After posting this last night, Stitched Smile Publications asked if they could publish THE DEATH LIST. I agreed. The cover art changed, again, slightly…


And now we have the final product. I’m waiting for a couple more auditions before deciding on a narrator. Chances are it will be a woman, again. Now back to our previously scheduled blog!

I released THE DEATH LIST, the follow up to BELLA’S BOYS, by accident over the weekend. I want to blame Amazon for the faux-pas, but truth be told, I’m sure I did something to fuck it up.

So here’s the skinny on the story that became THE DEATH LIST.

I wrote this two years ago. The working title was “Epic Fail” and I kept this until earlier this year. At one point my plan was to publish BELLA’S BOYS and EPIC FAIL together, in one volume. But the tone is different in the two stories. Plus the title bothered me.

“Epic Fail” seemed too juvenile for a story that is essentially an anti-suicide parable. The whole time the answer was before my eyes… THE DEATH LIST. It’s the name our hero, Ronnie Dark, bestows upon the collection of ways he can take his own life with. BRILLIANT! 

The cover went through a bunch of permutations before I settled on a selfie Ronnie took with his Les Paul. Ron Lauback, the real life Ronnie Dark, gave me permission to use it, as well as his stage name. It looked like an album cover to me, so I designed it to resemble just that. But it was still  missing something.  

It was missing death!

So I added a faint skull, superimposed over Ron’s face.

This book is violent. It is gruesome. It is not for everyone. The acts of violence the Balloon Boy commits in the narrative are repulsive. If you have a weak constitution, do not read this book. It is not kid friendly.

I planned to release this book during the summer convention season. But the Covid-19 Pandemic ended that mighty damn quick. It forced me to do a re-write, adding the after effects of the pandemic. I made some small adjustments to the narrative, adding these elements. And now it’s ready for public consumption.

The OG cover I would’ve used had I stuck with EPIC FAIL as the title. Check out the band names in the record bin. Another nod to Skipp & Spector!

This is not a sequel to BELLA’S BOYS, although BELLA’S BOYS does reference Ronnie Dark, The Dark, and The Balloon Boy Killer. This also takes place 28 years after the events in BELLA’S BOYS. My contemporary fiction is set in an ever evolving universe, focused around the lakeside city of Fenton, NY. This is by happenstance more than design. As Stephen King once told me, it’s easier to use an established world than rebuild it all over again with each book you write (see my previous post regarding my correspondence with King as a teen).

So what’s THE DEATH LIST about, you ask? Well, the back of the book tells it all:

Former ‘80s guitar hero Ronnie Dark is desperate. Facing rock bottom after a sudden divorce and eviction from his mansion home, he hatches a suicidal plan for revenge on his ex-wife. Ronnie intends to commit suicide and leave his rotting, stinking corpse for her to discover.

Meanwhile, the infamous Balloon Boy killer, Patrick Demotty, has escaped from the institution holding him. He is a force of nature, known for crafting balloon animals out of the intestines of his victims and leaving them as offerings to the unholy, demonic force he worships.

Ronnie bought the Balloon Boy’s home with the money he made when he was a rock star. Now Patrick’s come home to finish what he started 35 years ago and resurrect his dark goddess. 

The body count rises as anyone but Ronnie Dark dies horrible, mutilated deaths. Much to his surprise, Ronnie is about to understand why taking your own life isn’t an escape when you’re facing the servant of a death goddess. He’ll soon learn the most important lesson of his life… suicide is pointless.

THE DEATH LIST is currently available on Amazon in the Kindle store and in Trade 5×8 Paperback.  A hard cover run will be available exclusively through Barnes and Noble, hopefully before the Holiday season ends. Sometime early in 2021 we can expect the audio book.

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