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Horror -- Examining the Human By Exploring the Monster: Everett L. Winrow

Everett L. Winrow lives in Fredericksburg and teaches computer skills to 8-12 year-old special education students in Washington, D.C. His hobbies are painting and watching old silent films. Sure, he sounds normal enough. But wait until you catch him on the night of a full moon.

No, his eyes don't turn red, and he doesn't grow fangs or lose his reflection, but you might find him writing about characters that do. That's certainly the topic of his novel, Night of the Harvest Moon: Vampyre.

Winrow says that, as a boy, he used to love reading horror and mystery stories, which is why he chose to write a gothic novel. He says that today he is still fascinated by the genre and wanted to write his own story. He chose vampirism as the topic of his novel, but it goes deeper than the next generation of Dracula's. Says Winrow, "It's really a novel about human emotions. Even though it's horror, it really deals with humanity."

A common theme in gothic storytelling is to write about monsters in order to explore humanity. That's what Winrow attempts to do in his novel. Specifically, he examines hate. He says that other silent film fans will understand the novel's reference to "She Who Must Be Obeyed," and they'll make the connection between "She" and Winrow's journey into the hate-filled heart of a monster.

The mystery of the story is enveloped within the main character, who doesn't truly appear until the final third of the book. The story this character tells boggles the mind in terms of its scope and time span. And it boggles the mind how far this character is driven by the hatred in its heart.

The novel is an intriguing tale with many unexpected twists in plot. It is comprised of journal entries from six different characters that meet up at an inn in Moldavia while on vacation. Their varying reactions to the situations they encounter while staying at the inn keep the reader wondering as to what is really going on. Winrow says he wasn't worried about the reader getting confused with so many characters. He says, "I had proofreaders and they weren't confused, so I wasn't worried."

Each character plays a different role in the development of the plot. Says Winrow, "I had to really think about what I wanted to do with these characters." So, each character is designed with a specific demeanor that causes him/her to react to situations in a particular manner, and the combination of all those reactions is what allows the plot to develop the way Winrow planned it. One character who is particularly weak and vulnerable isn't very appealing to the reader, and it is no wonder that he is chosen to play the part that he does. What part is that? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

These characters' journals reveal that they witness similar strange late-night happenings, but don't say a word to each other about it. As the plot unfolds, the reader cringes at the knowledge that if only they'd said something to each other sooner, perhaps they could have avoided...

Winrow slowly invites the reader into a world of mystery throughout the book, and then, just as you think you have it all figured out, the twist at the end catches you unprepared. The seemingly scattered stories that run parallel to each other throughout the novel connect in the end, but not quite in the way you might have expected.

Winrow is currently at work on two sequels to Night of the Harvest Moon: Vampyre, to make the series a trilogy, as well as two science fiction novels and a book about his concept of karma. Like he did with Night, Winrow says he plans to self-publish his upcoming books as well. He says that self-publishing is an affordable way to get published, although you have to do your own promotion.

Night of the Harvest Moon is a throwback to the old-style gothic vampire stories. It is a combination thriller/mystery that will have you guessing through to the final chapter. It just may not be the bedtime story you want to read to your kids.

To learn more about Mr. Winrow, visit his website at www.vampirefeast.com.