Introducing Ambrose Stolliker. He will be the first author in our eBook and audiobook imprint Legion next year. Abbie Waters has just completed the first round of proofreading and more edits are coming soon. Till then, get to know the author behind this Civil War themed horror story!
Spring, 1865. The Southern armies are close to defeat. Union Cavalry Commander Philip Sheridan has loosed his scouts into the Virginia countryside in search of an opportunity to intercept and destroy Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Rebel army and bring the war to an end.
One such scout is Captain Benjamin Lawson, a man haunted by the burden of command and the scenes of senseless slaughter he has endured at places like Antietam and Gettysburg. His sole desire is to see his men survive the final days of the terrible conflict that has engulfed the country for five bloody years.
The fortunes of war, however, have another fate in store for Lawson and his men, Sergeant Jordy Lightfoot and Corporal Emil Boyd. On a dark, rainy night, Lawson’s party of scouts stumbles into a large group of Rebel cavalry. All Hell breaks loose. Two of his men are killed outright, and Lawson, Lightfoot and Boyd barely manage to escape into a thick forest.
There, Lawson discovers that the young corporal has been gravely wounded. Determined not to lose yet another man under his command, Lawson heads for a small, out-of-the-way town called Old Hollow in the hopes of finding a doctor who can help the dying boy. What he finds instead is far more terrifying than anything he has witnessed on the battlefield. Soon, he and his men are in a fight for their lives against a twisted preacher who has struck a diabolical covenant with an ancient, unspeakable evil.
1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?
I think I’ve wanted to be a storyteller from a very early age. Like many people in their early to mid-forties, my love of storytelling was born on a warm, summer day in 1977 when my mother took me and my older sister to a movie theater to see Star Wars. The movie and the story made an indelible impression on me. The story and mythology of Star Wars were presented on such a grand scale, how could it have not made an impression on me? From then on, I loved listening to and telling stories. Not long after, I developed a deep love of reading, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror. I wrote my first book, an unfinished fantasy novel, at the age of nine, and have been pretty much writing nonstop since then, either as a newspaper and magazine journalist or as a fiction writer.
2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?
I spent twelve years banging out 12-inch to 20-inch news stories in noisy newsrooms at daily and weekly newspapers. You’d think I’d be able to work in just about any environment and still write and write well, but when it comes to fiction, I can’t. I need silence. Some writers can listen to heavy metal while they write, but not me. I’ve got to have quiet, which isn’t always possible when you’ve got a rambunctious four-year-old boy in your house. Luckily, I have a nice, quiet office where I can close the door and focus on the work.
3.RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?
Hopefully, it means we’ll see more stories featuring characters and themes that are outside the normal clichés we see in so much writing today. The best stories always feature characters that do the exact opposite of what’s expected, or what society as a whole perceives as the norm. I think great writing challenges our preconceived notions about the world we live in and the lives we lead.
4. What do you think makes a great horror story? How do you think your piece Old Hollow fits into or varies from that description?
I’d characterize Old Hollow as a classic horror story set during the Civil War. I think any horror story worth reading has to do two primary things – gradually build a feeling of suspense or dread and tell a story wherein the reader becomes invested in the fate of the main characters. Almost as important, I think, is setting. It just so happens that I am a Civil War buff and have spent a great deal of time reading about and researching the conflict that defined so much of who we are as Americans today. Being well versed in that particular time period makes it easy (and enjoyable) for me to create evocative settings for the reader. Old Hollow is not the first Civil War story I’ve written, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?
Well, every time a writer puts pen to paper, asks someone to read something they’ve written or submits a story for publication, they’re taking a chance at being rejected. In one sense, I think my career as a journalist helped me develop a pretty thick skin where my writing was concerned. It just became part of my everyday life to receive and absorb criticism of the material I’d turned into my editors. For the most part, I knew their criticisms always came from a good place – either a desire to make the story better for the reader, or to make me a better writer, or, under the best of circumstances, both. So, when I started writing fiction and submitting it for publication, it never really fazed me when the rejections started rolling in. Like most writers, I had moments of self-doubt that I would ever get published, but I never really considered giving up. Now, my ambition is to be able to write horror fiction full time, and I’m not there yet. Sometimes, I worry I’ll never get there. But that doesn’t stop me from writing.
6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to Old Hollow? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?
The characters, first and foremost. Writing about Benjamin Lawson, Jordy Lightfoot, Emil Boyd, Nan Forrester and Preacher John was a lot of fun. Each one brings something different and important to the story. Lawson and Jordy are probably my two favorite characters in Old Hollow because they’re both so very different from one another. At the same time, they complement one another in critical ways, and function well together as they try to navigate and survive the war and the situation in which they find themselves in Old Hollow. I love the dialogue between the characters too, especially Jordy’s dialogue. His voice and patois were really fun to write. Finally, I love the themes that emerged as I wrote and revised the story over three separate drafts – the danger and inherent hypocrisy of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism; the sense of brotherhood and comradery that is developed between soldiers during times of war; the notion that one’s word and personal honor stand for something, even (and perhaps especially) when given to someone we might consider an enemy; and the importance of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there?
Easy. Write as often as you can, and read as much as you can. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, five days per week. I don’t always accomplish that, but that’s my goal. I don’t think one can become adept at anything if one isn’t willing to practice and put in the time necessary to develop one’s craft. Also, I’ve learned over the years, both as a journalist and a fiction writer, that the real work begins with the second draft. First drafts are easy. First drafts are fun. You’re basically just vomiting the words, story and characters onto the page, and not thinking too much about plot, or how good the writing is – at least that’s how I approach first drafts. But revision? Revision is hard. And essential. Finally, you’re going to face a lot of rejection and criticism. I started writing seriously in my early thirties. I sold my first story when I was 36 or 37. It took about seven or eight years to make that first sale. Then I had to wait another year or so for the second. I’m 43 now, and STILL not writing full-time, so that should give aspiring writers an idea of what it takes to make it in this business. I consider myself marginally successful in having secured a dozen or so publishing credits that netted me any kind of money. It’s a long haul. It’s natural and even healthy to get discouraged once in a while, but the one thing a serious writer can absolutely not do is to stop writing. So, don’t.