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After Joy Wells discovers the mysterious bog near her hilltop town of Spooking is in danger from development, she decides she must save it and the endangered species that live there. However, someone is determined to stop her.FIENDISH DEEDS, the first book of The Joy of Spooking trilogy, I wanted to kick off a quirky, comedic mystery that packed some serious chills. I loved the idea of a young heroine who revels in how the worn-out relics of the past still echo with secrets and stories—and that’s what I found in Joy Wells.
To set the stage for her, I took a lot of inspiration from classic literary figures such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. That said, I wasn’t as interested in trying to imitate their startling works as I was in reinventing their fascinating private lives, which were often marked by the bizarre and the tragic. So I recast them as a single character—a reclusive author from a bygone age with a history both sinister and supernatural. It was this story that would become the heart of the mystery surrounding the town of Spooking.
This trilogy itself however would be set in the modern day amid the absurd trappings, distractions, and horrors of a world feasting on itself. For that reason I needed a distinctively modern villain, someone both a product and a victim of these times. Someone selfish, greedy, and egotistical in the extreme. What’s more, I imagined somebody once a talented artist but who now embodies all the bitterness and frustration of living in obscurity; and who like so many great artists will tragically only be cherished once they are gone.
And so it came to me that an aging punk rocker would be a good fit for this villain—and a hilarious one. He would be a person who had gone full circle to become everything he once detested. That character soon developed into Octavio Phipps, a failed musician who now works as assistant to the mayor of a neighboring suburban sprawl. It was then just a case of unleashing him on his mission: to destroy Spooking, the weird old town he blames for his woes…