So as of this week, my novel Fleshtrap has been out for a year. You know how the story goes: Casey Way has been haunted by visions of his dead pedophile father for the last twenty years, tormented by hazy recollections of his father’s murder at the hands of his stepmother. The trauma has left Casey burdened with guilt, which has manifested in debilitating insomnia and violent hallucinations. As the anniversary of his father’s murder approaches, his step-sister Mariska takes him back to the scene of the crime: their childhood home, to confront their past and finally get some closure. Instead, something follows Casey back out into the world, something ugly, violent, familiar.
Blah blah blah, that old chestnut.
The book I wrote between 2010 and 2011 in a fit of quarter-life nihilism has been out in the wild for a whole year now. Casey Way has been left to his own devices as I started work on four other books, finishing one and abandoning another along the way. He’s grown up and left me, living outside of me and the stories I’d planned for him, leaving this nostalgic little hole in my gut that I occasionally wax philosophically about if the mood strikes me.
And looking at it now, at how much has changed in that year, it’s a little strange.
I met a lot of people because of this book. In May I went to Texas Frightmare Weekend with the rest of the guys from Post Mortem Press. I’ve been on podcasts to talk about the book and had an interview on BookieMonster.com. I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with people who enjoyed the book; I’ve talked a lot about the nature of abuse, the duality of human nature, and how people can survive despite the weight of family history bearing down on them. It’s been rewarding, and in a lot of ways, it’s been cathartic to see something that I wrote at such a low point could resonate with people in ways I hadn’t even considered. To see that people could get something out of Casey’s story has made the blood, the sweat, and the tears — all the fear and loathing and panic that went into the book itself — worth it.
But this was my first book. Your first book is meant to be your training wheels. It’s the best you could do at the time that you did it, but it’s by no means all you have to give. I wrote it when I was 24 and 25; I’m now 28, going on 29. When I look at Fleshtrap, I see so little of myself in it now that it’s a bit strange to think even about. For a while I considered turning Casey’s story into a trilogy of books to explore similar themes and ideas, using Casey as kind of an unwitting bloodhound for the psychic scars left in the world. Think John Constantine, but with less swagger and attention to detail. I even started the second book last summer, just to see if I still had a horror book in me. After a year of seeing Fleshtrap out in the world, however, I figured out that I just didn’t. I don’t think I want to go back to that world. I don’t even think I could, really; Fleshtrap is so far removed from where I am now and the stories I want to tell. And that’s okay.
Fleshtrap was the book I wanted to write when I was 24 and 25. It was the exorcism I needed. Now that I’m older, Casey can be put to bed. It’s better this way, I think, for me and Casey both. In the time since I sent him out into the world, I finished the first book of my six-book superhero fiction series The Crashers. I’m currently shopping for a publisher while I work on the sequel, The Crashers, Volume Two: Koreatown. These are the stories I’m interested in, the characters that I care about putting out into the world. And if you liked Fleshtrap, I hope you’ll be back to check those books out, too.