Winterland: A Dark Fairy Tale is my most personal story, as well as one of my personal favorites. Yes, it’s really bizarre. Which is why I describe in terms of “surreal,” “fairy tale,” and ‘dark fantasy.” However, while Winterland is a journey through a bleak landscape with strange, often disgusting, characters, it is also a journey of hope. Here’s the brief summary,
Summoned into her dying mother’s coma, recovering addict Eunice Ames must traverse a surreal, apocalyptic dreamscape in search of three generational spirits who have imprisoned her mother’s soul.
Together with Joseph, a crippled drifter who serves as her guide, Eunice treks an abandoned highway strewn with debris from her mother’s “emotional” wars. Along the way, she encounters Mister Mordant, a perpetually whiny grub, Reverend Ash a fragile, supremely self-righteous minister, and Sybil, a beautiful sylph with a knack for deception. Eunice and Joseph endeavor to lead this peculiar brigade into the hell of her mother’s making, through the swamp of Mlaise and the volcanic plains of Cinder, to the Dark Throne where they were forged. Along the way, Eunice experiences, in awful living color, the forces that have shaped her mother’s descent into madness and disease.
Yet a more malevolent power conspires against Eunice. For not only is she forced to relive the psychological terrain of her own upbringing, she must now confront the darkness it has spawned… the one inside her. It seems Eunice has harbored horrors of her own; years of abuse, rejection, and generational sin have taken root. And no amount of psycho-babble and positive thinking can withstand the literal monster that is waiting at the end of this highway. Can Eunice destroy the spirits that have cursed her family and rescue her mother, or will the sun set on their hell forever?
The Wizard of Oz meets Dante’s Inferno in this novella (27,000 words), a dark adult fairy tale about finding faith, redemption, and confronting the monsters of our psyche.
Back in 2011 when it released, Winterland was included by the Horror Writers Association in their Bram Stoker Award Reading List. The story didn’t make the cut, but is was neat being included along with so many great writers. The novella continues to be the story I recommend most often to new readers.
Without giving away too much, there is a character in this story patterned after a very good friend of ours who committed suicide. He jumped off an overpass on the 210 freeway, just several miles away from where we live. Winterland opens on the the 210 freeway and employs the imagery of travel as a metaphor for our own spiritual and emotional journeys toward recovery. Like Virgil, who guides Dante through the Nine Circles of Hell, our friend is patterned as Eunice’s guide, leading her to confront her foul Generational Tree and follow the rotten stream produced by its fruit. See? I told you it was weird. Each character and locale represents a “season of the soul,” one which eventually culminates in a monstrous Regret. It is what we do with this beast that’s the difference between casting ourselves off an overpass (literally or figuratively) and rewriting our Destiny.
Anyway, not everyone who reads this story “gets it.” Which is fine. However, I’ve received several letters from readers who have deeply connected with this broken woman’s journey towards redemption. This, my friends, make the writing worthwhile. Winterland is available free on Kindle through December 26. I really hope you download a copy and, perhaps, share it with your friends. Thanks!