Welcome to Simmins, Detective Spencer
A collaborative winter-themed horror-mystery anthology:
Detective Spencer moves to his wife’s small mining hometown as the holiday season is rolling around. Anticipating a slow work life, he’s not prepared for an advent calendar’s worth of dead bodies, missing persons reports, and unusual creature sightings.
Nick Clauster might have something to say about a new detective prowling around the town he’s spent so many years cultivating.
Filled with chaotic carols, chupacabra puppies, mothmen, sentient Christmas trees and more, this anthology promises to reignite the old tradition of telling ghost stories in the dead of winter.
This anthology is not standard by any stretch of the imagination. Neither were the authors I corralled up and offered to print a book as the carrot reward for getting them to write a bunch of spooky holiday stories.
When I first set out with this book, my idea was journals, like all those diary novels I’d read as a kid. However, we wanted to continue the idea of the first anthology Heads and Tales: The Other Side of the Story, in that there would be two sides to this story. This led to the idea that I would write one side and they would write the other and together a fully entwined anthology would form.
In some ways, Welcome to Simmins, Detective Spencer was constructed not to be an anthology but a fully realized novel with multiple authors. The set up is linear, day by day, with mutli-day stories interspersed with single day stories and the Detective’s journal entries. Usually an anthology may have a theme, maybe a little bit of continuity. Welcome to Simmins, Detective Spencer is truly an entwined novel. Circumstances in one story meld with another story and characters move between them.
This is where red line linear as an idea comes into play. The book was designed first and foremost as a series of individual stories by the authors. As I edited the pieces, I created the journal entries to correspond with events. Once everything was edited, I stitched together the series of stories and journals to correspond to times of day and days of the month. This method can however be a bit of a challenge to follow in a similar vein as the switching timeline in The Witcher.
The idea came to me, and this is why it probably works better as a paperback, rather than an ebook, that this would border on a choose your own adventure series, and a crime tracking novel. Similar to the gif above, there’s a red string running through the series, where it feels natural to keep your thumb on one story and flip through to the other story to grasp what is taking place on the small level, and yet there is motivation to read the anthology straight through for the full picture.
Hints and clues are spread throughout the book. The intake tag in the Detective’s journal, the image notations, the different font between the Detective’s journals vs. the town’s stories. Even the journal entries have grammatical errors specifically inserted to look like someone who is actually writing with free-flow thought – seeing as most people who hand write are not completely perfect with their spelling and grammar.
I had a lot of fun with the authors in constructing this, and honestly glad they let me play around with creating what I’m more inclined to call a piece of experimental interactive art rather than a standard anthology. This playing with format and flow and style is something that a small time editor can really get away with. I can’t imagine a traditional press going with something like this unless they knew people would ‘get it.’
I do hope you find it interesting. My one regret with the paperback is that I couldn’t include a pack of red stick tabs so people could mark all the things they find…there are still a few limits with self and indie publishing.