; Always & Forever, erotic contemporary novella; BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons; The Woman in Crimson; The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***