.Some men fear their own deaths. Others dream of peace and heaven. But Albert knows exactly what he wants: to be the lord of his own private hell, where his eternal reward will be torturing the souls of his victims. And he knows how to get it.
While Chuck’s dream of a promotion may be ordinary, his career is anything but. As a Recon and Enforcement Technician, Level II, at a mysterious organization known only as the Institute, Chuck spends his days rescuing souls that get trapped between this life and the next, caught in mini-hells known as crossfades.
Lydia has no dreams—only nightmares. There will be no awakening from the impossible realm of terror and pain where she’s trapped . . . unless Chuck tracks her down. But this rescue will not be easy, not for a mere Level II technician. Because, in this place, Albert is god. And he’s determined that none shall escape his wrath.
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William Todd Rose writes dark, speculative fiction from his home in West Virginia. His short stories have been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and his work includes the novels Cry Havoc, The Dead & Dying, and The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People, and the novella Apocalyptic Organ Grinder.
Gef: What was the inspiration behind these dystopian novellas?
William: Crossfades actually began as a short story called “Losing Control” that I’d written specifically for the Bloody Ghost Stories anthology. I knew I didn’t want to do a typical haunting story, so instead of bringing spirits of the dead into our world, I wondered what would happen if we journeyed into theirs. I’ve also always had interests in alternative spirituality, metaphysics, and science; these blended with my years spent in the corporate world and resulted in The Institute where my protagonist works.
Gef: What was it about these books, if anything, that you approached differently from the previous titles?
William: This was first time I’d taken a shorter work and fleshed it out into something more complex and detailed. I’d considered it with different stories over the years, but this was the only one which intrigued me enough to actually take the next step. It was an interesting experience because it provided me with the opportunity to delve more deeply into ideas and concepts that the short story only touched upon, as well as bringing new facets of this particular world to light.
Gef: How intensive does the research process get for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?
William: When I’m writing my first draft, I usually don’t worry too much about getting all the facts straight. My goal is to just get the story out. I have this habit of typing multiple X’s as a means of skipping over particular details so I can keep the flow going. Once the manuscript’s completed, I go back and replace those X’s with information gleaned from research. I also tend to learn more about a particular topic than I actually end up using in the storyline because I want my characters to come across as knowledgeable in their fields, but not to the point that it feels as though the reader is attending a lecture. Even then, however, some things slip by. Luckily, I’ve been graced with an amazing editor who not only takes the time to verify what color a moth’s blood is, but also considers that bit of information to be a “fun fact”.
Gef: When did apocalyptic fiction first grab your interest? Something since childhood or did you come into it later on?
William: Though neither Crossfades nor Bleedovers is an apocalyptic tale, a handful of my earlier works are. My initial introduction to these type of stories were the Mad Max films and the 1983, made-for-TV movie, The Day After. As far as literature goes, that came a little later. In my late teens to early twenties I read Stephen King’s The Stand, Swan Song by Robert R, McCammon, and the Richard Matheson classic, I Am Legend; even later in life, I discovered David Moody when Autumn was still available as a free e-book. That was right around the time I began considering destroying the world in my own work.
Gef: What do you consider to be the strength or saving grace of this genre?
William: Personally, what’s always appealed to me most about writing apocalyptic fiction is that if you take a look at the world around you and imagine it all gone—and I mean really gone—it makes you more appreciative of what you actually have.
Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
William: The worst advice I’ve ever received was about what to write: “Vampires are predicted to be the next big thing so you should write a vampire novel”, “Paranormal Romance is in, have you considered writing one of those?”, and so on. If my sole purpose in writing was to turn a buck, then the advice may have been sound; but that’s just not what I’m about. Luckily, the folks at Hydra are really good about allowing me to write whatever I want. Once Crossfades was finished, I was a little concerned parts of it might be deemed too dark and I would be asked to tone it down a bit. That fear, however, was completely unfounded.
Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?
William: With books, I’ve always had a weak spot for The Destroyer series featuring Remo Williams. The plots are far-fetched, the writing will probably never win any awards, and you catch on to the formula pretty quickly…but they’re just fun, quick reads. It also doesn’t hurt that you can usually pick up a bunch of them for just a couple bucks at yard sales and thrift stores.
Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?
William: There may be a third novella in the Crossfades series, Juju Horse, but I’m still just playing around with that idea. If it pans out, the focus will mainly be on Marilee “Bloody” Williams, a character introduced in Bleedovers who’s captured my imagination. Right now, though, I’m working on a full-length novel calledPennyweight, which is set in a universe similar to our own in some ways, but vastly different in others. I’m having a lot of demented fun with this one. After destroying the world countless times in novels and stories, it’s personally rewarding to create one from the ground up. Information on future, current, and past books can be found at www.williamtoddrose.com, which also contains links to my various social media outlets as well as my blog.