Next up in our line up of author profiles from the Dead of Winter anthology is David J. Gibbs, author of "Spotlight". His tale revisits the origins of Thanksgiving and throws a twisted little spin on it.
Read on to find out what makes David tick as a writer and where his story idea came from, plus get an excerpt from his story.
How did you get started with writing?
I always enjoyed making up stories as a kid. I liked scaring the kids next door, talking about ghosts and witches, but it wasn't until my third grade teacher, Miss Cummings, demanded a parent teacher conference to discuss a story I'd written that I realized how my writing affected people. I'd written a story about an axe murderer hiding in a little shack in the woods between the school and the neighborhood. He was chopping up little kids and storing the pieces in the shack. My teacher thought the story was disturbing and wanted my parents to know about it. That's when I started to bang around on my mom's manual typewriter in the kitchen writing stories. The coolest thing about the story was the fact that the shack was real and the woods was real. I freaked out the neighbor kids enough that nobody walked through them to school for quite awhile. It made me want to write more.
Do you tend to write in just one genre or do you like to write across multiple genres?
I write across multiple genres and have published science fiction, horror, mystery, and fantasy stories, though horror/dark speculative fiction tends to be where I spend most of my time. Darkness has always whispered to me throughout my childhood, which is, in part, why I enjoy writing for both children and adult audiences alike. When I was growing up, there wasn't much horror to read aside from comic books like, Weird Tales, Tales of the Unexpected, Secrets of the Haunted House, Time Warp, and The House of Mystery. When I write for kids, I love creating the kind of stories I wish I'd had to read growing up.
What made you decide to write "Spotlight"? Is there a particular backstory to it?
Spotlight is actually something my family plays every year at Thanksgiving. We go to Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Ginny's farm in northern Indiana. After the sun goes down, regardless of temperature or weather, we all run around the barn, silos, corn cribs, and outbuildings, playing 'flashlight tag' (Spotlight) for hours. I'm sure if anybody were watching, they'd think we were insane but we love it. It's a great tradition. The people in the story are real family members except for Michael who is a fictionalized version of myself.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I'm a nationally certified soccer coach and love coaching my two youngest kids' teams year round. I also love writing and playing music. I've been a professional musician for thirty-five years, and typically play forty to fifty dates a year, with my current project, Spare Change.
Where is the best place for readers to find out more about your work?
My website http://www.davidjgibbs.com has links to all of my available works, as well as, my blog, Twitter feed, bio, and monthly newsletter which comes with a free story every issue.
Thanks, David! And, now, for a look at "Spotlight".
David J. Gibbs
Michael loved going to the farm for Thanksgiving. Everything about it excited him, even the long drive. It didn’t matter that the farm was a little rundown since his uncle was no longer able to take care of it. To Michael, it was still magical.
He didn’t care that the barn leaned to one side and struggled to hold up a badly sagging roof. It leaned so badly the doors no longer stayed shut. Surrounded by the smell of must and decay, he always imagined the secrets the barn held in its dusty heart.
Outbuildings gathered around the barn in a broken sort of worship. The silos stood next to old farm equipment left to rot on tires that had burst long ago and were splayed like blackened rubber flower petals catching the sun.
All of those were special, in their own way, but they weren’t the main reason Michael loved visiting the farm. He adored what happened when the sun went down and the shadows swallowed it whole.
The farm changed into a macabre playground. During the day, the barn was full of forgotten farm implements, tools, ladder and dusty rope, but when the sun went down, the open barn doors became the yawning mouth of some slumbering beast. Tree branches with skeletal fingers raked across the metal roof making sounds that slipped beneath his fingernails and poked his soul.