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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction


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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Come Into Darkness - behind the scenes...of aforementioned darkness

With my self-imposed writing hiatus ongoing (due to studies. I'm drowning in psychological lab reports and statistics right now), it's nice to see that my existing works live on, finding new readers with very little effort from this poor salesman. Like a pet or small child, they can be left alone to do their own thing.

A few months ago saw my re-release of the novella Come Into Darkness, to form an independent novella series alongside Critique and Retard. With a fourth planned in the same psychological style, I thought it would be great to see them as a more coherent set, complete with snazzy covers. Out into the world they went, and back to the journals and articles I went.


Still just 99c, folks.

One of those new readers is the delightful Frankie Yates, who chose to review Come Into Darkness on her new blog right here: https://krankieblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/come-into-darkness-by-daniel-i-russell/. Thank you, Frankie! And thank you for the share, the incomparable Messtress of Madness (mess as in severed eyeballs), Dawn Cano.

In light of this, and because I find myself stranded in a library while my car is being fixed (in a garage. This library isn't THAT accommodating) I was thinking about the birth of the novella, and hoped to share a few little behind the scenes thoughts and experiences. As any long term reader of mine will know, in particular those of you who have read through the quite substantial collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem, I view my stories as photographs in my own album of memories. While the plot might be right there in front of you, for me it represents subjective times, places and people. Strange sights and good conversations. As far as I know, while I have discussed Retard in this way, I haven't yet shared my stories behind Come. If you haven't read the book, this will probably make no sense, nor interest you! If you have...it probably still won't interest you. But I'm going to do it anyway. I have an afternoon to kill.

1. Origins


Worth: Having his job interview

My stories start with a seed every time. When I worked for my first law firm back in the UK, and this was around 2006/07, we'd hit the pub around the corner after work on a Friday. That sometimes led to a bus into town to hit more bars...and ultimately ended up at a club. I can't even remember the name of it, but it was up some stairs and was one of the most depressing drinking spots I've ever been in. Now this was in Southport, which isn't the classiest of joints. Yet every week, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, was this old man. You sometimes get older gents in clubs, trying to talk to everyone. He seemed nice enough, but damn, his appearance was just so bizarre. He had a messy comb-over and some kind of weird deformity down low, so it looked like he had a sack of spuds shoved down the front of his trousers. That wasn't the thing that stuck with me though. He always wore a dark crimson blazer, the kind of thing you see toffs wearing at the Boat Race with straw hats. It was just dusty and antiquated, yet worn by this old fella in a dodgy Southport back alley club, drinking WKDs and trying to chat up the fresh totty.

I thought, here's a guy who looks like a butler from a haunted house. I knew I had to use him. Worth. Who better for a guide through the nightmare of Metus House? (I just remembered Metus means...something important)

Just like his real life counterpart, Worth seems to be in an existential dilemma. He doesn't seem to enjoy his lot, but having done it for so long, is perhaps starting to try and like it, as he knows he can't escape it. He was originally a poet...but I don't think that fully took shape in the book.

2. More origins

I try to have fun, although that might be hard to believe at times.

While Come Into Darkness can never be labelled an intelligent, or even deep, story, I do hope it's a fun one. It was my homage to my favourite horror movies, mashed up, the choicest cuts sliced out and slapped together.

A man bored of the excess tasted in his life and a craving for more? Frank Cotton from Hellraiser much? A cackling, tormenting guide that can manipulate the world at a whim to punish you more? Is that a bit Krugerish, or am I dreaming? The various games and contraptions are a bit obvious...but then I love the SAW movies. Because of SAW I met my now fiancee and have a house full of kids! Of course I want to give it a nod in appreciation. The most influential story to my story was Dicken's The Christmas Carol. The past, present, and future approach makes for a great three act set up, plus the forced self analysis is a topic I realise I tread pretty regularly (looking at you, Critique!).

3. When SAW sent me into a tantrum

Remember this from SAW V?



I had to leave Come Into Darkness half finished as I moved to Australia. This was the first book I finished over here. I had literally finished the book THAT DAY and had the brandspanking new SAW V booked at the videostore to watch in the evening with a beer as a reward.

On seeing this trap close to the finale, I was nearly sick. It was so so close to a scene I had midway through the book. While there was a clear influence from the franchise, I straight away worried that I'd be accused of a direct rip off.

I eventually got over it. It helped that the poor sucker subjected to this abuse in the book gets even more later on...

On a further note regarding this particular scene, I was in my favourite pub back in Southport (there, again) with a coworker, sat in a busy corner, watching a band, and explaining the mechanism of how the torture device worked, obviously reveling in the grimaces and squeals of disgust I received in return. Little known to us, that corner was apparently the meeting point for swingers on that night, leading to a guy's wife trying to make out with my friend right there and then. Turns out we were in the wrong as we sat in the wrong corner of the wrong pub on the wrong night. We left shortly after.

4. Advice from Balzer and Hintz

The original title was Fear of the Dark, due to Mario's phobia following early incidents with his father. When the novella was picked up by the clean cut, take-them-home-to-meet-your-mother types, Balzer and Hintz (har!), it was pointed out that someone had already pinched that title:


While being lost among metal heads is somewhere I always aim to be, it wasn't such a good idea when it comes to book sales and search engines.

Following the glory hole scene (now you're thinking of buying, eh?), we renamed it Come Into Darkness, and tittered like schoolboys on hearing the world boobies.

5. And finally...

Before I start a book, I set myself goals to meet: things I haven't done before. I hope this stops me getting stale and writing the same book over and over. Gets me out of my comfort zone. 

With Come, I wanted to strip it right back: have the whole story occur in one night, and to only have one POV. That might sound easier, but after writing a few novels, I felt that it was more of a challenge. It made me think about pacing more, for one.

The real kicker was trying to write a book full of horrible people and still have the reader engaged. No one in this book deserves sympathy...apart from maybe one (and I'll admit, that came out of nowhere as I was writing the damn thing). Did it succeed in this regard? I'm hoping so.

On that optimistic note, I'm going back to my articles and research.


See you when I escape!

Posted by Daniel I. Russell :: 1:22 pm :: 4 comments

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