I am proud to unveil the cover for my second novel, The Dark Descent, which is due out in April from Trifecta Publishing House. This is Book Two – The Dark Passage Series. The Dark Truth has been on the market since November and is an Amazon Bestseller. The third in the series, The Dark Terror, is due out in February 2019. Click here to find out where to buy.
Without further ado, here is the cover for The Dark Descent:
One month from today, I’ll be at Mockingbird Books in Tracy, Calif. I’d love to meet you. Come on out, enjoy a great hometown bookstore, pick up a copy of The Dark Truth, learn about the series and the vampire genre.
Friday, Feb. 23, 2018
7-9 p.m. PT Mockingbird Books
51 W. 10th Street
Tracy, CA 95376
Becoming a published author carries a lot with it. It starts with a tiny seed of a dream, which grows into the dream itself. It doesn’t have to be an honest-to-goodness REM sleep dream. It can be a pipe dream, a daydream, a thought. Hell, King Kong came from a pipe dream. The dream eventually becomes a goal. The goal turns into a story and characters and hours and hours of typing, research, reading, Google searches (some that could land you on a government watch list), more typing, editing, emails, texts, paralyzing self-doubt, more typing, hesitation, trepidation, consternation.
That stack of vampire books you’ve collected over the years that your friends and co-workers made fun of you for finally comes in handy.
More typing. Did I mention typing?
After all that, and 59,000 words later, you write “The End” and try to figure out how to get this masterpiece you’ve spent 13 months composing published, so you can share this story with more than your wife, your editor and your friends.
More research, more reading, more typing, more email.
You get lucky, or experience serendipity or divine providence (if you’re into that kind of thing), and get offered a contract from the first publisher you query. More typing, re-writes (6,000 more words), more editing, beta readers, cover concepts, release dates, pre-sale.
Along the way, you achieve certain milestones and new dreams form or come to the surface.
I have idolized writers my entire life – the Beats, Shelley, Poe, Stoker, King, Koontz, Lovecraft, Rice. I have been fascinated by the men and women who have been able to tell tales via the written word. I write for a living, but this is different. Books are extremely valuable to me. I can’t bring myself to throw books away. They must be donated or passed along. Books helped make me who I am, what I am.
And I have grown to love bookstores. I could live in a bookstore. I’ve been known to crawl around on the floor of a bookstore. I could live in an Irish pub too but that’s a story for a different day. As much as I have an affinity for musty, dank indie bookstores, I don’t mind the big chains either. If they sell books, they’re okay with me. Now, if someone were to combine a bookstore with an Irish pub …
Becoming a published author has given me a seat at a table where I’ve always wanted to sit. I’m in the company of people I admire and envy, yet to whom I now feel somewhat equal. Those new dreams start to materialize and take shape. First, write a novel; second, get it published; third, put it on sale. Ah, there’s the rub, right? Where? Online, of course. Amazon. Smashwords. iTunes. Barnes & Noble’s web site. My publisher, Trifecta Publishing House, handled all of that. Boom, done. However, bookstores are the Holy Grail to me. If you are on the shelf in a bookstore, you’ve made it. That’s rarefied air.
My publisher has a major distributor. However, in today’s day and age, you, the author, must do a fair amount of hustling. So, I have sent hundreds of postcards and e-mails, and I have personally visited several bookstores. Some clerks look at you like you have three heads. Others promise to give your information to those who handle such things.
My local bookstore, which I adore, ordered two copies and sold them before I could see The Dark Truth on the shelf. I don’t know if they have ordered any more. I have a signing scheduled there in five weeks. My local Barnes & Noble ordered four copies right in front of me. They were gone by the time I went back, if they ever got them in.
My cousin Jason is a student at State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo in Geneseo, New York, near my hometown of Rochester. My father played college basketball at Geneseo. My friend John Tournour (also a published author), “JT The Brick” on the radio, went to SUNY Geneseo. If you have read The Dark Truth and got to the acknowledgements, you know that Jason’s constructive criticism was a big help to me in the beginning. He told me that he was a valued customer at Sundance Books in Geneseo. He said he would talk me up to the proprietor. He did. He suggested I call the store. I did. I spoke to the second in command. She said they were looking forward to the book’s release. She said they’d be happy to carry it.
Jason sent me a photo of The Dark Truth at the checkstand when he picked up the copy Sundance had ordered for him. There were none for the shelves. This was several weeks ago. Before the holidays.
My cousin tweeted a photo today. It’s a picture of two shelves at Sundance Books. The upper shelf is all Stephen King. The lower shelf is mostly Dean Koontz novels. Koontz happens to be my favorite author. Nestled between several Koontz books and a novel by Marko Kloos is The Dark Truth by Jerry Knaak.
This is the first time I have seen my book on a shelf in a bookstore. This may not be the first store to carry it or shelve it, but this is the first time I have seen it. I got chills seeing my volume on the shelf next to The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz. It is fortuitous that my last name begins with a “K” and that my work will be placed among stories by two of the best-selling authors, let alone two of my favorite. I staged a photo of The Dark Truth with my own copies of IT and The Silent Corner just to see how it would look. It looked pretty good. But to see it on a shelf among the greats – it looks like it belonged.
When I set out to write The Dark Truth, I used a working title. It was never meant to be the title of the book, just something to name the file. There was a line in the movie Gladiator that I liked and it used the phrase, “shadows and dust.” So, that was the working title, Shadows and Dust. I thought it could work if necessary. It is a vampire story after all. They live in the shadows and can turn to dust. I was just never sold on it.
Many of the locations in the story are real. Almost all of them, actually. I was inspired by a photo gallery published by SFGate depicting some amazing abandoned places in Northern California. The climax takes place in a location I found thanks to Atlas Obscura. I had a need for an establishment in a particular location in San Francisco. The establishment didn’t exist and it didn’t exist where I needed it for the narrative.
Off to the local Beverages and More for writing fuel – a beer and whisky run. I have developed quite the taste for porters and stouts, and my love of Scotch is well-documented. I found an Imperial Stout called Dark Truth. At 9.75% ABV, it’s quite potent. I didn’t pay attention to who made it.
As I worked on the story, I thought, ‘hey, this is a great idea for the name of that establishment.’ So, I named it The Dark Truth. The more I wrote, the more I thought, ‘hey, this is a helluva an idea for the name of the book.’
When I went back to get more, BevMo said it was discontinued. I was disappointed. I wanted to celebrate the completion of the book with a Dark Truth. Shockingly enough, I found it again on a family vacation to visit my wife’s family in Ohio. We bought one bottle, I drank it, washed the bottle, and brought it back.
I posted a photo or graphic on social media and someone, I do believe it was my friends who live in Kansas City, said that the Dark Truth was made there. The label says “Boulevard.”
I get to Kansas City once a year and I visited this past weekend. My friends and I visited the World War I Museum. If you have never been I highly recommend. Anywho, on the way to the museum I noticed “Boulevard Brewing Company” from the highway. I asked my pals if we could go after the museum visit. They kindly agreed.
We parked, went to the wrong building, and were directed to the correct building. We ascended the stairs to the taproom bar. After standing in a line for a bit, a young lady asked to take our order. I showed her the graphic I had made with the cover of the book and a picture of the Dark Truth, and expressed my dismay that they didn’t have it on tap. She informed me that they had it in bottles. She also said that one of their beers inspiring the title for my book, “touched her heart.” I could not bring myself to drink a beer from a bottle at a craft brewery, especially one such as this. This was an impressive facility with numerous beers available on tap. I chose a Scottish Ale, and one of my friends had a hard cider.
Wallet in hand, I asked, “What’s the damage, what do I owe you?” With a wave of her hand, she responded, “Naw, you’re good.” I didn’t expect anything free, didn’t want anything free, didn’t ask for anything free. I was just excited to be at Boulevard that I wanted to share it with an employee.
After finishing our drinks, we hit the gift shop where I purchased a single bottle of the Dark Truth to take home and a Dark Truth t-shirt. We then zipped off to make our dinner reservation. I tweeted a few photos and @ mentioned Boulevard and they retweeted me.
This was an unexpected experience, one I will treasure. I’ll be sending Boulevard Brewing Company a signed copy of The Dark Truth.
I had the opportunity to do two radio interviews recently in support of The Dark Truth – my good friend JT the Brick’s Las Vegas show on FOX Sports Radio, and Late Hits with Gil Brandt and Alex Marvez on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Thank you to JT, and Alex and Gil for their support and taking the time to make me look like a rock star. Listen in.
Today is release day for my debut novel, The Dark Truth! This dark, gritty vampire tale set in modern-day San Francisco took approximately 21 months to bring to market.
I started writing in earnest in January 2016, wrote “The End” in February 2017, landed a publishing contract in March, and here we are. This is Book One of The Dark Passage Series, the next two are under contract, with The Dark Descent due out in April 2018, and The Dark Terror set for early 2019. Trifecta Publishing House is my publisher, Ingram is the distributor.
Listen to my latest podcast as fellow Trifecta Publishing House author Mark London Williams checks in to discuss his new book, Max Random and the Zombie 500, our joint Facebook release party, all manner of undead things and much more. Both of our new books are set to be released Monday.