It’s hard for me to believe that a story that I was once so scared to write has come this far and lasted this long!
I remember gearing up to celebrate the Shack Out Back’s very FIRST anniversary, and wanting to really do something different to celebrate. A story that had been knocking around in the back of my mind for a while, but for some reason…it intimidated the hell out of me when it came to writing it out and sharing it with other people. A homoerotic vampire story featuring a group of gay teens? Would anybody even want to read something like that? Who knew? But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone, so I decided to take the risk and start writing. What’s the worse that could happen, right? Being totally embarrassed in front of the entirety of the internet, I suppose! Hehehe! But those are the breaks sometimes!
The story was something that had evolved from a detailed fever dream that I had when I was 19. I was bedridden with a SEVERE case of the chicken pox. If you’ve never had the chicken pox as an adult…I don’t recommend giving it a try. It’s hell. So, I’m in bed with a 102* degree fever, slipping in and out of consciousness, when I had a vivid dream of teen vampires draining the life essence of humans in a techno rave type of nightclub. I began taking notes, and called the story “Midnight’s Child”. Over the years, the idea kept growing and changing and it stuck with me until, eventually, “Gone From Daylight” was born.
I kept the first chapter short, even though it was the longest story that I had written for the site up to that point. And I made sure that the story could ‘end’ when it did. Just in case it didn’t go over well with the rest of my readers. A fellow writer and close friend, Drew Greyfox, became my test audience. He was the first, and only, person to read “Gone From Daylight”…promising to be brutally honest with his thoughts about it. A day or two later…his reaction is what gave me the confidence to go forward and post it for the rest of the Shackers to read. Hehehe, he LOVED it! A lot more than I expected him to, to be honest! He thought it was on a whole other level from everything that I had written before it, and it would be a crime to not release it. So…I did.
Luckily…the reaction from readers was just as rewarding, if not more so! The story struck a chord with a lot of people, and they immediately began craving the next installment so they could find out what happened from there! It was definitely a sigh of relief for me, and I got my notes together to flesh out a much bigger story that, while still intimidating to me at the time, was something that I was really passionate about and wanted to do the story justice.
Before I knew what was happening with the story’s popularity, it had spiraled into a full blown frenzy! Even skeptics who didn’t even want to read it at first decided to give it a shot, and it became their favorite story on the site. In fact, it is still the number one story above all others. Even years later, there’s no competition. And that is flattering beyond belief.
When “Gone From Daylight” finally debuted with its first book,the response not only created a lot of questions and theories about what was going to happen in the story, what certain things meant, and how they would progress from that point on…but it also inspired a lot of creative minds to jump in and see if they could maybe expand on the world they had recently been introduced to.
Soon, a few poems were written to express the feelings of the characters. Or I would get emails from readers who found songs that reminded them of certain scenes in the story. But things only grew bigger from there.
A few writers wanted to take a shot at writing stories that were based in the same universe as “GFD”, and sent me a message to ask permission for use of certain ideas or certain characters in their story. Well…HELL YEAH! Hehehe! I’m like, “Go for it! This is awesome!” And after two or three other requests popped up, I gave everyone on the site an open license to use any story elements or characters that they wanted to use, gave them full freedom to add anything new that they wanted to the mythology, and told them to have at it. All I asked for in return is that they credit the original story, and they could have an open canvas to paint whatever picture they wanted to paint upon it.
And THAT…opened the floodgates!
Stories and poems and pictures of the characters began to rush into my email inbox almost immediately. Other writers wanted to take a crack at writing stuff of their own, and I was reading them as fast as I could. They really seemed to understand the story, and interpret it in ways that I NEVER would have imagined myself in a million years! Some using characters from the story, and many creating characters of their own. I started asking them to share them on the Library so other people could enjoy them too. Even if I had to post it for them myself. I was honestly amazed at what I was seeing with all of this, and wanted to see more!
However, I was on a WebTv at the time, and space was limited, and there was no hard drive to save to…so there was no way for me to actually keep all of this stuff and save it for later. And by the time the second book, “GFD: Resurrection” was posted on the site…it became clear that I was going to lose all of this creative genius from a variety of writers that put their heart and soul into this! And thus…the GFD: Blood Bank website became a necessity!
Of course…the big question was…
How, exactly, do I plan to do that? Hehehe!
It would be the most severe understatement in human history to say that I am not the most ‘tech savvy’ person in the world! Anyone who had been around to have seen my amateur attempts at building the Shack Out Back in the very beginning can attest to that. But, nothing is impossible without a little bit of help from your friends! And by ‘a little bit of help’, I mean…they did all the hard work and came up with the design and the ideas and then asked my opinion afterward! LOL! Which was always positive because they always worked miracles! Fans of the Shack and fans of the “GFD” series got together, listened to what ideas I had and what I was looking for, and they created an entirely new experience that went WAY above and beyond expectations in every imaginable way!
The first model for the fresh new website came with the help of JeffsFort, ACFan, The Story Lover, and a special archivist named ‘Uriel’ who guarded the place and made frequent updates and new posts for everyone! Then, a second design was put together from scratch by TurtleBoy, taking the site to the next level as more and more material from myself and others began to fill up the fansite and expand the mythology even further. And now…with JeffsFort, ACFan, Akeentia, Spector, The Story Lover, back on the task…The “GFD: Blood Bank” is going through a NEW metamorphosis, that is sure to blow the socks off of every fan that has ever invested the time, energy, and heart, needed to make the website a huge success!
As more chapters of “Gone From Daylight” were released, the fanbase began to grow. And once they discovered the Blood Bank stories…many others decided they wanted to chip in! We even had writing contests, movie poster contests, etc, where people could send stuff in and help to fill the site up with as much fandom as our online space would allow!
The diehard fans (Or ‘Day Hard’ fans!) didn’t disappoint!
We got pictures and videos and short stories and extended, complex, vampire mini-series…and it just kept growing! I began adding a ton of new stories/series of my own as well. Hehehe, since everybody was having so much fun, why not? As readers and writers, we all came together to give our take on the vampire experience. What’s going on while this new vampire, ‘Justin’, is running around in the streets? What were vampires doing in ancient Rome? What were they up to in the Old West? How do the clubs and fighting arenas work? What will happen to them (or to us) in the future? You could take any character, any era in history, and any situation, and create your own world with your own rules and conflicts and rewards…and share it with other fans of the series. It’s a fantasy come true. So, naturally, I wanted to jump in the sandbox and have fun with the rest of you guys! Hehehe! Together, I think we built something awesome there! And there’s no reason to have it stop growing now!
Since its inception…”Gone From Daylight” and the “Blood Bank” has become a MONSTER in comparison to what I ever thought it could be. It has spawned MANY tales from many talented authors over the years! Each of them with their own unique take on the action, horror, romance, and philosophy, that made GFD special to them. The story has been translated into different languages (French, German, Vietnamese, etc) and has been shared around the world. There’s a Vampire Warehouse Forum available! There’s a COMIC BOOK! There have been animations made, games created, there’s even a GFD Wiki for fans to learn more about the vampire lore that’s contained in the variety of stories that have been written so far. Including an actual WORKING vampire language that was created specifically for the “GFD” series! I’m not making that up! Hehehe! You should hear it! It’s beautiful!
But, one thing that could be considered the crown jewel of them all, was a short film version of “Gone From Daylight” that was completely put together by a talented film director that he used as one of his final projects. That was absolutely mind-blowing to me! I have a ton of respect for everyone involved. I thought the actors did a great job, I thought the musical score choices were spot on, and even though it wasn’t filmed in Chicago…that Navy Pier feel was definitely expressed here in all its beauty! There were some changes made to the story (It’s sort of a mixture of “Gone From Daylight” and “Taryn’s Song”), but I thoroughly enjoyed them all, and this ten minute film captures the true essence of what “Gone From Daylight” was all about! So enjoy! And thanks to the cast and crew who made this all possible!
Wait! Did this win some local awards? Hehehe! How awesome is THAT? ((Hugz))
So, if you happen to be a fan of the number ONE story on the entire Shack Out Back website…check out the “GFD: Blood Bank”, and….’see how deep the rabbit hole goes’! Hehehe! Sorry, I couldn’t resist! And if you’ve never given the series a look, or had any desire to…you’re missing out! Vampire are everywhere! Online, in the streets, in the clubs, in Samurai Japan, in Prohibition Era Chicago…everywhere! Aren’t you curious where all of these lines criss cross? Check out the GFD: Blood Bank and see it all! I dare ya!