Thursday, August 22, 2019

Real Life Locations for Kill River 2


I was very lucky this year to have not just Kill River, but also Kill River 2 selected for the Bloody Beach Read-Along. It's been a lot of fun seeing everyone's posts and getting to talk with a lot of cool new people who are just discovering my books for the first time. Last year I took a bunch of pictures at my local water park WaterWorld to share and show the real life spots that inspired Kill River 2, and I decided that it was time to get off my ass and post these.  Also, a new blog post is way past overdue.

Oh and SPOILER ALERT!!! There will be spoilers in this, so turn back now if you haven't read the book yet. Okay, so here goes.

One thing I loved about KR2 was that I got to go even deeper into the 80s with the scene at the school dance and the scenes at the mall. For the Westview Mall in the book I pictured the old Westminster Mall in Westminster, Colorado where I grew up. Sadly, the Westminster Mall was torn down about five years ago, but I managed to find this picture of the centerpiece hot air balloons that are briefly mentioned. Also in the background on the left you can see the Orange Julius where I pictured Cyndi filling out a job application.

Unlike the water park in the first book—which is kind of a hybrid inspiration of both WaterWorld and Schlitterbahn, the park in KR2 is all WaterWorld. I really wanted to just have fun weaving a typical day at the water park into my story, and since I always have a great time there, writing this story kind of felt like escaping to the water park every day. One of the first new things Cyndi sees is the wave pool from up on the hill, and this is the same view I see every time I walk into Water World.

I post lots of pictures of the wave pool area, and you get the idea, but I thought I'd show a little of the beach. This is the spot where poor Eddie dies. A few years ago they built these pergola things right where that scene takes place, but it used to be wide open. They do stack the chairs up along the edge of the wave pool at the end of every day, but for my story I had them all stacked here so they kind of resembled a hedge maze.

Also here's a closer shot of the deep end of the wave pool and the little walkway that plays a huge part in Brady's death and the big fight scene near the end between Cyndi, Johnny, and the killer.  For the story, I pictured it as solid straight wall instead of the zig-zag shape it really is.  I've never had the privilege of walking across this walkway unfortunately, and I have no idea how the wave machinery works in real life. The control panel and the grates at the bottom of the back wall of the wave pool were totally made up for the story. There's also a smaller wave pool up near the main entrance, and there used to be a fake shark hanging near the back wall in that pool, but that area is for little kids now and I haven't seen the shark in a long time.

The Rocky River is a ride that's loosely based on a real life ride called Tortuga Run. Here you can see it winding around down to the bottom. The Tortuga Run is much slower and friendlier than the Rocky River ride in the book, but it's one of those classic rides at WaterWorld that I love. I decided to add it in as Cyndi keeps noticing strange similarities between her experiences from KR1 and this new park.

This is the picnic table area where the lifeguards have their party. Please ignore the chunky dude (me) in the foreground. I had to add myself in a few of these pictures so that people wouldn't think I was some creeper trying to take pictures of them. I originally planned on having a big crazy lifeguard massacre scene in this spot, but it just didn't really make much sense so I ended up not going in that direction. The scene where Cyndi comes back to the park and finds this area empty also takes place here. That scene was inspired by a nightmare that I had as a kid: my elementary school playground was a giant pool and I ran home to grab something to show my friends. When I returned at sunset, everyone had vanished.

Possibly my favorite part of KR2 is the part where Cyndi returns to the park and finds everyone gone. Then she hauls ass out into the parking lot only to turn around and watch the killer wave at her as he shuts the gates. In this picture I'm standing in the exact spot where I imagined him to be, and am creepily waving just like he does.

I loved writing the character of Jennifer. She was a total bitch and setting her up for a fight with Cyndi and a crazy death was so much fun. Here you can see the parking lot where she flattens Johnny's tires, then senses the killer watching her from the pine trees up on the hill.  And also here is where the bronze Kaptain Smiley statue would be, in real life there's this statue of kids riding on an alligator, presumably just before he does a death roll and eats them.

And while we're on the topic of Jennifer, this is the Screaming Mimi, the inspiration for the Screamin' Demon. Way back when I was still living in the apartment and editing KR1, I came up with the idea for Jennifer's terrible death at the bottom of this crazy ride. I'm not the biggest fan of the Screaming Mimi. Whenever I ride it, the plastic sled thingys always hit the water at a weird angle and I end up getting hit in the head by them.

Another fun part was Cyndi riding the Duelin' River after Jennifer's death and having the killer jump off the Ragin' River's bridge overhead.  Here is the bridge that I imagined having the killer jump off.  I imagined that scene while waiting in line for those Ragin' River slides.

And finally, we reach the ride that inspired The Falls. Now it's called Pirates Plunge and the three slides are red and black, but years ago it was called the Bermuda Triangle and the slides were garden-hose-green and translucent. This is one of my favorite rides and I loved setting the final killer fight scene up in this high shack looking out over the parking lot and the other rides.

So that's about all I have for now.  I'm hoping to go out to Indian Tree Golf Course and film a video showing the real life locations that inspired my newest book Golf Curse.  Hopefully, I can get that done sometime within the next month before all the leaves start falling.  I'm hard at work writing Kill River 3 as of right now and I'm hoping that next summer it'll finally be finished and released. And not long after that I'll have a new batch of pictures to share with you. Thanks for checking out my Kill River books and for taking an interest in seeing what inspired some of the different scenes in Part 2.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Real Life Locations for Kill River Part 2


Well, that's the end of my summer at Water World.  I've been so busy that I only got to go twice this year, usually I get a season pass and go between 8 and 10 times.  But this year, I did four house projects, took trips to Maine and San Francisco, and spent a ton of time getting my next book ready to be released.  Time was in extremely short supply.  Today though, I went from opening to close, just like back in the old days, and this time I got more Kill River location pictures to share with you.

Oh and also SPOILER ALERT!  If you haven't read the book, this blog is gonna have spoilers.


First off, that picture above is a better shot of what would be the four Ragin' Rivers in the book.  I was lucky enough to take this one around 5 o'clock this afternoon and had the perfect afternoon light that I imagined a lot of the book had.

The camera I was going to use for shots on the rides unfortunately wasn't working, so my improvised "underwater camera" was actually my old phone in a Zip-Lock bag.  The plastic gave the pictures a kind of 70's soft-focus look, which is unfortunate, but also kind of cool.  It gives them an old school horror film feel.

Here is the bridge that goes up over one of the Duelin' Rivers and leads to the two Ragin' Rivers that Brad and Zack ride, and the view from that bridge.  There's the pine trees they look through and see the bathroom building, and also the two slides. 

I got on the slide I imagined Brad riding and took some shots of the last thing he sees before disappearing.


I also got on the Lazy River and took some better shots on the ride.  You can see the cliff where Stacy gets killed from a different angle.

Also, here is the yellow grate where Cyndi sees the killer standing back in the darkness watching them.


At Water World, there is a gondola that goes up over the park, and I took a few cool shots from overhead.  One is the Lazy River, this is about the spot where Cyndi pulls Stacy's body out near the end.

This one is one of my favorites because you can see so many important spots in one photo. There is one of the Ragin' Rivers on the bottom left, both Duelin' Rivers on the right, another ride that didn't exist in the park in Kill River, the path going up the hill, the Lazy River in the top right, and the cliff where Stacy is killed.

There's another pic of the fork in one of the main paths going up the hill.  Off to the left is the way to the Duelin' Rivers, off to the right is the way to Brad and Zack's Ragin' River slides.  And I took another a little bit farther to the left, showing the path and the bridge over one of the Duelin' Rivers.

Well, that's about it for now.  I planned on taking some shots on the Duelin' Rivers slides, but I was having some technical difficulties with my phone and wasn't able to get them.  I guess they'll have to wait until next year.  I hope you enjoyed my photos.  Unfortunately they really don't do the story or Water World justice.  It's such an amazing place, and I have a blast every time I go there.  If you like the story and ever decide to come to Water World, let me know because I'd love to take Kill River fans on the Kill River tour.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Real Life Locations for Kill River Part 1


So here I am, sitting at home all sunburned after a full day at my awesome local water park here in Colorado, Water World. I was originally going to tweet a bunch of pictures of the rides, but then I thought, hey I can really go in depth with this and show people what I imagine the rides in Kill River really look like.  The only downside is that I forgot to bring an underwater camera...this time.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!  If you haven't read Kill River, I highly recommend you stop reading now, because we're about to get into some serious spoiler territory.  If you have already read the book, thank you thank you thank you, you are one of the coolest people on Earth.

Okay, here we go.  The main inspiration for the water park in Kill River, aka Kaptain Smiley's Thrill River, is Water World in Colorado.  There are also some areas of the park that exist at another water park called Schlitterbahn, in New Braunfels, Texas, near San Antonio.  The picnic area where they set their stuff, the real river, and the Dead Man's Drop ride are all down in Texas.  I also pictured the park to be more woodsy and shady like it is down in Texas.  Maybe next year I'll take a drive down there and see if I can grab some pictures.

Oh, also the Gold Mine Tunnel came almost completely from my imagination.  There is a dark ride at Water World called Voyage to the Center of the Earth with dinosaurs in it, I imagined the tunnel walls all rocky like the walls in there, but the layout of the ride, the decorations in the tunnel, and the two metal doors were all made up.

Anyway, I digress, here are some pics I took today of some of the rides that inspired me.


So these four slides are called River Country at Water World and each one has a different name.  I imagined that Cyndi and Stacy rode the two on the left, and Brad and Zack rode the two on the right.  Also I didn't really picture any of the line switchbacks in Thrill River.  The one with the tunnel is the one Brad rode, and somewhere in that dark tunnel is where he disappeared.  Later Stacy finds his body floating on a tube in this pool near this edge.  She lifts up his head, and that's when "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" starts playing.  Obviously those huge poles for the gondolas in the background aren't in the book.


Right next to the Ragin' Rivers, would be the two Duelin' Rivers, they're actually called the Cimarron River and the Thunder River at Water World.

Here are some pics of the path leading up to the right two Ragin' Rivers, and the Duelin' Rivers.

Here is the slow beginning of the ride, where the two Duelin' Rivers branch off.  I took this picture on next to the bridge that goes up over one of them, just like in the book.

This is a really important spot in Kill River, the fountain at the start of the Duelin' Rivers.  The concrete edge of the pool there is where Zack gets his head smashed. Cyndi also hides from the killer up behind that fountain, then gets down to leave, and the killer pops up out of the water and fully reveals himself to her for the first time.  In the park in the book, that picket fence wasn't there, and there was a stack of tubes.

Just off to the left of this picture is the bathroom area.  Sorry, I didn't take a picture of that, people would probably think I was a total creeper if they saw me taking pictures of the entrance to bathrooms.  I guess if you ever get a chance to go to Water World you'll be able to go into the bathrooms and see what they're like in real life.


Here are some steps leading up to a random room right at the park entrance.  I have no idea what's in there, it's for employees only, but this is what I imagined the stairway leading up to the control room looks like.  In the book there's less rock and more dirt and pine needles underneath those stairs.  The wrought iron fence is also a lot farther away from the stairs.


One last picture for today.  This is The Lazy River, at Water World it's also called The Lazy River, and I think that's become more of a generic term nowadays so I just kept the name the same.  Just about everytime I go near the Lazy River now, I say, "Uh-huh, the Lazy River.  What, do they have signs over the bathrooms that say Shit River?"  That's probably one of my absolute favorite lines in the whole book.  Oh, and that cliff where the lifeguard is standing is the spot where Stacy dies.

That's all I've got for now.  I meant to get out to Water World in May like I usually do, but this year has been so crazy with house projects and finishing up work for my next book, and travelling to Maine that I really haven't had time.  Darla and I have a few more tickets though, and we'll probably go at least one more time this year.  Next time I'll bring the underwater camera and take some shots on some of the rides to give you a better feeling for them.

Well, that's it for now, I'll post again hopefully in a few weeks and have some more cool pictures to share.  Thanks again for reading Kill River, you guys rock!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I finished reading EVERY Stephen King book!


Huge day for me today! Today I have finally finished every Stephen King book. Novels, short story / novella collections, non-fiction, Richard Bachman books, I've read it all. I don't know exactly when I decided I would read every King book, I think I must have been 11 or 12. One day, I went to a store called Old Possum's Used Books and bought every King paperback that my Dad didn't have. My collection was complete but I had all the reading work to do.

When I was little, Stephen King was an eerie legend. I'd ask my dad “What's the scariest story ever?” And he would say, “Either Pet Sematary or Harvest Home.” By the time I was 16, I'd read them both and to this day I agree with him. My dad would give me summaries of a few King stories, and as an avid reader I was dying to get my hands on them.

Finally, in 1996, when I was 9, my dad handed me his all black paperback copy of 'Salem's Lot and said, “You can probably handle this.” I consider 'Salem's Lot to be maybe the 3rd or 4th scariest King book now, back then I had opened up Pandora's box, and taken the first steps on a journey that would end up lasting me 20 years. I can still remember reading the scene about the woman finding her baby dead, and thinking This is really bad, maybe I shouldn't be reading this. Of course, I didn't tell my parents that though, I just plowed on through to the end.

Over the next few years I tackled all of the scariest ones at random. My next King book was the scariest one of them all, Pet Sematary, I was 10. I can still remember reading a lot of that one on my grandparents back porch on sunny summer days. I didn't understand the whole Spinal Meningitis scene with Zelda, but after I saw the movie, which just about had me and my sister in tears with how scary it was, I understood it just fine.

I discovered IT at age 11, coincidentally the same age as the Loser's Club in 1958. I didn't understand a lot of the adult parts, but the kid stuff made perfect sense. There were so many parts where I found myself saying, I've done that or I've thought about that before too. IT had a huge impact on me. Shortly after IT, I read IT's twinner book The Tommyknockers, and I think my family is just about the only group of people I've ever heard of who actually love The Tommyknockers.

After making the decision to read them all, I decided to read them all in release order, starting with Carrie. I discovered new classics like Night Shift (the best short story collection by far), Cujo, and Christine. In high school I found the graphic novel of Creepshow at the library, then bought the DVD at Media Play. During this period, I also discovered the Dark Tower series and I read one installment every summer from age 15. I read DT1 while driving to my grandparents cabin near Gunnison. I read DT3 (my favorite one) while driving to San Antonio for an epic vacation. I read DT4 in San Francisco while visiting my grandpa for the last time before he died of cancer. Once I got to books 6 and 7 and finished them off back to back.

I read some of Four Past Midnight in a glassy corridor at CU North Classroom building on snowy days while waiting through my 3 hour gap between classes. During a winter break in college I flew through Under the Dome in two weeks and loved it. I think Under the Dome started the new period of fun books that Stephen King seems to be going through again. With the help of ipods and audiobooks (and from working at the golf course where I got to sit on a mower for hours and hours) I got to rediscover a lot of the classic King books and really examine what makes them great. In 2012, Chuck Benson's deep voice narrating IT got into my head and I began to think up lines of a story in his/King's voice. I went home from work and began writing the first pages that eventually wound up being a book called Kill River.

That summer I also traveled to Bangor, Maine for the first time and saw a lot of the IT and other King landmarks thanks to the Stephen King tour. It was a trip that was truly one of the highlights of my entire life and I'm happy to say that I'll be going back this summer, this time dragging my dad along with me (the man who was responsible for all this King fandom.)

I'm 29 now and it's 20 years later. Tonight I finished the last pages of Bazaar of Bad Dreams, the latest King book, and I'm now fully caught up. Entire works read, it feels weird for me to say that. Through my parents divorce, the turn of the century, the crazy dramatic times in middle school in high school, the hectic times in college, moving out, getting married, buying a house, growing up, I've almost always been reading a Stephen King book. I am the very definition of one of his “Constant Readers,” and it's been a privilege to get so much good entertainment out of one author over the majority of my life. They've steered me onto my own path as an author. I know I'll never write anything half as awesome or inspiring as IT or Pet Sematary but I will always keep those books I love close to remind me of where I came from and the kind books I want to write.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

8 Slasher Girls Who Should've Come Back For Sequels


Hey guys! I'm hard at work right now, finishing up the first draft of my next book and it's gonna be crazy. But I learned that February is Women in Horror Month, which is totally relevant to me because my sub-genre of choice is the slasher genre. In my book, Kill River, my survivor girl is Cyndi. A badass 80's teen who is obsessed with music and listening to mix tapes on her Walkman. She's only 13 and five feet tall, yet she's able to endure a lot and tangle with a huge psycho killer. Kill River is really a story about Cyndi and how she comes out of her shell and finds that she's much stronger than she gave herself credit. I've never written a character that I love so much, and if you haven't read Kill River yet, definitely check it out. Its a must read for 80's slasher fans.

OK, end of shameless plug, I promise. In the slasher genre, there are a lot of badass female characters that I feel are under-appreciated. So I wrote out this list of 8 Slasher Movie Girls that Should've Gotten Called Back For Sequels.

#1.) First and most important KYLE from Child's Play 2, played by Christine Elise. What a badass! She could've totally stayed out of it, but instead she fights off Chucky, one of the most epic and iconic slasher killers of all time. With her tough attitude, sense of humor, and the fact that she goes above and beyond to help save Andy, she totally should've gotten called back from Child's Play 3. What happened to her? Would Chucky ever go after her again? Would she go back to destroy the Good Guy factory on the Night of 1000 Chuckies? Don Mancini, if you're reading this, I really hope you can get her to come back in the next Chucky movie.

#2.) ALANA from Terror Train played by the original scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. I loved every slasher movie Jamie Lee was in. She's a fighter, yet she still seems scared enough to make her slasher films feel real and terrifying. I wish they could've brought her character back for a 2nd Terror Train, I mean, there's gotta be more people she and her frat friends pissed off in college, right? Maybe they could've changed the setting from a train to something else. Terror Plane? Terror Cruise Ship? Terror Tour Bus? Terror Blimp? Terror Submarine? So many possibilities!

#3.) JUDY from Sleepaway Camp played by Karen Fields. Call me crazy, but I can't be the only person in the world that thought that Judy was smokin' hot! Yes, she was a bitch. Yes, she treated Angela and everyone else at camp like shit. But hey, maybe she could've survived her curling iron stab and it turned her around, gave her a whole new outlook on life. Personally, I would've loved to see a Judy/Angela reunion/showdown at Camp Arawak. Maybe she could've become the hero in a sequel, now that would be a crazy twist even for Sleepaway Camp standards.

#4.) KATY from House on Sorority Row, played by Kate McNeil. I've said it before and I'll say it again: House on Sorority Row needs a Halloween 2 Style Immediately-After-Sequel to continue the story. HoSR is such a great slasher movie that just didn't really get to finish the story. There was so much more to be explored, and Katherine running from that spooky killer in the jester suit for the entire HoSR2 would've been epic!

#5.) BRIDGET from Leprechaun 2 played by Shevonne Durkin. Leprechaun 2 is easily my favorite of the Leprechaun movies. Shevonne Durkin is such a gorgeous slasher survivor girl. She even had to endure that nasty forked-tongue Leprechaun lick (shudder). Shevonne Durkin also plays her ancestor in the opening scene of Lep 2. I've always been intrigued by the possibility of a Leprechaun prequel. Maybe her character had more dealings with the leprechaun back in medieval times. Hell, maybe Jennifer Aniston could return to the franchise in a cameo as the Queen of England or something, now that would be a cool Leprechaun movie.

#6.) My last 3 entries are Friday the 13th women. In a series that's notorious for not bringing back characters, 3 awesome women were totally forgotten when it came time for sequels. First, GINNY from Friday the 13th 2 played by Amy Steel. She's really the first Jason survivor girl and is one of the toughest and smartest. She's the first person to figure out that you can use psychology on Jason to stump him. And she survives! Its a crying shame that they didn't bring her back for Part 3.

#7.) VIOLET from Friday the 13th 5 played by Tiffany Helm. Anyone who reads this blog, or who's read Kill River knows that Cyndi is based a lot on Violet. I've always felt that they really should've focused more on Violet, and that she should've been the main character instead of Pam, the doctor at Pinehurst. Maybe her and Tommy Jarvis could've gotten together, and made an awesome Jason fighting couple.

#8.) The last is TINA from Friday the 13th 7 played by Lar Park Lincoln. Part 7 is one of the strongest of the series not only for being the 1st Kane Hodder Jason film, but for its awesome original concept of Jason fighting someone with supernatural powers. I loved the character of Tina and thought Part 7 was a perfect introduction for her and her powers. But I would've loved to see her character grow and change, become even stronger telepathically. Its too bad they couldn't have continued her character with Part 8, instead we got Jason in NYC, ugh. My ideal Friday sequel would be to bring back Jason's strongest survivors: Ginny, Tommy Jarvis, and Tina to have a rematch with Jason.

Well, there ya have it. Do you have any other slasher girls that you loved that should've been brought back for a sequel or two? Hit me up and let me know what you think!