My debut novel Shepherd’s Fall tells the story of Will Shepherd, an ambitious IT professional who accepts his dream job and reluctantly relocates his family to an old Victorian mansion in the country. At first he thinks he has it all, but he soon learns that his new home is poisoned with a terrible history of violence and bloodshed. Now, plagued by bizarre hallucinations and under attack by entities bent on revenge and death, Will races to save his sanity, his loved ones, and his soul before his family becomes another chapter in the cursed land’s history of pain and misery.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
Actually my novel was inspired by a bad dream. In the nightmare, I was in this old Victorian house’s dining room where I encountered an alluring female spirit that radiated hate. I was terrified, but attracted to her at the same time. I realized that to give in to her seduction with just one kiss would lead to my death. I woke up from that nightmare that had seemed so real that I was thankful it hadn’t actually happened. Several years later when I decided to attempt writing a novel, I remembered the nightmare. The scene from the nightmare became the launch pad for Shepherd’s Fall.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Growing up in a small town influences a lot of my stories. Although I lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia for a while, I’m still drawn to life in small towns.
Also growing up in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country has had influences. There are signs posted along the road telling sinners to repent and hex signs on the barns; the idea of good versus evil is never that far away.
I’m fascinated with people who farm and supply us with our food. It is a very hard way of life that requires incredible dedication and sacrifice. Harry Weaver is one of my favorite characters in Shepherd’s Fall. He epitomizes that practical, no-nonsense Dutchman. He tries to deal with all the strangeness with logic and reason when he gets drawn into the mysteries of the old mansion next door.
Of course I can’t talk about upbringing without mentioning my family. My Grandfather on my mother’s side and uncles on my father’s side of the family told me strange and wonderful ghost stories that they swore were true. Those stories have had a huge impact on my writing.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I remember at an early age, probably 3rd grade, writing a story about Charlie Brown. So, I think the writing bug was always there. I know the stories were always in my head. I had a friend in high school that encouraged me to write them down, but I didn’t start writing longer fiction, especially full length novels, until I was 39 years old.
What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Don’t take life too seriously, you can’t get out alive.
Also, the secret to life is…
Describe your writing in three words.
Pretty damn scary! (At least Shepherd’s Fall is. My other work has more humor, but I digress. Sorry, I guess I can’t describe my writing in 3 words.)
Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
I like to write for two hours, first thing in the morning, when I wake up. I’m most alert then.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
I’ve been most surprised by the friendships I have developed since I started writing seriously. Joining writer’s organizations such as Pennwriters, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and critique groups have led me to a community of kind wonderful people who are so generous with their time and talent. I never expected that to happen. When Shepherd’s Fall was published, I was so moved by all the support I have received from my friends in the writing community.
What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
Ghost Story, by Peter Straub. It is no accident that when I sat down to write Shepherd’s Fall, I too wanted to tell a tale of ghosts. I’ve always loved ghost stories and Peter Straub definitely wrote a masterpiece.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished a quirky mystery that will begin an ongoing series. And I’m starting another paranormal suspense tale about five friends and a spell book. Also I’m polishing a few short stories. There are so many tales I want to get down on paper so I’m very busy, but having a blast.
Where can people learn more about your books?
They can visit my website http://www.georgerappeltjr.com where they can find info on upcoming events, a list of my current and future work. They can also follow me at http://www.georgerappeltjr.blogspot.com/ where I blog about writing, other authors I admire, and true ghost stories that people have shared with me. And I’m also accessible on https://www.facebook.com/people/George-R-Appelt-Jr/1308816122 or follow me on twitter@GeorgeRAppeltJr.
Shepherd’s Fall is available on Amazon.com
The trade paperback version:
The e-book version:
Also available at Barnes and Noble
The trade paperback version:
The e-book version: