John Manning & Forrest Hedrick present their novel BLACK STUMP RIDGE

Black Stump RidgeJohn Manning & Forrest Hedrick
present their novel

Amanda Carlyle stands in the sweltering Central Texas heat, her fist raised and ready to knock upon the chipped and faded door.  Fred Kyle waits, unaware of her presence, unaware that her knock will bring back terror-filled memories from twelve years earlier.  As her knuckles descend the journey begins that will rip him from his whiskey-shrouded existence and carry him back to the place he swore to never go again.  At the end of the journey lie horror, death, redemption – and the acceptance of the heritage he has denied as he and Amanda and Diane Ravenfeather struggle to put back the ancient evil he and his friends released on that ill-fated Thanksgiving weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.

Black Stump RidgeIn this gripping novel of horror and suspense, John Manning and Forrest Hedrick use the backwoods setting of eastern Tennessee as a backdrop for a confrontation between the modern world and an ancient horror that only the traditions of the Cherokee medicine people can overcome. 

  • Supernatural Horror, Suspense
  • Published 28 January 2011
  • Hardcover and Trade Paperback both 269 pages
  • Available online thru Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iUniverse, and other fine outlets
  • Also available for Kindle, Nook, and eBooks.
  • iUniverse, Inc.

An Excerpt of the Book

About the Authors
John Manning lives in retirement near Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend, Jackie; their dog, Dottie; and their African grey parrot, Gonzo.  John feels that having a birthday on Halloween adds to his fascination with all things macabre and horrific.  He has had non-fiction articles published in Nemeton Magazine and Trajectories Magazine as well as one science fiction short story.  He is originally from Detroit, Michigan, but considers Texas his home.  Black Stump Ridge is his first published novel-length work and his first collaboration.  He also has a short story titled “Disclaimer” in the soon-to-be released (July 15, 2011) shared world anthology, Lawyers in Hell, edited by Chris and Janet Morris. He is also editing his first anthology, a collection of horror short stories by a stellar cast of authors, called What Scares the Boogeyman?

Forrest Hedrick lives and works in Houston, Texas.  He is a hunter, a fisherman, a leather craftsman, and a garb maker for various renaissance fairs and Society for Creative Anachronism events.  He is also an accomplished medieval-style cook, a semi-retired adventurer, and a gentleman rogue.  Oh, and he also writes.  His previous works include a book of poetry.  He has two solo projects under his belt as well as a short story in the works for boogeyman anthology.
John and Forrest have been friends for over twenty years.  They met through their love for playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the many friends who played it with them.

John ManningWriting Black Stump Ridge by John Manning
Although the novel has not been released all that long, Forrest and I have done at least one fan convention (All-Con Dallas) where we got to sign (and, let’s be honest, sell) some books and talk about the novel.  One question that always comes up is, what made us decide to collaborate on a book in the first place.

The truth is, we didn’t.  Not in the beginning, at least.

There was no planned book at all.  It started with an email.  Forrest and I had jobs that, while intense at times, also had quiet, almost boring moments.  We re-connected via email.  In 2008, Forrest sent me an innocent enough message about how he missed going hunting in Arkansas.  I replied that I was a bit homesick for my parents’ home outside of Turtletown, Tennessee. (Don’t bother looking for it.  It’s a tiny place overlooking the Ocoee River.)

He then allowed that it would be nice if time and distance could be overcome so that he, and Thony and Jeff and Ogre and I could all get together for a long weekend to do some hunting in Arkansas.  I agreed and added that the black bears were making a comeback in East Tennessee as well as some elk.

Forrest told me about some of the characters in and around where his mother lives.  I told him some of the tales my mom passed on to me – she was a retired social worker who still went deep into the hills to help some of the families.

We talked about the mountains – he the Ozarks, me the Great Smoky Mountains.  We talked about the forests.  Before long, the tone of the emails switched from nostalgia to what if?

What if five friends decided to take a hunting trip over the Thanksgiving holiday in November?

What if one of them inherited a modern “cabin” in East Tennessee?

What if…

Forrest created Purdie’s store, Levi, and Charlie.  I created Fred and Amanda.  He created the moonshiners – I gave them names.  In other words, when all the dust settled there was this giant ball of thread full of loosely-connected ideas.  I took those threads, unraveled them, and put them on the warped loom of my brain and started writing.

Black Stump Ridge is the roll of cloth that emerged.

We hope you buy it.  More than that, we hope it scares the hell out of you.

By the way, the ending is all mine.

Forrest HedrickThe Black Stump Ridge Experience by Forrest Hedrick
Co-creating Black Stump Ridge was an experience.  Just when you think you know how weird your friends are, wow, they astound you.   When John first suggested we take the bits and pieces of story we had been sending each other and actually turn it into a book, I thought sure, figuring it would drop by the way side at some point.   Well, not so.  John took it and ran with it.   How he managed to turn a few dozen disjointed scenes, and character sketches into a novel I am still trying to figure out.  

We spent several months exchanging e-mails and ideas.  Then in January of 2009 I lost my dad, and kind of dropped out of the project to deal with life issues.  We discussed it here and there, but I wasn’t terribly active in the actual construction of the final story.   When John sent me the rough draft I read it and was floored at what a lunch time joke had turned into.  Some names had been changed, and the physical form of the creature was different from what I had in mind, but I didn’t feel it reasonable or really necessary to alter it.   The story was good, the characters were awesome.  The amount of research John had put into some of the story was terrific.   I was still going on the idea a Hugo winner had once told me.  “This is fiction you know, we do make this stuff up.”  So that’s what I was doing.   Things quieted down again when John retired and moved.

 He started sending me information about different self-publishing houses and so forth, but I didn’t really expect it when he sent me the link to iUniverse and told me to create a log in for my account since these were the people that would be publishing our book.  Then came the art proofs, the editorials, and so forth.  It all seemed kind of, well, unreal.  Kind of like watching a car wreck or a tornado.  You see it.  Logically you know this is occurring.  But it’s still distant; not tangible.   Then we get the e-mail telling us the book has gone to the printer.   Well, a couple of weeks rolled by and the reality of it started to sink in.  We were published.  So the publisher doesn’t have a Manhattan address.   But we were published none the less.  Then I get this picture in an e-mail of a stunned looking John holding a copy of BSR in each hand, one hard copy and one soft cover.   Then it truly sank in, we WERE published!

 I’ve done a lot of Sci-fi/fantasy conventions with John, usually in the capacity of knuckle dragging goon to escort a celebrity or artwork.  Sometimes as a games master.   So when we did our first convention to promote the book, it felt a little strange to be the guy sitting at the table and signing copies.   All in all, this has been one of the more confidence building experiences of my life.  To actually have one’s name in print, and one’s picture on the dust jacket is an ego boost of the first rank.  My first thoughts when I held a copy were of my mother.  She found her greatest escape from domestic drudgery in the stories of Victoria Holt.  She also taught me how to put myself in the story and escape the mundane world.  (I read one of her novels once, I’ll stick to dragons and star ships.)  When I was a preteen, Star Wars hit.  My mother gave me a hard back copy and had written on the inside cover, “May you one day have an adventure to make this one look dull.”  I think that came about when I signed the first autograph for a reader who wasn’t a lifelong friend or a relative. When John asked who I wanted to dedicate the book too, I had to choose my parents – Mom for instilling in me the love of the written word, and my father for taking me on adventures all over the state of Texas.  The character of Edith, Fred’s mother, was created by John.  When I read the sequence with her in it, I realized she was a blend of my mother and step mother.  So they get to share  a touch of immortality, though both would have been a tad more direct in telling me what was going on in the region.  “There’s a skreggin damn demon in the well that knocked me up with you and eats people.  So don’t you and your dumb ass friends turn it loose!”
Forrest A. Hedrick


#1 McEL 2011-06-15 19:12
We hope you buy it.

Bet on it!
More than that, we hope it scares the hell out of you.
Fat chance since I'm accustomed to horror ;-) But I'll tell you if you succeeded ;-)

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