Title: The Beast of Barcroft
Author: Bill Schweigart
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Horror
Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .
Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.
First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.
Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Bill Schweigart and I live in Arlington, Virginia with my lovely wife and daughter, a gigantic but sweet Newfoundland, and a very mischievous kitten. I’m a former Coast Guard officer and currently a very happy writer for Penguin Random House’s Hydra imprint.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
At the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, strangely enough. For the final project in one of my Humanities courses, I had the option of writing a research paper or a short story. Making something up sounded a lot easier than doing research. What I didn’t expect was that I’d have so much fun writing a story, or that I’d be writing them to this day.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I love Ernest Hemingway who, I’m paraphrasing here, did not confuse big words with big emotions. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, because I love classic noir tales. I love Larry McMurtry for his indelible characters and Peter Matthiessen for his lush descriptions. Stephen King of course, because he can do all of the above and scare me to death while doing it. I’m also a huge comic book fan, and I love the work of Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Brian K. Vaughan, Garth Ennis, and more. Their imaginations are boundless and they produce amazing stories on a ridiculously frequent basis.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
I have a 9-to-5 job, so I have to get my writing done before the day really begins. I wake up early and have a very modest word count that I hit daily. But if you do that every day, you’ll have a first draft within a year. Everyone works differently, but that’s the system that works best for me.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Luck! For a suburb of Washington, D.C., there’s a surprising amount of woods in Arlington and I’ve always wanted to set something here. One day I was sitting in a coffee shop, reading an article about the history of the area and I happened upon an article about the real “Beast of Barcroft.” In 1974, something actually terrorized my neighborhood. Pets were butchered, wild screeching filled the night air, and the local press ran stories about a “savage mystery beast.” When I discovered that article, everything fell into place.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
For horror, it has tremendous heart and humor. Ben and Lindsay have relatable struggles in their daily lives, reaching crisis points before the beast even menaces them. They’re very different characters, so throwing them together creates a lot of interesting tension and comedy. But despite their jabs, they really lean on one another. Their dynamic is actually my favorite part of the story.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
Richard Severance, the cryptozoologist. He’s smart, rich, handsome, and doesn’t give a damn. In other words, he’s not me…but there may be a bit of wish fulfillment going on. Severance is completely unrestrained and terribly arrogant, but damn if he’s not charming too. And you sense that there may be more going on beneath his boozy exterior. So much fun to write.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
The banter between Ben and Lindsay, or between the two of them and Severance. There’s a beast out there killing people, but I like those moments where I can pop the tension for a moment with a laugh or an unexpected emotional beat.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
That The Beast of Barcroft delivers the thrills and chills, but ultimately that readers care more about the characters than the creature.
10) What are your hopes for this novel?
Some of my favorite stories have great partnerships: Holmes and Watson, Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Extraordinarily different people who, for whatever reason, always have each other’s back. I wanted to create a duo in that mold. I hope I was successful enough with Ben and Lindsay in The Beast of Barcroft that readers care to follow them on their next adventure.
11) What do you have in store next for your readers?
Speaking of Ben and Lindsay’s next adventure, readers won’t have to wait long! The sequel, Northwoods, will be available February 16, 2016. In Northwoods, Davis Holland, an agent for Customs and Border Protection, is investigating an illegal border crossing and stumbles across a blood-drenched scene of mass murder, barely escaping with his life. Something deadly has entered Holland’s territory, crossing the border from nightmare into reality. When news of the atrocity reaches Ben and Lindsay, they head north to investigate. Still haunted by the events of The Beast of Barcroft, normal life is impossible for these two, but there is nothing normal about the horror that awaits in the Northwoods.
About the Author
Bill Schweigart is a former Coast Guard officer who has drawn from his experiences at sea to write the taut nautical thriller, Slipping The Cable. Schweigart’s debut is a modern entry to the rich tradition of the sea novel: everyone is confined aboard ship, tensions run high, and the setting itself is deadly, but not nearly as deadly as his characters. If you have ever suffered an impossible boss, ever wanted to fall off the grid and start over fresh, or just wanted to lose yourself in a high seas and high stakes adventure, Slipping The Cable is a must read. Schweigart lives in Arlington, VA, where he is currently finishing his second novel, a supernatural thriller set in the shadow of Washington, DC.
Amazon Author Page