Tonight’s Guest: Mike Maclean

Damn, Why Didn’t I Write That?

By Mike MacLean

Bryon is off on his honeymoon in Orlando with his lovely new bride. There will be sun. There will be fun. There will be little fruity drinks with high alcohol contents and paper umbrellas.


I’m here, watching words tick into existence across a blank white screen – my eyes drooping like punch drunk prizefighters. After the nine-to-five, I took my screaming baby grocery shopping, pounded down a “six-dollar” burger, worked on a screenplay, watched the kid again so mom could rest, and finally got back to the keyboard to punch this post up.

That’s my life now. Write. Day job. Watch the baby. Write. Sleep (six hours if I’m VERY lucky). Do it all over again.

Sound bitter? I’m not. Just sleepy.

Fact is, this last year has been great. Independent film legend Roger Corman (some say infamous; I say legend) hired me to write not one, but two scripts!

And then there’s my daughter Chloe, a beautiful, charming, ten month old poop machine. Words can’t express what her smiles do to me. They make up for every dirty diaper, every screaming fit, every sleepless night.

My only regret is it’s been so crazy this last year I haven’t gotten a chance to read much. I did, however, stumble on one book that left me spellbound, thinking, “Damn, I wish I would’ve written that.”

That book is Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

I first heard of this book from Duane Swierczynski’s blog. Dark Harvest is a hardboiled, horror tale that blazes away with both barrels. It has a creepy Midwest town with a shadowy secret. It has a relentless, pumpkin-headed scarecrow brought to life. It has bloodthirsty teens stalking the Halloween night. It has candy.

But most of all, it has Partridge’s razor sharp voice.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Dark Harvest’s plot. It travels somewhat familiar roads, but with new twists. Every Halloween night, the October Boy rises from the cornfields and stalks towards town, butcher knife gripped in his gnarled hand. And every Halloween, the town’s teens confront him in a bloody annul rite of passage. Cool stuff indeed. But it’s Partridge’s voice that seals the deal.

Partridge crafts suspense with the best of them. His sleek, present tense prose beckons the reader forward… then goes for the throat. And once it has you, the pages fly. Partridge brings a tough, crime writer’s sensibility to horror that holds you in its grip until the very last words.

Simply put, Dark Harvest is brilliant fun.

And for the record, I don’t know Partridge. Never even met the guy. But I sure would like to buy him a beer for writing this book.

So, all you Quertermous fans (all three of you), what did you read last year that you wished you would’ve written?