I’ve been talking about the discovery of my long lost outline for Friends Are Forever, and how it was the book that started the hate crimes that plauge my personal life. Some one asked, if I thought it was safe to rewrite it, what with what happened before. And than I was talking about how it’s going to be bloodier and more graphic than the original, and I was just asked a question, and I quote:
What’s the farthest you’ll take your horror? What can the average reader handle? Do you feel comfortable writing this? What do you think the average reader can tolerate and process? How far is it okay to take your horror? Should some things not be done? What is acceptable and where do you draw that line? Any worries or concerns your book is a little “Too fucked up” for anything mainstream? Do you worry it can’t be published?
Well, I already know it’s not publishable. Why? Well, I’ll tell you…
In 1978 I wrote and illustrated a 16 page easy reader children’s picture book titled “Friends Are Forever”. It was my first book. It was about a dog and a talking cat who became friends. It was simple and totally plotless and at that point very publishable. It could offend no one in it’s first form.
In 1983 I created The Twighlight Manor and rewrote that first story. The cat named Miss Citten the EelKat still remained, but now she was not seeking friends, now she was a cat from outer space sent to observe humans and send back reports of their lives to her home planet Diona. She wrote of a man named Lincoln who owned a haunted house called The Twighlight Manor. Slightly longer than the original this short story comic book ended at 36 illustrated pages.
In 1987 “Friends Are Forever” was rewritten again, adding more of the history of Sir Roderic Lincolndona Swanzen, his bizarre family that originated on a burning planet many galaxies from Earth, and the house they built in Old Orchard Beach, Maine: The Twighlight Manor. It was still a short story, now with less pictures and more words, it still was only about 16 pages long and it was still not offensive.
In 1991, my real life was turned upside down when I was the lone survivor of a mass murder that left my 5 best friends chopped up in a bloodbath all over my back yard. The next year or so was over run by police and reporters and lawyers and court dates, ending with the execution of the murderer, whom had been caught the same day as the murders. I stopped talking after the last court date. I became depressed and suicidal. In order to keep my own sanity, I started writing more than ever before. But something had changed.
With the deaths of my friends, the arrival of a new character came to my stories: a serial killer, one who killed people in a manner not too unlike the way I had watched my 5 friends die. To witness a death changes a person, to witness the murder of a loved one changes you more, but to witness 5 loved ones gutted, beheaded, and disembolbed left me emotional scarred for years and did not do nice things for my mind and I soon found difficult writing anything else. My stories soon became a far cry from the children’s stories they had started out as.
By 1993 the house that was the setting for all of my stories, had taking on a life of it’s own, it’s walls soaked with the blood of hundreds of souls, it absorbed hatred and anger and came to life as a flesh eating character of it’s own in the fourth and most famous edition of “Friends Are Forever: Volume I of The Twighlight Manor Series”. “Friends Are Forever” now had a new face and a new meaning – it was dedicated to my 5 friends in their memory, that the horror of the way they suffered and died, may never be lost or forgotten to the world. The 1993 edition of “Friends Are Forever: Volume 1 of The Twighlight Manor Series” was about to do more than change my life – it was going to change laws in the Mormon Church as well.
You see, I am a Mormon, and I wrote these books in church each Sunday. In between each of these revisions several 15 to 45 page short stories were written, each about the lives of each of the 75 other characters whom had inhabited The Twighlight Manor over a period of some 400 years. Each story seemed to be more graphic than the last one. Filled with graphic scenes of sex, rape, cannibalism, sadistic torture, and murder my set of short stories became known in the local congregations of the Mormon Church, as the M-Rated, boycotted, much hated and reviled “Twighlight Manor Series”.
“Friends Are Forever” was the straw that broke the camel’s back when a local Bishop got a hold of a copy and contacted the higher authorities of Salt Lake City, demanding my excommunication and calling me “The Great Apostate”, citing this tiny short story as “proof”. Banned by the Mormon Church in 1993, my only previously read by locals, set of short stories, suddenly became very famous, at least throughout the Mormon community. I soon started receiving a slew of hate letters demanding I cease and desist the writing of this “vile, immoral, detestable” series. The Twighlight Manor Boycott reared it’s ugly head and I found myself shunned and disfellowshipped with the threat to stop writing or be excommunicated over my head.
Convinced that I was what he called “a demon possessed schizophrenic” the Bishop who started the boycott, called the state mental health institute one Sunday. I don’t know what he told them, maybe he read them scenes from “Friends Are Forever” saying they were actual events I was doing in Church, but what ever he said, a team of doctors arrived at the Church in less than an hour, ready to drag me away in a straight jacket. I don’t know what they expected to find, but I do know that the last thing they expected was to see a 16 year old child sitting quietly in Sunday School class, writing in a note book. Where was the dangerous criminal they were suppossed to take away? Alone in his office, with just me, the Bishop, and the administrative officer of the assylum, the Bishop railed on his tale of how demons had taken over my mind and were telling me to write these vile stories. The doctor asked me what I wrote and why. I told him about the murder of my friends 2 years prior and that it was the scenes of their deaths that I wrote and rewrote again and again. The doctor told the Bishop there was nothing wrong with me that finding new friends would not cure, he than told the Bishop that he needed to see a psychitrist about his belief in demons, and the men left the church angry that the Bishop had wasted their time.
This event was not the last of this Bishop’s vendetta again “Friends Are Forever”. Fans of the Twighlight Manor Boycott, all Mormons, gathered up nearly every copy of the 1993 edition of “Friends Are Forever” and burned it in a bonfire on my front lawn, making it one of the world’s rarest and most obscure books ever to be written. Only one single copy of this book, the 1993 edition of Friends Are Forever, is known to survive today.
While I’ve written more than 30 stories for The Twighlight Manor Series, the gruesome story “Friends Are Forever”, remains the pulsating life blood from which all of the rest of the series builds upon. Most of the series are modern tales set in the house during the 20th century. Friends Are Forever, was not, it was set in the 1660′s, it is the prequel to the rest of the series. The history of the house, it’s curse, and the madman behind the terror of the Twighlight Manor. Set in the 1660′s when the house was still the new honeymoon of of a pair of secret lovers, Friends Are Forever is the background story of how the Manor went from the home of hopes and dreams to the house of blood and sin. And yet, due to religious hysteria, this book remained banned, burned, and obscured from the public eye, while the rest of the books in the series, lived on.
As many of my fans know, the hate crimes started by that Bishop so many years ago, did not stop, and still go on to this day, in 2006 the hate crime escalated to the arson that left me homeless, (see http://www.squidoo.com/OnBeingHomeless2 ), while in 2010 the worst of the boycotters of my books, the woman known as “my stalker” stole my car and cut it in half (see http://www.squidoo.com/StolenCar for more info). What started as book burnings in 1993 has in essence destroyed my life, cost me my family, my friends, my pets, my car, and my home.
The Twighlight Manor Series, is now long out of print, and largely forgotten to every one outside of the Mormon Church. Today there are many who look at these hate crimes and ask: Why? What did you do to make them hate you so? What did you write that was so terrible as to offend these people into such hatred? The answer: In 1993 I wrote a book called “Friends Are Forever”, a book that was read by a Mormon Bishop and several local members of the Mormon Church. A book that sent shock waves through the congregation and sent members to demand my excommunication. A book that they gathered up and burned. A book that few outside the Mormon Church have ever seen. A book that today, no longer exists, except for the few surviving, but badly burned pages locked in a safe. A book that people starting asking: Can you rewrite it?
While I continued writing other books for the series, the controversy and violent hate crimes at the hands of local Mormons, behind “Friends Are Forever” kept me from rewriting it.
Requests for the republication of this book, have been among my fans most asked question: When we we see this book in print again? Along with the other question: Can you write as a novel length edition of it next time?
In 1996, three years after the book burners left my books, original manuscripts, and artwork in ash, I wrote the outline for a much expand, revised, and bloodier than ever, full novel length edition of “Friend Are Forever”, but due to the hate crimes and vandalism and the murder of several of my pets, which followed the announcement of this book’s rebirth, I put the outliine aside to work on other less controversial projects. Over the years vandals 3 times desimated my home, with the worst attack being the fire of 2006. It was thought that the outline for the novel length edition of “Friends Are Forever” was lost in the blaze.
On October 24, 2010, fou years after that fire, while going through my files, I came across that long lost 103 page outline, and now for NaNoWriMo 2010, plans are underway to bring to life once again, the infamous story of a 70 year old man obsessed with lust for a 14 year old girl, the psychotic doctor with a lust for blood, and the serial killing twin brothers who built a 500 room house that demands blood in it’s mortar. By December 2010 “Friends Are Forever: A History of The Twighlight Manor” shall live again, and the scene that got it banned: The Red Dragon Murders, with it’s beheaded, tortured, raped, disembowled bodies, will no longer be a single page, but span over the space on many chapters.
How far will I go with The Red Dragon Murders? The whole scene will play out from beginning to end. The kidnapping. The torture. The rape. The sodemy. The torture. The discections. The murder. The necrophilia. The bloody reconstruction of the bodies as sculptures put on public display. With the point of view from the man driven to madness while being forced to watch his beloved wife and children slaughtered. What was previously a single page description of the discovered aftermath, is now going to be a large part of the plot.
How far is too far? There is no too far. If my book is able to strike horror into people to the point that they take action again, than next time I hope there action is not to burn the book, but rather to stand up and do something about the way the US legal system is run – to do something to make the streets safe for children – to do something to make sure that what happened to my friends, is never allowed to happen to any one else every again. And to that end, there is no too far. I don’t care if the readers can’t stomach it. At 14 years of age, I witnessed it is bold life. No child should ever be forced to watch her friends murdered. Death is not pretty. I do not write this to entertain. I write that the horror of my friends’ deaths not be ignored, and that the serious nature of trauma caused by murder, not be overlooked and tossed aside. Serial killers are out there, they are real, and the things they do, are way beyond anything fiction can retell. As horrifying as my stories are, they are nothing compared to the horror of the real life events that inspired them. So no, nothing I could write will ever be too far, for the only too far there is, is allowing the monsters that kill to kill again.
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