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I 'd say that a large majority of my inspiration for writing this particular novel is from an autobiographical standpoint. I originally began the outline mere weeks after realizing my own twenty-five year anniversary from high school graduation had passed without fanfare (as far as I know, no 'reunion' was held or even planned). I had just come off the publication of several horror-themed novels in the five years previous and felt a change in genre was needed simply in order to recharge my literary batteries, so to speak.
This desire, coupled with a sudden influx of high school memories birthed what became the mystery-thriller SPECTRAL REWIND, though the original title was altered several times from such earlier possibilities as MISDIRECTION GAME and simply THE CLASS OF ‘81.
As for the cast of characters involved, I must confess that at least one of the notables is indeed based on the author himself, though which one in particular I will not openly divulge except to say that in my own high school days I was voted 'Class Clown' by my peers. I will leave the rest for the good readers to figure out. I also based several of the other former classmates at the fictional 'Baymont High' to those I grew up with in Northern Alabama, while also basing the city of Baymont on my own hometown of Red Bay. Each represent what it was to be raised in a small southern town in the mid-seventies to early eighties. I hope the story appeals to all lovers of mystery and suspense, but especially those readers who can readily identify with the time-period represented. As I stated in the novel, though we are not so easily labeled as 'Generation X' or 'Baby Boomers', we as a generation did witness some amazing history take place.
Personally, I cannot think of a better time or place to have inhabited, and I found unlimited inspiration in the memories that made-up the majority of my own child and young-adulthood.
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Swimming Kangaroo Publishing
Swimming Kangaroo Publishing
No internet…no cell-phones...no cable television…but even in a more innocent era… pure EVIL remains timeless.
As the atypical small southern town, Baymont, Alabama holds but one unique, albeit tragic distinction; that being the mysterious, grisly murders of two former high school standouts the night of the Class of ‘81’s twenty-fifth reunion.
Hoping to shed new light on the bizarre, quasi-supernatural circumstances surrounding the twin slayings, a documentary filmmaker and his crew descend upon the town amid a general indifference from the locals, the majority of which regard all media-related types as little more than predatory blood-mongers and publicity seekers.
However, as filming progresses and interviews with former classmates of the victims reveal a dark, sinister flipside to tranquil, small town living, the identity of a possible killer begins to take shape, unlocking not only the shocking secret to the reunion night murders, but also the horrid truth behind a similarly gruesome cold-case from twenty-five years earlier.
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Terry Lloyd Vinson speaks to Dindy Robinson, publisher at Simming Kangaroo Books, on his inspiration for penning 'SPECTRAL REWIND: The Class of '81':
'SPECTRAL REWIND: The Class of '81' is now available at Swimming Kangaroo Publishing and Amazon.com; soon to be on sale at Fictionwise.com and other on-line retailers.
Available in both paperback and Kindle Verson at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.com in paperback only. Also availabe in ebook format from Fictionwise.com.
"LOVE IS GRAND,
SEX IS FUN,
We're the Class of '81!"
Deputy Parkins blazed the trail in his POV, a late nineties model Chevy Pick-up coated with large splotches of dried clay and mud. Displaying very little in the way of emotion, he’d told us that Sheriff Jarnigan had given him the rest of the afternoon off to accompany us to the property, ‘host the guided tour’ and complete the agreed upon interview. Unlike the other participants, neither Jarnigan or Parkins could accept payment. Instead, it had been agreed that the studio would ‘donate’ an undisclosed (at least to us) amount to the Baymont PD’s Annual Christmas ‘Toys For Tots’ program.
All said, it took us less than fifteen minutes to arrive on the property from the police station. We’d followed the deputy as he’d executed a series of turns onto paved, semi-paved, and dirt roadways, eventually taking a right onto a one-lane, hard clay drive riddled with deeply-grooved potholes and boulder-sized rocks. We pulled in tight and halted a scant two to three feet behind the deputy, who had parked just past a road marker.
“Hey, check it out,” Twig said, pointing at the gray-shaded metal sign, which looked slick and shiny enough to have been erected that very same day, “guess it doesn’t matter how far you reside out in the sticks, vandals will find a way, huh?”
While researching names and places, the original ‘street’ address we’d been given for the Crane residence had been listed as Rt 2, Box 334, RockRidge Road, Baymont.
I heard Julia snicker just as I peeked over her right shoulder at the target of their apparent amusement.
“Hilarious, ain’t it?” Deputy Parkins said with a frown, fronting the sign while scribbling onto a small note pad, “highway department replaces this sign about twice a month. Taxpayers money well spent.”
A few minutes later, we resumed our journey down the winding, rocky trail identified in dark red spray paint as ‘DemonRidge’ Road.
We reached the Crane home about a half mile and approximately sixteen kidney-bruising potholes later.
The house sat atop a steep hill and was practically encased in shoulder-high shrubbery and an infestation of kudzu growth. The front yard, which stretched a good two to two hundred feet down from a wooden deck front porch, was surprisingly weed-free and looked to have been recently mowed.
“Welcome to Mockingbird Lane,” Twig moaned while navigating the hill a dozen or so feet behind Parkins’ vehicle, “Jeez, Amityville is right.”
“Looks like someone’s taking care of the grounds anyway,” Julia added as if to change the subject, and I saw a fresh wave of chill bumps sprout across her upper left arm.
“Check out the signs. You’d think we were entering penitentiary grounds.”
There were four of them all told, strategically erected and positioned at the four corners of the home’s perimeter, and each proclaiming a similar message.
Sign number one, located at the top of the hill at the eastern edge of the home, read ‘ABSOLUTELY NO TRESPASSING-Hidden Camera Surveillance-Violators will be PROSECUTED to the full extent of the law!’
Sign two, located a mere three to four feet from the left of the front porch, read ‘Twenty-Four Hour Surveillance! TRESPASSERS WILL BE JAILED AND FINED – Per Order of the Alabama State Police!
Sign three, situated at the home’s western edge, read ‘VANDALISM and/or THEFT from This property WILL RESULT in Jail-time and a fine up to $10,000!’
Finally, sign number four, which had greeted us at the bottom of the hill, just a few feet from a bent, rusted out mailbox, read ‘Hidden CAMERA Surveillance – Trespassers WILL BE TRACKED DOWN AND EXTRADITED, then JAILED and/or FINED! – By order of the Alabama State Police’
“Signs look fairly new,” I said, though my focus had already shifted to the house itself. “Wonder how long this has been necessary.”
“No telling how many times they’ve been swiped and sold on E-bay.” Twig said while pulling up and parking a yard or so from the rear of Parkins’ truck.
The deputy had already exited his vehicle and was standing posed on the bottom step of the porch, his bland expression unchanged.
Julia and I stood facing the driveway at the center of a circular clearing no doubt used for extra parking as Twig busied himself with the camera and audio equipment at the back of the van.
My wife took my hand as we gradually turned towards the house in clockwork synchronization. Her flesh was cool to the touch, a sensation she only displayed in times of great stress or worry. I’m sure my own sweat-coated palm relayed a similar message.
“Well, gang…welcome to hell-house,” I heard the deputy say, though his voice seemed strangely distant.
I felt Julia shiver, despite the partly sunny, relatively warm conditions.
“Hon?” she whispered, leaning towards me.
“Have to confess…I’ve got a major case of the creeps. You?”
“Ditto, my sweet. Not to worry. This too shall pass. After all, it’s only stone and wood, right?”
“I’m gonna hold you to that, big boy.”
The Crane home had been constructed (built in nineteen fifty-six, according to my research) in the ‘Gothic Revival’ style, which no doubt raised some eyebrows in the local area at the time as a most unusual choice. Somehow, the distinctive pointed gables, gingerbread trim and vertical siding just seemed weirdly out of place in an area dominated by homes built in either the ranch or colonial styles.
We had, of course, seen various still photos of the home on the Net, and from seemingly every angle, but there was definitely something about viewing it up close and personal that provided a whole new perspective.
Twig waddled up a moment later in full ‘pack-horse’ mode with a camera propped atop one shoulder and an audio/boom hookup slung across the other.
“Need a hand there, Doctor Octopus?” I asked, stepping up to retrieve the audio gear.
“Appreciate it, boss. You or Miss Julia gonna play key grip on the boom?”
“That’d be me,” Julia responded, her eyes still darting about the house grounds.
“You folks prefer the outdoor tour first?” Deputy Parkins asked, tugging on his utility belt with one hand while curling the ends of his walrus mustache with the other.
I glanced over at Twig, who shrugged in a ‘doesn’t matter to me’ gesture.
“Might as well. I take it you’re an old hand at this, Deputy.”
“It’s been a few months, but I can’t forget the spiel…now matter how hard I try.”
“Twig, you set for outdoor shooting?” I asked just as he kneeled down with his back against the sun and began lighting adjustments.
“Be with you in a few, boss.”
“Just yell when. Deputy, the wife and I have to confess to a series case of the willies just standing here, and I never would’ve believed that possible with all the research we’ve don-..”
“The house gets ‘em all, Mister Kirby,” Parkins broke in, nodding towards the front entrance, “I’ve seen hardened federal agents walk outta there with sweat stains the size of honeydew melons ‘neath their arms, so don’t feel lonesome. I call it the ‘Bates Motel‘ effect.”
“Not exactly the comfort it should be, but thanks anyhow,” Julia responded, rubbing her arms as if struck by a sudden chilly breeze.
“What’s with all the security and warning signs?” I asked, just noticing a boarded up section of wood on the bottom step of the porch that looked oddly out of place.
“You’re looking at it, Mister Kirby. Missing planks from those porch steps were just the beginning. Also to keep all the wanna-be ghost-hunters and collectors at bay. Started putting up the signs about six months back.”
The deputy paused to remove a cigarette from his uniform’s front left pocket. After lighting up, he then resumed with the burning fire-stick hanging from his lower lip like a smoking appendage. Never being a smoker myself, I always marveled at folks that could make lengthy speeches with cigarettes bobbing up and down atop their lower lip without dropping them down their shirts.
“I do believe this is the third such set of signs the state’s put up since. Even nabbed a couple of the cameras, I heard. Guess they weren’t quite ‘hidden’ enough.”
I glanced over at Twig, who looked up from his equipment just long enough to flash me a ‘told you so’ smile.
Deputy Parkins reached up to rub his shaved head before continuing. “Most of ‘em are harmless enough. Just curious is all. Then again, we had some peeling the house like a ripe banana. Parts were selling on the internet. I heard the feds caught several of the thieves by tracking them on E-bay and similar sites. Place has become a regular landmark for lovers of the macabre.”
As the deputy departed the steps for the eastern edge of the house, Julia and I followed slowly behind as if under hypnosis.
“I’ve seen the Crane home listed near the top fifty on the ‘Evil Spaces and Places’ website. They even have a handy-dandy map page tied to Yahoo Travel,” Jules said, again reaching over to take my hand into her own.
“I’m sure. It’s gained quite the rep as one of the new 21st century urban legends. I’d heard you folks had been in town filming for almost three weeks. Saw the vandalism report on your van. I’m amazed it took you so long to pay me and hell-house here a visit.”