By L.S. Johnson (https://traversingz.com/)
Jeff Seeman is the author of two novels, Political Science and Guns and Butter, and a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, The Scythe of Time: An Essay and Homage. He was a contributor to the short story anthologies 18 Wheels of Science Fiction, 18 Wheels of Horror, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Hell Comes to Hollywood. A former editor of the Cornell Lunatic (Cornell University’s answer to the Harvard Lampoon), he has performed stand-up comedy in Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco.
About “Road Kill”
When I was about twelve years old, I was captivated by Richard Matheson’s story “Duel.” I already knew that I wanted to be a writer, and I thought that I’d love to be able to write a story like that someday. But I didn’t want to write something that was merely derivative of “Duel”—I wanted to unpack the story and understand its essence, and then do something totally different. I remember reading the story over and over and making detailed notes, trying to deconstruct it the way some kids might take apart a clock to see how it worked. I isolated every story choice that Matheson had made and consciously made the opposite choice. So, for example, we never learn anything about the trucker in “Duel,” but in my story the trucker would be the protagonist and we’d get to know him intimately. Matheson’s story is realistic; everything that happens, while unlikely, is still possible. So I would write a story that was full of impossible, supernatural events. More importantly, “Duel” doesn’t contain a single line of dialogue—we see the villain bearing down on our hero, but we never hear his voice. So my story would do the opposite—we hear the voice, a disembodied, malevolent force, but we never actually see our villain.
My twelve-year-old self never wrote that story, which is doubtless a good thing because I’m sure it would have turned out awful. But a few years ago, Eric Miller was compiling an anthology of trucking-themed horror stories, and he invited me to contribute. I remembered this idea I had played with way back when I was twelve years old, and I sat down and wrote the story as I had imagined it then—although, hopefully, from a much more adult perspective.
So “Road Kill” is really my attempt to pay tribute to Matheson—by taking a story I was fascinated by as a child and turning it inside-out.
On the future of California
In 2015, the Valley Fire devastated Lake County, burning thousands of acres and taking four lives. I have friends who lost everything in that fire—their homes, their possessions, their communities. Perhaps more importantly, they lost their sense of security, the feeling that they could ever be safe in their own homes. In 2018, wildfires broke out in both Northern and Southern California. The Camp Fire was the single deadliest, most destructive wildfire in the history of the state, burning over 150,000 acres and killing 85. In California, 14 of the 20 largest wildfires on record have occurred over the past 15 years.
I wish I could be more hopeful about the future of California, but honestly I think these disasters are going to continue and are going to get much worse until we as a country adjust our priorities. Most scientists now agree that the effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture are turning forests into kindling during wildfire season. We need to stop wasting time on hateful, divisive politics and start working together to save our planet.
Where to find more of my work
Most of what I’ve written that’s still in print can be found on my Amazon author’s page: www.amazon.com/author/jeffseeman
*NEXT POST ON MONDAY 8/26/19, SCARY STORIES FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Crystal M. Romero ON “The Relic”
*Edit: The story order is being changed up with G.O. Clark’s story up next. Apologies for any inconvenience.
-Tomes & Coffee Press