Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Boo Hag by David Morgan: Character Interview & Excerpt

Dark Fantasy Anthology

Lenny Petrakas is worried about her skin. Not the way you're thinking. Not like that at all. While most people spend time concerned about dirt and elasticity, temperature and moisture, Lenny has a more pressing problem. Something is after her. Something evil that won't stop until it has peeled every last inch of skin from the teen's body. And then, it may end her misery quickly, or it may dump her body in the woods. Let infection and dehydration run its course.

Lenny is just your normal sixteen-year-old girl. Was. Was just your normal sixteen-year-old girl. Quiet and polite. Petite. Introspective, but not to the point of isolation. Loyal? Fiercely so. Outstanding? Noteworthy? Different? No, no, and no. Or so she thought. What started as an eerie feeling, a certainty that someone had been in her room while she slept, has spiraled into something far worse. Something was in her room. Something that finds her highly different, extremely noteworthy, and intensely outstanding.

Game over? Wrong. Lenny's a fighter, and she isn't about to lie down and take what's coming to her. Enlisting the help of her best friend, a not-so-secret admirer, the hottest guy in school, one odious cheerleader, and a paranormalist teacher, Lenny is facing her fears head on, in a battle she knows can only end in death.

Instead of doing an interview today, I decided to pass the questions over to some of the characters from The Boo Hag. I was going to focus on just one or two of them, but they revolted against the idea, so I let six of them have a shot at one question. This is what they came up with. 

What would we find under your bed?
Mr. Brown-A crossbow. Nothing else. I mean, the crossbow is down there for a reason; anything else would just get in the way.

Well, that’s frightening.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lenny-A cleaning lady. Don’t judge me. I don’t want to be one now, but I used to. I can’t help it; I like cleanliness, order. Like I said, I have loftier goals now, but at one point I used to want to be a cleaning lady. Now I just do my cleaning for free. You gotta do what makes you feel good, right?

Hey, I used to want to grow up to be a cashier. We all have our things.

What are you passionate about these days?
Paul-Lenny. She’s not gonna see this is she? Don’t let her see this. Wait, can I change my answer?
Moving on...

What group do you hang out with in high school?
Katie-What group do I hang out with? Ha. That’s good. I don’t hang out with a group. A select few people have the privilege of hanging out with me. You wouldn’t get it. David Morgan wrote me, and he doesn’t even get it. I grace others with my presence out of the goodness of my heart. Feel honored that I even took the time to answer this question. The truth is David came to me asking me to do a full interview, and I said…

Okay, that’s enough.

What is your favorite meal?
Anna-Look, Lenny is great. Love her. My best friend and all that stuff. But on this one thing she’s wrong. Rib sandwich is a wonderful meal. I love school lunch on rib sandwich day. The tangy barbecue sauce, that toasted bun. Does it get any better than that?

I don’t think the bun’s toasted; it just hardened under the heat lamp.

Do you play any sports?

Okay, that one was actually kinda boring; let’s try again.

What makes you happy?

Um…how about…

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Never mind.

Well, there you have a handful of the characters from the book in a nutshell. But there’s more! Here’s a nice little excerpt for your reading pleasure.

A few footsteps short of the black gym doors, Lenny stopped. “Wait, we need some kind of plan. I don’t think we can be like ‘Hey, Brian, we need you to come talk to Mr. Brown with us about a boo hag today after school.’ For some reason I don’t think that’ll work.”

“Right,” Anna said, pulling at a curly tendril. “Right! He’s gonna think I’m an idiot. This is a stupid idea, Lenny. Maybe we should go back and talk to Paul.”


Anna kicked her own idea around her head for a moment. Shrugged, considered, and then nodded.

“Anna, Paul’s sweet, but I don’t know if he’s up for the challenge. Will you feel safe from a monster knowing that Paul is there?”

A slow frown pulled at the edges of Anna’s lips. After a moment of reflection she shook her head reluctantly.

“Yeah, me neither. Brian owes me a favor for tutoring him. And he’s strong.”

“Yeah.” Anna stared off into space, smiling giddily.

“Who else do we know that fits that criteria?”


“Exactly. Nobody. He’s our only option. And so what if he thinks you’re crazy, at least that means he’s thinking of you. Plus, this is a quick way to get Brian and you together in a house at night.” She arched her eyebrows and tilted her head to deliver the last thought.

The idea of being with Brian, looking into his eyes, talking with him, smelling him was intoxicating. Anna closed her eyes as she said, “You’re right. We need Brian.” She set her jaw, determined to get him to that house and repeated, “We need Brian.”

“Okay, now the question is how do we get him there without making him think we’re nuts?”               

“Look, just start the conversation. Once I talk that’ll mean my nerves are gone and you can zip it. You bait the hook with some small talk and I’ll reel him in.”

Lenny couldn’t help but be persuaded. When Anna wanted something she could be as determined as Lenny was courageous. “Okay, Annie, let’s go fishing,” she giggled.

“Oh, shut up.”

The gym door swung open and a beefy guy in a sweaty shirt strutted across the hall to the varsity locker room. The girls shared a silent grimace at the stench and then slipped through the slowly closing door.

The musty gymnasium seemed to Lenny as if it were the school air filter. All the stink in the building seemed to congregate in the room throughout the day. Acting as a deodorizer for the entire school had the effect of turning the room into a giant armpit. She was glad she had gym earlier in the day before the sweat of a thousand peers permeated the room, rendering the space nearly unbearable.

Looking around, it was obvious that fifth period Physical Education was different from the morning class that Lenny and Anna attended. A fraction of the students from what the girls were used to occupied the gym. Physically imposing students. Gym was not required for the upperclassmen. The few that elected to take the class were almost exclusively varsity athletes.

“Push it, Max. That’s it,” yelled Coach Painter, Santa Rosa High's varsity basketball coach, from the far side of the gym, “all the way down and all the way back.”

Max led a handful of students in full court wind sprints. At least Lenny thought it was Max. Truthfully she had no idea who Max was, but figured it was a good bet that the PE teacher was encouraging the leader of the pack.

Lenny stood waiting while Anna scanned the room. A big drop of sweat swung loose from the fastest girl of the group’s ponytail as she made the turn to run back up the court. Lenny watched in slow motion as the drop floated toward Anna’s rotating head and splashed down over her left eye.

“Uhh,” Anna groaned, “I hate gym.”

Lenny reached over and wiped the unwanted contribution from her friend’s forehead then led her away from the baseline where they had been standing. “There,” she said, “now we’re out of range.”

“Don’t bet on it,” Anna sputtered. “I never underestimate the resourcefulness of the repugnant.”

“You wax poetic when you’re grossed out, huh?” giggled Lenny.

Anna glared and slowly shook her head. Then with one final neck roll, she again turned her attention to the gym, let out one last disgusted shiver, and then stalked along the front edge of the bleachers that came off the nearest wall.

“So, is there like a coach’s room or something?” Lenny asked.

Anna turned and held up a finger, she made what looked to Lenny like a shushing noise, but no sound came out. On the other side of the bleachers, just inside the door to the hall with the team locker rooms, an affected macho tone mingled with soft peals of laughter.

“Is that him?” Lenny whispered.

Nodding her head, Anna straddled the bottom row of the bleachers and motioned for Lenny to do the same. Over the past few years many aspects of the school had been updated. The football field had received fresh sod, the library had been modernized with a new computer system, and the hallways had flat screens installed in random areas that ran looped videos promoting school spirit and attendance of upcoming activities. The bleachers, however, had been spared a makeover. Rickety metal beams held up alternating low and high plastic planks. Large gaps between the butt-boards and the foot-boards offered a segmented view of the other side. The pair tried to be nonchalant as they sat spying. Brian Stokely stood, his back to the girls, leaning a powerful shoulder against the tallest vertical bleacher beam, while Katie Rossman looked up at him from the doorway, her smiling face angelic.   

“I think I’m gonna puke,” Anna said.

“Let’s go break this thing up. We need to talk to him anyway.”

Anna shook her head. “Just a sec. I wanna hear what they’re saying.”

Even while focusing all their attention on eavesdropping, they were just able to hear what was being said over the buzz of the running students.

“So, you catch that game last week?” Brian asked.

Katie caught the edge of her lip between sparkling teeth in a coy smile. “I’m a cheerleader. Yeah, I caught the game.” With that she pushed back on the horizontal bar and started to make her way through the door.

“Yeah. Wait. Wait. I know you were there, but what I meant was how ‘bout that quarterback, huh?” Brian flexed his right arm and pointed to the bulging bicep. He ran his hand, not a boy’s hand, but a man’s, through his perfectly messy blonde, but almost brown, hair.

Anna’s breath caught in her throat.

Brian continued, “What an arm, right?”

Anna nodded.

The cheerleader rolled her eyes but held her position in the slightly opened door. “You had a good game. Three touchdown passes. One touchdown run. One interception.” She pushed the door open a little farther until Brian reached over and caught her arm.

“The ball was deflected. It was a good throw.”

“Brian,” Katie said, looking down at his hand clasping her wrist, “you sure you want to do that? Remember Sean? He’s on the football team too? Big guy? That’s my boyfriend, remember?”

“I remember, and, yes, I most definitely want to do this.”

“You’re crazy,” she said, her smile somehow finding a deeper beauty.

“Come on. Sean won’t even care.”

With that, the smile was gone. “Goodbye, Brian,” she snapped, as she made a curt exit from the gym.

“No. I didn’t mean it like that,” Brian called. He started to follow her, but decided to let her go. For now. Girls, he decided, always need time to cool off.

On the bench, Anna looked at Lenny. “Goodbye, Brian,” she said, shaking her head from side to side.

“Hey, Lenny,” Brian said.

Anna froze, then turned her head with such ferocity that Lenny was surprised the movement wasn’t accompanied by the dry twig snap of vertebrae.

“Oh, hey, Annie.”

“Hi, Brian,” Lenny said while Anna, silent, tried to compose herself. “She actually prefers Anna.”

“Well,” Anna pulled at a curl while she talked. “I…”

“Anna? I always call you Annie.”

Time stopped for Anna. Her heart skipped a beat. Bells rang out sweet music while Cupid pulled arrow after arrow out of his quiver and slung them straight through her heart. He always called her Annie. Always in this case amounted to a few sporadic occasions when she had been blessed enough to be addressed by her own personal god of smoldering love. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Brian Stokely had used her name, or a version of it, in the same sentence with the word always. That had to mean something. She pulled at the front of her shirt, trying to cool herself and looked back at Lenny with a deep exhale.

Lenny rolled her eyes. “Believe me. I’ve known her for a long time. She hates to be called Annie.”

“Oh, Eleanor,” Anna forced a giggle and clapped her hand down on Lenny’s knee playfully, but with a little more umph, “just ‘cause I don’t like you to call me Annie doesn’t mean I don’t like anyone to.”

David Morgan is more an idea than an actual person. Created in a sterilized 1980s laboratory with gleaming white walls, he was marked for greatness, bound to be a beacon in the sea of humanity, leading the masses to an everlasting epoch of unequaled love and prosperity. Under the flickering glow of a long fluorescent tube, he was taken pain-staking care of by a classified team of anonymous doctors, who watched, if not lovingly, at very least proudly, as he grew from idea, to germ, to bouncing baby boy. Nourished on the best things money can't buy and taught at the feet of the greatest philosophers yet to be born, David Morgan grew into a man. And became a writer. And the doctors were all canned.

Or David Morgan was born in California, but only lived there for a short time before being whisked away to spend his formative years in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He played a lot of soccer, but only when he wasn't parading around the neighborhood with his brother. He excelled in school right up to the point when he realized that the world would, in fact, not end if he didn't complete his homework, and then he did okay. Above all he was nice. Or so he would have you believe. But what he won't tell you, is that he once sent a friend hurtling down a dirt path on a bike, instructing him that on this part of the trail you have to go as fast as you can, and then David watched in delight as said friend jumped the edge of a small cliff and ended up hanging inches above a dirty creek, only separated from the stinking water by a dense patch of foliage. He won't tell you about that.

David lives with his wife and daughters in a house. He is severely outnumbered at home in the gender department, but he thinks that's pretty cool. David writes from the warm tropical beaches of his mind, but looks forward to a day when he can write from the warm tropical beaches of Hawaii's reality.

If you can't get enough of David--and who can?--there's more available here:

Blog  |  Twitter  |   Facebook


Fairday Morrow said...

The title is awesome- The Boo Hag! I think I've been called that before- lol : ) Sounds brutal, but unique- I can't imagine having my skin peeled, ugh! ~ Jess

Shauna Buck said...

Sounds creepy!! I'll make sure to read with the light on!

Helen said...

I would love a chance to read this. The boo hag legend is popular with the Gullahs in SC

Holly Bryan said...

Oooh, this sounds great! Very creepy...and unique! Thanks for the giveaway :)

Dian said...

What i thought when i saw the cover: watch your back! Something scary behind you.