The book Blind Shadows basically came about because my buddy Jim Moore said, "Hey, I want to write a book that mixes crime fiction with horror. You want to write it with me?"
And I said, "Yes, that would be cool." I've heard collaboration described as twice the work for half the money, but that wasn't my experience. Jim and I were on the same wavelength from the beginning and we sent chapters flying back and forth with astounding regularity, basically alternating chapters, though each of us would sometimes write two or three chapters in a row.
We decided we would use two protagonists. I would take private eye Wade Griffin and Jim would write about Sheriff Carl Price. Then we both threw in a bunch of other characters and wrote away. To keep things moving smoothly we exchanged hundreds of emails and met for dinner several times to have story conferences. There was a lot of riffing off of each others’ ideas. A lot of "Hey wouldn't it be neat if..." and "I know! Let's throw this at them!" Our stated goal was also to write a "Southern Gothic crime/horror" novel. We were shooting for something in the Manly Wade Wellman, Karl Edward Wagner mode. Something distinctly Southern in setting, like Wagner's "Where the Summer Ends" or Wellman's stories of the North Carolina mountains. You will find many nods to Wellman in the book, even the name of one of the characters and of the rural Georgia town where much of the action takes place. Real locations in Georgia turn up as well. I was drawing on my lifetime spent in the northern part of Georgia and I hope that comes through on the pages.
Several people have asked me what the book is about. Not to give too much away, the plot is driven largely by a classic horror idea utilized by H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, and many other writers. The idea that before mankind became the dominant species on our world, other beings held sway. Somehow they lost their place, but they've never given up trying to reclaim what once was theirs. Be they elder gods, snake men, Shonokins, or whatever, they wait out there in the outer dark, looking for a chance. Ours have just been waiting in the dark backwoods and shadow haunted hollows of the Georgia Mountains.
Blind Shadows isn't a Lovecraft pastiche, but there are definitely some Lovecraftian elements. To that, add murder, martial arts, guns, hard boiled dialog and a bit of police procedure. Oh, and the world's most dangerous English professor. I think that the book has a very pulpish feel to it. I grew up reading Pulp Magazine reprints. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Robert E. Howard. Lester Dent. C.L. Moore. H.P. Lovecraft. Dasheill Hammett. Raymond Chandler. I was definitely going for a fast action pulp feel and I think Jim would agree with me on that. Anyway, that's the most I've had to say about Blind Shadows so far. I hope folks like it, of course. I certainly had a good time writing it.
That's what Charles had to say. Here's what I have to say:
Yep. Nailed it. There was no part of writing with Charles that was difficult. I have collaborated several times in the past and to enjoyed it, but the extra fun for me in this case is that Charles actually kept the same sort of speed as me, and believe me when I say this, I'm sort of prolific at times.
We're already plotting out the sequel by the way. But no more on that until Charles and me have discussed it a bit more. I just can't resist telling people a little something to whet their appetites.
And here, by the way, is what Lee Thomas had to say about BLIND SHADOWS.
"James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge mix their ample talents to create a fast-moving and shocking supernatural tale of black magic, human sacrifice, and multi-dimensional monsters. To complement the gore, and the gore is plentiful, there is a wisecracking charm here in the form of Carl and Griffin, our bold heroes, making Blind Shadows a genuine treat to read. The characters are sharp. The dialogue is crackling. In short, Blind Shadows has wit, balls, and muscle car pacing, like a good-ol’-boy buddy flick set against a landscape of Lovecraftian nightmares. You need to read this."
Lee Thomas, Bram Stoker Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The German, Torn, and The Dust of Wonderland.
Lee also said exactly how impressed he was by the fact that this is Charles's first novel. It's not his first writing gig by any stretch, but believe me when I say this: I was impressed too. It takes a lot of focus to build a novel at the pace we used. I have been pleasantly surprised through the entire process on this particular book and I've been having a blast.