Curse of the Chupacabra

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Night: An Obsessed Author's Memoir

With only two days left until the release of my first novel, "Night of the Chupacabra", I thought I would give a timeline to the project and how it came to be the 300-page book it is today.  Some may find it interesting, while others who always secretly dreamed of putting your own story to paper - or Kindle screen - find it motivating, and then some of you (family and friends) may not have realized your influences, so this is kind of a "thank you" to you as well.  (This next part may not be the best sales pitch for my novel) but know that I did not take any special classes in English or Journalism outside of the required college courses; I just had an ambition.  However, that being said, the more you know about the rules of English literature, the easier the process.  This journey has led me down a long, long road, and after 20 years, it has definitely been one of my strongest obsessions.

It really began while attending an original one-act play festival at my two-year community college, Orange Coast College, where I spent six years as a student.  If memory serves, this was around 1992/1993.  A friend, Eric Person, had written and directed a play that focused on a group of victims being trapped inside a saloon, while some sort of creature (werewolves, I think) where trying to claw their way inside (sorry Eric if I'm totally off, but this is how I remember it).  It was the first time I saw the cross genre of western and horror, and I was immediately obsessed!  I had always been a fan of horror, but more importantly at this time, Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" had won Best Picture, a movie I love and got me excited about westerns.  I wanted to write my own horror/western.

My idea first started as a serial killer in the Old West.  I don't remember how or why, but the villain suddenly changed into a creature, and although I was excited to write my story, I was still heavily involved in theatre, relationships, work, and just being 20-something movie fanatic geek.  Basically, it took me four years to jot down enough notes to compose my story, which was a screenplay at that time.  Welcome, 1996.

I wrote my screenplay, then called "Dark Sunrise", creating a creature that I birthed on my own with a simple background, until a roommate of mine had posted an article on our refrigerator from the Orange County Register about a man in Santa Ana accusing the death of his infant on a "chupacabra".  That article hung on the fridge for over a year because this roommate thought it was hysterical (the kind of sick individual she is and the only person who will remain nameless).  This was the first I heard of this creature but thought nothing else of it until I watched an X-Files episode… you all know the one I'm talking about… about a chupacabra.  I was suddenly intrigued, and because the creature I created for my story was nearly identical, I changed it to the crypto "chupacabra".

Good friends and soon-to-be colleagues, Gia Quinlan and Bryan Prince, liked the finish screenplay, so much so that we formed an independent production company and named it after my script, "Dark Sunrise Productions, Inc." but after three years went by and two small projects did not get the company off the ground, the company silently disbanded, and that failure was very difficult for me.  I began second guessing my writing abilities even when I had the inspiring words of my former college professor, Alex Golson, "You know, you're a better writer than you are an actor."  At the time, it was a big "Ouch!" but I eventually came to appreciate his comment.  Yes, I wanted to be an actor, but I suppose Alex saw I had more passion about writing, and it was a few years after he made that comment, did I realize it myself.  Still, original college plays aside, everything I had written had failed.  The real world was much tougher without the support group of family and friends, and "Dark Sunrise" (the screenplay) was put on the shelf.

…until 2003!  You can never keep a writer down.  By this time, I had a steady relationship, life was good again, but I was bored.  I had missed writing, so dusted off "Dark Sunrise", gave it a new name, "el Chupacabra", and took a year to rewrite about 50% of the story.  I, then, started submitting it to screenplay competitions, where it placed: Finalist at "Writer's Place", Semi-Finalist at "Screenplay Festival", Semi-Finalist at "PAGE International Screenwriting Awards", and Finalist at "Shriekfest Film Festival", but it never WON.  So, I did more rewrites, and then submitted my script to a professional script analyst recommended by the Screenwriter's Association, Sarah Chen, who came back with some fantastic notes, but more importantly, inspiring comments.  I was ready to win a competition, but life happened yet again… it needed another reboot; although this time, I was not deterred from writing - it was just life being life.

From 2006 to 2010, I tweaked and twisted sections of "el Chupacabra" (but by this time, I had removed the "el"), I wrote a sequel script called "Curse of the Chupacabra", and I was just biding time - letting the "Chupacabra" script breathe new life before sending it back out in the competition circuit again.  And while I waited, I wrote and published a children's picture book, "The Night After Christmas" and it dawned on me that perhaps "Chupacabra" would do better as a novel.  So, I started writing the adaptation with the condition that if I struggled, then it wasn't meant to be.  The words poured out.  All the background and small side-stories I always kept locked up inside my head but were left out of the screenplay (because they would never work in that format) were finally free - like being paroled and released after 18 years of imprisonment.  And with a screenplay to use as a comprehensive outline, I was able to finish the first draft of the novel adaptation in a month and a half.

Since April of 2011, "Night of the Chupacabra" has undergone edit after edit and now, here it is October 15, 2012, two days before the novel's release date, with yet another title change (because it seemed more fitting for a novel and paralleled with titles of all future Chupacabra Series books, "Curse of the Chupacabra", "Legend of the Chupacabra", "Dawn of the Chupacabra", and "Return of the Chupacabra").  The process has been long but extremely rewarding, and if I had it do all over again, I would in half a heartbeat.  It's a dream, a checkmark off the Bucket List, a personal goal, and a chance to entertain as many people who are willing to pick up a copy and read 68,000 words.  If this is not an obsession, I don't know what is.

By the way, only 36 hours left to pre-order as of this post (hint, hint).

Long live the Goat-Sucker!

1 comment:


Born in Blood by Kate Paulk. $1.99 from
Vlad Dracul, known later in life as Vlad the Impaler, suffered more than any should at the hands of Mehmed, son of Sultan Murad. Of all the pain and indignities brought upon him at the behest of the future ruler of the Ottoman Empire, the curse was the worst. All the young Vlad can do is try to survive and plot his vengeance.