Life (And Death) In Reverse: Chris Sorensen on writing The Messy Man Trilogy.


By Chris Sorensen

After completing The Hungry Ones, the second book in my Messy Man trilogy, I realized that I was writing an autobiography in reverse through the lens of horror.

The first book, The Nightmare Room, tells the story of Peter, a NYC native who moves with his wife to a small rural town to care for elderly family members and set up shop as an audiobook narrator. At the time I was mapping it out, my wife and I had just moved to a lake house in a small NJ town to care for elderly family members, and I was in the midst of setting up my recording studio in the basement. Sounds familiar, no?

Strangely enough, although I knew I was pulling from aspects of my life, I didn’t actually realize what I was writing about until it was finished and out the door.

In The Nightmare Room, I explored what scared me as an adult (and a recently married adult at that). Aging parents, dementia, strained relationships, guilt over past deeds. Adult fears. Middle-aged Chris fears. In the book, they manifested themselves as ghosts and demons and a haunted basement.

As I started mapping out The Hungry Ones, I realized that I was retelling the story of a younger me. In 2001, I was involved in a bus accident. No…I was the victim of a bus accident. The stats: one week in traction, seven hours in surgery, two plates/sixteen cortical screws, one month in the hospital, six months re-learning how to walk.

My main character, Jessie Voss, is a Midwesterner like myself. When we first meet her, we’re told that she suffered a devastating accident that left her with her own stats (oddly similar to my own).

The moment I centered on Jessie, choosing to come at a sequel in a more circuitous route, I had to stop and ask myself, “Do you really want to do this?” It would mean reexamining a lot of stuff I’d buried years ago. Pain, painkillers, disability, post-accident anger and sorrow. It would mean that The Hungry Ones would be more vicious—more bone and sinew than creaks and moans. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that Jessie could get me through it. She’s tougher than I am and, as it has turned out, she has helped me revisit a nightmarish portion of my life.

During the course of writing The Hungry Ones, I took a road trip back to my old hometown, Monmouth, Illinois. It’s the place where I grew up and to which I returned after my surgery to literally get back on my feet. I hadn’t been back since my father’s memorial service at the local college, and walking those streets was as eerie as it was essential.

I visited the hospital where I did my rehab. I sat in the library where I plotted my return to NYC as soon as my hip would allow. I had a drink at the Bijou Pub, the basis for The Blind Rock Tavern in my Messy Man stories. I drove my old paper route, snuck into my old schools and toured the local cemetery. And as a result, one thing became abundantly clear: the town I knew no longer exists—it’s a ghost.

The same is true for the Chris that went through the physical and psychological pain of putting back the pieces of my shattered life. He’s a ghost. But he’s the guy I’m channeling in order to stay true to Jessie’s story.

Looking forward (and back), I now know where The Messy Man, the third book in the trilogy, is heading…and where it is ending. I expect I’ll be re-examining my childhood hopes and fears—completing my autobiography in reverse.

You can read what Kendall Reviews thought of The Nightmare Room here

I was also lucky enough to chat with Chris back in April 2018, you can read that interview here

Kendall Reviews Competition Time

(This has now finished, thank you to all who entered)

Kendall Reviews are thrilled to offer you the chance to feature in The Hungry Ones, the brilliant sequel to The Nightmare Room.

How would you like to have a character named after you in this much-anticipated novel?

The Hungry Ones

The Nightmare Continues…May 28th 2019

At the outskirts of Maple City sits the Crossroads Motel, a throwback to the days when the motor lodge was king. Two years ago, the motel was the site of an act so brutal that its buildings were left to rot.

Jessie Voss, however, sees promise in the Crossroad’s bare bones and buys it up, determined to breathe new life into the place.

When the Larson family shows up on her doorstep, road-weary and desperate for a break, Jessie offers them lodging, even though her grand opening is still a week away.

But the arrival of guests awakens the motel, and Jessie soon finds herself host to both the living and the dead.

The Prize!

Chris Sorensen has generously given Kendall Reviews readers the opportunity to feature in his latest novel, The Hungry Ones as a named character.

Chris is also offering a digital copy of The Hungry Ones and a signed copy of the gorgeous paperback. (Shipping WORLDWIDE!)

How To Enter

For your name to go into the draw all you need to do is…

Follow Kendall Reviews on Twitter and Retweet my Pinned Post

To double your chances of winning you can also do the following…

Post proof that you have bought a copy of The Nightmare Room (Book 1 of The Messy Man Trilogy) in any format. If you can add the image (Ideally a screen-grab of invoice showing purchase date) to my pinned tweet please with the hashtag #TheHungryOnes

The lucky winner will be announced soon after I liase with Chris.

The Nightmare Room

New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter’s ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.

They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter’s father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.

But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.

You can buy The Nightmare Room from Amazon UK Amazon US

Competition Rules

  1. Competition closes Friday 3rd May (Midnight GMT)
  2. Offensive/Abusive names will not be considered.
  3. Chris Sorensen’s decision will be final.
  4. The Nightmare Room proof of purchase valid from April 1st 2019.
  5. Creation of multiple accounts will result in your entry being invalid.
  6. The draw will be made using TweetDraw

A huge thank you to Chris Sorensen for offering Kendall Reviews readers this opportunity.

Chris Sorensen

Chris Sorensen is the author of The Nightmare Room, The Mad Scientists of New Jersey and has written numerous screenplays including Suckerville, Bee Tornado and The Roswell Project. The Butte Theater and Thin Air Theatre Company of Cripple Creek, Colorado have produced dozens of his plays including Dr. Jekyll’s Medicine Show, Werewolves of Poverty Gulch, and The Vampire of Cripple Creek. Chris has narrated over 200 audiobooks (including the award-winning Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix). He is the recipient of three AudioFile Earphone Awards, and AudioFile singled out his performance of Sent as one of the ‘Best Audiobooks of 2010’.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @casorensen

You can find out more about Chris via his official website

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