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  • Bryan W. Alaspa

OK - So what the hell is Storyland?

You may have seen the announcement that my new novel, Storyland, is available for Kindle pre-order as well as in print. Both of them are at a special price for you early-birds. Technically, the official publication date is Halloween 2017 (October 31), but through various means, even you print folks can get early copies at a low, low price. OK - sales pitch is over...

What is Storyland?

Storyland isn't quite like anything I have written before. It's my first real attempt to write a psychological suspense novel. The closest to my other work that it comes to is probably TEXT, but even that had a true supernatural bent to it.

What is psychological suspense?

What the hell does a "psychological suspense" or "psychological thriller" actually mean? Well, it means that it messes with your mind. Storyland definitely does that. Often these types of novels do not have a reliable narrator, present things that are both real and not real. It leaves you wondering if what you are reading is actually happening. It creeps up on you and doesn't just jump out and yell BOO! I have written a few of those, but this is not one of them. Psychological horror, thrillers and suspense sneaks up on you, creeps you out, makes you jump at shadows.

What is Storyland about?

Storyland started its life in my brain as a novel called The Portal. I wanted to explore the idea of where stories and creative types get their inspiration. I have often stated that I feel the stories I write tell themselves to me, rather than my just conjuring them out of my brain. I still feel that way. It made me wonder - what if there was an actual place where the stories lived? Where the characters carried on with their lives? What if what I really had was a portal in my brain that allowed me to peer into that world and just report on what I saw?

So, it started down a supernatural bent. However, I have written so many books that deal with alternate realities, that things began to change as I developed the story. I have to admit, reading psychological thrillers such as Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts also influenced me to explore other aspects of this story. It changed.

Storyland tells the tale of a man who sudden hears that his famous, but reclusive, childhood friend has, inexplicably, brutally murdered four people with a machete! Our narrator, Ned, feels compelled to head back to his small home town and be near the action, try and find out what happened. His friend, Martin's, psychiatrist asks if he can speak to him to try and get a better understanding of what Martin's childhood was like. It turns out, Ned has buried a lot of his memories from his time with Martin over the years.

Martin and Ned played a role-playing game called Storyland. Martin was convinced it was a real place and that they battled an evil entity he named Grool. That Grool had faces in many areas, dimensions, and people. At the same time, a new kid, named Billy, comes to town and the bullying starts. Then Billy vanishes.

Ned soon realizes that crime is somehow connected to the brutal murders Martin committed in the woods. But why? What happened? Why can't he remember? Is Storyland real? What, really, is madness and what is imagination?

Storyland explores these themes, all the while, the tension and suspense building until the explosive and shocking ending!

Is it true Storyland was rejected by numerous agents & publishers?

Indeed it was. I didn't get feedback from a lot of them, but the ones I did, told me it was a gripping and intense thriller, but that the ending was way too dark. One agents said it was too "gritty" and not for them.

At the same time, some of my Advanced (or Beta) Readers had given me feedback saying they loved the story. I was told it grabbed them from the first few pages and the story drew them in. They said the ending surprised them - but in different ways. I was even told by one who claimed to have been the type who usually figured out the ending of books, that this one kept them guessing all the way through.

Why self-publish?

Well, I started Guffawing Dog Publishing as my own publishing house a while ago. I have run across this sort of problem before. A lot of my fiction tends to cross over various genres and that makes them a hard sell for agents and publishers who like to have things in nice, neat boxes when marketing them. I say I write thrillers, suspense and horror, but they want things absolute. My books tend to cross into mystery, sci-fi and other areas.

So - thanks to Amazon and other more legit self-publishing options these days, I created Guffawing Dog Publishing. You will notice, if you check out my Amazon store, that a lot of my stuff is published through that. It's just easier. Yes, getting a big publishing contract, an agent, and other standard publishing deals would lead me to bigger pay-offs, paychecks, and probably allow me to write books full time. However, I will not compromise the work that comes to me. The flow of stories has been constant for me for years, and I will not abuse that by forcing it to write books or stories about vampires or zombies unless it decides that's what it wants me to write about.

Given those personal standards means I am pretty much still on the outskirts of the publishing world. I am a cult favorite rather than a mass-seller. I have a very hardcore, dedicated group of fans and while spending the day writing about pests and plants for the day job chafes me - I would rather have that than compromise my art and my muse.

So - rather than change my vision for Storyland to fit some mold an agent or publisher had, I just decided to edit it based on Beta Reader feedback (Betas are fans, usually) and then put it out there myself.

What can you do to help?

Given that I am doing this myself means that my budget is severely limited. I am unlikely to get Storyland into bookstores (without your help). I am unlikely to have bookstore readings or signings. Self-publishers like me sell mostly online and we get the word out through our websites, blogs and social media.

In short - I need your help.

Please, share anything and everything you can with as many friends as possible about Storyland. Buy copies, read it, leave reviews. Share, share, share. Talk to your local library, independent bookstore - share on social media. I need Word of Mouth with this and all of my books.

I appreciate you stopping by. I hope you enjoy Storyland.

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