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The Story …
It’s 1944 and through desperation, sheer luck and the worst winter storms in living memory Hitler’s forces have successfully attacked and forced the Battle of the Bulge, a fierce offensive inside the dense Ardenne Forest. Then the weather brings both sides to halt, the armies in danger of freezing to death. A German patrol led by the hardened and dangerous Sergeant Muller knocks on the door of a remote abbey and demands that the sisters provide food and shelter for his men. He won’t take no for an answer, but Muller should questioned why the abbey wasn’t on any maps, how the war had somehow left the forbidding place untouched — and asked himself why the Holy Order of nuns inside showed no fear. Beyond the walls are the deadly storm, the dark forest and the enemy. Trapped inside the abbey, Muller and his men have got much worse, evil things to survive.
Strap yourself in for a long, cold and frightening ride.
This story is based on a common theme I use, rather than a single story idea as such. You see, I’ve always been bugged that in a lot of horror books and films the victims never simply leave at the first sign of trouble. Like, in the Amityville Horror why didn’t everybody just pack their bags and run the moment any blood started trickling down the walls? Okay, maybe the guy in the ice-hockey mask will be waiting behind the door, but generally it’s annoying how people are portrayed as being so conveniently stupid that they stick around to be terrified, killed or tortured after having plenty of opportunity–not to mention incentive–to flee for their lives.
So I’ve always tried to put characters into situations where they can’t leave, even if they wanted to. I did this in my earlier horror novels and I’ve also added a touch of the concept in Horror Story Volume IV, called The Devil’s Net.
For Footprints In The Snow I wanted to use the weather- extreme weather. Impassable ice and freezing temperatures were going to imprison my heroes (or anti-heroes) just as effectively as any locked door or barred window. From there I wanted traditional creepy old monasteries and crumbling graveyards, everything candlelit and lots of wind moaning through the eaves–I’m sure you get the idea.
Maybe I was watching Spielberg’s “Band of Brothers” at the time, but next I thought of the Battle of the Bulge which was fought during 1944 in terrible conditions, the worst of winter blizzards. My main characters became a platoon of German soldiers trapped by the weather (and the war) in a rather dubious convent. Sometimes I wonder if we should be moving on from the Third Reich and its sad legacy, but at the same time thousands of authors like me the world over still acknowledge Hitler for at least providing a cast of villains who will be politically correct for years to come.
In this story the ghosts are where you’d expect them. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve any less respect. Ghosts don’t care about guns and bullets or sharp knives. They aren’t moved to pity for the livin. If anything, ghosts and wicked spirits tend to feed off our misfortune.
So if you’re ever in trouble don’t expect any nearby restless spirits to leave you alone. More likely, they’ll move closer and stand right next to you. Maybe even whisper something unpleasant in your ear.