It’s been about six months since Hill Country was released by Snubnose Press. I’ve been thrilled, worried, elated, excited and weirded out by the experience. While not blowing up the literary world, it’s done better than I expected, and it’s still a bit strange to think of all the people I’ve never met who are reading my work. It was, and is, in all, a nice experience of being an author.
But, being an author of something is static. It’s out there, and it will never change. Sales may increase, they may die, and good, bad, or no reviews may come in. Regardless, it’s done. Being a writer goes on forever. It’s just a matter of doing it.
Oh, and choosing what to write.
I never intended Hill Country to start a series. Still, the book I just finished, currently called Reckoning is on submission at the moment. It's right back in Comal Creek, TX. Filled with some of the same places, people, and mix of small town cohesion and budding class struggles.
The story is completely different. Smaller and focused on the price a group of friends pay for a huge mistake in their past. But the place felt right again. I felt at home with the setting and the pace of the world the characters inhabit. So comfortable, in fact, that I’ve just started another story set in the town.
How many will I end up writing is something I don’t know. I don’t have any ideas for tales in the town after the current work in progress, but if I do, I know that I’ll be able to sink back into the place, pull up a chair at The Pit and throw some more bad circumstances at people that I really do like deep down.
An excerpt of Reckoning by R. Thomas Brown-
Nightmares had become a fact of life for Erik. Ever present and always the same. Most of the time they didn’t even disturb his sleep. But when life got tough, they always seemed to ratchet up the disturbance. Give him a little extra dig when things were bad.
Remind him of what he did. How much worse that was than anything he was going through. With Freddy’s turn for the crazy and obsession with that damned place, they’d come on strong. He took to drinking to get some rest.
That usually meant Freddy coming in and out wouldn’t bother him. But with Doug breathing down his neck for the past two days, and Erik’s concern about the less than savory activities of the deadbeat, even the drink was leaving him with fitful sleep.
That night, he woke up to the sound of the door slamming. He worked his jaw, tired from clinching his teeth through the horrid memory that filled his thoughts. He rolled on his side and looked toward the clock. Even squinting, he couldn’t make out the numbers. Not long enough since his homemade sleeping aid of rum and more rum.
He sat slowly, and hung his feet over the edge of the bed. “Freddy!” His own voice hurt his head. He exhaled a long breath and took a slow one in. He rose to his feet. Squinted. Tried using just the left eye. “Nope, still drunk.” He took short steps. More shuffles, really. Belches and vurps rose from his gut as he navigated his way down the hall.
Images from his nightmare kept flashing back. The woman screaming. The men ignoring his pleading. He shook his head to push the thoughts out. He realized the stupidity of that as he fell to the ground. He crawled the rest of the way. Pulled himself up when he reached Freddy’s door. Knocked as hard as he could.
“Freddy, what the hell is going on?”
Erik blinked, still trying to convince his body that he was awake. A few shakes of the head didn’t accomplish much more than a headache and a dizzy feeling. He hit the door again.
“Freddy!” Still nothing. Erik pushed the door open. Freddy was either gone or drunk. “Freddy, what the hell is going on?”
No answer. Erik looked at the bed. Couldn’t focus. He walked over to it. Empty. He patted the sheets. Nothing. “Freddy!”
Wasn’t the first time Freddy had taken off in the middle of the night, but he’d been at home for the past couple. Erik figured Doug had said something to him and it kept him in line for a bit. Erik had hoped for an easy time until Doug had a better answer. Seemed that wasn’t to be.
He managed his way down the stairs. Fell down the last three. “Shit.” He rubbed his back, trying to massage out the pain. No lights were on. Door was closed. He steadied himself and opened the front door. “Freddy!”
His vision began to clear. He didn’t see anyone. He realized that if Freddy had slammed the door, he’d be gone by now. Erik walked over to the garage and opened the pad. Stared at the glowing keys that each blurred at the edges.
He pressed the code with slow deliberate fingers.
As it opened, he tapped his foot. Leaned down to peek inside. “Shit, Freddy.” The motorcycle was gone. He wished he’d remembered to hide the keys. “Where the hell did you go in the middle of the night?”
He had no idea where Freddy was, but a good idea where he hoped he wouldn’t be. Still, he was going to look for him. He slipped back in the house, feeling steady now on his feet. He mixed an instant coffee to keep him up and reached for his keys.
BIO: R. Thomas Brown writes crime fiction set in Texas. His novel, Hill Country, from Snubnose Press is currently available. You can find his thoughts on fiction, and other matters, as well as information on his short fiction and upcoming novels at rthomasbrown.blogspot.com