Today’s feature is a YA fantasy by author Leonard Hilley II. Not only does he share about the first book of his Justin McKnight adventures, but he also tells a captivating story of how listening to that little warning voice can have a great impact on your life.
YA Fantasy, Adventure
A teenage boy vanishes inside an enchanted cave—Devils’ Den—that has long been rumored to be haunted. The local sheriff is baffled on how to continue the search and rescue when the only clues end at a mysterious wall inside the cave. Then an unexpected man shows up with an age-worn book that has disturbing revelations about identical phenomena that have occurred every twenty years for the past one hundred forty years. And according to the predictions set inside the book, they have little time to find the boy before he becomes the next victim.
Leonard D. Hilley II writes with a dark veracity, giving real life to a world slightly askew. There’s always a sense that something is lurking in the shadows, just beyond the ‘normal’ world.
–Paul Counelis, writer for Rue Morgue
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Interview With Leonard Hilley
When did you start writing, and what prompted you to write?
Words have always fascinated me. I was reading by age three. In first grade, I had read every school literature book my first grade teacher had in her closet. I loved books. I remember going to the city library as a child and loved being surrounded by thousands of books. I read everything that I could get my hands on, but after a while I simply couldn’t find books that satisfied me or took me to places I wanted to go. So, at age eleven, I wrote my first novel. It wasn’t the best writing, but this set the groundwork and ambition that prompted me to be a novelist.
I noticed both Predators of Darkness and Devil’s Den have a dark edge. Is that an aspect of storytelling that you like to bring out?
My life has been filled with a lot of dark, twisted events. I often tell folks and my students that writing has been my therapy, and how I have survived. I sort through the darkness with my characters and their dilemmas. How they overcome and triumph is partly testimony to my own life. Currently I am working on my early memoirs. Sifting through all the things buried in my mind has actually unlocked new story ideas. Life can be harsh and often unfair. The winners are those who face their challenges head on and are too stubborn to give up or retreat. Losses come but our scars are badges. I wear mine with pride. This explains why a dark mood shadows my storylines.
I had the chance to read through your blog and was captivated by your discussion of your recurring nightmare from childhood and how it affected your life later. Do you believe we can really receive warnings or messages through dreams? Also, have you ever had a dream that you’ve wanted to turn into a story?
Yes, I believe warnings can come through dreams. I’ve known many people who have “gut feelings” or warnings not to go somewhere at a certain time and refuse to do so. Things like that have happened to me, and I heed such warnings. For example, when I was in eighth grade, I was running from second to third base during a P.E. baseball game. The ball had been hit deep into left field. As I was nearing third base, I kept hearing this warning in my head to slide. I had never slid into a base. Never. Not an idea that I would even entertain, but I did so. The third baseman said, “If you hadn’t of slid, that ball would have smacked you right in the back of the head.” Such an impact to the back of the skull could have been deadly. Who knows?
That’s just one of dozens of examples of similar things I’ve had happen. Others I will share in my memoirs when it comes out.
As for dreams turned into stories, I know some dreams have found places in my work, but nothing that formed a complete story of its own.
Can you share with readers what to expect when they pick up (or download) your books?
I hope the characters pull them right into the dark world and keep them turning the pages. A lot of reviewers have said that they couldn’t put them down, so that is quite satisfying. My overall goal is to carry you from this world into my worlds on the page and give you a thrill ride that stays with you for days and weeks to come.
What are you currently reading, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I am currently reading David Morrell’s “First Blood.” It is much darker and grimmer than the Stallone movie by the same name. I am rereading Koontz’ “Servants of Twilight.”
My favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury, and Anne Rice.
Thank you, Leonard, for stopping by and sharing Devil’s Den with us. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing more of your work!