Among the Fallen
Among the Fallen
by Henry Mitchell
GENRE: Magical Realism
Not everything is what it seems.
Drovers Gap, population 703, appears to the tourists passing through as one more sleepy Appalachian village, just off the interstate, on the way to someplace spectacular and important. But there are simmering tensions and unspoken malice behind the seemingly placid facades, and a spark from afar will ignite an explosive and insatiable evil that hungers to devour the town and everyone in it.
On an August afternoon that rendered the whole world a sauna, Abigail Trammell labored in her front garden, pruning back her roses now reduced by the unrelenting heat to a failure of withered blossoms and limp yellow leaves, though not even the Japanese beetles had been able to dull the thorns. Those remained sharp as ever.
She possessed shears some place that eluded her memory, so wielded the sharp butcher knife she liberated from her kitchen, a sin she’d only forgive herself. Startled, she nearly slipped and sliced her fingers when she heard the unfamiliar voice behind her.
“Miss Trammell?” A man’s voice only maybe, with a peculiar lilt, obviously not from around here.
“You’re a quiet one,” she said, turning to face the tall, gangly figure who’d snuck up on her. Abigail was proud that she had kept her acute hearing into her elder years while she had to shout at most of her friends, couldn’t fathom why she didn’t hear a car come up her drive or footsteps on the gravel. “Can I help you?” As much accusation as question. She assumed this was one more lost tourist, reduced to asking directions of a local because his GPS app was off-line.
The spinyspindly maybe-man - a closer look left her still not quite certain of the gender - said, “VonTrier. I reserved your room.”
Abigail remembered the name because it was odd. “Yes,” she agreed, “Wendl. You’re set for the week.” She subjected him to a frank inspection. How did he get here? I didn’t hear a car because there isn’t any. “Luggage?” She wouldn’t rent a room for a week to a man without luggage, and started to tell Wendl VonTrier precisely that.
“Here,” he said, lofting his suitcase as if it were empty.
Abigail wondered how she’d missed it. It was almost as if it didn’t exist before she named it.
She dropped her trimmings into the basket at her feet, waved her knife in the air, “I’ll show you,” she said, remembering to smile.
About the Author:
Henry Mitchell reads and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
He has written five novels and two collections of short stories.
Q&A With the Author
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I most enjoyed meeting the eccentric characters in the fictitious Southern Appalachian town of Drovers Gap, where Among the Fallen is set. Wendl VonTrier, a principal character in my novel, The Winged Child, still had more to say when I finished the book, and I felt Wendl should have a novel of their own. So, I began writing another novel about Wendl that I called Wendl the Fallen. The longer Wendl stayed in Drovers Gap, the more characters I kept meeting, until I realized, about half-way through, that it wasn’t just Wendl’s tale, but the story of a whole town. At that point, I began re-writing the novel as Among the Fallen.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a collection of new and hitherto unpublished short stories tentatively titled, Telling the Dark. Some of the characters you meet in my novels turn up again in the stories.
Also in the works, a novel called Orphan, a tale woven around a community of artificial intelligences who get religion. Humans generally agree that machines don’t have souls, but how would we know? If an intelligent machine claimed otherwise, could we argue?
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
At my age, my major plan, admittedly more like a hope, is to stay alive and lucid to finish the books I still want to write. When I reach 90, I plan to retire from fiction and become a poet. Originally, I planned to do that at age 80, but 80 came and went and I still had a few stories untold. I’m still at it.
I also have a little garden of native azaleas and Japanese conifers I want to continue developing. One day, when I’m no longer around to take care of them, they might belong to the local Community Land Trust.
There are still trails in the mountains around home that I haven’t hiked. If I get caught up on my writing while I can still walk, I’d like to cross the Big Water and tackle the West Highland Way.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fiction seriously for over twelve years now through six novels and two short-story collections. Before that, I worked for fifty years as a sculptor and painter until I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Writing was something I felt I could still get better at as my vision diminished.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
There isn’t much a writer can say to readers and fans except, “Thank you.” For all the time you took to read my stuff and for having kept on coming back for the next one. And to promise I will keep trying to write my best for anyone who wants to read it.
Henry Mitchell will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.