Twelve Things About "Twelve Nights at Rotter House"

Twelve Nights at Rotter House, my haunted house novel for those who aren’t that into haunted house novels, has been out for almost a month now, so I thought I’d take you behind the pages somewhat. I did this same thing for Death and Douglas, too, although I only had to do ten things for that one. Zero chance my sense of proportion would let me get away with Ten Things About Twelve Nights.

Oh, and none of the below items are spoilers for those who are still deciding whether my words are worth their eye sockets.

1. The house is loosely based on the S.K. Pierce Mansion in Gardener, Massachusetts, which I’ve been outside of, but never inside. Well, I guess technically I’m always outside of it, but just before writing the book I actually stopped by the place and walked around it.

2. The idea was originally conceived as my next nonfiction project after A Season With the Witch, but I realized quickly when I knew I should that it would turn out to be a boring read (guy hangs out in empty house for two weeks), so I fictionalized it. Although, honestly, I still kind of want to do the nonfiction version of this story.

3. I treated this fiction project like a nonfiction project and read and re-read a lot of haunted house books for this novel. That lists includes:

  • The Haunting by Shirley Jackson
  • The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
  • 666 by Jay Anson
  • The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
  • The Haunting by Ruby Jean Jensen
  • Bones in the Basement by Joni Mayhan
  • The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

4. The book was originally called Twelve Nights in Rotter House, but the in was changed to an at accidentally, when I misspoke the title for this video I shot to introduce it to the sales team at Turner Publishing. Instead of reshooting the whole video, I just changed the title during my last edit. I hope the butterfly effect is kind to me in this case.

5. There are a few divisive things about this book, I’ve learned, one of which is all the references to other haunted house stories. Which is a valid criticism of the book for those who don't like that stuff. My first draft actually had about 80% more references in it. I just let myself go crazy with it. But I eventually whittled it down to what I thought were the most important ones. The references had to be there, though. First, because I couldn’t suspend my own disbelief that someone could stay at a haunted house without all that cultural baggage pressing down on their shoulders. Second, because it was sorta the point of the book.

6. One of the spooky travelogues that the main character wrote, The Town Without a Face, which is about his time in Sleepy Hollow, New York, is a book I actually want to write someday. Not totally sold on that title, though.

7. M.S. Corley’s cover for the book (which somehow avoids all the cover cliches that most haunted house novels lock into while simultaneously nailing one of the themes) incorporates words from the book itself, so I assume there might be spoilers on the front cover.

8. My beta-readers were all members of the OTIS Club. I’m not sure that I can call it a perk that they got to read an early version of it, though.

9. The Intercom Button story from the book is a true story that happened to me.

10. The book was originally written without chapters, just divided by nights, but my agent, Alex Slater, sagely suggested that it needed more of a rhythm to it.

11. Rotter House came out of the nameplay in the book, but for the record, I am a big fan of Daniel Kraus’ Rotters.

12. It was 2.5 years from first word punched into the screen to the physical published book in my hands.