Haunted Coal Ridge
Set in a small, somewhat geographically secluded town in the Midwest, the blue collar people of Coal Ridge are friendly and laid back, enjoying block parties, gossip, and the simple joys that come with being a close knit community. Because everyone knows everyone else, secrets are hard to keep, but some are so well hidden that they've been forgotten. These are a series of short stories that explore a supernatural awakening that tests the bonds of family and community.
The first in the Haunted Coal Ridge series, The Stadium established the tone for all the stories that have followed, exposing unsuspecting people to supernatural events. I was inspired to begin the series after taking a walk while visiting with my Mom, basing the setting on that same small village where I grew up.
This second entry into the Haunted Coal Ridge mythos is set in Wooddale Park and introduces elements around which much of the rest of the series revolves. While I’d had this story in mind since finishing “The Stadium”, it took time to figure out the main character and longer to get her right. There are a variety of subtle references that connect it to other Coal Ridge stories, some purposeful, while other have just worked out well; it’s been a trove of ideas and inspirations.
One of the more creepy stories in the Haunted Coal Ridge series, They Must Play diverges a little from the other stories, exploring a different type of supernatural event. Inspired by the house in the picture, where the owner puts plastic pigs on a play place, in a plastic pool, lines them up for school, etc, it bounced around in my head for awhile before I finally wrote it, and in turn inspired my return to Coal Ridge.
The Cage is where I decided that I wanted bring some history and recurring characters to these interconnected stories. Part of the inspiration of it comes from an infamous event from my childhood hometown that continues to be a source of conflict for many; it seemed just the right thing to twist into the Coal Ridge mythos.
A revenge story of sorts, in this one I wanted the supernatural force directing the action to have a personal stake in the karmic outcome, with consequences that are further reaching than anyone would expect. It had the unexpected result of refining the mythos in ways that will affect the stories that follow. I had fun writing this story.
Something haunts Coal Ridge. We know where it started in “The Stadium” and who captured it in “The Cage”, but this story tells how it started...this time. While it stands on it own, “Treasure Mine” connects to several other stories and ultimately sets off the event that afflicts so many of the unsuspecting residents of this quiet little town. This is one of those stories that seemed to take on a life of its own; the way it flowed, at times I felt like the story was telling itself through me.
Since her introduction in Reflections, I have been curious about the little girl in Miller’s Pond who chased the shadow away. She represents one of two supernatural forces that protect the people of Coal Ridge, but how did she end up there? The 7th story in the series gave me a chance to explore some of the dark history of Coal Ridge, and the opportunity to see a younger version of the man who sacrificed everything to capture the creature in "The Cage".
The idea for this short story started with a concept (provided by my wife), a private detective who rents office space in a junkyard. Since it was a detective story, I dove back into Coal Ridge and started writing it from a first person perspective, from there it practically wrote itself. Being eight stories into the series, I had characters and events to draw on for inspiration, and decided to take on the aftermath of “Voices”.