An Appalachian Trail Murder Mystery
Four young professionals pick the wrong weekend to visit a popular Pumpkin Patch Bed and Breakfast.It’s the last day of the season, and the weather and the farm are picture perfect. Ma and Pa Winter are the consummate hosts, and they immediately win over Dillon, Tara, Josh and Julia with their homespun authenticity.Like the thousands of other visitors to Winters Farm and Orchard, the four are eager to pick apples and pumpkins and take the challenge of the Giant Corn Maze.But Ma Winter has other plans.A scary moonlight hayride spirals into a frantic twenty-four hours of deception and mayhem, and the group find themselves unwilling participants in a horrific family tradition that could ruin their lives forever
Write what you know––to a point.
For fifteen years, my partner and I owned a destination farm near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Ours was one of those family-friendly places where one could pick apples in our three-thousand tree orchard, pick a pumpkin off the vine in a five-acre patch, and take the challenge of the Giant Corn Maze. It was a lively place in the fall, when over a thousand people a day would visit each Saturday and Sunday. During the week, elementary schools kept us busy hosting their field trips, and everyday school busses would line our long driveway. Our farm had a wholesome reputation, so church groups and civic organizations brought their members regularly for group fun.
But I was desperate to put on a scary attraction. I’d been a consultant to a Fright Festival in another state for several years before we dared host our own “Haunting Season,” and I was aware of two great fears of putting on such an event: liability issues, and that it would be lame.
Our intention was to offer a full-throttle scary experience, and I started out with the premise that things are the scariest when they seem real. We didn’t use animatronics or static scenes displaying preposterous gore, as was so common in Halloween events. OUr hayride path wound its way around the same farm our guests would have visited during the day, and to encounter a graveyard or a mad scientist’s lab on the property would have been neither believable nor scary. What we did instead, was startle.
Getting the timing right every bit as important to a creating a successful fright as it is to a memorable comedy routine, and our secret was tight choreography. Each jump, scare, and rip of the chainsaw was done in precise order, by the same actors, and exactly the same way every ride. Our Moonlight Hayrides always started out lame, and just when folks would get bored, our tractor would break down. That’s when the fun began. After terrorizing the wagon for several minutes, actors dressed as clowns with chainsaws would pick unsuspecting customers (They were always plants––see above fear of liability.) and drag them off the wagon into a cornfield, where they would scream their bloody heads off. Yes, we auditioned people for their screaming skills.
On a flight to Los Angeles one day, I had the idea for a screenplay. What if four young professionals pick the wrong weekend to visit the farm? And what if the farm’s owners weren’t as hospitable as we had been? And what if their chainsaws were equipped with real chains?
The screenplay got delayed, but in the meantime I used the plot for my first horror novel, The Dead of Winter.
Thank you, Alan Gibson and Love Books Group Tours.
About the author
Following an exciting life-long career in advertising, Alan Gibson co-founded a video chat technology startup that now often competes for time with his novel writing.
For many years hikers from the Appalachian Trail worked odd jobs at an apple orchard he and his partner owned in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and that farm continues to be a source of inspiration.
Gibson also is an Executive Producer of The Book of Leah, a feature length film to be released in the fall of 2018,
He is also the Producer of “The Seeding,” a feature film based on his book, The Dead of Winter, currently in development and to be released in 2019.
Social Media Link
Website : ABGibson.me