20 Questions is back! I know, it’s been gone for a while. But after a few months break, I’ve decided to revive my favorite game of get to know another wonderful Indie Author! And here with me to get things going again, is Troy. A weaver of fear, I hope you’ll take the time to check out his tale.
Well, my name is Troy McCombs. I’m a 32-year-old freelance writer from West Virginia who will turn 33 in August and would like to move somewhere warm all year around!
-Warm, you say? It’s warm *everywhere* lately! LOL
2.) How long have you been writing?
Oh gosh. Quite a while. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was still playing hide and go seek with my peers! LOL. Probably 20 years or more.
3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?
I love horror. I read, write, eat, sleep and breathe horror. I love a good horror movie or book. Why I chose that genre, I’m not sure. I used to be scared of a lot of different things as a kid, and even though I wouldn’t admit it then—I think I liked being afraid, to a certain extent.
-I think everyone likes to be just a little bit afraid. That tiny jolt of energy that runs through your body and makes you feel alive
4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
The title of my book is Darkworld. It can be found at Amazon, either as an ebook or a paperback.
5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Thrilling. Action-packed. Gory. Fun. A breath of fresh air for horror lovers.
6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
I don’t exactly know. I originally wrote the story in middle school. I always wanted to rewrite it. Now that I’ve matured as a writer and know what I’m doing (at least more than I used to), I decided to go back to it. And so I did
7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
Probably a little less than a year. It takes me that long to get it all done, edit, polish, etc…
8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?
A little of both. Sometimes it writes itself; other times, outlines help. Usually, without an outline, I get into trouble and everything becomes inconsistent. I try to write a basic idea on pen and paper before I go to the computer. Helps me anyway.
9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Usually towards the middle I get stuck. Also, I have trouble describing certain things I’m not very familiar with (certain types of houses; places; events).
10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
Yeah, usually the beginning. The further along it goes, the harder it becomes for me. The end gets tough too, because when I get close, I get excited; then I rush.
-And for me, the closer to the end I get, the slower I write because my brain is on overdrive! I can see whole scenes in front of me and my fingers just don’t seem to move fast enough!
11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
I think the action does. You can think of the creatures in Darkworld as super-zombies. They’re not ‘really’ zombies though. They’re actually spawns from Hell.
12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
I chose West Virginia because I’m familiar with it. It takes place in the present/and near future. The setting is nothing extravagant, however. It is a thrill ride!
13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?
The main character is Bobby Gradison. He loves to blow things up with his illegal firecrackers and set things on fire. I don’t want to reveal too much; if I did, I’d give too much away. Sorry.
14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.
15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I want them to escape the real horrors of the world for just a while and have fun in a world where they feel more in control.
16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
Yes! This is part of a series. Between 3-6 parts
17.) Where can readers find you?
18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.
I love all things art. Monk is my favorite tv show. I’m introverted.
-I love Monk! I too love art, please, check out my work!
19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.
Watch tv, movies, play guitar, read, sing, art, exercise (when the mood hits me).
20.) How about letting me have a sneak peek at chapter one?
“Whereas the world began in the east, the world will begin to end in the west.”
PART I: The Demonic Link
Explosives were the only thing on Bobby Gradison’s mind as he gazed through the passenger-side window of his brother Sam’s green Metro. They were on their way to their cousin Simon’s house in the country. Bobby was pretty sure his cousin wouldn’t mind him blowing up a thing or two. The blaring tunes on Sam’s radio added to his excitement. It was just before dusk, and the darkness would make the explosion that much better. Bobby grinned. This is gonna be great, he thought as he gripped the four Quarter Stick firecrackers tighter.
The road ahead contained a series of deep pot holes. Sam tried unsuccessfully to maneuver around them. His front passenger side tire slammed into one of the deep ruts. “Shit!” he grumbled, jerking the steering wheel in the other direction. “When is the county ever gonna fix this piece of shit road?”
Bobby grinned at his brother. “Lighten up, Sam.”
“Lighten up my ass,” Sam grumbled again. “You know as well as I do that this is the only car we’ve got. My paychecks from McDonalds don’t cover half the bills much less fixin’ this car. It’ll really piss me off if I have a repair bill that I can’t pay because some county asshole was too lazy to fix the road.”
Other than their cousin Simon, all that was left of their little family was Bobby and Sam. Their parents had been killed by a drunk driver. Bobby was still a minor at sixteen, and Sam at twenty-three, had to shoulder all the responsibility. Their parents had had no life insurance policy and left the boys with a pile of debt.
Bobby rolled his eyes. “You worry too much.”
Somebody has to, Sam thought, but he didn’t want to ruin his brother’s night by voicing it out loud. “Okay, I’ll lighten up.”
When they arrived at Simon’s place, Sam pulled in beside his car, a little too close to a tree edging the driveway.
In his excitement, Bobby almost smashed the door into the tree. “Watch it! You know I didn’t pay this month’s car insurance,” Sam said. Despite the fact that Sam was a full six years older than Bobby, they looked almost exactly alike, endowed with the same hooked nose, dark, almond-shaped eyes, and wavy brown hair.
Bobby winced, and then smiled sheepishly at his brother. “Sorry!” Sam narrowed his eyes and shook his head. Bobby grinned again, then ran toward Simon, who was already waiting for them with three cases of Rolling Rock at his feet, and a bottle in each hand. Bobby was still too excited to let his brother bring him down.
Swaying slightly on his feet, Simon threw out his hands in welcome, sloshing beer. “Bobby!” he cried in a slurred voice. He looked nothing like his cousins. He was shorter, skinnier, with big round ears and bushy eyebrows. If there were a real-life hobbit ever in the countryside, this was it. Simon’s eyes were a little red, and he looked like he could barely stand. Bobby hated alcohol about as much as he loved explosives, but he promised himself he would just try to look the other way concerning the boozing.
“This is it,” Bobby said, holding out a firecracker. Simon quickly finished one of the Rolling Rocks and threw the empty bottle toward a tree, intending to smash it to pieces—something he did quite frequently, judging from the broken glass strewn about the ground. In his inebriated state, he missed the tree, sending the bottle sailing through the air until it crashed into the hood of Sam’s car.
“Goddammit! Seriously, guys! My insurance lapsed, and all you two can do is beat my car to hell. What is this crap?”
Bobby doubled-over, laughing despite himself. He had to admit it was funny.
Simon was apparently oblivious to what he had just done. He studied the firecracker with the attention someone his age would only give to a Play Boy center-fold.
It was four inches long, an inch in diameter, with a green fuse protruding through some glue at the top.
“Cool. It doesn’t look as big as your other ones, though. I remember you making that banger that was almost as big ‘round as a soda can. This doesn’t look like it’ll do much.”
“Size can be deceiving. It’s what’s inside that matters.”
“What’d you use different?” Simon belched.
“Flash powder, just one of the most powerful fragmentary explosives known to man. It’s the same stuff used in M-80s before they were outlawed. These are M-200s, or Quarter Sticks. They’re supposed to be equal to a quarter stick of dynamite. The gunpowder I’ve been using up till now sucks compared to what I hear about this stuff!”
“Cool. I loved that incendiary compound you made a while back. The stuff that burned a hole clear through three cinder blocks?”
“Oh, yeah. Thermite. I still have a shitload of that to get rid of. Neighbors called the cops on me for lighting that in my backyard last week. Ever since, those jerks accused me of burning down Rancy’s Bar and Grill. You know…the one down in Lexington?”
“Bring that up next time. I wanna see if we can burn this old steel plate I found in the woods.”
“I betcha it will. Thermite’ll eat its way through almost any—”
“Let’s blow some stuff up, already.” Simon paused, suddenly having second thoughts. “Now, how loud’s this going to be?”
Simon looked at the firecrackers again before he spoke. “Do it by the old oak tree down there in the woods. The farther away, the better. Go for it.”
Bobby didn’t need any further encouragement. He hurried down the sloping hill leading into the forest, Quarter Stick in one hand, lighter in the other. Heart pounding, pulse throbbing, he made it to the bottom and set the explosive on the ground next to an impossibly-old looking oak tree, whose trunk was at least ten feet wide. He thumbed the wheel on the lighter and was mesmerized by the tiny flame that appeared. He remained there for several seconds, entranced by the dancing flame, before realizing that the fuse had already lit and was sending off sparks.
“Bobby! What the hell are you doing? Get away from there!” Sam shouted. He didn’t respond. “Bobby!”
And then suddenly he realized the Quarter Stick was about to blow, and at this distance, would likely take his legs with it. He scrambled away, accidently kicking dirt over the fuse. Did I just put it out?
Bobby caught up with the others and the three of them watched for several tense seconds. No flame. Nothing.
“That’s your brilliant Quarter Stick?” Simon slurred, finishing off another beer and tossing the bottle at the oak tree. As green glass sprinkled down around the explo—
The immense flash was a super nova of light. The noise was deafening—a bassy, abrupt rumble accompanied by a shockwave that rattled their bones.
Simon’s eyes rounded. “That was what?” Simon asked. “Flash powder, you said?”
Bobby threw his fist into the air, laughing. “Hell yeah!”
Sam took his fingers out of his ears. He didn’t much care for Bobby’s firecrackers, but if they made Bobby happy… He still felt like he needed to say something. “I don’t think you should light any more of those. Jesus of Nazareth, that was loud! If you added up everything you made in the past, I doubt it’d come close to that.”
“What’s the difference between that and what you’ve been making?” Simon asked.
Bobby was unable to contain his excitement as he explained the logistics to Simon. “The rate the powders burn at. Gunpowder finds the way of least resistance. This stuff doesn’t care. They’re completely different animals…obviously. Wow.”
Sam shook his head, sighing.
A car door thudded shut behind them, just outside the woods, then another. Soon, two young men were coming down the slope into the woods, presumably to investigate the explosion.
“What in the hell was that?” a large, broad-shouldered man demanded. He joined them, a case of Budweiser in one hand and a brown paper bag with hard liquor in the other. The smile dropped from Bobby’s face as the strangers approached. More alcohol? Bobby thought. Dammit!
A second man joined them a moment later. Unlike his scruffy counterpart, he was a skinny, pleasant-looking young man. The bleak, incoherent look on his face, combined with his goofy grin, proclaimed to Bobby that he was already drunk or stoned. Either way, he seemed harmless.
“That was an explosion,” Simon said, laughing.
“Nah, really? I mean what was it? Pipe bomb? C-4? Dynamite?”
“Hey, give me one of them beers, will ya?”
He ripped open the case of Budweiser and tossed him a can.
“Quarter Stick,” Bobby said, eyeing the stranger carefully. The guy had a weird, menacing swagger about him. Tattoos covered his exposed arms, legs, and even some of his bald head. His green eyes were piercing, troublesome windows leading further down to a troubled soul. One of his front teeth was missing. His face was shriveled up into an animalistic “don’t mess with me” expression.
I don’t like him.
“Bobby, this is Hank. Hank, Bobby. Bobby is my cousin,” Simon said, surprisingly remembering his manners despite his blood-alcohol level. “This other guy is Ian.”
Hank set down the bag of McMaster’s and case of Budweiser and reluctantly shook hands with Bobby. Hank shook the boy’s hand hard, squeezing a little too tightly with his callused fingers.
“Nice to meet you, Bobby.” The sarcasm was evident but well-staged.
“You too,” Bobby said, looking away. They broke physical contact a second later.
Hank smirked. “So, you like to blow things up, huh?”
Bobby didn’t like his tone and shrugged. “I guess you could say that.” He nodded toward the alcohol. “You like to drink, I see?”
Hank smiled, looking back at Ian and chuckling. “Who doesn’t?”
Ian stepped up and extended his hand to Bobby. Ian’s handshake was far more delicate than Hank’s, almost as weak as a little girl’s.
Simon then went on to introduce Hank and Ian to Sam.
“Hey there, that was loudest som-bitch I’ve ever heard. Where’d you get that stuff?” Ian asked.
Bobby responded, “I made it myself.”
Ian raised his eyebrows. “Whoa, you mean you made that? Yourself? How? Did you use gunpowder? Black powder?”
Bobby and Ian conversed excitedly about explosives while Hank and Sam talked about women; Simon looked at the old oak tree, at the departing cloud of smoke still lingering around it. He ripped another beer from the case, chugged it, and crushed the can against his forehead.