I couldn't explain the story of this book without telling the story of the lyrical muses singing in my head during the creative phase.
I've heard Stephen King say he listens to the loudest rock and roll and heavy metal he can get his hands on -- AC/DC is a fave of his -- while creating his scary novels. While I tended to write in silence, locked away in the upstairs office of my Audubon, Pa. home like some subdivisioned version of The Shining's Jack Torrance, I had 2-3 songs in particular in mind throughout the whole process.
Growing up in the Pottsville, Pa., region and, later, Reading, Pa. in the 1970s and 1980s, my friends and I had it rough. We grew up barely middle class - a lot of us - and saw our parents going to work at the crack of dawn to go to dead-end jobs where they'd be stuck behind a desk or, in my mom's case, tending to the every day health needs of the criminally insane as a nurse's aide at Wernersville State Hospital in Wernersville, Pa for up to 16 hours a day.
New Jersey favorite son Bruce Springsteen wrote the soundtrack to my childhood and teen years, and I wiled away many a day and night jamming to Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Born to Run was Springsteen's shot at the big time, and its nostalgic last look back at his teen years "echoed down them hallways in the night." But it was the decidedly less upbeat followup, Darkness, where Springsteen at last became an adult and worried out loud if his working class parents' fates might be his own, or those of his friends.
Springsteen lashed out angrily at the workaday fates of his parents in a little-remembered song called Adam Raised a Cain. The lyrics of this burner of a song, more than any other, rang through my head endlessly as I wrote Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen. In particular, the following stanza, formed the basis of the entire underpinnings of my book: "In the Bible Cain slew Abel. And East of Eden he was cast. You're born into this life paying, for the sins of somebody else's past."
In fact, the stanza actually appeared on the very first page, until my publisher, ahem, kindly advised me to remove it due to copyright infringement. (What they really were saying was they were too lazy to go through the legal hoops of getting the okay from Springsteen's people to use the lyric).
That's enough for now. More on this subject at a later date. Thanks for reading.
Kenneth James Kirsch