Sometimes the only way to restore a little sanity is to go completely insane.
Thats what Durango author Blake Crouch and three fellow thriller/horror novelists did with their collaborative e-book Draculas, which was released Tuesday on Amazon just in time for Halloween. Think of Draculas as the anti-Twilight. These vampires are not teen heartthrobs, but rather a collection of the most vicious, bloodthirsty monsters youd never want to meet.
Each author Crouch, Chicagos Jack Kilborn (which is one of Joe Konraths pen names), Floridas Jeff Strand and New Jerseys F. Paul Wilson adopted a character or two and wrote point-of-view chapters. They used the Dropbox software program that allowed each to submit their chapters instantly and Crouch said the process was much easier than it sounds.
If you pick the right people, collaboration is so much fun we just let our hair down and went crazy for a couple of months, Crouch said.
The result is a surprisingly seamless narrative that reads very much as if it was written by just one author. The quartet began writing in August and completed the 80,000-word story just two months later. Crouch said the process couldve taken as long as 18 months if the writers opted for a print version of the book, but they were able to bypass their individual publishing contacts and put the book online themselves. It also allowed them to include another couple hundred pages of back stories, e-mail correspondence and biographical information about each author.
And with each author bringing his own fan base to the process, Draculas is already an online sensation. The book sold more than 700 copies the first day and debuted at No. 65 on Kindles Top 100 list after Tuesdays release.
Heres the gist. A geriatric millionaire (who lives in Durango Crouch won the hometown setting) buys an ancient skull with some serious vampirish qualities found by a Romanian farmer. In hopes of restoring his youth, he bites himself with the skull and is rushed to Blessed Crucifixion Hospital (see also: Mercy Regional Medical Center). He of course transforms into the first vampire, which includes a mouthful, upper and lower, of 2-inch razor-sharp fangs. After a few quick, bloodthirsty attacks, hospital patients and staffers begin to join his ranks.
The authors cleverly create a scenario that puts the rural hospital in near isolation on the unfortunate evening, allowing for the vampirism to spread like wildfire throughout the hospital and sparing only a few human heroes to battle for survival until help arrives. Most refreshingly, there are no sacred cows. The vampires feast on men, women and children, in graphic, gory detail, and even an unwed mother-to-be in the birthing center joins the fun thanks to an 8-year old girl/vampire who spends the story in search of red candy.
Draculas also does away with the foolish notions that vampires can be vanquished with such trite items as crosses, sunlight and garlic. What works is good old-fashioned firepower (delivered by a gun nut sheriffs deputy) and brute strength, as when a lumberjack patient and one of the heroes of the story clubs several Draculas to death with an out-of-gas chain saw.
Were not into subverting audience expectations, Crouch said.
We created a lumberjack character just so we could have a chain saw at a hospital.
Crouch and his co-authors freely admit that Draculas is over the top, and its a lot of fun if youve got the stomach for it. Theres some comic relief, but make no mistake: This is a violent, gory, at times offensive and otherwise totally awesome read for the right audience.
Fortunately, Im the right audience, and I loved it, but I could see how others might not share my enthusiasm. Proceed with caution.