When I wrote The Angels of Autumn it was a purge of sorts. I’d dragged my partner and son with me across the country, leaving behind a plethora of friends and people that had become family in a major metropolitan area to an incredibly small backwoods town. I did this under the delusion of family loyalty. I wanted my son to grow up with cousins, an aunt, an uncle, a grandmother. I’d forgotten they weren’t much of a “family,” not in the true sense of the term. They were glorified strangers, and treated us as such. Their lies, bigotries, and disregard grew exponentially into something quite unforgivable… death itself. I’d also forgotten just what kind of place my “hometown” was, and it wasn’t a healthy place for a gay couple with a child to be… to say the least. Moving there was the mistake of a lifetime. Angels was my own personal exorcism.
Angels had very distinctive themes, not the least of which was bigotry, homophobic bigotry specifically. The reality of what my partner, son, and I faced in that small town became the seething undercurrent of my novel, albeit in a more fantastical way. Because it was such a personal journey writing Angels, a particularly vivid world, so much of myself woven within its characters and the darkness they become entangled in, it is my favorite creation. I knew I wanted to revisit the shadowed world of it, but not in any traditional sense. There were other demons to confront, explore, and purge on the printed page.
I’m a huge fan of sequels, I prefer them over remakes, but they have an unfortunate tendency to be unnecessary rehashes of the original storyline. I didn’t want to find myself snared in any kind of formulaic trap. I kept the themes of Angels in all their heartbreaking, disquieting glory, it is a horror story rooted in sublime human tragedy after all. As my beautifully broken Kincaid was the star of the first trip to the cursed Wren Township, he would usher in another equally beautiful and equally broken soul into the otherworldly realms of that terrible small backwater county where monsters hide behind human faces.
The sinister antagonist of Cradle is a fiendish mirror to the monsters of Angels, though arguably far more disturbing in its cruel nature. Not an identical twin, but a sibling from the same abyss roused to torment my newest characters, Radley and Scotty. Their journey into the shadowy world of Wren County is as disturbing as Kincaid’s, but not indistinguishable. I explored other themes as well: isolation, child abuse, and neglect, to craft a horror story beyond the envelope of what many might perceive the genre to be neatly tucked into. There’s nothing neat or tidy about Cradle, it’s fearless in its depiction of distressing deterioration inside and out. The Cradle is a kind of Hell on Earth where even the innocent suffer.