House Call (in TDOAHW)

baddies illo_House Call

One of three original illustrations for “House Call” in THE DEATH OF A HORROR WRITER. Artwork by Ade Barrett

Below is an excerpt from Chapter Eleven of THE DEATH OF A HORROR WRITER.

In late 2009, Adam Lewis and I met online. At that point we were both up-and-comers and looking for new story ideas. We started talking and eventually came up with an idea for a 3-novella collection. Each story contained in the book would have a common theme: A doctor would make a “house call” and then some really bad stuff would happen. I entitled my story “House Call” and would lead off the collection. Below is the synopsis of my story.

Mariam thought it was going to be a weekend of relaxation. She had her little sister to take care of, but knew she could that handle that without much of a problem. That all changed when Jessica got extremely sick and Mariam had no other choice but to call the family doctor to make a house call.

John and Nick decide tonight is perfect to burglarize a house. They stake out the place and are delighted to find the only people inside are two young girls. It was going to be easy to pull off.

Or so they thought.

What ensues is a battle between the girls that are home alone and the two bad men.

Little do any of them know someone else plans to make a house call of their own.

Adam called his story “The Torturing Pestilence”. We then started discussing who else to bring into the mix. At that point neither of us had many contacts in the genre so we didn’t have many options. Fortunately, around the time same, I had started writing book reviews for the now defunct Withersin Magazine and got to know the owner Misty Gersley fairly well. Misty was into publishing some twisted and strange stuff in her magazine so it only made sense to invite her to be the third writer for the collection. And away we went. Adam and I finished ours in a few months. But, that’s when things hit a roadblock. Misty had some things come up in her life (as we all do) and was struggling to finish her novella in time for our self-imposed deadline. So Adam and I waited, and waited, then waited some more. After a few months, Misty informed us she wouldn’t be able to complete her story. We thanked her for her efforts and moved on. But at that point “moving on” was the problem. I don’t recall the details now, but I believe we attempted to invite another person or two to write the third story of the collection. Nothing. Nada. Nobody. That’s when the project died. Adam and I decided we would take our stories and do with whatever we pleased. I submitted my novella to tons of publishers, but it was never picked up for publication. I know Adam tried a few times as well, but mostly wanted to retool the novella before trying to get it published somewhere.

In mid-2011, while online I met Michelle Henderson and Shannon Casto of Texas based Little Oak Film Group. I believe I messaged them first after seeing one of their independent films on DVD. Me, always looking to expand, brought up the idea of them adapting one of my stories for film. I believe I sent them two stories, one of which was House Call. They ended up liking it and wanted to make it into a feature-length film. Shannon would write the screenplay, while Michelle would direct the film. I was ecstatic. At that point I only had one other story (Cake Batter) that had been made into a short film, so I was extremely excited to see one of my tales made into a feature-length. It was decided that Little Oak would handle the production side of things, while I would handle the marketing side once the film was finished. And away we went. Shannon finished the screenplay in only a few months and sent it onto me to read and make any suggestions. Before reading it, she did warn me that two things were changed from the original story: The main character’s sister was now a brother and a graphic rape scene towards the end of the story had been removed. I told Shannon I understood and didn’t have a problem with the changes. I then read and approved the script. Filming started mid-2012 and the film (1 hour, 20 minutes) was eventually released on DVD in early 2012.

House Call_movie poster1Below is the synopsis for the film version of my story.

Mariam thought it was going to be a weekend of relaxation. She had her little brother to take care of, but knew that wouldn’t be a problem. That all changed when Vince got sick and Mariam had no other choice but to call the family doctor to make a house call.

John and Nick decide it’s a perfect night to burglarize a house. They stake out the place and are delighted to find the only people inside are two kids – an easy in-and-out job.

Or so they thought.

What ensues is a battle between the kids that are home alone and the two bad men.

Little do any of them know someone else plans to make a house call of their own.

And that’s when the curse of “House Call” started all over again. As much as I tried to promote, provide contacts of film distributors to Little Oak (who, from what I understand from one person that was interested in distributing the DVD, they didn’t use the right quality of film equipment and editing software, so it wasn’t of good enough quality to mass-produce and distribute), and inquire with folks to review the film, it ended up being all for not. While the DVD was (and still is) available on Amazon to order, Little Oak never entered the film in any contests or festivals to help get the word out. I was surprised to find this wasn’t part of their normal practice after making a movie: TO PROMOTE IT! When asked, Shannon told me it was expensive to enter films in festivals (to Little Oak’s credit, they did take and sell some copies of the DVD to Texas Frightmare Weekend in 2012) and such. Which, of course, I understood, but what the hell? Really? What’s the point of spending money (even a $2,000 production budget) on making something, then not do anything with it? In fact, Shannon actually accused me of not doing my job to promote and sell more copies. Really?

In any event, I think the film itself came out great. The actors and actresses did a fantastic job and the film itself was very much in line with my original story (which is always a plus for a writer).

I suppose sometimes you just have to realize that things are what they are and move on.

Interesting enough, out of everything I’ve written since I started out in 2008, House Call is the only story that was never published. I’m not sure why, as I think it’s a fun, creepy and brutal little tale.

So, I decided to include it in this tome.

Besides, don’t all writers have a tale that’s released postmortem?

This is mine.

Hope you enjoy!

THE DEATH OF A HORROR WRITER_cover

There are still a few of the original number of 125 signed, limited edition hardcover copies left. But, you better hurry. Click one of the below links to Pre-Order my first non-fiction book (with a little bit of fiction thrown in for good taste).

Publisher

Bad Moon Books

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