The origin of The Darkest Place is a strange one.
Sometimes I write a supporting character, and I think his or her story is compelling enough to warrant its own novel. Caleb Hicks is just such a character. He appeared in two of my previous novels, The Passenger and Fire in Winter, in the latter of which he played a major role.
Now, this is going to seem non sequitur, but stick with me. During my tenure on a VBSS team (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) in the Navy, I had occasion to do a couple of training exercises with the Navy SEALS. The first thing that struck me about them was how young they were. Most of them did not even look old enough to buy a drink legally. The second thing that struck me was how well trained they were. And unless I miss my guess, the initial training a SEAL undergoes after BUDS is somewhere around a year and a half to two years. (I could be wrong about the timeframe there, and if I am, I apologize.)
But think about that for a moment. In roughly two years, the Navy can take an ordinary civilian, and if that civilian is properly motivated, turn them into one of the world’s elite warriors. I remember the question occurring to me, What if these guys started training when they were very young, like, five years old? What would they be capable of?
In Caleb Hicks’ character, I get to explore that possibility. And that is about all I can say about him without giving away any spoilers.
As for the novel itself, let me be clear on an important point: This is not Surviving the Dead Volume Five. The Darkest Place is a standalone novel set in the Surviving the Dead universe, much like The Passenger, although I wrote this one on my own.
Eric Riordan, however, does feature in the novel, and his actions are important to the next volume in the series: Savages.
So I guess it would be fair to call The Darkest Place Surviving the Dead 4.5. Or you could call it a companion novel to Savages. Either way, I hope you all enjoy it. The Darkest Place was supposed to be a short novel, no more than 60,000 words (about 200 pages), but it took on a life of its own, and even if it is not well received, I am proud of it. I think it is a good book. At 165,000 words (over 500 pages) it is a long read. It was written during the most difficult time in my life, and I think that will be plainly obvious to anyone who reads it.
I wish you all the best, my friends, and as always, thank you.