What are some of your favorite childhood books?
Learning to be a storyteller.
|1950s Mom & Dad|
Picture taken by first child.
As a child, Andy loved Dr. Seuss. Later, A Collection of Short Stories, by O. Henry was a favorite, and as a teenager, he was fascinated with The Illustrated Man, by Bradbury. Growing up, Berk was on the lookout for Edgar Rice Burroughs, and as he got into junior high and older, he was always searching for new and interesting sci-fi writers. In addition, as youth, we read all kinds of mystery and horror, including stories published by Alfred Hitchcock, with titles like, Stories My Mother Never Told Me. We loved those scary stories, and in fact, our mother did tell us some of the best scary stories.
Pitch Green and Mojave Green are the first two books in The Dimensions in Death young-adult horror series. The first book is based on a scary story we told as kids. The general outline for the novel-length version of our first book came together late "one dark and stormy night" in November of 2010. We were attending a writer’s conference in Manhattan. As we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements that we needed to expand the childhood story into a full-length novel.
Andy wrote the first rough draft, then Berk took it over to edit and expand the tale. In writing the first book, the ground work was laid for many sequels and prequels in a young adult horror series.
The second book, Mojave Green, is a continuation of the first story, but that part of the story has no history. It was written new from scratch. Same with the third book, Fatal Green, due out later this year. Each book combines horror, suspense and mystery, moving forward as our protagonists fight for their lives in a battle with a monstrous evil presence, hiding in the old, deserted Searles Mansion in a small mining town, Trona, California, the perfect setting for a horror series.
While there actually was once a Searles Mansion, built in 1888, not far from Boston, MA, that mansion is now long gone and has nothing to do with our tale’s mansion in Trona. The original childhood story had a mansion in it and that is the source of our Searles Mansion, named after John Searles, an actual Nineteenth Century Death Valley prospector.
|1970s Mom & Dad|
With their first grandchild.
Trona is a real mining town, located in Searles Valley, not far from Death Valley, but there is no actual mansion in Trona. In high school, we explored the hundreds of square miles of isolated desert and high-mountain country around Trona. Those experiences provide a location and backdrop for the events in The Dimensions in Death series.
We have always been story tellers, first to siblings, then to our children, and now to our grandkids. Scary stories are a family specialty. We can’t count the number of times Mom scared us witless with her scary stories. A few years ago, Berk started writing a young-adult science fiction series, so when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn (as in The Brothers Grimm) on a new young-adult horror series. Mom would be so proud. We have also written the first two books in an unrelated young-adult science fiction series.
We both find that once we start telling a horror or sci-fi story, the bounds of the story are limited only by our combined creativity and imagination, and that no matter how mature we get in the real world, we are both still starry-eyed kids in our worlds of horror and fantasy.