Next up in our line up of author profiles from the Dead of Winter anthology is Kevin Holton, author of "These Claws Dig Shallow Graves". This creepilicious tale takes us into the mind of a man haunted nightly by a demon who seems bent on punishing him for past crimes...or does she want something else from him?
Find out what makes Kevin tick as a writer and get an excerpt from his story at the end.
How did you get started with writing?
I started writing about ten years ago. As a little kid, I was incredibly precocious (some might say obnoxious), and read my first Stephen King book around 8-9. Soon after, I knew I wanted to be a professional writer one day. I joined an online writing community at 14 and haven't looked back, though I'm still a ways off from earning money, let alone money I can live on.
Do you tend to write in just one genre or do you like to write across multiple genres?
Technically, you could say horror is in most of my work. I bounce between supernatural, surreal, and sci-fi. In day-to-day life, I'm big on transhumanism, so it's hard for me NOT to talk about biohacking and how cybernetics could improve our lives--or make everything go terribly wrong.
What made you decide to write this story?
While there's no backstory per se for "These Claws Dig Shallow Graves," I love writing/reading tales that don't use the conventional "Oh no, a monster. It kills things, let's kill it" trope. As such, I knew from the get-go that the woman in this story wasn't going to actively hurt anyone, because that would've been predictable/easy. For how it came about, a lot of my short stories start with either an opening line or image that pops into my head, and I write around that. This starting image was just someone tapping on a window. Add a little chaos and a traumatic castration, and there you have it.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to keep busy, so when I'm not reading/writing, I'm usually working out, meditating/doing reiki, or acting. Not counting the time I spend in school/work, since I'm currently finishing an MA. Once I'm done the program, I hope to start writing for more higher paying markets and maybe booking some more serious acting gigs.
Where is the best place for readers to find out more about your work?
The best place to learn more about my work is my website, www.kevinholton.com, which I'm working at updating more frequently. I can also be found on twitter @KevinJLHolton and instagram @theholtoning, though I'm the worst millennial ever and am still trying to figure out all this social media stuff. I have no major works or WIP right now, but if all goes well, there'll be some big news by the year's end!
Thanks, Kevin! And now for an excerpt from "These Claws Dig Shallow Graves".
These Claws Dig Shallow Graves
I feel her tapping at the window. It’s not enough to say I hear her. Each time her finger pricks against the glass, a shockwave courses through my house. The pulse disturbs the air, shakes dust from the cracks in the ceiling, leaves the walls trembling at her touch. Her existence is such an aberration that it seems everything, right down to the molecule, is scrambling to get away. Each little tremor fights to rouse me from my dead slumber, and now that I’m fully awake, I know I cannot sleep again.
She has been trying to enter for six nights now, growing more persistent each time. If I survive this seventh night, I suspect there will be no force, on Earth or otherwise, capable of killing me.
Had it not been for a cold snap, the woman would have gotten in on that first night, but I closed all the windows, locking them for good measure. My wife always said this was a needless compulsion as we lived several miles outside of town. We had no nearby neighbors and weren’t near a main road, so no one was going to come by to get in. Sometimes she’d unlock the windows after I’d gone to bed, just to tease me. As much as it irked me, I loved this playfulness. I should’ve known what was coming once she started leaving the doors locked. Our divorce was painful, though maybe a little expected. If we hadn’t, her little game might have gotten both of us killed.
There’s no point in calling the police. They cannot aid me, even if they were to listen to me. Living on the outskirts as I do means my small-town cops rarely want to make the drive, and will do anything they can to avoid having to respond. An aged recluse can’t have much to worry about, after all. Why waste the effort coming out to see a man who is probably just tired of living with the same lonely shadows?
I am not alone now, though. Her rapping reminds me of this. Reminds me of the fact that this constant interruption, this barrage, is set to end tonight. For the life of me, I can’t explain how I know. My heart screams, This ends tonight, and the crash that causes my house to shudder confirms it. Still, I don’t look at the window, because I don’t want our confrontation to be in my bedroom. She will be wherever I turn my gaze, any window at all. I’ve tested this, standing in the center of any given room and whipping my head around, looking out panes on opposite sides of my house, but there, always there!
Find out what the demon wants from him by ordering your copy of Dead of Winter today!