What do you get when you cross the suspense of all the best slasher movies with the small town mystery of all the best beach reads? You get my novel Under the Blade of course!
Okay, there’s some hubris in this post. I’m just really excited about this one. Of my first four novels, Under the Blade is probably my personal favorite. It was the most difficult for me to write, the one where I really felt my “writer’s muscles” expanding throughout the process. It’s where the final girl returns to the scene of a summer camp massacre only to discover there’s a lot more to the story she narrowly survived.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing this book is trying to sell the subject matter. While it weaves slasher movie language through its narrative, and leans heavily into those tropes at certain points, I’ve never considered this a “slasher novel.” Before I even started writing it, I knew that a straight up “slasher” wouldn’t work as a book and that I’d have to give the reader more than just a series of bloody setpieces. So while that stuff is in here, it goes without saying that books and movies are two very different mediums and what works in one does not necessarily work in the other.
Under the Blade is also difficult to talk about because it’s got plenty of twists and turns, none of which I’d like to disclose in the launch materials. Instead, I’ll talk a little about how this particular story came into existence. There’s a recurring argument/discussion with a friend of mine about the movie Halloween H20, and whether or not it paints a convincing portrait of a traumatized survivor. I never thought so, but my friend believes that alcoholic Laurie Strode is as real as it gets. I always found her broad and unsympathetic. And as our civilized debate raged for years (and still rages), he asked how I’d have done it. That got the gears turning. And turning…
So, this is my attempt at that type of story.
When you’re reading Under the Blade you may wonder why the opening chapter feels so…familiar. Usually, the final girl’s trauma is the type of thing hinted at at the very end of a movie and held for exploration until the sequel. Because this is an original work, however, I needed to give the reader an approximation of something immediately recognizable. I want that intro to feel like something you’ve seen so that you know precisely what Melanie has gone through. Most slasher movies open with a prologue that often shows the catalyst for our “present day” killing spree. Under the Blade does that too, it just so happens that the killing spree is catalyst for something larger. It’s where the story begins, but certainly doesn’t end.
To me, Under the Blade is about how trauma shapes us. How it affects us across every facet of our lives. All of the main characters are struggling to overcome persistent obstacles from their pasts. It’s a novel about how we’re always struggling to get out from underneath that, forgive the cuteness, blade.
It’s summer. Hot and sticky. I don’t think there’s a better time of year to visit the tiny Connecticut town of Forest Grove. Twenty-five years ago Cyrus Hoyt put it on the map with a night of terror so brutal that it still wears scars. But when Melanie Holden returns to face down long-held fears, she finds that Hoyt’s bloody spree was only the beginning.
To say any more would be spoiling it.
Pack your bags. Take the trip. Buy Under the Blade today. If you’ve read it, please take two minutes and review it. Tell your friends about it next time you’re huddled together around the campfire. Whatever you have to do to get the word out. But remember, never say the name Cyrus Hoyt above a whisper.