The Trail in the Woods
by Stanley C Straub
Genre: Science Fiction
The story begins at an abandoned overgrown trail with the scary name of 'The Devils Tail'. The trail lies a few miles southeast of Portland Oregon. The trail has been around for several years and has many frightening rumors associated with it about why people disappeared while hiking the trail. Two childhood friends get together and chat about the trail. One of the friends, Janet Johnson, an experienced hiker wants to hike the trail and the other Bob Wild is terrified of the trail and doesn't want to hike it. Bob tells Janet that the reason he is doesn't want to hike it is because people who hiked the trail never came back. Janet thinks this is silly and just rumors. She finally convinces Bob to reluctantly go with her on the trail. The two of them set out on a thrilling and frightening adventure of a lifetime. What they encounter changes their lives forever. The hike encompasses the interactions of people from two different worlds and the meeting of a Charles Manson type leader who thinks he is God.
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"They are definitely not human."
"What the heck are they then?" Tom asked.
"We don't really know. Very few hybrids have ever seen them. They control the planet and us. Actually, there is only one of them that controls everything and he's the supreme leader and his name is Tribulator."
"Tribulator sounds like a strange name. What does it mean?" Tom asked. "I've never heard of it before."
"On Cosmos, it is just a term for leader," Justine said. "His followers consider him the supreme leader. Many people believe in him and follow him religiously, however, others doubt him and think he is just a fraud."
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I'm retired but my favorite work is writing. I love writing and especially suspense thrillers. Writing is special because I can completely immerse myself in my work. It is something I can do full-time, part-time, or step away from and take a break. My genre preference is Science Fiction. I've always been interested in science for as far back as I can remember. My father was very smart and he and I talked about space and theories about the universe almost daily as I was growing up. I liked reading Science Fiction books ever since I was old enough to read. I would go into book stores when I was little with my mother and I would buy Science Fiction books.
What do you think makes for good Sci-Fi?
Good Sci-Fi has speculative future living conditions and mentions items or things that will be used for everyday living in the future. It also has a good story-line and character descriptions. I believe that good Sci-Fi should have a creative believable futuristic story.
Do you think your books can help shape the future and if so how?
I don't personally think that my books can help shape the future. I believe that my books can keep people entertained in the future. Some aspects of my books may foretell the future, but I don't believe that they shape it.
Do you have inside jokes or true events hidden in your writing?
I do try to inject some subtle humor into my stories and sometimes an inside joke will creep in. I like to have talking or smiling dogs. However, I don't purposely try to hide true events in my stories.
Which do you prefer...model your characters after people you know or just make them up?
I prefer to make up my characters. That way I can give them characteristics that are different from living characters. I don't think of a living person and then create that person in my stories. However, with that said, I did characterize myself in one of my books, but I won't say which character or which book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to take away?
"Not really. Some writers might do that, but I have no hidden messages. I write only for reader's entertainment and not to push a particular personal agenda.
What is your favorite review?
I would have to say I have three favorite reviews. The first one I received many years ago and it was from a book publisher, which said my story was too detailed and went off in too many different directions. It was a negative review and it helped shape the way I write. A second review that I liked was from a reviewer that said, she started reviewing my book with little expectations of liking it and then she wrote in big bold words, "BOY WAS I WRONG." Another review that I really liked that had special meaning to me was the one I received from Mark Schultz that wrote a great honest review.
What comes next?
My next book, The Terminus List, a Science Fiction thriller comes next and I'm urrently working on it. I expect to have it finished, edited, and published in the next few months.
What inspired me to write The Trail in the Woods?
After I finished my book The Segmented Tail, I thought about what kind of book I'd like to write next. Then, it came to me, what would be more scary than a story where people that hiked a trail never came back. So, that was the beginning of the book.
Who designs your book covers?
Except for my first book, The Killer Within, which had the cover designed by my late son, Donald Straub, I have designed all of the covers. It's a lot of work but I actually enjoy designing and making the covers.
How did I come up with the title of my first book?
My first book was The Killer Within. I didn't come up with the title for my first book. I couldn't come up with a good title. My late cousin, Carroll Sorensen suggested the title and I liked it.
How do I come up with the name of the characters in my books?
I just pick names that I think fit the story. If I have a problem coming up with a name, I do a Google search of either boys or girls names and then select the one that's most appropriate.
What is the favorite part of The Trail in the Woods?
I would have to say that the ending is my favorite. It's totally an unexpected ending and catches the reader off guard.
Is my book a must read?
Yes, it definitely is a must read, if you're a Sci-Fi fan. The story pulls you in and carries you along till you reach the interesting and unexpected ending. Along the way, you'll meet the two main characters, Bob and Janet who hike the trail and get captured and taken to the Valley of the Gods, a valley encapsulated in a dome. You'll encounter a terrifying greenish yellow fog and you'll meet Tom who is in an Insane Asylum in Oregon. Towards the end, you'll meet up with the Terminator, a Charles Manson type person who runs the Valley of the Gods and thinks that he is God.
What is my writing process?
I come up with an idea in my head and then just start writing. I have never outlined a book. I write one chapter at a time. I do a lot of thinking about the story and sometimes I develop it as I go along. I don't always have the ending thought out but usually come up with the ending well before I come to the last chapter.
What is the life of an author?
I'm married and have to take care of a grandson, take him to school and pick him up plus haul him other places. I don't have a set time to write but I try to write some each day. My life doesn't revolve around my writing. My writing revolves around my life. I usually write some in the morning and then whenever I can during the day. I don't stay up at night to write, at least not anymore. I did stay up at night when I wrote my first book, The Killer Within. I was excited about it and wanted to get it finished and published. I wrote on it for nearly twelve years before I finally self published it. Why did it take so long to publish it? I did an awful lot of editing the story. I kept trying to make it better. Finally, I discovered that there comes a time that you have to quit revising the story or you'll never get it completed. I learned a lot from that first full-length book. Each subsequent book has been much easier to write and I have learned to incorporate my writing time into my ever day life. I love writing but I let my family come first.
Why do you self publish and not try to do traditional publishing?
When I first started, I planned on going the traditional publishing route but after dozens of inquiries were sent out and I received many rejection letters , I discovered self publishing and decided that I'd rather have my books published than going through the hassle of trying to get a book published and then having to wait for a year or more to see it in print.
Do you have unpublished books?
I have written several short stories over the years. I have four published books on Amazon.com, The Killer Within, The Segmented Tail, The Trail in the Woods, A Grandma for Nicole, and Wally and the Fisherman. I also like to write poems from time to time. Most of my poems have been written to my wives. However, I did write a poem about the town where I lived in. Cottage Grove, Oregon. The name was "Our Town". It was liked by the Cottage Grove Historical Society president and she had it published in the local newspaper.
What kind of research do I do before writing a book?
I don't do research usually before starting but I have spent a lot of time doing research while I'm writing the book. My first book The Killer Within was a medical thriller and since I didn't have a medical background, I spent a considerable amount of time researching medical terms and conditions.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've written stories almost all of my life but didn't really consider myself a writer until I had written and published my first book The Killer Within. Once I saw the finished product and held it in my hand, I was hooked and believed that I could call myself a writer.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less.
I believe in life.
Which of your novels can you imagine being made into a movie?
I believe that The Killer Within, The Segmented Tail, and The Trail in the Woods would make good movies that viewers would really like.
Do you have a favorite movie?
One of my favorite all time movies was Forbidden Planet. I thought it was a very thought provoking Science Fiction movie. I saw it when I was about 16 years old and I've never forgotten it. In this sci-fi classic, a spacecraft travels to the distant planet Altair IV to discover the fate of a group of scientists sent there decades earlier. When Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew arrive, they discover only two people: Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), who was born on the remote planet. Soon, Adams begins to uncover the mystery of what happened on Altair IV, and why Morbius and Altaira are the sole survivors.
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