My Books



“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on Amazon.com 

All books available in paperback and as e-books from major online bookstores.
See below on the right-hand side of this page for specific links to sellers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Going for Cover

Despite the old aphorism, plenty of people apparently do judge books by their covers. Experts in marketing tell us that a book’s cover is one of the major determinants as to whether browsers will buy or move on. What exactly makes a good cover, though? That’s harder to nail down. Like so many things, I suppose it comes down to the eye of the beholder.


All the covers of my Dallas Green trilogy have featured photographs I took myself in the 1970s. Lautaro’s Spear has a photo I shot of Place de la Victoire in Bordeaux in 1973. On the back of that book is a photo that was not shot in the 1970s. It is the famous sign at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

In the case of the front of Searching of Cunégonde, I snapped the photo on the cover (seen to the left), looking past the Palais de Chaillot (where the Cinémathèque Française was then located) toward the Eiffel Tower, on a rainy autumn day in 1973. When coming up with a cover design, I actually tried in vain to find a different Paris photo than that one because the Eiffel Tower is such a Paris cliché. In the end, though, it turned out to be the best one I had to work with and certainly the one most relevant to the novel’s story. To the extent I have had feedback on it, people seem to like it.


On the back cover of Cunégonde (seen to the right), there is another photo. That one is of a fountain snapped at the Cerro Santa Lucía park in Santiago, Chile, in July of 1977. (The original photo can be seen below on the right.) Its inclusion in the ostensibly final Dallas Green book completes a somewhat circuitous circle. Attentive readers may recall that this fountain was described as being on a postcard sent to Dallas by his friend Antonio in the final chapter of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. In Chapter 8 of Searching for Cunégonde, Dallas has a frisson of recognition upon realizing he is gazing at the very same fountain a decade later.

Because of its significance in the story, I originally selected that photo for the cover of Max & Carly. At that point my intention was to publish that book solely as an e–book, and that photo was indeed on the original front cover of the Kindle version. Looking back on it now, it is interesting but also kind of embarrassing.


Over the first couple of months after Max & Carly’s release, I learned, contrary to my original assumption, there actually was a demand for a paperback version, so I set about producing one. In the process, I also came to realize that my very Gothic-looking cover (seen to the left) was not at all suitable for a printing press. It was too dark and murky and a real problem for mixing ink in the real (non-digital) world. So I had to come up with a whole new cover.

The new design that I came up with was based on a photo I took in the extremely arid Atacama Desert around the same time I had shot the Cerro Santa Lucía photo. That was essentially a cheat since the Atacama Desert did not figure in Max & Carly. It was meant to stand in for the Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico—a place where I have never taken any photos.


For consistency I also put the new cover on the e–book version. That meant the original dark, murky cover with the fountain was consigned to history—almost. Anyone who downloaded the Max & Carly e–book during the first several weeks after its release and who has never re-downloaded it since then would still have the original cover. Apart from that and in a couple of posts on this blog, however, there is only one way that cover still lives on.

Online sellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble had no problem with me uploading a new cover to an already existing and selling book. The Goodreads social-media book-lovers site, on the other hand, was not so flexible. Once you upload a cover for a specific version of a specific title to Goodreads, that’s it. There’s no changing it—ever.

So to this day, if you look up the e–book version of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, on Goodreads, you will still see the original creepy cover. Kind of like an eerie old ghoul that refuses to die.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Eternal Quest

So, Scott, what’s your book about?

That’s a reasonable question to address on a blog that is meant to be a means of communication between myself and readers. It is also a tricky question that is all-too-easy to over-complicate. I have a problem with genres, so I don’t have a quick, pat answer, like “It’s a murder mystery” or “It’s an espionage thriller” or “It’s an erotic romance.” I suppose the honest answer is that, like all my books, Searching for Cunégonde is the tale of a quest.

The fantasy books (The Three Towers of Afranor and The Curse of Septimus Bridge, as well as the coming Septimus sequel) are overtly and literally about quests, but so are the Dallas books, though perhaps a bit less obviously. The pretext for Dallas and Lonnie’s adventures in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead is a quixotic quest to find a lost friend. In Lautaro’s Spear, Dallas’s near-obsession with finding another lost friend—actually, in a way, two lost friends—is the thread connecting his adventures and travels in that book. Indeed, that book ends with our hero resolving anew to get serious about finding the missing Antonio, so it should be no surprise that quest is a key part of Searching for Cunégonde. Of course, the very title of that book signals most definitely it is about a quest. The most obvious search is the one for Antonio, but there is some other searching going on as well.

Is that vague enough for you? In discussing my books, I always find myself torn between wanting to discuss what actually happens in the story and not wanting to spoil any of it for people who might actually read the book. When I was a kid, a typical account to a friend of a movie I had just seen would run something like: “First this thing happened, and then that thing happened, and there was this neat bit where this cool thing happened, and then another really cool thing happened, and in the end it turned out he was actually dressing up as his mother.” Obviously, that kind of “review” no longer cuts it. Not only are there a lot of people out there sensitive about spoilers, but such gushing of information gives the recipient little idea of the true character of the work. Furthermore, I’ve tried to include a few surprises for people who have read the previous books.

In the end, I am happy enough if people find the books entertaining. That’s mainly what I’ve gone for. “Scott’s books are Fun,” wrote one old friend on Facebook to another old friend, and that was really the best thing I could hear or read. (I particularly liked that she capitalized the F in Fun.) Beyond that, if readers find something profound in them, well, that’s good to hear too. There are actually ideas behind the story, though the ideas are meant to serve the story rather than the other way around.

Ideas? What ideas?

I think I have mentioned before that, early on, my idea for a book was to have Tommy Dowd as the main character. The theme there would have been the need for passionate dreams, the exhilaration in striving for them and their eventual, seemingly inevitable failure. That idea is still there in the Dallas books, but it is more of a background theme.

The main theme is one that became more interesting to me as I grew older, thought back on my earlier days, and observed younger people around me. It has to do with the intense friendships that young men form—friendships that sometimes have the intensity of love affairs. Those are extremely important in adolescence and young adulthood, but like many idealistic passions, eventually they have nowhere to go—at least in the case of straight guys. Yes, the Dallas books are not only very male-centric, but they are also hetero-centric. I make no claim that Dallas’s story is by any means universal. Anyway, at some point those intense male friendships become secondary to one’s relationships with women and forming families. Or they don’t.

After exploring young male friendships in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and thinking I was done with that and with Dallas, I was convinced to continue his story. Fine, but it wouldn’t have been much of a story if he simply got married and went to work every day for the next forty-five years. Sure, it could have been a good story, maybe like George Bailey’s in It’s a Wonderful Life, but that wasn’t really ever going to be Dallas’s story. For one thing it would have broken the unwritten rule about sequels. For another, there was another theme that interested me. It was the way a certain segment of the Baby Boom generation has experienced an adulthood so entirely different from their parents’. It is reminiscent of the generational change in early 19th century France called the mal de siècle. It had to do with how the youth of the Romantic period felt they had missed out in the great and glorious causes of their parents’ time in the Napoleonic Wars. Didn’t this parallel the Baby Boomers’ rootlessness after their parents, the Greatest Generation, had saved the world from Nazis and authoritarianism?

Dallas’s lot is like that of many of us. He moves from a small town to a city. Unlike his parents and many of his friends, he does not get married young. He drifts away from his early religious training. There is no “settling down” or starting a family. His relationships are transitory. In his particular case, he is haunted by the one relationship he could always count on but is now gone forever and cannot be replicated. It is probably no accident that his life has a faint echo of the Lost Generation of early-20th-century literary fame. If his time in Paris reminds you a little bit of A Moveable Feast or his travels punctuated by drinking sessions are a tad reminiscent of The Sun Also Rises, well, I’m the first to admit I’ve always been heavily influenced by Hemingway.

Sorry, I really don’t mean to sound like I’m comparing myself to one of the great American writers of all time. In fact, forget I said all that. All I want you to bear in mind about the Dallas books is that reading them might provide you with a bit of fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Three’s Company

“I read the whole thing and I could not stop. Best work of the trilogy, so tight with the right amount of suspense. Lovely twist at the end. So many characters, so many places…”

Those ego-massaging words came from one of my beta readers for Searching for Cunégonde, and needless to say, they were most encouraging and welcome. But do they beg the question?

Answer: no, they don’t. At least not in the original meaning of the phrase, which entered the English language in the 16th century when an anonymous translator rendered Aristotle’s petitio principii as “beg the question.” The Greek philosopher’s actual meaning was closer to “assume the conclusion.” A true example of begging the question (courtesy of Merriam-Webster) is: “If left to themselves, children will naturally do the right thing because people are intrinsically good.” If you think about it, the logic in that assertion is circular. It is basically saying, “A” is true because “A” is true. This is very different from how most people these days use “beg the question.” What they actually mean is to raise or prompt a question. Sorry to get all pedantic, but this is something that has bugged me for a long time for some reason.

To get back to the original point, yes, “best work of the trilogy” does raise a question. Are the three Dallas Green books (Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, Lautaro’s Spear and Searching for Cunégonde) really a trilogy? Since I have more time these days to pore over onomasticons, let us consult the Oxford English Dictionary. First up from the OED, based on references from the 19th century: “Ancient Greek History. A series of three tragedies (originally connected in subject), performed at Athens at the festival of Dionysus.” Secondly, from 17th and 19th-century sources: “Any series or group of three related dramatic or other literary works.” So, yes, my trio of novels appears to qualify as a trilogy.

I actually addressed the question on this blog three years ago. At that time I clarified that the yet-to-be-titled Lautaro’s Spear (which I then jokingly referred to as Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead: Part 2) and still-a-glint-in-my-brain Searching for Cunégonde did indeed qualify as sequels but were not a series. In other words, they are meant to be independent and self-contained, even while all dealing with the overall narrative of Dallas’s life. I then pronounced that those three books plus any more that I might write, apart from the fantasy novels, all belong to a grand “novel sequence” à la Honoré de Balzac and his La Comédie humaine.

By accepting that the three tomes are a trilogy, am I signaling that there will be no more Dallas books? Well, if any other books I write are to be part of my novel sequence, won’t they be technically be Dallas books since they take place in a world where he exists—even if he does not actually make an appearance?

There are two things I can tell you for pretty sure, which may clarify things.

Firstly, I don’t expect the three books to be offered together at any point in a box set in the manner of, say, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. For one thing, I don’t even know how to go about organizing that, and frankly, I don’t have much interest. I prefer that each book stand on its own independently, even though reading them all will hopefully be a richer experience. Side note: you can actually make a case that The Lord of the Rings is not a trilogy since it was written as a continuous single work and was only divided into three books because of the printing-press limitations of its era. Additional side note: I have been known to jokingly refer to Searching for Cunégonde as The Return of the King.

Secondly, at this time I have zero intention of writing any other books in which Dallas is the narrator. I was never keen on having a first-person narrator but convinced myself I had to do it with Max & Carly because I was consciously inspired by the first-person-narrated picaresque nature of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If I had it to do over now, I would probably listen to a certain prescient character in Cunégonde and emulate instead François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, and his novel Candide. But once the first book was written in first person and once I committed to writing one and then two sequels, I was caught. It’s been my own perverse punishment, and only adds to the notion that the books are some kind of roman-à-clef autobiography. So no more.

We may well (or not) learn more of Dallas’s life in other books, but not through his words or point of view. Characters we met through him may turn up in other books but as described by an anonymous narrator. We may get news about him from other characters. He might even turn up in person so that we may see him through someone else’s eyes. We will not, though, be seeing him through his own words.

Unless I change my mind.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Cunégonde Found

Today is the day.

This is the official publication date of Searching for Cunégonde. One thing I have learned about publishing books, though, is that the release does not happen in one big climactic big bang where “the book” is available everywhere at once. The fact is that there are multiple versions of the book and multiple sellers. As much as I try to coordinate things to happen, more or less, all at once, things happen when they happen.


In any event, by the time you read this Searching for Cunégonde should be available in any format you want it from all of the major sellers. As always with my books, the only places to buy it are on your internet-connected device. That is true of digital books (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play) by definition, but it is also true of the paperback version. Your local bookstore won’t have it, as much as I would love for your local bookstore to stock it. Even large bookstores won’t have it. If you go to Barnes and Noble, they will actually tell you to go home and order it on your computer. That is just the economics of the bookselling business. The good news for you, though, is that by not pricing the book (inevitably in vain) to be more attractive to brick-and-mortar retailers, it is possible to keep the sale price of the book a bit lower.

The obvious places to order the paperback are Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million, but there are other sellers out there as well. Usually, the titles show up sooner or later on the online sites of places like Walmart. Plainly, it’s safer to buy from sellers that are well-known and have a good reputation. Definitely avoid the dodgy websites that claim to have the book for “free” as long as you supply your credit card information for a “membership.”

If you take a look at the right-hand side of this page, you will find a whole bunch links, hopefully organized in coherent way, that will lead you to the seller of your choice and the book format of your choice and maybe even in the country of your choice.


As I mentioned before, Searching for Cunégonde is available from a number of sellers of digital books, including Barnes and Noble’s Nook store, as well as Kobo, Google Play and even Apple’s iBooks. That is in contrast to my last book, The Curse of Septimus Bridge, which was available exclusively in Amazon’s Kindle store. The tradeoff was that subscribers to Kindle Unlimited could read the book for “free,” but people wanting to read it as an ebook could only get it from Amazon. I have now removed Septimus from Kindle Unlimited, and it too is now available from other online digital books sellers.

Once again, my big release announcement seems to be all about how to buy the book when what I really want to do is talk about the book. So, let’s talk about it. As you know, it is called Searching for Cunégonde, and it’s a sequel to both Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and Lautaro’s Spear. The first questions that may come to your mind may be things like, who is Cunégonde, who is searching for her and why? Well, the first question is easy enough. A quick web search (you know, searching for “Cunégonde”) will reveal that she is a character from 18th-century French literature. Unlike Maximilian, Carlotta and Lautaro, she is fictional. As for the rest of it, you’re probably better off reading the book (mine, I mean).

As you would expect, this novel continues the adventures of young Dallas Green, although he isn’t all that young anymore. By the end, he is beginning his fifth decade. (They grow up so fast.) A good portion of the book, which does some time-jumping, covers further misadventures in his twenties. Even when he hits forty, he may be older, but he is not necessarily wiser.

If you’ve read the other books, then you will have questions. What happens to Dallas and Ángel in Chile? Does Dallas find his missing friend Antonio? Does Dallas ever see Valérie again or, for that matter, any of the other women in his life? What friends will wander back into his life, and which ones will shuffle off never to be seen again? Will our boy find love and settle down? Or will he find worse ways to get in trouble? You have 368 pages in which to find out.

Keep checking back here, as I’m not finished discussing this book by a long shot.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Searching for Dallas

It’s nearly here. The adventures of Dallas Green will continue in my new novel Searching for Cunégonde, which will be released officially on Tuesday. Coincidentally (or not), that happens to be exactly two years after the release of my previous book about Dallas, Lautaro’s Spear.


Less remarkably, that’s six years and 117 days after the release of Dallas’s debut in the Kindle version of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. What’s remarkable is that I not only managed to get this book done a mere two years after the last installment but that I actually wrote a whole other book in between. You do remember The Curse of Septimus Bridge, don’t you?

If you want the paperback version, I see that it is already available for pre-order on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. A quick check reveals that it also shows up on the Canadian and UK Amazon sites and even on the French one (under “Livres anglais et étrangers,” bien sûr).

You cannot pre-order the digital versions, but they should appear on the various online bookseller websites on or around Tuesday. That includes Amazon’s Kindle store, although this time around I am planning to make the digital editions also available through as many other sellers as possible rather selling it exclusively through the Kindle store. Check back here for more information as more sellers have it listed.

Okay, enough about how and when to buy the book. So what’s the book about?

If you’ve read the previous two books, then you already have a fair idea. If you haven’t, well, where do I begin? In a nutshell, these are the picaresque adventures of a small-town boy wandering the world, getting into trouble, falling in love, making and losing friends, achieving the occasional victory, and suffering sporadic defeats. The action ranges from California’s San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area to South America and Europe. If you have not met our hero Dallas Green before, I think you’ll get up to speed pretty quick. If you’ve been along for his whole journey, then you’ll be interested to know that this book picks up (eventually) where the last one left off, as Dallas and his friend Ángel head to Chile to see if they can figure out what happened to Dallas’s long-missing friend Antonio.

As with the other two tomes, this one has its share of bad behavior, poor judgment, drinking, male bonding, and potentially catastrophic predicaments. And perhaps more than the other books, this one has a bit more romance. Some of the people we met before are back, and there are new characters to become acquainted with. Not everyone survives, and the ghosts of those didn’t sometimes linger—not least Dallas’s closest friend in the world Lonnie McKay, who was cut down in the prime of life.

Is this the end of Dallas’s journey? I’ve learned to never say never, but it feels as though it is. At least as far as readers are concerned. He will continue to live and have adventures forever if only in my own imagination. Rest assured, even if we do not read about any further adventures, he will still be out there somewhere getting himself into all kinds of trouble.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Scandi Book Bonanza

The wait is nearly over. As of this writing, the official release of the third Dallas Green novel—the sequel to Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and Lautaro’s Spear—is slightly less than a week away. I will have much more to say about that in the coming days, but in the meantime I want to tell you about someone else’s books, which are also coming out in the very near future.

Danish author Claes Johansen is a tireless writer. I get exhausted just watching the volume of his output. If you a regular reader of this blog, you may remember when I wrote four years ago about his non-fiction historical tome Hitler’s Nordic Ally?: Finland and the Total War 1939-45. In that book he coherently explained the complicated situation in which Finland found itself before, during and after World War II and how it all played out. Originally written in Danish (Finland og den totale krig, published in 2013), the book was translated into English by the author himself. There are not many authors who would attempt that, but Johansen has lived many years in England and Ireland, and his mastery of English is impeccable, so he is in a unique position to do his own translating.

He now has three more English-language editions of his books—which he also translated himself—coming out in the next week or so, following one that was released in June. It is not an exaggeration to say there is something for everybody among their number. All four are or will be available in digital format from Amazon’s various international Kindle stores, from Rakuten Kobo, from Google and no doubt from other fine online sellers.

I have read all of them, and this is what I can tell you about them.


The Doubter
(available September 30): Needless to say, I took to this story immediately since it happens to fall squarely into my own wheelhouse of narratives about aimless 20th-century youth. The novel opens in December 1979 as our hero Thomas, the aptly named twentysomething doubter of the title, returns home to Copenhagen from an irresponsibly unplanned and surprisingly eventful sojourn in London. The story switches between Thomas’s time in England and his subsequent reacquaintance with his own country, family and friends. Through his eyes we experience the Denmark’s educational system, as the protagonist takes a teaching job, and life in its army due to compulsory military service. As we learn about his family and childhood, we get a critique of Danish society at the time with many people stuck in a lingering Hippie mindset. The real treat is getting the author’s insights and observations of the era’s music scene. The backdrop for the London episodes is the Mod Revival, harkening back to the 1960s swinging subculture. The film version of the Who’s Quadrophenia is invoked, as it was being filmed at the time. Johansen has an uncanny knack for capturing the speech of young Englishmen that makes the story feel very real. As Thomas joins a band in England and then in Denmark, we get plenty of young male bonding, and inevitably, there is also a girl. Personally, I enjoyed the author’s observations of how Danes view Swedes during a bicycle excursion across the strait between the two countries. Depending on one’s age and personal experiences, this book can make one feel very nostalgic.


The Boatman and the Boy
(available October 2): This historical epic about war, inhumanity and retribution begs to be made into a movie. The story begins in the war zone of 1950s French Indochina. A wounded private in the French Foreign Legion reflects on the prospect that he may have finally found the man he has been hunting for years. Flashbacks fill in the story, as the narrative takes us back to the Jewish district of a village in Eastern Romania during the 1930s. The author’s thorough historical research makes us feel as though we are there, experiencing the shifting political and military situation that makes victims of the villagers in the ruthless struggle between Nazism and Communism. By the time we get to the tense resolution, we feel as if we have personally witnessed the Holocaust, the Second World War and the birth of Israel. Because of the subject matter, some sections can be difficult to read. Others, however, lift the soul with hope. In the end we inevitably see that violence tends to go round in cycles. The seriousness of the themes nearly make you feel guilty for enjoying the adventure/thriller aspects.


Anita’s Homecoming
(available October 2): A different sort of espionage thriller, this novel draws on Johansen’s own knowledge of his country’s recent history. Anita is a former member of the Resistance during Denmark’s occupation by the Germans. Now that the war is over, she is based in London and has become an agent for British intelligence. She returns to Copenhagen for what seems like a straightforward assignment, but she is not fully prepared for the duplicity in Danish post-war politics or the ghosts, living or otherwise, of her former comrades. The story is an entertaining page-turner, but it also provides a pretext for the author to make his own cynical comments about the state of Denmark during and after the war. As Anita’s situation becomes unexpectedly more dire, we find ourselves invested in her fate and her survival. In a particularly nice touch, her survival may hang on something as simple as a linguistic misunderstanding.


Nicola and the Child Correction Centre
(available now): Johansen also writes for younger readers, and this magical adventure story exhibits plenty of the darkness we associate with Scandinavian literature. Young Nicola might have been oblivious to the fact that she lives in a dystopian society but for the fact that she inadvertently learns about the Child Correction Centre. Once she does, though, she cannot let go of the mystery, and her pursuit of it could well be the end of her. Even if it is, though, perhaps the end may only be the beginning. I defy any reader to figure out exactly where plucky Nicola’s nose for enigma-solving and putting wrong to right will lead her. Rest assured things will definitely not be all sweetness and light along the way.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Vampire’s Father

Since this is a book blog, every once in a while I try to make a point to write about a book. I mean, other than the one I am currently writing.

It takes forever for me to actually finish reading a book because, well, I spend a lot of my time trying to write them. Also, I have a habit of reading several books at the same time. Well, not literally at the same time but over the same period of time. I will switch from one to the other and back again, depending on my frame of mind. This draws out the time needed to finish reading—kind of like downloading multiple files at the same time.

Anyway, I managed to finish one recently. In fact, I read two, both by Joseph Caldwell. Last year his memoir In the Shadow of the Bridge was published. If you’re not familiar with him, he is a New York-based playwright and novelist. He seems to be best known for the so-called Pig Trilogy, a series of humorous mysteries featuring a crime-solving pig, but that is not why I was interested in reading his life story. It had to do with a television show for which he did some writing in the 1960s. I’ll give you three guesses which one, but if you’re a regular reader of my movie blog, then you get only one guess.

Yes, he was one of several writers who worked on Dan Curtis’s Dark Shadows and, as it happens, a rather crucial one in terms of the development of the series. In a bid to save the show from sinking ratings, he and Ron Sproat were tasked with coming up with “a vampire for the kids for the summer” in what was meant to be a temporary plotline. The result was Barnabas Collins, and the rest is history.

Despite the never-ending fan interest in Dark Shadows to this day, there really aren’t that many biographies out there by or about people who were involved with the show. I have written about R.J. Jamison’s Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow and Big Lou: The Life and Career of Actor Louis Edmonds on my movie blog, and interestingly, my review of that latter book has consistently been one of the biggest magnets for page hits on my website for the past decade. Caldwell’s tome is the first one I have come across by one of the writers.

In the grand scheme of things, Caldwell’s work on soap operas (he also wrote for Love of Life and Secret Storm) takes up less than a chapter of his book. Mostly, he concentrates on his life as an oft-struggling writer from Milwaukee in New York. The bridge of the title is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the tenement in which he lived in 1959 (when the story begins) was angled against the span. His narrative is punctuated by two fateful encounters on the bridge with one William Gale Gedney. The book’s arc is dominated by the two men’s relationship, and the author’s lifelong, mainly one-sided attachment to Bill. It’s a touching story of devotion and a glimpse into the bohemian writer’s life in mid-20th-century New York. Early on, his close circle of friends included James Baldwin, whom he knew as Jimmy. It is also an interesting self-portrait of a gay man who steadfastly remained Catholic even when rejected by the official church.

For a Dark Shadows fan, it is like being a kid in a candy shop to get the story first-hand of how Caldwell and Sproat concocted the idea of Barnabas over dry bourbon Manhattans in a gay bar on West 23rd Street and how they used their own experience as gay men to inform the vampire’s tortured “exclusion from the human family, the prohibited fulfillment of shared love.” It was something of a shock to read Caldwell’s assertion that producer Dan Curtis was “a committed homophobe,” given that the man employed so many gay artists. In Caldwell’s telling, though, Curtis was simply clueless about the true diversity of his cast and crew.

In reading about his first novel, In Such Dark Places, published in 1978, I became curious to the point of acquiring a copy. It is about a young man from a small town who moves to the city and becomes a photographer. He gets mixed up with a boy living by his wits on the street. In the thick of writing my third book about Dallas Green, I had to wonder if Caldwell and I had somehow written the same story. His novel is an interesting read, and it was somewhat a relief to find it actually had little in common with either Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead or Lautaro’s Spear. Still, I suppose parallels are there if you want to look for them. For one thing, Caldwell’s Catholicism is very present as are various Hispanic characters, and for another, the protagonist Eugene does go on a quest in search of the missing boy. In the end, it is the story of a young man trying to find his way in a world that often seems strange to him. Hmm… maybe there are more similarities than were first apparent. If so, they only flatter me.

Despite the presence of the word “dark” in the title (and “shadow” in the memoir’s title), readers perusing the novel for links or commonalities with Dark Shadows won’t find many—other than the gay protagonist’s aforementioned “exclusion from the human family.” Well, there is one possibly overt DS nod. The boy’s surname is Stokes, which figures notably in DS lore, and his first name is David, which was also the name of both the child actor (Henesy) and his character (Collins) who figured prominently in the series.

Speaking of Dallas, rest assured that the third installment of his story will be available Real Soon Now. Watch this space.