Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavory secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game…or if the game is playing him.
Something’s rotten in Mortom. And this dead man’s game might not be all that Andy is doomed to lose.
1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I often joke that I ‘learned to write by reading Stephen King,’ but it’s the absolute truth. It would be an amazing experience to even write in the same room as Mr. King (or pick his brain) as he’s a brilliant storyteller and an incredible curator of characters.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I’m fortunate enough to have an office in my house, and I tend to be most prolific during late evenings and weekends. If I’m especially inspired, I might try to sneak in some pages during lunch. I absolutely need music when I write, and—depending on the project—it can vary from metal to movie soundtracks.
3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
For me, the biggest challenge is often the first draft. Some authors revel in starting a story from scratch, but I relish rewrites, where I get to polish the language, flesh out my characters, and fine-tune the plot. That said, it’s easy to get caught up in endlessly tweaking the story and feeling like it’s never finished. At some point you have to say ‘enough is enough’ and move on. Otherwise it can drive you insane.
4. When and why did you first start writing?
I was probably 15 when I churned out my first tale. My parents had purchased a new typewriter, so I thought I’d sit down and see what came out. It was a horrible story with a nonsensical twist, but my folks—God bless ‘em—said they loved it. After that I was hooked. From there came more stories—each slightly better than the last. I didn’t attempt my first novel until I was in college, and even that was pretty lousy.
5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I’ve always been intrigued by small towns. It has to be incredibly difficult to hide anything within a tiny population, but at the same time, small towns seem to hold the most secrets. I’ve always wanted to explore that dynamic, and from there, Mortom was born.
6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I usually have two books going on my Kindle, and I’ll pretty much pick up any book that catches my interest. I just finished “When We Were Animals” by the excellent Joshua Gaylord, and I’m currently reading “Ready Player One” (Ernest Cline) along with “Go Set a Watchman” (Harper Lee).
7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Writing is 10% writing and 90% rewriting. If you’re not prepared to live with your story for years, then a life of writing probably isn’t a good fit. And if you are fortunate enough to get your work into print, be prepared to spend endless hours promoting it. I’ve done everything from hang flyers to advertise on craigslist. Being a writer is a labor of love, and you have to work hard to make your own luck.