The Beast of Macon Hollow is the story of Will Shepard’s connection to a legendary creature that haunts a small, isolated mountain town. Will has visions that force him to see-and feel-as the Beast embodies its victims’ greatest fears before consuming their souls. He soon realizes that he must fight to prevent his own soul from being corrupted as he searches for a way to stop the creature’s growing power. Along the way, he crosses paths with seedy characters, power-seekers, and supernatural forces.
I wrote The Beast of Macon Hollow for teens and preteens, ages 10-16. Even though it contains chilling scenes and diabolical characters, at its core, the story is Will Shepard’s journey to replace his insecurities with inner strength. By the way, it contains no foul language or sexual connotations.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
A few years ago, my wife and I were talking about the Beast of Bladenboro — the legend of our hometown. She suggested that I try my hand at writing the story behind the legend. However, once I started, the Beast had other ideas. It soon began to reveal layer after layer of its history and personality until a totally new story emerged. Maybe one day I’ll revisit the original beast and tell its tale.
Tell us a little about your main characters.
The Beast of Macon Hollow is Will Shepard’s story. Fifteen-year-old Will is emotionally broken when he arrives in Macon Hollow; he has just lost his mother to gang violence and his policeman father has been distant and verbally abusive. His arrival in Macon Hollow starts a chain of events that will force him to either overcome his inner fears or be consumed by them.
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth (Liz) is Will Shepard’s older sister. Since their mother’s untimely death, she has assumed the mother role in Will’s life (much to his chagrin at times). Liz is smart, pretty, and eager to help with a good cause (as long as she can play by the rules).
Sixteen-year-old Cate Duncan lives next door to the Shepard ancestral home with her brother Marty. Beautiful, smart, and headstrong, Cate takes some convincing before she accepts the truth about Will’s connection to the Beast. But once she does, Will couldn’t have a better ally.
Seventeen-year-old Marty lives next door to Will and is Cate Duncan’s older brother. Athletic and handsome, Marty is ready and willing to help Will get to the bottom of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the Beast. They often spend their time in the Lookout, Marty’s remarkable tree house nestled within the boughs of a great oak.
Old and full of wisdom, Annie is Will Shepard’s moral compass. She sees what others can’t—that Will has been Summoned for a special task.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
The take-home message of The Beast of Macon Hollow is simple: don’t allow others to define you.
Very often in life, we listen—and believe—the opinions of others to the point of shaping our lives around their perceptions of who we are. And if those perceptions happen to be very negative (as they were in Will Shepard’s case), our lives tend to be self-fulfilling prophesies. I propose a new approach: look within yourself to understand who you are. Only you can define your life. If you believe in yourself, then others will also.
Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
Wow, tough question. Beast has quite a few unusual characters. All of which were fun to write for, I must say. But, the most unusual character that was also the most likable would have to be Possum. Possum has a hearing and speech impairment that has made life in the backward town of Macon Hollow very difficult for him. As a result, he is shy and fearful of others. Somewhat of an outcast, you could say. But when kind-hearted Liz commits to teaching him American Sign Language, his heart begins to open. Will and the others will find out that Possum, like so many others that are overlooked by mainstream society, may have a vital role to play in the big story of life.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
Easily, the biggest challenge to writing The Beast of Macon Hollow was overcoming a foe we all face sooner or later — time. As an author, I haven’t made it to the point financially that I can write as a full-time occupation. So, it’s a struggle for me to balance my day job, my family responsibilities and my social commitments and still write effectively. But, like we all do for the things we love, I find the time to write. Sometimes, I even make time. I have a machine out back.
Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?
Chocolate! With almonds, preferably. And when I’m really serious, dark chocolate. There’s just something about the cocoa bean that sparks my creative spirit.
If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?
(Laughs) Boy, dare I dream about a Beast of Macon Hollow movie? I’d be lying if I said it had never crossed my mind. Seriously, I would prefer unknown actors to play the main characters—the kids. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use actors that haven’t had the mainstream exposure for the other roles as well. With one exception—the role of Rufus Jackson should be played by Michael Rooker. Rufus is a rough-and-tumble native of Macon Hollow who grew up in hard times and now lives even harder through the moonshine bottle. Michael Rooker would own the role.
What one word describes how you feel when you write?
Powerful. I’ve always been a creative person and, in the past, I’ve channeled my creative energy in a variety of ways—drawing, painting, building, attempting to make music. But when I discovered writing, it was like my eyes were opened. Through writing, I can create worlds. I can make and control everything about my creation—the characters, the circumstances of their lives, the town in which they live, who they love, who they hate…everything! Even down to the weather they’ll have a particular day. It’s a very satisfying feeling.
What are you working on right now?
I’m deep into plotting and outlining the next two books in the Beast series. These books will be a continuation of the Beast story but will take Will Shepard in a totally new direction. Some new characters will be introduced and we’ll revisit some old favorites. I have big plans for these books, so stay tuned!
Where can we learn more about your book?
You can read the first chapter here: The Beast of Macon Hollow
You can buy The Beast of Macon Hollow from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, and other online and offline stores