Travel takes a deadly turn in… Nightmare in the North
A new horror novella by Kelli A. Wilkins
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:
NIGHTMARE IN THE NORTH
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! Continue reading