When I first started writing Mr Shivers, I eventually realised that what I was trying to write was a mythology.
Myths are fundamentally part of our deep collective subconscious. They’re figures and stories that are instantly recognisable, buried so deep they’re practically ingrained in us. I wanted to use mythology of the Great Depression and Southern folklore, things we all could identify without thinking – Hoovervilles and dirt roads and bogwater ditches, ramshackle homes sitting abandoned in empty fields, and desperate drifters trekking across harsh countries. Overloaded Zephyrs and Fords trundling west, kicking up dust. The echo of blues and gospel music haunting the hobo camps, and trading liquor or tobacco for a knife or a place to sleep. And always the promise of greener pastures out there, hiding somewhere behind a stretch of the horizon.
I wanted to take that and mix it with an even older mythology. Something much more primal, much more savage. Maybe when these wanderers struck out for the West they stumbled across something in the far ranges. An old story that’d been going on since before time was time. Maybe they’d found a place where the very bones of the earth rose up and pierced the rock and the dust. And maybe there was something living in those bones, something that’d been making its home there and had just been returning after a long while abroad . . .
It was about then that I realised Mr Shivers had been wandering for a while, but it was about time someone set him to paper.