The premise of my column “Revelations” is a reflection on fiction I encountered during a specific time in my career; fiction which changed the way I thought about horror, or influenced me in some way. The column has wandered from contemporary writers to masters of the genre, and it will at times wander off the “horror map” and into that hazy borderland of “speculative fiction.”
An author I’ll eventually feature is speculative fiction writer T. L. Hines, and how he shaped my thoughts about speculative fiction, most especially in terms of flawed characters, and how those flaws made those characters stronger. Today, however, I’m writing about Tony’s current project, and that’s his indie effort to bring his first novel, Waking Lazarus, to cinema life.
A bit about Waking Lazarus itself. First of all, a snapshot synopsis:
Jude Allman has died and come back to life three times, becoming a celebrity against his own wishes. When the world crushes in around this unlikely miracle man, this modern-day Lazarus, he escapes into the vastness of Montana. He changes his name and withdraws from the public eye, trying to forget all that came before. But the past, like Jude, won’t stay buried. A prowling evil circles his adopted hometown of Red Lodge, Montana. Children are disappearing, and Jude may have the key to solving the crimes—hidden inside the mysteries of his own deaths. His days of hiding are over, and now he must face the questions that have haunted him for years. What if his resurrections aren’t just accidents? What if there’s a reason behind it all? What if he’s been brought back just for this moment?
Waking Lazarus debuted about a year before I sold my first short story. At that point, I still wasn’t sure where to submit my work. As a man of faith, I thought maybe I was obligated to seek publication in the CBA (Christian Bookseller Association). I cut my review chops in the CBA, reading and reviewing Christian fiction exclusively for almost a year. Suffice to say, at the end of that year, I didn’t feel as if the CBA was the place for me. Without going into why, I just really didn’t enjoy the fiction most CBA writers produced.
Waking Lazarus, by some guy named T. L. Hines, proved the exception. It’s fair to say that Tony’s work blazed a path in the CBA for speculative fiction that didn’t require Scripture notes at the end, or had to adhere to strict “doctrinal” guidelines. In your interactions with Tony, you got the sense you were talking to a rare breed amongst CBA writers (sorry, CBA), in that he was an artist first. His concern was creation itself. He wanted to tell an engaging story through compelling characters readers could relate to. Any “morality” or “message” came through the characters and their struggles, not an agenda.
Readers and critics agreed. It was selected as one of the “25 Best Genre Novels of 2006” by the editors of Library Journal. I’ll save my reflection on his novels for a future column of “Revelations.” For now, I’d like to chat a bit about what made Tony so different, which is part of what makes his effort to bring Waking Lazarus to the big screen so unique and special.
When I was a bit younger, with a lot more stars in my eyes, Tony proved to be open, generous with his time and advice, and even better, he really interacted with his readers. I remember fondly a nice space of time when he and visitors to his website interacted, talking about whatever crossed their minds. Imagine my delight to discover he was a fellow fan of the Well World series, by Jack L. Chalker!
What also made Tony unique was his proactive approach in the early days of social media marketing. As a marketing professional himself, Tony knew that word of mouth and getting people into spreading the word about your product was key. I’m happy to say that I was a member of his “street team” for Waking Lazarus, before every author in the world had a “street team.” The thing that made it work, however, (in addition to a great product) was Tony’s willingness to put his money where his mouth was. Literally. He set up several contests among his readers to spread bookmarks, business cards, to face out his books in bookstores, call booksellers to stock this books, and anything else readers could think of. He came up with a point system, and then awarded the top five cash prizes—substantial ones—from his own royalties.
He wasn’t just proactive about promoting his own work through the internet, however. Before blog tours were a thing, he organized a blog tour network which would post about recently released books, and, back when Technorati still rated books, learned how to use that book tour to push books up in ratings. He ended up handing this blog tour off to someone else who grew the network to twice its size, but if it hadn’t been for him, it never would’ve existed in the first place. I can’t say for sure his blog tour was the first of its kind, but I’d never heard of them before his.
After his last novel, The Falling Away, Tony—much to the lament of his readers (this one in particular)—decided he didn’t have any novels left to write. He took a break from social media, and spent time with his family. Nine years later, however, he realized something very important. While he didn’t feel the desire to write novels anymore…he still wanted to tell stories, he wanted to create.
Waking Lazarus, The Movie—a work of “quiet, atmospheric” horror—was born.
He’s bringing the same unique approaches to the fundraising for Waking Lazarus that he brought to the novel. The Kickstarter for the movie is live, and as all Kickstarters, he’s offering perks. Some of the perks are pretty standard. $5 gets your name added to the “Lazarus League” of supporters on the website and Facebook page. $10 gets your name added to the credits, under the category of “Dreamer.”
At $25, however, things get interesting. You can actually become part of the movie itself. A key component of the movie are the “spirit whispers” Jude Allman hears in visions and dreams, secrets the dead whisper to him. At this level, you can record your voice and your whispered secret, and it’ll be added to the chorus of whispers Jude hears in his dreams.
$50 gets everything already mentioned, plus access to actual film brainstorming. $100 gets everything, plus an invite to private online viewing with cast and crew. For $250 (limited 5 spots, and 3 are already taken), you’ll get all the other tiers, PLUS have a hand in editing the ACTUAL film, with Associate Editor credit.
There are two $250 and above tier rewards, both also limited to 5 spaces. The first is the chance to record various sound effects for the film—footsteps, grunts, groans, and more—with an Associate Sound Designer credit. The second $250 and above reward involves props. Pick a prop—any prop—and mail it to the production crew. They’ll work to get it into the movie, somehow.
The $500 or above gets everything, plus a hand in production. On-set if you’re local, or virtually if not. This is limited to 3 backers. The highest tier, $1000 or more, everything listed—and anything else you ask for as reward—within reason. This is also limited to 3 backers.
Tony’s also been very detailed in breaking down the budget. There’s no mystery where the money is going.
As of this writing, Waking Lazarus—The Movie is very near it’s goal. This is a chance to help support indie horror cinema, and literally have a hand in the process. Also, be sure to “Like” the movie’s Facebook page for private invites to “watch parties” for cast and crew interviews, for trailers, and the first 25 minutes of the movie.
Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through, was published November 2013, and his most recent short story collection, Things You Need, was released September, 2018. He’s currently working on his first novel. For free monthly fiction, book reviews, YouTube commentaries, and three free ebooks, visit www.kevinlucia.blogspot.com and sign up for his monthly email newsletter.