“Don’t Panic, I’m Not Gonna Preach” by Thomas Smith

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cemetery Dance will publish Thomas Smith’s Something Stirs on October 13, 2022. In this special guest essay, the author shares a behind-the-scenes look at the journey the novel took from its original publisher to its new home at Cemetery Dance.

cover of Something StirsIn October, Cemetery Dance will re-release my book, Something Stirs. And while it’s a big deal for me, the fact that they are releasing it is, in itself, not news. That’s their job. 

Their passion. 

They create books.

But this particular book is something a little different for them. Something Stirs was one of the first (if not THE first) haunted house novels written for the Christian market. The original publisher (I won’t name them because they did their best) loved the idea, bought the book, then didn’t know what to do with it. They even hired a company to make what was probably the first book trailer of its kind. It was literally a mini movie. So, they had the right idea. 

They just didn’t know that particular market.

It happens.

Skip forward to today.

It’s back. Looking great and slightly updated. It looks like a horror novel. It reads like a horror novel. But maybe not exactly the kind you normally read. (Cemetery Dance Ebook/Trade Paperback Editor) Kevin Lucia mentioned that he wanted to bring some books from the past back into print, and he even wanted to see some faith-based work.

So here we are.

But understand, I’m not here to preach. I’m here to deliver (I hope) a good story that everybody can enjoy. When I originally wrote the book, there were some things about Christian fiction that made me wince. Some of the characters were too good to be true. Many of them had problems, but not real-world problems. And too often in suspense and supernatural stories there was a lot of “We will put on the armor of God and go face the foe as our prayer warriors do battle on their knees to surround us by a hedge of prayer.” 


In my world (real and imagined), I’d be more likely to say, “OK, everybody get ready. We’re gonna pray, get our heads on straight, and go kick some undead ass. Now lock and load.” 

And while I couldn’t really do that in the original version, because the market was the market, I told the publisher that in my mind, there are three things Christian fiction should do: (1) Provide an uplifting story for those who don’t read outside the Christian market; (2) Stay true to the tenets of Christianity; and (3) Still provide the kind of story that will cause people who don’t believe like we do to finish the book and say, “OK, yeah. I’d read his/her stuff again.”

So that’s me. I am who I am, believe what I believe, and have no desire to cram my beliefs down anybody’s throat. Those of you who know me, know that already.

I have touched Something Stirs up a bit. Done a little updating/rewriting, but kept it true to the original. For those believers in the crowd, you’ll probably see a few things and say, “That’s right.”

Now, for those who don’t believe like I do. That’s OK too. Some of you know me too, and know that I’m not coming out here with an agenda. This is probably the most I’ll have to say about faith. (Unless you ask me first. Then I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. If I know.)

author Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith

Like I said earlier in the third point, I hope you enjoy the story. It has a late ’70s early ’80s creepiness (hey, that’s when I started all this, and it stuck with me) and if you speed read or skip the religious parts (though they’re not really prominent enough to hit you over the head), that’s OK. I get it. I just hope you dig the story.

But understand this. The Jesus I know doesn’t really line up with the bastardized version some people have had forced down their throats. You know, the one who points his finger and tells you how rotten you are. And he’s nothing like the version often used to make political points.


The one I know would say what he came to say, do what he came to do, and then hang out with everybody from religious leaders to the folks people looked away from when they passed by on the street. And he probably said something like this. “Hey, come with me. I think I smell fresh bread ready to come out of the tanur, and we don’t want to miss that. By the way, I heard a funny joke on the way here…” all the while letting every one of them know, regardless of who or what they were, that they were somebody important and that they were loved.

In short, he gave them hope.

So, I don’t say any of that to try to “pull you over to my side” if you’re not there already. It’s just the place where I’m coming from. It’s part of who I am. And that being the case, whether my characters are facing a house that wants them dead, a werewolf who wants them for a snack, or the Old Ones who just want everything, I never want to leave them without at least a little hope. Them or my readers. Regardless of who they are.

But enough of that. I think I smell fresh bread baking, and we don’t want to miss that. And hey, I’ve got this story about a not-so-nice house if you’re interested…


Ben Chalmers is a successful novelist. His wife, Rachel, is a fledgling artist with a promising career, and their daughter, Stacy, is the joy of their lives. Ben’s novels have made enough money for him to provide a dream home for his family. But there is a force at work-a dark, chilling, ruthless force that has become part of the very fabric of their new home.

A malevolent entity becomes trapped in the wood and stone of the house and it will do whatever it takes to find a way to complete its bloody transference to our world.

Local sheriff, Elizabeth Cantrell, and former pastor-turned-cabinetmaker, Jim Perry, are drawn into the family’s life as the entity manipulates the house with devastating results. And it won’t stop until it gets what it wants. Even if it costs them their faith, their sanity, and their lives.

Learn more at Cemetery Dance.

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