Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner today is Author Michael DeCamp. As a young married man, Michael developed his passion for reading after finding Dean Koontz’s Twilight Eyes on a grocery store shelf. Over time he discovered that whatever his imagination could invision, his keyboard could create and he starting writing. Michael starting with short stories, which lead to his full novel, Abandon Hope. He shares his inspiration about the fictional town in the book, the fantasy within the book along with his podcast. Let’s jump into the interview.
A&RBC: Abandon Hope takes place in a fictional town called Cutters Notch, Indiana, where did you get the inspiration for the town and the book?
MD: For the last two decades, I’ve worked as a Territory Manager for an industrial manufacturer. In that job, I traveled through a lot of small, southern Indiana towns. So, the description of the town is really a mash up of all of the tiny towns I’ve seen over the years. The name of the town was inspired by a movie. A few years ago, I saw the movie “Breaking Away” at the Franklin Artcraft Theater in Franklin, Indiana. It is about the iconic Little 500 bicycle race held every year at IU in Bloomington. In the movie, the team that was made up of the local town boys was named the Cutters after the nickname for the men who worked in the local limestone mines. Those men would cut the slabs of limestone out of the walls of the mines. So, I envisioned a little town in that area where they had cut a notch out of one of the rolling hills, thus taking the name “Cutters Notch.”
A&RBC: The story has several trigger warnings, how important were these to the story?
MD: Interesting question. To be honest, I had to look up what a trigger warning was, so the ones that are there in my book weren’t put there on purpose as trigger warnings per se. I think they were just part of the elements of building a suspenseful story. In one of the definitions that I read, some professionals were saying that trigger warnings, which are intended to ease anxiety in folks who have experienced trauma, can have the reverse effect of actually building and enhancing anxiety in advance of reading the material. Isn’t that exactly what happens in a good suspense story?
There are some intense subjects such as domestic abuse, a kidnapped girl and cannibalistic villains, but in the development of a thriller story, you need scary, intense situations to be in play or the story doesn’t generate the page-turning effect that you need to make the story powerful. When writing this story, I had to decide what the motivation would be for the kidnappers to do what they did. I didn’t want to go down the sexual abuse road, so I chose something more unusual and I think that maybe made the story even more intense.
A&RBC: The book takes on a fantasy element when Gavin, Gronek and Smakal were introduced into the story, tell us about them and their role in the story.
MD: Gavin, Gronek, and Smakal are actually the core of what I built the story around. In the late 1980’s, my wife and I lived in a house on the near south side of Indianapolis. She had braces as a youth and she would periodically wear her retainer to keep her teeth in alignment. She kept it in a little blue hockey-puck-looking container. Well, one night, she went to look for it and it was gone. We searched everywhere. In every drawer. Behind and under every piece of furniture. In the freezer. Behind the toilet. It was no where to be found. Weeks went by. Maybe close to two months. No sign of it. It was just gone. Then, one evening, I walked into our bedroom and there it was on the corner of our dresser. I called out to my wife saying, “Hey! You found your retainer!” She rushed into room and replied, “No, I didn’t.” I pointed at it. “Well, there it is,” I said. “I guess the dimensional bandits were done with it.” I don’t know where I got that phrase, but it stuck in my head until I developed a whole story around it. Gavin, Gronek, and Smakal—the Dimensional Bandits.
In the story, they are key in creating the spiritual bridge between our known world and the spiritual world where the spectre operates. Plus, it was just fun to imagine the details of how things operate in their Arboreal Realm and how they pass back and forth into and out of our realm—borrowing things. Details like where they get their clothes and the use of the Slumber Dust were a blast to envision.
A&RBC: Reading the book made me think of several fairytales, were there any that contributed to the story?
MD: Another interesting question. I may have unintentionally channeled a little Hansel and Gretel, but I don’t think there is a direct correlation with any specific fairytale other than that. It’s not a fairytale, but I did find some inspiration from the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also found some inspiration regarding the style of my writing from Dean Koontz. As for fairytales, though, nothing really intentional.
A&RBC: You have a podcast named after the town, tells us about the Cutter Notch Podcast.
MD: The Cutters Notch Podcast is focused on all things creative. I stretch the boundaries of that definition (what it means to be creative) and generally have fun with the concepts. It is fairly new and I am still building new episodes—I usually add two per month. Podcasting was suggested to me as a way to promote my book, Abandon Hope, but I wanted to broaden it out so that it would remain appealing over the long term. So far, I’ve interviewed some authors, had an episode where we discussed Halloween and I read one of my scary short stories, and I’ve interviewed a couple of technical people about using social media and podcasting. In the future, I’ll have more authors. Plus, I have a comedian, a painter, and some local musicians lined up.
I have a great deal of fun with this creative process. I love the banter and the laughter as we explore different topics. I hope others find it as fun as I do. They can find links to the episodes on my website or they can just search “Cutters Notch Podcast” on any of the standard podcast suppliers.
A&RBC: Will there be more books based in the town?
MD: Yes! Right now, Abandon Hope stands as Book 1 in a trilogy. I am over two thirds finished with creating the story in Book 2. I’m supposed to have the manuscript to my publisher by May 2020. Then, I have a deadline for Book 3 of March 2021. After that, who knows? I’m having fun with expanding characters and developing the intricacies of the little community, so maybe there will be more. I already have two short stories based in Cutters Notch. I’m thinking of sharing one of them in each of my next two books as a little something extra.
A&RBC: Hope and Maggie are hiding away from Hope`s father, Kenny. I`m dying to see if he finds them. Will he appear in future novels?
MD: The troubled soul of Kenny Burton does play an intricate role in Book 2. After that, I’ll just have to see how it plays out in my imagination. We’ll see. I haven’t really seen how he ends up in Book 2, yet—although I do have a pretty good idea.
A&RBC: Did you have a writing process while working on Abandon Hope?
MD: Some writers have everything outlined and planned out before they even start typing away at a keyboard. That’s not me. Basically, I let my imagination free flow. It’s like I’m watching a movie in my head and my job is then to describe it so that others can see the same movie. Maybe that’s why Abandon Hope has so many crazy twists.
One advantage of that is if I don’t like the ending, I can just change it.
In general, I free flow the story. Then, I go back and fix inconsistencies and add detail. I’ve been told that the imagery in my book is very vivid. That occurred because of my second, third, and fourth trips through the story to add in the sights, sounds, and smells—to add color and depth.
Frankly, I’m not sure if I could write from an outline. I’d probably find it two constrictive.
A&RBC: What is next for Michael DeCamp?
MD: I have a non-fiction manuscript that is trying to find a publishing home. I’ve titled it “Lovementalism-Applying Love First Concepts.” It is a Bible study class/devotional book that utilizes personal stories to apply bible passages to our lives with regards to how we should love one another. The concept of lovementalism is that it is the counter and replacement for being judgmental. The stories truly are very personal. Most are either examples of how people showed real love to me, or stories where I blew it and didn’t show the love I needed to show.
I’m in the middle of finishing Book 2 in the Cutters Notch series. I suspect it will be on the market by late next summer. Then, on to Book 3.
On the back burner is a family drama, completely unrelated to Cutters Notch, that is based on the life of my mother. I take real events from her life and fictionalize them. I was thinking about her life a few years ago and realized there was a real story to be told there. I’ve started it, but it is on hold for now. It may be my “Great American Novel.”
In the meantime, I’ll keep doing podcasts.
A&RBC: Where can readers find you? Where can they purchase your book?
MD: Abandon Hope: Cutters Notch Book 1 can be purchased on Amazon in both Ebook and in paperback. If your readers are in the Indianapolis area, signed copies can be found at Indy Reads, Irvington vinyl & Books, Porter Books & Bread, and Red Dog Books. You can also connect with me, find the Cutters Notch Podcast, and link to Amazon for my book by visiting my website: www.abandonhopebook.com
You can find me on Facebook by searching: @abandonhopebook
Follow me on Twitter: @MikeDeCamp1
Follow me on Instagram: mdecamp1985
About The Book
Hope Spencer and her mother moved to the tiny community of Cutters Notch in forested southwestern Indiana to hide from Hope’s dangerous and abusive father. Unaware whether he is still in prison or has been freed, they settle into a new life under new identities. The athletic 13-year old becomes close friends with two boys in her quaint neighborhood, and when she mysteriously disappears one Saturday afternoon, they take on the task of finding her. Racing against time, the boys join forces with their state trooper neighbor and three other very unusual allies to battle against the evil taking aim at their friend.
Will they find and rescue her or will they fall victim themselves? Still, they are determined. They will not Abandon Hope.
Purchase at Amazon.com