Guest Post: Nightmare in the North by Kelli Wilkins

Travel takes a deadly turn in… Nightmare in the North

A new horror novella by Kelli A. Wilkins

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing a look at the making of my latest horror novella, Nightmare in the North. Some of you may know me as a romance author, but I also write short horror fiction. I originally started out as a horror author, but nowadays I divide my time between the two genres.

Nightmare in the North is a cautionary tale about traveling alone in the winter and trusting strangers. Here’s the summary:



Stranded during a violent blizzard, Mark hikes to the only house nearby. George, a well-mannered University professor, welcomes Mark and gives him shelter from the storm.

By morning, Mark suspects that everything isn’t what it seems. George’s adult daughter, Kate, who also lives in the house, shares a disturbing and unsettling tale. When questioned, George insists that Kate has a psychological issue and can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

Mark quickly finds himself caught in a game of cat and mouse. Who should he believe? Is Kate’s desperate plea for help sincere? Should he be suspicious of George? Or are both of them plotting something together?

Isolated from everyone, Mark is forced to wait out the storm—and find a way to escape—if he hopes to make it out alive.


So… how did this novella come about? Believe it or not, I wrote a version of this story for my eighth grade English class. The assignment was to write a short story – and boy, did I! The original version was much shorter and less detailed, but the basic premise was there. I’m not sure what my English teacher thought when she read it, but I got an A.

I grew up in upstate New York where winters can be brutal and last a long time. It can be an isolated place, and sometimes you could be snowed in for days. I decided to use that as the backdrop to the story, throw in some strange characters, and add a little mystery. After I submitted the story for my English class, I pretty much forgot about it.

Then, in January of 2018 I drove to Vermont in a snowstorm. I was in the car for 12 hours, and naturally, my mind started to wander… I wanted to write a new horror story, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. As I was driving, I thought back to that original story and decided to rewrite it – to tell the story the way it needed to be told.

I changed the opening, moved the setting to Vermont, and filled in all the details and backstory that set the tone. The ending of the new version is slightly different from the original, but it’s not off by all that much. I added an epilogue (of sorts) to the end, and spent about twenty minutes getting the last line just right.

Nightmare in the North is a departure from my “usual” romance novels, but it’s not gory. My horror stories tend to be more psychological/spooky than bloody. I love writing horror, and after writing a few romances, I find it refreshing to embrace my darker side and write something creepy. (I wrote this in between edits of my historical romance novel, Redemption from a Dark Past.)

After reading Nightmare in the North, my husband said that it was well written and it drew you in, but it was “twisted” and “disturbing” – I consider that high praise!

Here’s an excerpt from the opening… partially based on that trip to Vermont!


 “You have reached Great Bear Lodge. In three hundred feet, turn right into the parking—”

“Are you kidding me?” Mark jabbed the power button on the navigation system, silencing it. The useless piece of shit had done nothing but get him lost.

For the last half hour he’d been listening to the robotic voice lead him deeper into the wilderness. He’d followed the GPS from one secondary road to another, and now he was lost in the backwoods of Nowhere, Vermont.

At least he thought he was still in Vermont. For all he knew, he could be in Canada. Then again, if he was at the border, at least there would be a sign and he could get directions from a Mountie.

The storm had started about four hours ago. At first it was only a few flakes, then more, and more. Then the wind kicked up, and before he knew it there was at least six inches of snow on the road. He had watched the outside thermometer drop from a balmy eight degrees to four, then two, until finally, it had settled at minus four.

There was nothing on either side of the snow-packed two lane road except more snow and a few scatterings of pine trees. He grumbled and kept driving at a whopping 10 miles an hour. He had no choice but to keep going. There was nowhere to turn around.

He probably should have stopped when he passed that house a few minutes ago. The driveway wasn’t plowed, but there was a light on, and he could have asked for directions. But the house might be empty. It was the middle of February. Didn’t most people up here spend the winter in Florida, or—

BAM! The loud bang snapped him from his thoughts and he yelped as the car started spinning.

Everything happened in slow motion. A cluster of pine trees went past on the left, then the car rotated again and slid sideways on the road, spinning out of control. He spotted a pine tree three feet from the front end and jerked the wheel hard, shooting the car across the street toward a ditch. He hit the gas and cranked the wheel again.

After a few more spins and slides, the car finally stopped. He threw the gearshift into park and slumped over the steering wheel, listening to his heart hammering in his chest. Jesus, that was close. “I hate this state. I hate winter. I swear to God I’m never coming back here,” he whispered.

But what the hell happened? He’d heard a loud bang before he spun out. Did he hit something? He unhooked his seat belt and got out of the car. Icy air blasted him in the face as he pulled on his gloves and checked the driver’s side front tire. Great, just great. It was flat.

No, not flat. He leaned closer. The tire was… shredded. “What the hell?” He walked around to the passenger side and groaned. That tire was shredded too, right down to the rim. “Beautiful. What the frig did I hit?”

He backtracked, kicking the snow in front of him. About fifty feet from the car, his boot hit something, and he heard a metallic clank. He bent down and wiped the snow away. A chain was lying in the road. Had it fallen off someone’s truck?

He picked it up and scowled. This was no ordinary chain. Two-inch metal spikes jutted out from every other link, like fangs. “Shit. No wonder my tires are shot.” He tried to carry the chain out of the road, then stopped as it pulled taut. “Now what?”


Order Nightmare in the North here:


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I hope you’ll check it out. If you like horror fiction, don’t miss my other ebooks: Kropsy’s Curse and Dead Til Dawn.

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins



Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.

In August 2018, Kelli released her first online course through Teachable. Fiction Writing for Beginners is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit the course page for more details.

Kelli’s historical romance, Redemption from a Dark Past, was published in June of 2018. This full-length Gothic novel is set in the kingdom of Hungary in 1723 and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.

If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her latest novella, Nightmare in the North.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: and Twitter:

Visit her website and blog to learn more about all of her writings.



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