I thought I’d throw a couple of Storytellers episodes at you this weekend seen as it is rapidly approaching Halloween. The first of which is a spotlight on Lindsey Beth Goddard and her most recent release through Omnium Gatherum called ‘Ashes of another Life’, an emotionally haunting tale that is perfect for this time of year (I will have a full review of it soon).
Lindsey Beth Goddard has been published in a whole host of magazines and anthologies, from ‘Morpheus Tales’, ‘Dark Moon Digest’ and ‘Girls Rock Horror Harder’ to recent appearances in the ‘Fresh Fear’ anthology and ‘The Black Room Manuscripts Volume II’. As well as writing prose, Lindsey also writes poetry and you can find links to her work at the bottom of this article. As always thanks to Lindsey for taking the time to stop by and chat with the Grim Reader.
ASHES OF ANOTHER LIFE
Lindsey Beth Goddard
Hm. Let’s see. What can I say about this book? For starters, it was more difficult to write than I had originally anticipated. The character development got pretty intense for a novella. I dove into my characters’ heads and plucked out only what mattered most, the traits I felt would make the biggest impact on the reader.
I started with a manhunt, drizzled in some bloodshed, sprinkled in a horde of undead burn victims, seasoned the whole thing with the charred and crumbling remains of a haunted past, turned up the heat and let that baby simmer… for a full year. Yeah, it took me over a year to write those 34,000 words. Don’t judge me! Ashes of Another Life is a melting pot of madness and mystery.
The plot has a lot of interwoven elements that (I hope) serve to thicken the suspense. No single character can be summed up as simply “good” or “evil”. The villains have their reasons – motives to their mayhem, you could say- and that’s exactly the way I wanted it. What better way to demonstrate the complexity, the corruption, and the utter destruction living in a cult wreaks upon the people involved?
The Sweet Springs cult is my own creation. You won’t find the town of Sweet Springs, Arizona on any map. The cast is purely fictional. Yet the idea for this story came from a brutal reality: the true-life horror of a cult known as the FLDS.
In late 2013, I became obsessed with reading the biographies of former FLDS members. I pored over these non-fiction accounts of child marriages, molestation, growing up poor and polygamous, the oppression of women, the mass killings of dogs and cats in the community (as ordered by the prophet to eliminate the distraction of pets). I developed a strong respect for those who found the strength to escape this warped religion.
I was fascinated by books such as ‘Escape’ by Carolyn Jessop, ‘Lost Boy’ by Brent Jeffs, and ‘Stolen Innocence’ by Elissa Wall. I could not believe how these people had been abused by their church and what they had gone through to escape its clutches. And there you have it: the other reason this little book was a challenge to write. I wanted to expose the ideology and seclusion of this long-protected cult in my story, but I didn’t want to paint my characters in a way that would exploit or demean the real-life survivors, who had inspired me with their brave testimony.
I hope I handled the subject matter with finesse, all while scaring the pants off my readers. I hope the terror sticks with my readers long after the book ends, just like the stench of burning corpses my main character can’t seem to unsmell.
Ashes of Another Life began as a novelette, but Tara Jane’s story needed more depth. Having lost my only sister in my late teens (the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through) I thought to myself: Use that anger. Use that grief.
What if this character, this girl who escaped a dangerous cult when her family burned to death in a fire, what if she can’t forgive herself for surviving? What if she is plagued by thoughts that she could have saved them, could have done more – utterly haunted by the memory of the fire?
Ashes of Another Life went from novelette to novel. Then, when I took out my axe and chopped away the fat, a novella was born. Just like Goldilocks, it took me a few tries to discover what was “just right”. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Writing is a journey, and I enjoyed this one. I’d be lying if I said my head never hit the keyboard in frustration. A year is a long time to spend on a novella. At least, I feel like it is. In the end, though, it was totally worth it. It’s a damn good book. I highly recommend it! 🙂
Pick up a copy of ASHES FROM ANOTHER LIFE from here.