We All Fall Before the Harvest by C.M. Forest Genre: Horror
In the guts of a nameless city, career criminal Owen fights for his sanity and his life. After stealing a morbid piece of artwork at the behest of his boss, Owen discovers the original owners of the grotesque painting are part of a twisted cult known as The Family—and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
The longer Owen possesses the painting, the more it warps his mind and alters the very world around him. Between those that want him dead, his own dark past, and his crumbling grip on reality, the walls are closing in. Unstable but determined, Owen is the only thing standing between our world and the coming Harvest.
The beam from my flashlight cascaded across the walls as I moved along. I saw obvious signs of painting or photos having once resided on their surfaces—squares not quite as discolored as the surrounding water-stained wallpaper—but whatever treasures once hung within the mansion were now gone.
As I pulled open a cabinet that appeared to be held together by cobwebs as much as the original nails and screws that once bound it, I heard a noise from above.
I can’t really describe the sound other than to say it made me think of a huge object being moved across the floor by many feet. Craning my neck, I aimed my flashlight straight up just in time to breathe in a cough-inducing lungful of drifting dust from the ceiling above. The noise continued for several seconds before silencing.
“Looks like somebody’s home after all.” I was still hopeful we could avoid detection, but unless we came up with the object of our search soon, we would have to venture upstairs and would surely come into contact with the perpetrators of the sound.
I picked my way through two more rooms. The first, was a sitting room with hundreds of scattered books, most about farming. The second was an oddly shaped room that held nothing but empty cans of food—everything from pork and beans to dog food. I finally worked my way deep enough into the manor to reach the front foyer. Slinging my flashlight around the grand space, I managed to catch a glimpse of the majesty the house must have once commanded. Again, I thought of the elite, the aristocrats, that undoubtedly called the place home and wondered what had happened to them. Bits of antique furniture, all wilting and moth-eaten, cluttered the corners. Over my head was a chandelier comprised of hundreds of dangling crystals; they refracted my beam into countless spots of light, which danced through the drab interior. A wide, grand staircase rose up at the far end of the foyer, opposite the front doors, and proceeded to the second floor. I pursed my lips at this as somebody had meticulously laid sheets of plywood over the steps, transforming them into one long, rough rampway.
“Owen?” Lester’s voice caused me to jump.
“Fuck!” I spun, preparing to give the man shit for sneaking up on me but came up short.
He stumbled from a darkened doorway on the opposite side of the foyer with something square tucked under his arm. He had turned off his flashlight—or lost it, I never found out—before entering the cavernous room. When I aimed my own beam at him like a spotlight, he only stared back with a blank expression.
“Lester!” I whispered as loud as I dared. “Did you find it?”
He slowly looked down at the object in his possession as if having seen it for the first time and gave me a dimwitted nod. What the hell was wrong with him?
Above us, the sound I heard from earlier returned. This time it was faster, louder, and accompanied by additional noise. A chorus of chattering voices.
I exchanged looks with Lester, then grabbed him by the collar of his coat and began yanking him toward the front doors. “Let’s go!” The man was almost deadweight in my grasp. His feet dragged along like a person learning to walk for the first time.
Once outside in the frigid, night air, he seemed to perk up though and even managed to pull himself free and continue to my car under his own steam.
“That place…” he mumbled.
“Yeah, fucking weird. But you got it, right?”
“Got to be. It’s the only painting I saw. It was hung on the wall in a room full of—fuck, I don’t know—farm stuff?”
The drive back to the city was a quiet one. That suited me just fine as I’ve never been a fan of conversing with others. I used the time to try and come up with plausible explanations for the odd sounds I had heard in the mansion.
C.M. Forest, also known as Christian Laforet, is the author of the novel Infested, as well as the novella We All Fall Before the Harvest. A self-proclaimed horror movie expert, he spent an embarrassing amount of his youth watching scary movies. When not writing, he lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, kids, three cats and a pandemic dog named Sully who has an ongoing love affair with a blanket.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
My name is Christian Laforet, but I write under the name C.M. Forest. I have nothing against my own name, it is a perfectly fine name, as far as names are concerned. But there is just an air of mystery to C.M. Forest that I enjoy. Also, it is better than the name I wish I had as a kid: Hell-Bat Jones!
Anywho, I began my writing career with short stories. I thought they were the best things ever written. I was so sure of the platinum-level talent on display, that I submitted a few for publication. A very kind editor reached out and, very professionally, told me that I needed a lot of work.
With tail tucked firmly between legs, I went back to the drawing board and took things a bit slower this time. I joined a local writing group (they were far less civil in their critiques than that kindly editor) and started improving. Side note, if you are a rookie writer, join a writing group. It will help immensely!
After getting my butt kicked by the group for a couple years, I started taking the whole thing seriously. My first book, a short story collection called The Space Between Houses was a small, but significant triumph for me.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Interesting? Probably. Unfortunate? Definitely. When I was 19 years old, I was run over by a dump truck. True story! I was walking on the sidewalk, coming up to an intersection, and an actual dump truck jumped the curb behind me, hit me, and ran over my leg.
Thankfully, and as is evidenced by this very interview, I survived the ordeal. In fact, all things considered, I came out of the whole thing in surprisingly good condition. Besides a bad knee and some scars on my right leg, I’m no worse for wear.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It’s very close to being the most southern point of the country, and, fun fact, there are 27 US states that are, at least partially, further North than Windsor.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I wouldn’t recommend it—having kids that is! I’m joking… But yeah, it’s tough as hell to do both. Especially if your kids are little (mine are 8 and 11). Recently, I’ve found a good routine though. I drop my kids off at school then hit the local library to get my words in for the day. I could work at home, but there are just so many distractions there (I’m looking at you, PlayStation!).
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After getting raked across the coals by the local writing group, but before my short story collection came out, I started posting shorts on a blog I had at the time. The blog, which was a testing ground of sorts for my work, had almost no views or followers. To be fair, I hardly promoted it, as it really was just a place to dump stories. But then one day, while at the day job, a co-worker came up to me and told me she really enjoyed the newest story. Now, I’m not the best-looking chap, so I knew she wasn’t flirting with me, and we hadn’t talked much before that, so there was no reason to say such a thing just to be nice. No, she actually read the stories there, and really, truly dug them. That was the day I felt like a writer for the first time.
Do you have a favorite movie?
So many! But if I had to choose one, I would say either the Fifth Element or The Crow. For horror movies, I gotta represent my dude in the hocky mask and say Friday the 13th Part 4!
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I actually think We All Fall Before the Harvest would make a great movie. Novellas translate well to film because of their length and limited cast. Even if I hadn’t written the book, I would watch the hell out of that movie!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
This one depresses me, because the answer is: not nearly enough. I have done a few writers retreats, but they’ve been fairly local to where I live. I would love—LOVE!—to take a cross-country road trip though. Just me, my computer, and a whole lot of time. That would be amazing. Staying in small towns, meeting new people. It’s on the bucket list, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
What inspired you to write this book?
I fricking love cosmic horror. It’s a subgenre that I haven’t touched much upon in the past, but always wanted to. When I had some free time on the schedule for a new project, I knew it was going to be cosmic horror. That’s about all I knew at first, but it was enough.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In the very near-future (as in June!), I have novel being released through Eerie River Publishing. The book, called Infested, is a parasitic horror story, and is very near and dear to me. I’d been working on it for a long (seriously, it has been so long) time, and it’s nice to see it finally coming out.
Beyond that, I have another novella in the works, and a second novel that needs a final coat of paint before I can parade it out into the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in We All Fall Before the Harvest?
Owen? Well, Owen is a bad man. That’s not up for debate. He’s done things, awful things, that haunt him daily. He’s the kind of guy that, when you see him walking toward you, you cross the street. I’m a big fan of crime noir stories, and wanted to channel that sort of protagonist into We All Fall Before the Harvest. Somebody living in a state of constant grey.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Not to sound like a psycho, but I liked the cruelty of it. The story is mean and that’s what I wanted. There’s a dangerous, nasty masculinity to the prose that adds a visceral sheen to the entire thing. I reveled in it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am a creature of regret in most aspects of my life. Heck, I regret eating the blueberry Pop Tarts this morning instead of the strawberry! But, in the case of this book, I really don’t have any. It was a perfect storm of creativity for me that resulted in something I’m proud of.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My knee-jerk answer to this question is a young Russell Crowe. He seems pretty shady. He’d be perfect!
How did you come up with name of this book?
I never name my stories until they are finished (or very close to being finished). The working title for this one was simply Below. Why? I can’t even remember. I think it had something to do with water. Anyway, sometime during the second draft, I started honing in on the actual title. Novellas have a certain flair with their titles, and, in that spirit, I came up with We All Fall Before the Harvest.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Yikes. I wouldn’t want to be around any of these people. They’re awful! But, if you could stomach it, spending a few hours with The Family would probably be quite educational—and terrifying.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I sometimes use real folks as inspiration for characters in my stories, but for this book, everybody sprang from my imagination.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I’m definitely in control. The best my characters can achieve are small acts of sabotage against me, but, like some sort of corrections officer, I always get them back in line.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Hmm, let’s say, rotting vegetation, manure, pork rinds and a subtle undertone of patchouli. Yum!
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
I wrote this book super-fast (for me at least). It took little less than a month and it was initially going to be a road trip story which would have concluded for the climax in Nova Scotia.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Why would you ask the impossible? If you wanted a top 100, I would still have to narrow it down. Sigh. Okay. I’ll just name authors because, in most cases, they would have multiple books in my favourites list anyway.
What book do you think everyone should read?
If we’re talking the spooky stuff, then it has to be Stephen King’s It. I know it’s thick enough to choke a donkey, but it’s worth it. Truly an epic horror novel.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for about ten years. Although, to be fair, only about five of those were with any sort of serious intentions. It felt more like a glorified hobby at first.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I usually have a handle on all the major characters in a story before I start writing, but a bunch of secondary characters will inevitably pop up along the way. I will say, it is rare for these surprise additions to ascend higher than secondary character status though.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Confession time. I do almost no research. This is completely because I’m lazy. My process is to write the book with little to no regard to research, then, afterward, when cleaning it up, I’ll fact check the stuff I wrote. Even then, I try to dance around as much research as possible. Again, I’m lazy.
Do you see writing as a career?
Not to sound naïve, but yeah, I do. As much as I would love to be raking in Stephen King money, that’s not the only path to success as a writer. Hopefully, in a couple years, with a few more books under my belt, I’ll be making enough to transition into writing as my full-time gig.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I read about 50 books a year. I thought this was impressive until I started making friends in the industry and found others read hundreds! Like, how is that even possible?! Anyway, I read across multiple genres but my fav, obviously, is horror. I would say I read three horror books for every one of a different genre.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I always write with my headphones on. I find silence off-putting. I can hear my own heavy breathing and it reminds me of how unhealthy I am. At least with music in my ears, only those around me have to hear me gasping for air.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Traditionally, I would write one at a time, but there have been occasions when I’m editing one project while writing another. I try to avoid this, as my mind works better when I can keep things separate.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Tough question. Okay, I would probably narrow it down to Stephen King’s It, or Dan Simmons’ The Terror. I love both books dearly, and think both are monuments of horror. Obviously, It is more well known, but The Terror is nearly flawlessly written and full of so much detail and research that it was mindboggling to me while reading (it’s the exact kind of book I could never actually write).
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer. I like the idea of writing with a pen, and have done so before, but ultimately it was just adding in an extra step to the process since I had to transcribe it onto the computer anyway.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Easy. The protagonist, Owen. I felt connected to him very early on. He’s like a caged tiger, just waiting for somebody to carelessly leave the door unlocked. He’s my opposite in so many ways, that I kinda sorta want to be him. At least, have his confidence, not the whole violence thing. That I don’t want.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment I decided to try my hand at writing. I’ve always been a creative person, and even went to school for animation, so that desire to tell a story was sort of always there. But the catalyst which heralded my writing career in earnest was the birth of my first child. Lelaina Blue. She signaled a turning point for me, a loud, flashing sign that said, “DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE!”
A day in the life of the author?
Get up and drive my kids to school. I am not a morning person, so this process is painful and messy to watch. Afterward, I hit the local library and write from 9am till about 11am. I like to get in 1500 words a session, and usually come in just above or below that. Once done, I spend another hour beta reading other works, sending emails, and finishing odds and ends (like answering interview questions). The it’s lunchtime. After lunch, I’ll spend some time on social media. Side note, I am not a fan of social media (okay, being real, I kinda hate it), but it’s a valuable tool for authors, so I make time for it. And then the kids are home from school and the author stuff is essentially over for the day.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Write. Every. Day! This sounds like an obvious bit of advice, but it must be said. I used to be very guilty of this. I would take a few days off, or even a week or two, while writing. Inevitably, when I returned to it, I would waste a whole day just trying to get the feel for it again. You can’t beat the momentum everyday writing creates.
Describe your writing style.
I would say visceral and descriptive. I want you to really see the space, to smell the stink, to taste the decay. Gross, I know, but it’s what I shoot for.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I always start with a few paragraphs describing the idea. From there, I begin outlining. I’m definitely team plotter (in the great plotter vs pantser debate), and as such, like to break down almost the entire book before I actually start drafting. My reliance on plotting has burned me in the past though, as a small change early in one particular project snow-balled into a complete rewrite by the end. Because of that, I try and leave some wiggle room in the story during the plotting phase.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Video games! I am a sucker for video games. The worst thing I can do is sit down and “just play for twenty minutes or so”, because that will be the next three hours of my life, and there goes my writing time.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Great question! I would say I try and straddle the line. On the one hand, I want the creative freedom to write whatever the old grey matter conjures up. But, on the other hand, I am trying to be successful and as such, I have to be, at the very least, aware of the marketability of what I’m are writing.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I spent a lot of years trying to tone down my writing voice, only to realize after a lot of heartache, that it was a mistake. At the end of the day, every story has been told, nothing is truly new or unique, so all that matters is how you tell it. Younger me would have benefited well from such advice.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I haven’t written all that many yet, but I would say, on average, about a year.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I absolutely do! Thankfully, I’ve not felt it much myself, but I have friends that suffer from this to a debilitating degree. It is real and it is awful.
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