by Rich Wallace
So after a couple of dozen sports books I've become a ghost writer.
A few years back I had a notion to explore an urban legend. You hear those things from time to time—the thumb someone found in a can of Spaghettios, or the hitchhiker who vanishes from the backseat when you cross a certain bridge. The stories show up all over, purported to be true because "It happened to my cousin's best friend's uncle."
But I knew one legend that seemed to be unique to the town I grew up in: the kid who got bullied all through elementary school, then moved away and died. Rumors drifted back that he died of a brain hemorrhage—
inflicted slowly but surely over the elementary school years by everyone who had ever smacked him around or bombarded him in games of dodge ball.
I remember that shared guilt from junior high school after the rumors began. Did I ever hit him? Was I part of the reason he died?
In Wicked Cruel, which Random House will release August 6th, I take that guilt a step further. What if the dead kid started interacting with my main character? He shows up in a video Jordan is watching, then starts texting him late at night.
Jordan's seen the obituary. This is a ghost. And when the ghost starts showing up for real, Jordan questions his own sanity.
The book is actually a trilogy of scary urban legends like that one. I've set them all in the small New England city of Cheshire Notch, which is an awful lot like the town I live in: Keene, New Hampshire. Keene is the home of the world's most spectacular pumpkin festival each October, and that event plays a big role in one of the stories. We also have a restored pre-Revolutionary War tavern right up the block here, and I used that as a setting for the third. I love to use the places I know best in my stories. Keene is a very cool college town, with great cafes, a classic theater, old cemeteries, and everything that's historic and spooky about new England.
It looks like a form for a prescription, with Douglas Schuter, MD, at the top and the doctor's address, dated just before the Bainers left the country.
I scan it. Cheshire Medical Center...Lorne Bainer...male, 11 years...
And then I hear my name. Clear. From the second floor. It's not a voice I recognize. Not Scapes or Gary or any guy. It sounds like the tone of a bell .Or a song. Just my name. "Jordan."
I freeze and slip the paper into my pocket.
I've heard no footsteps. No one entering the house or climbing the stairs. I listen hard, but there's nothing.
But there must be something. Something called my name. My breath is short and cold and the back of my neck is sweaty.
An attic step creaks every so slightly. I back against the wall, crouching behind the box.
Those stairs are the only way out of this attic.
More to come? I hope so. I've started writing a second volume of these stories, and obviously I'm hopeful that this will take off as a series. I love writing them, and that's certainly an important part of the deal.
Cool cover, huh?
I'm giving away two signed copies of my new book here in a Swagger giveaway for US and Canadian residents. All you have to do is be a follower, and leave a comment. And you'll get an additional entry for each day that this post is up and you:
1. share an urban legend in the comments
2. Like my Facebook page. After the initial like, comment on my FB page
3. Tweet about the giveaway
4. Blog about the giveaway
5. Mention the giveaway on Facebook
6. Don't forget to let me know in the Swagger comments, or leave a message on my FB page about what you did
Two random winners will be selected on August 8th.