Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kathryn Meyer Griffith whose Blood Forge-Revises Author's Edition was released from Damnation Books/Eternal Press last month. It's available in print and, for the first time ever, e-format as well. Blood Forge was her third published novel, originally released in 1989 from Leisure Books.
Her working title was With This Gun and centered around a scandalous love triangle/murder that had taken place in the small town she had lived in years before. Kathryn's first husband was a police officer there, so some of the people involved had been her friends. The police force, as well as their wives and family, were a close-knit group, so the murder was a great shock to them. One of the police officers had been seeing another police officer's wife and the two of them were thinking about splitting up the families (both of which had children) to be with each other. Not unexpectedly, the betrayed husband wasn't happy about it when he heard the news from his wife—he shot and killed the other police officer in his home.
After a decade, Kathryn decided to use the story as a basis for a book, in part to help free her from the bad memories. She decided to use a possessed gun as a device to explain the killings the gun would be responsible for.
"Now I wasn’t exactly a lover of guns, but I was married to a cop. Guns were part of our lives. Always in the back of my mind was what I’d say to people who didn’t like the idea of me writing about a gun or hated guns: It isn’t a gun that kills people…it’s the person using the gun. In this book, I gave an even better motivation. The gun made people kill because it was evil," she explained. "This theme was what made it a supernatural story. A Colt Python would be possessed by an ancient demon; that the weapon had been forged from tainted iron or metal from the bowels of the earth centuries ago connected to that ancient demon-god. So the title Leisure eventually came up with was: Blood Forge (though I begged the editor to call it With This Gun or at least,Blood Forged, which made more sense), but—no, the publisher was determined to call it Blood Forge and in those days the author didn’t have any say so on that or the cover."
In the book, she followed the gun after its creation from unfortunate human to human as it made people crazy and murderous, creating havoc in everyone's life it touched. Evenatually, two people deeply in love have faith that they can defeat it…with the help of a mysterious priest (who may or may not be a priest at all).
"That plot about following a gun on its deadly rampage has been used many times since in television shows and stories, but I’d began thinking about the book as early as 1983, so, perhaps, I was the first," she mused. "Who knows?"
Leisure Books had published her second book, The Heart of the Rose, about a suspected witch in 15th century England amidst the War of the Roses political intrigues and her editor there, Jane Thornton, asked her if she had another novel to show them. The gun story was similar to her first book with Leisure (which Jane had also edited), Evil Stalks the Night, another romantic horror. Once Jane read it, however, she refused to edit it –guns scared her; she despised them; they killed people and were bad. Instead, another editor, John Littel, liked the book and Leisure offered her a contract for it.
Not only was Kathryn not thrilled with the title the publisher chose, she didn't care for the cover either.
"Embossed or not, it was too dark. A snake coiling around the barrel of a menacing gun on a black background. Along with the title, I felt it didn’t portray what the book was entirely about," she explained." The novel was a love story, a survival against great odds, a parable of faith, tale. A story of a man’s fight with alcoholism and how his wife’s love helps him beat the insidious influence of the alcohol as well as the gun. It was about cops, their lives and their families. But, as with the title, I had no choice on the cover and had to take what they gave me. That’s just the way it was back then. I still feel that’s part of the reason the book never did well in its first incarnation. I was still an unknown writer and when that’s the case I’ve found that the cover and title–how compelling they are–makes a difference in the sales.
"At this point, I must admit, after having just finished rewriting it…it was a very dark book written at a very dark time of my life. The darkest, I think, of all my books. I had gone through a divorce, remarriage and was juggling a full time job and a family. Trying to write at night. It was actually difficult for me to relive most of it. I was still in that early part of my career, still young without enough life experience, where I’d embed what I’d lived through and saw around me into my stories. I didn’t have the maturity yet to write anything too layered."
With the re-release of the book, she wishes she could change the title, but didn't think that would be fair to people who had already read the original book. However, she loves the new cover which was designed by Dawne Dominique. Dawne has also designed eleven of the other new covers for the books Damnation is re-releasing. Kathryn's first novel, Evil Stalks the Night, will be out again for the first time in 29 years, revised and updated, on July 1.
Blood Forge didn't do as well as her first two books, and Kathryn noticed that the publisher turned a little cool towards her.
"Seeing the way the wind was blowing, I went on to get an agent and she helped me jump up another rung of the ladder when she sold my next four books to a bigger publisher, Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing)," she told me. "And I left Leisure behind; and my three books there went out of print long ago. When the last old book from 1984, Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition comes out in July, my forty year writing career will have come full circle. It’s amazing. I guess a book never dies, huh?"
Kathryn is thinking of self-publishing her fifteenth novel, Dinosaur Lake, offering it at an attractively low price through Kindle.
"Sort of like a bait hook," she explained, "to lure people to my other books."
Dinosaur Lake is about a ferociously clever and hungry mutant dinosaur that lives in Crater Lake, Oregon and the park ranger that, with the help of his loving reporter wife and friends, has to fight the bloodthirsty creature. It’s a blend of science fiction, romance and horror.
" Hopefully, after the last of my old 14 novels are rereleased on July 1, I can finish the book and get it out there. Funny thing about this particular novel is it was supposed to originally have been a 1994 Zebra paperback (called, of all things, Predator, a title I hated for obvious reasons…and it had a boring cover of an empty boat on a lake) but when I lost my editor at Zebra in 1994 the new editor (stupidly, I angrily thought at the time) dumped it six weeks before it was to go to the book shelves–after all the covers had been printed and editing had been done–saying: No one wants to read about a dinosaur. What? Because a few months later the Jurassic Park book came out and did quite well. At the time I’d thought that the dinosaur book was my best one so far. My breakout bestseller. I believed in it. When it was so unceremoniously cut, disgusted and hurt, I stuck the manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it. Until now. Strange thing is the old Predator book (which never came out) still exists in the computers of the World Wide Web like some ghost book that won’t die. I always laugh when I see it, or someone asks where they can get it, because, really, it never came out. Now it will."
About the Author: Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha and live cat Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
Find the author online at:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)