FEAR FACTORY began about 14 years ago. It was Halloween season, and I went to a so-called “extreme haunt” with a good friend. It turned out to be little more than a badly-painted haunted house where the not-so-skilled actors occasionally grabbed you. It was about as scary as finding a koala bear on your living room sofa, which is to say, not.
But in the long session of complaining that ensued afterward with my friend, I got an idea – what if there were a way to make scary experiences more visceral? More interactive? More real? And what if someone became trapped in such an experience? I toyed with the idea off and on, but I never quite cracked it. Until last year, when I saw the commercial above. (NOTE: I do not own the above content, nor am I making any money from it.)
BOOM. My first reaction was extreme disappointment that the place wasn’t open for business yet. My second was, “That’s the setting for my story.”
As a life-long fan of scary movies and video games, I’m always looking for a fresh angle. Something unique, and uniquely terrifying, that I’ve never seen before. (A tough challenge, because I’ve seen a lot and I’m pretty jaded. Seriously. Suggestions of really unusual, scary experiences are welcome.) But the idea of a virtual reality horror experience gone wrong – that was one I could sink my teeth into.
And so the FEAR FACTORY was born. I imagined a high-tech, virtual reality facility, created by an insane-genius video game designer, to test the limits of human terror. Each gaming experience is calibrated to the personal fears of each user, and 4D environmental effects are used to make the sights and sounds even more real – and more terrifying.
But the creator of the Factory wasn’t counting on Calvin being one of the facility’s beta testers. At age 11, young Calvin was locked in a toy chest and watched as his schizophrenic father committed suicide. For eight years, Calvin’s been torn between the guilt of being unable to save his dad, and the fear that he suffers from the same disease. When his older sister Hazel invites him to beta test the Fear Factory, she hopes it will help him overcome his issues. But the death of a fellow tester sends Calvin over the edge, and makes them all realize the game is real. And either they finish it, or die.
FEAR FACTORY is a 62,000-word video gaming/horror novel that examines how our fears define us, and whether it’s even possible to overcome them. It will appeal to fans of Stephen King, Ernest Cline, and anyone who ever wished they could walk through a David Lynch movie.
I have been writing scary stories since I was 10 years old. In 2001, I graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Film Production. I have sold and optioned screenplays to production companies, and my work has received accolades from the Big Break Contest, the Austin Film Festival, and the prestigious Nicholl Fellowships. I have also written articles for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Akron Beacon-Journal, and the textbook Elements of Literature. A few years back I even wrote and produced my own haunted house movie, an indie horror flick called FUGUE. It went to several film festivals, was selected Best Horror Film at the Mississippi International Film Festival, and eventually found distribution through GoDigital. The trailer can be seen here:
While I’ve written plenty of horror scripts, Fear Factory is my first scary novel. Take a tour, won’t you? �