Tatterdemon begins in 1861 as Preacher Fell is locked in mortal combat with a powerful witch Thessaly which leaves both of them dragged down in to the cold earth but not before Thessaly has laid a powerful curse upon the town of Crossfall. Flash forward 300 years where Maddy Harker murders her abusive husband Vic and buries him in the very same field, though you can’t keep a bad man down.
The evil lying in the soil is a palpable force of dread which appears to have seeped into the unfortunate souls who inhabit Crossfall. The story is populated by a diverse cast of characters each of whom holds within them sinister twisted desires and secrets. All of the people of Crossfall harbour a skeleton in the closet of indeed a body in the freezer and not one of them appears to be completely sane but this is nothing compared to the madness that follows.
Three days later Vic rises again as a terrifying revenant and all hell breaks loose in a delirious maelstrom of slaughter and chaos. The body count rises quickly and the dead walk again as a malevolent and implacable undead army which falls upon the town and carnage ensues.
Vernon weaves a wonderfully gripping tale told in his inimitably lyrical style and suffused throughout with a wicked sense of black humor. Tatterdemon is told by a master of his craft, the novel progresses rapidly and it is a real page turner which I found difficult to put down. Hold on tight because this is a fabulous dark hayride which leaves you breathless and in wonder at Vernon’s marvellous and mercurial imagination. I highly recommend this novel as it is a terrific barnstorming read that evokes some of the great horror fiction of the 80’s and 90’s.
I thought I would ask Steve a few questions about Tatterdemon and what we can expect from him in the future.
DARK MARK: Tatterdemon boasts a wonderful and diverse cast of characters are any of them based upon people you know?
STEVE VERNON: Now there’s a question.
The truth of it is that EVERY character in every one of my stories and novellas and novels are generally a compilation of people who I either met or know or heard about – or even watched in a movie or read about.
For the main character, Maddy Harker, I chose to model her after one of the toughest women I know – my wife.
Earl Toad was a combination of a pair of uncles of mine who were two of the toughest shortest men I ever met.
Wilfred has a strong streak of Matt Dillon – from Gunsmoke – in him, that is, if Matt Dillon had ever decided to put Miss Kitty “on ice”.
DM: I’ve noticed a delightfully dark sense of humor pervades much of your work. Does this occur naturally in your writing process?
SV: Funny just naturally goes along with scary.
How many times in a horror movie has that dude in the hockey mask jumped out of the shadows and you browned your skivvies just a little and maybe even went eek or oh-my-god or just a heartfelt “HUH!!!” – and then right afterwards you sort of giggled and let your breath slide on out.
Part of that was most likely you trying to manfully cover up your inadvertent display of the chicken-shitters – but the bigger part of it was a whole lot more basic than that.
Every scream starts with the seed of a giggle.
It’s like sunshine and shadow – you need one to find the other.
DM: The characters in this novel are I think defined by their secrets. Are there any skeletons in your closet or bodies in the freezer?
SV: We ALL have secrets.
DM: Which writers do you admire and take inspiration from?
SV: I’m inspired by the work of Joe Lansdale, Stephen Hunter, Robert Parker, Stephen King and Norman Partridge – for starters.
I’m always looking for a good storyteller – somebody who can spin a yarn that is so very compelling that you feel you have no choice except to pull up a rock to the campfire and give that story a long, hard listen.
A book – for me – is just that. It’s a story. When I sit down at my keyboard I don’t see a screen in front of me. I see a campfire – and people waiting to be entertained. The yarn-spinner inside my soul takes over from there.
The fact is – I read an awful lot of books. Fact is, if you claim to be a writer you NEED to be a diehard seriously addicted devourer-of-words. I’m a book junkie – I can’t walk into a bookstore without buying SOMETHING!
DM: What can readers expect next from Steve Vernon?
SV: Something different, I expect.
If you’re looking for a couple of suggestions I would DEFINITELY recommend picking up a copy of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME – a tale of hockey and vampires.
Fans of the weird west genre might want to pick up a copy of LONG HORN, BIG SHAGGY: A TALE OF WILD WEST TERROR AND REANIMATED BUFFALO.
If you want something more along the lines of end-of-the-world sci-fi, you might want to grab the first episode of my continuing series FLASH VIRUS. It’s the story of the end of the world as told by a teenager – and you can pick up Episode One for free on Kobo or Kindle.
I’m currently working on a young adult novel involving the Cape Breton Bigfoot, Coyote, the ghost of Sam Steele, a Spirit Bear, the Great Lakes Sleeping Giant and the great trickster Raven.
You know – just the same old thing…