The Eidola Project An Eidola Project Novel Book 1 by Robert Herold Genre: Horror
A gothic version of the X-Files. The Eidola Project is a 19th century team of ghost hunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house.
They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a young sideshow medium, and a traumatized Civil War veteran, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Will any of them survive?
Sarah retrieved the lamp and twisted the peg. The outhouse door swung open on its own, and she gasped.
“Momma?” Sarah asked as she held out her lantern. No. A ruined version of Molly stood in the doorway.
Before her disappearance, people often commented on the sixteen-year-old’s beauty, but in the last twenty-eight days birds pecked out her pretty blue eyes, and maggots now swam in the sockets. Molly’s head hung to the left at an odd angle. Her skin looked mottled with patches of gray, blue, and black. A beetle crawled out of Molly’s half-opened mouth and darted back in.
Sarah’s heart leaped to her throat, and she jumped back. She lost her footing, fell onto the outhouse seat, and dropped the lantern to the floor. She bent to retrieve it; thankful the glass globe did not break. Sarah looked up and saw an empty doorway.
Impossible, she told herself. Must’ve dozed off, had a nightmare, and woke up when I dropped the lamp. Her heart still pounded in her chest, and Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself.
Holding the lamp before her once more, she crept out…
Moonlight Becomes You An Eidola Project Novel Book 2
The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team's activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?
Doc Curtis fought for every reserve of strength and managed to quicken his pace. He could hear them shouting behind him and dared not look back, fearing it might slow him just that much more.
He made it through the field and emerged onto a rough access road running between the cultivated land on one side and the woods on the other. The doctor dashed across the dirt road and through the weeds and scrub bordering its opposite side. The trees stood twenty yards ahead. He would make it, find a thick trunk to hide behind, and fire a warning shot. If he could drive them off, it would be best. If not, he would do what needed to be done. Life had reduced itself to its most basic terms: kill or be killed.
Just five yards from the trees, a gigantic black beast bounded from the woods and landed before him. The doctor skittered to a stop, and his feet went out from beneath him. The creature stepped closer, looming. Its eyes glowed red, and the skin around its muzzle drew back, revealing a mouthful of sharp canine teeth.
The Klan had come at him in two directions, the doctor realized.
He raised his pistol and fired into the snarling face above him.
Totem of Terror An Eidola Project Novel Book 3
The Eidola Project, a team of 19th Century ghost hunters, have been tasked with trying to stop a deadly shapeshifting demon attacking the native people of La Push, on the Washington Coast. The team brings their own demons with them, in the form of drug addiction, a werewolf's curse, and being in mourning from the death of a loved one. Can they rise to this new challenge, or will they face they same grisly end as the shapeshifter's other victims?
“Mother!” Kitichid’s voice sounded almost seductive. The girl put her arms around her mother’s head in a childish embrace. Kitichid appeared to whisper in Taka’s right ear as a look of puzzlement and pain came over Taka’s face.
The old shaman ran up and grabbed the girl’s hair, wrenching her head back. A loud popping sound filled the room as he broke the seal around Taka’s ear. Saliookcha let go of his wife and child in shock as a fountain of blood and gray matter spewed from his wife’s ear. Taka’s body collapsed inward upon itself, looking like a withered husk as it fell to the ground.
The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since Robert Herold’s mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)
As a child, fresh snow provided him the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with his fingers as far as he could stretch. He would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)
He has pursued many interests over the years (among them being a history teacher and a musician), but the supernatural always called to him. You could say he was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, he wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea he had as a teenager.
Ultimately, he hopes his books give you the creeps, and he means that in the best way possible.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
As a boy, I wanted nothing more than to be a werewolf! (Is it any wonder I write horror as an adult?) My dream came true as a teenager when I became a volunteer for a Halloween haunted house sponsored by a local rock station. I was made up to be the Wolfman and was tasked with running around Frankenstein’s laboratory while his creature was lurching at the ladies. OK, I howled at them!
My comeuppance came when, in a moment of werewolf abandon, I grabbed the bars on a window and jumped up to straddle it while howling at the moon. The "iron" bars were made of wood. They broke. I fell on my werewolf tailbone and could barely walk for a week! Lesson: You must suffer for your art!
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Aside from wanting to be a werewolf as a boy, I collect Mexican lobby cards from famous horror films. Why Mexican? For some reason, they’re much cheaper than their counterparts in English.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
When I was in Japan, a number of years ago, I went to a public bath by myself. This was an awesome facility with about a dozen different pools. I decided to try them all. I was curious about one pool that was empty. After jumping in, I felt a shock and figured the pump might be malfunctioning and so dove over a wall into another pool. Everyone in the place erupted in laughter, as I became the butt of jokes—literally, since I wasn’t wearing clothes. I looked back at the pool I just vacated and saw a row of electrical outlets below the water line. It was an electrical pool. A shocking experience. (But I’ve never been depressed since!)
What are some of your pet peeves?
I don’t keep peeves as pets. Can they do tricks? Are they easily housebroken?
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I grew up in the Seattle suburbs of Bellevue, Issaquah, and Kirkland. In Issaquah, my mom and stepfather were caught up in the “back to nature” movement of the Sixties. They bought a home on Squawk Mountain, that was way off in the woods, accessed by a quarter-mile long cement driveway that wound along beside a ravine. My brothers and I had to sweep the leaves off the drive every other day in the fall. We got lazy one year and let several days go by…
Our father would pick us up on most Sundays to spend the day with him. He was bringing us home one night after dark in his land yacht, a 1970 Buick Riviera. The leaves that we didn’t sweep up off the driveway were causing his tires to spin out. He had us kids get out and I was helping direct him in backing down this curvy dangerous driveway. Eventually, so many leaves were under his tires, his vehicle loss traction, and his car tumbled down into the ravine in the dark. I remember thinking, I’ve killed my dad…
He was bunged up but was otherwise ok. The car, however was totalled. It turns out he was driving the car belonging to the president of his company that night, while his was in the shop. For the next several years that we lived there, he never drove up the quarter-mile long driveway again. My sibs and I had to walk.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Who is your hero and why?
My editor—she helps make my work presentable and has given generously of her time. Also Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, for his efforts to help others and make America live up to its ideals.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Watch the outstanding Netflix series Borgen, about the first woman prime minister in Denmark. (But I wouldn’t go through a sex change, or learn Danish.)
What are you passionate about these days?
Aside from my wife of 41 years, my writing. Both are hard work, but very rewarding.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I enjoy reading and watching movies/tv.
How to find time to write as a parent?
You carve it out when you can. My sons are both adults, so it’s definitely easier!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Hard-working, amorous, goofy
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing off and on my whole life, but I didn’t consider myself a writer until about ten years ago, when I devoted myself to the craft/art.
Do you have a favorite movie?
It’s a tie between: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Maltese Falcon, Buster Keaton’s The General, Curse of the Demon, and Singin’ in the Rain.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Since they’re a series, all of them! My first novel was originally a tv pilot script. It won some awards and was a finalist in others, but never went further. A tv writing guru suggested I try novels as a way of breaking in. It turns out I really enjoy writing novels and that has become my focus.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Everything is grist for the mill! I haven’t made trips exclusively for my writing, but that may happen someday.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A werewolf. You see, I haven’t changed much since I was a boy!
What inspired you to write this book?
The Eidola Project series began with a story I wrote about for my junior high school English class. The teacher loved the story and had me read it to the class. I was hooked (but it was a long time until I found my way back to making it a novel). Years later, a tv writing guru, Larry Brody, suggested I try writing novels as a way of breaking in. It turns out I really like writing novels and plan to stick with it.
The first chapter of Totem of Terror, my newest novel, was originally a short story I wrote for a college class many years ago. The teacher had us read our stories to the class. He asked how long I had worked on it. I told him I couldn’t say, because I had revised it something like twenty times. He looked at me and said, “You may have what it takes to become a writer.”
The lesson from all of this is don’t throw away your stories and ideas. They may well be useful to you later!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I just completed a novella titled Witch Ever Way You Go. I’m working on the sequel to that. I also plan to start another installment for the Eidola Project Series, either the fourth in the series, or a prequel. I have ideas for both. I also have an idea for a YA or middle grade fantasy/adventure novel. I also have a novel I wrote long ago and shelved. I may dust it off and see what I can do with it.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I have a prequel in mind for the Eidola Project Series and I’m also considering a side story about Monique, the witch who has been plaguing Nigel. (Several readers have requested that!)
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the books?
Totem of Terror is the latest installment in the Eidola Project Series. The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of supernatural investigators dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are William James, a real person who was the father of psychology in America and was also fascinated with the supernatural, Annabelle Douglas, his assistant and second in command, Edgar Gilpin, a brilliant African-American physicist, Sarah Bradbury, a sideshow medium with real powers, and Nigel Pickford, a traumatized Civil War lieutenant who also has supernatural abilities, but is suffering under a witch’s curse. Each possesses unique strengths and weaknesses.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I read a marvelous nonfiction book, Ghost Hunters, William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, by Deborah Blum. The book chronicles James’ study of the supernatural and his eventual conflict with the head of the American Society for Psychical Research. I imagined that this was a catalyst for James to start his own organization and my books chronicle their adventures.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
William James was a real person, a Harvard professor and father of the study of psychology in America. He was also an avid investigator of the supernatural. Annabelle was a character in a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Gilpin was totally made up. Sarah Bradbury’s last name is one of my favorite writers. Nigel Pickford was a young Confederate lieutenant in the Civil War. His last name is similar to Pickett, who led the infamous offensive during the Battle of Gettysburg. In Totem of Terror, the Indian agent was a real person, but his family and the experiences that befall him were largely fictitious. I hope his descendants, and those of William James, will forgive me.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I can’t tell you without spoiling it for you!
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Annabelle Douglas is an intelligent, strong-willed woman whose mother has recently died. She began the group with William James and is second in command.
William James is a real figure from history. He was a brilliant professor of psychology at Harvard and was really into investigations of the supernatural.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
Eidola is a Greek word for ghosts. The group began to investigate reports of the paranormal. However, they have begun to encounter all kinds of supernatural creatures.
Moonlight Becomes You is a pun on the werewolf theme.
Totem of Terror has the group traveling across the country to the Washington Territory. The bulk of the book takes place among the native people on the NW Coast.
Who designed your book covers?
Debbie Taylor. She’s done a great job!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope. The book has already been through many drafts and represents my best effort.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I do a lot of research in the writing of my books to bring the past to life. I aim to make the books believable so that when supernatural elements are introduced, they seem believable too. I address a lot of the social ills of the time, including prejudice, drug abuse, and sexism—issues that still plague us today. Many of the nonsupernatural events in the books really happened.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Joseph Gordon Leavitt would make a great Nigel. He has a broad range to his acting and I think he could make an excellent cad but with a wounded soul.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Eat your veggies!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I always come up with an ending first, so I’m in the driver’s seat and know where we’re headed.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
My books have won a number of awards, as seen on my website https://robertheroldauthor.com
If you would enjoy a gothic version of The X-Files, then The Eidola Project series is for you!
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have a book that I wrote many years ago that I’m thinking of dusting off and reworking. I’m going to hold off on the title for now.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Is there a graveyard scent?
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, and numerous other stories, novels, and screenplays. Matheson successfully straddled all those mediums. I would be interested in any tips he might have. (Note: After writing this, I went onto YouTube and found several interviews where he does just that!)
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler East of Eden – John Steinbeck The Conjure Wife – Fritz Leiber Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty The Judge Hunter – Christopher Buckley Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
Devil in a Blue Dress – Walter Mosely
+ Almost everything Bernard Cornwell has written
What book do you think everyone should read? Something Wicked This Way Comes – Bradbury is both poetic in places and terrifying in others. The film made a good effort, but fell short in a number of ways. Read the book!
How long have you been writing?
That’s hard to say. I have been writing off and on for my whole life. I became really serious about it about 10 years ago. I began writing pilots for television. My scripts got some attention, and won a few awards, but never went further. A television writing guru, Larry Brody, suggested that I try novel writing as a way of breaking in. As it turns out, I love writing novels and plan to focus on that and short stories.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Both. I usually come up with a premise and then an ending, perhaps a character or two. I then start to write. I know where I want to go, but not always how to get there. I play lots of possibilities over in my head during the process. Some just occur to me at the keyboard. I tried planning everything out in great detail once and it just wasn’t as much fun.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Since my books are set in the 19th century, I do a lot of research about the time, location, and people of the time/place. Some of the research is done beforehand, some when I am writing. It’s important to start writing. You’ll find the gaps in your knowledge and can research to fill those in. I’ve known some people who research constantly and never get started.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yup. I have retired from a career as a middle school history teacher. I am financially secure, so that I can spend my time doing something with limited (so far!) financial return. In spite of the latter, I’m having a blast. It’s tremendously hard, but tremendously rewarding!
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s full of potential!
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I’m always reading and have broad interests in material. I most often read horror, mystery, historical, and SF, but I’ve been known to read just about anything.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I used to always have music playing, but now I tend to have silence. I recite the words as I write and edit, striving for power, active voice, and clarity. I can work in a hubbub, but I tune it out.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I typically write one book at a time, but often sketch out an idea for another book/story as I work.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I would choose either Something Wicked This Way Comes or The Maltese Falcon. Both are classics of their genre and have inspired me.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I work at the computer.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Nigel Pickford is a cad but also a tortured soul. He has been cursed, but also makes things difficult for others. (It’s fun to write socially inappropriate things coming out of his mouth!) The Eidola Project series chronicles him becoming a better person (often two steps forward, one step back).
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I’ve always wanted to write and have done so off and on throughout my life. The Eidola Project series actually began with an idea I wrote about for my junior high school English class. The teacher loved the story and had me read it to the class. I was hooked, but it was a long time before I committed myself fully to the art/trade. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I committed myself fully to making writing my second career. My kids were grown and I had the time to invest in this pursuit. I’m having a blast!
A day in the life of the author?
I usually spend mornings having breakfast with my wife, losing to her at cribbage, doing chores around the house, doing promo and answering emails. Afternoons I usually spend writing. Evenings are spent losing at cribbage to my wife and reading or watching television. When COVID recedes, we’ll go to movies and/or the theatre.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Here are some thoughts that may help you on your journey.
Most significant: KEEP WRITING! Writing is a learning process and it will probably take years before you are published &/or gain notoriety. Prepare the psyche for the long haul.
Put the inner critic into a strong box and lock it tight until you’re done. (Let it out only when you’re in the editing process and only if it’s on good behavior!) Come up with an ending first. (If you are in the middle of something and don’t know where you’re going, stop and come up with an ending.) This gives your writing a direction and a purpose and you will avoid dead ends
Don’t stop to do major revisions/edits until you’ve completed your first draft.
Once your first draft is completed, let the critic out, but keep it on a tight chain. Do not let it drive you to despair and cause you to delete your work. In fact, save each draft. You may later find you want to use something from an earlier draft. Also, don’t let your inner critic cause you to get caught up in endless revisions.
Join a writers’ group! Try to find one with published writers &/or members who are better writers than you. You’ll learn from them and their praises and encouragement will carry weight.
Develop a thick skin. Handle criticism wisely. Do not engage in defensive remarks or in explaining what you meant. Note what they had to say, and after a day or two decide if you will give it credence.
Take note if you hear the same criticism from more than one source.
Traditional AND self-published writers will need to engage in marketing. Cultivate those skills. (A great resource is Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye. Another is Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran)
Read as well as write! Read broadly, as it will enrich your writing and help you learn by example.
Start your next book, story, or article.
Apply the lessons you’ve learned along the way. We learn by doing.
Describe your writing style.
I’m a visual writer and use a directed semi-dream state to visualize scenes. I then write to capture what I’m visualizing. Later comes the work of polishing my prose until it’s shiny.
What makes a good story?
Characters we find engaging in an exciting plot.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished rereading The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle, which I haven’t read since high school. I loved it!
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I do a very rough outline containing the premise, the inciting incident, the ending, and perhaps a few story beats. I’ve tried outlining in detail and it made the process of writing far less fun.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
A major one is giving a self-critical voice (also known as imposter syndrome) free rein. Don’t listen to it! Be pig-headed and get your story or novel done. Only utilize the critic to sharpen your prose and plot.
Another problem is not knowing where you are going. I know writers who start a book with no idea where they are going. Some are successful, but many talented writers flounder and never get their book done. I recommend that you come up with an ending first. It will give you direction and purpose. If you decide to change it, that’s fine, but have an ending in mind from the start.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Spelling. I’ve struggled with it all my life. (Thank you, computer programmers, for developing spell-checkers!) In school spelling bees, I was invariably at the end of the ranking. So humiliating! This made me question my ability to be a writer as a young person until I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald also struggled with spelling. This gave me hope until spell-check programs lent a hand.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I strive to write things that please me. I think you need to be yourself. If you want to work with popular tropes, so be it. However, I don’t recommend chasing the latest fad or trying to be original to exclusion of what feeds your soul.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be gentle with yourself and strive to learn and improve. It’s ok to fail.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
Empathy is the key to a writer’s work. You need to empathize with all your characters male, female, good, or bad. It’s sometimes difficult, but it enriches the work and helps you see the world from multiple perspectives.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About a year.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Sure. One technique I use is to imagine the worst thing that could happen to my character(s) at that point. It usually works. If it continues, I realize I simply need to cogitate on the story/characters and it will eventually work itself out.
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