No. 5: “Thunder Rise”
Context at the end of this excerpt.
Other entries in #33Stories at the Table of Contents. See you tomorrow!
A horror novel originally published in 1989 by William Morrow, with later paperback, foreign, Kindle and audiobook editions.
pp. 128 – 129 of the original hardcover edition:
“Oh, honey…” He wrapped his arms around her.
“She was quivering. Any worse, and he would have believed she was convulsing. He tightened his embrace. He couldn’t ever recall experiencing such a strong sense of how fragile, how small a child really is. Not even when she was a baby had the feeling been so powerful. He’d often thought he would lay down his life for his child. Until he’d never realized how willingly he’d actually do it.
“Shhhh.” He soothed her. His own breath were coming in heaves. He was becoming aware of a ballooning pain in his left foot. “It w-w-was there,” she cried. “B-b-by the window.”
“It must have been a nightmare.”
“But it w-w-wasn’t. It opened the window. It was there. It had huge wings.”
“A nightmare, honey.”
“No. I saw it. It flew in and – and… started coming closer and closer. Right on my bed. I was trying to get away and – and that’s why I’m on the… floor.”
“But there aren’t dinosaurs anymore,” he reminded her gently. “There haven’t been for millions and millions of years. You know that.”
She could not be dissuaded. “But I saw it. And it talked to me. It said it was going to – to take me away. Not tonight, but someday. “When it was good and ready,’ it said. And I was going to… die. Daddy… please don’t let it…” Her crying, which had tapered off, returned with tidal force.
“Shhhh. Sometimes we think we see things, but it’s only a dream. Dream can be very real, you know. Very real. I remember when I was just your age, I used to dream that I could fly. I could see trees and roofs and cars and people, all very tiny down there. It was cold up so high, and I could hear the wind rushing by, and I was sure I was flying. But then I would wake up and know it was a dream.”
-- 30 --
READ the 2001 paperback edition.
READ Thunder Rise on Kindle.
LISTEN to the audio book.
(The original hardcover, paperback and foreign editions are long out of print)
Will, first let me say I was very fond of italics… and ellipses. I have since become more sparing!
Completion and publication of “Thunder Rise” was the realization of a long dream. The fact that it was edited by the late Alan D. Williams, who edited Stephen King among other greats, was frosting on the cake, if you’ll pardon a bad and mixed metaphor. I remember clear as yesterday meeting Alan in his office some number of stories up in a building in midtown Manhattan, where he had welcome Kind and the many others, how awed I was. What was a guy from rural Rhode Island doing there? I lived then in Pascoag, where I raised my family.
I had arrived there thanks to Kay McCauley, who, with her brother the late Kirby McCauley, represented King and many other great writer (Kay still reps George R.R. Martin, he of “Game of Thrones”). I met Kay at the 12th World Fantasy Convention, held in 1986 at The Biltmore in Providence, right across from The Providence Journal. She took a chance on me, like many other at various stages of my fiction and non-fiction careers, and I remain deeply grateful. Thanks again, Kay, for being my agent for so many years and books.
“Thunder Rise” was also my first exposure to critics, and on this debut novel, they were mostly kind. "A modern-day journey into a darkened world where the souls of children are the stakes," wrote Library Journal; "Well-paced and effective," wrote Publishers Weekly; "A promising debut," said Tulsa Oklahoma World.
Not that the hatchets did not eventually come out. The details escape me after so long, but it may have been “Thunder Rise” – more likely, the later, non-fiction “Coming of Age” – that elicited this beginning of a review from The Los Angeles Times: “You hate to get down on a writer from Rhode Island; after all, how many of them can there be?” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s pretty damn close.
Anyway, “Thunder Rise” established made me an author. It further motivated me to write, and it was a good calling card for other editors, including, a couple of years later, a young editor at Random House, Jon Karp, now the publisher of Simon & Schuster. More about that book and Jon Karp coming on Day 8.
|Bound galleys, first such I ever saw.|
|Trade paperback edition.|
|The Kindle edition, from Crossroad Press.|