Night of the Crimson Twig

Ron Bently was just an average fourteen-year-old boy, living in the small suburb of Woodvale, hub of the Prattcorn Valley. He hung out with his friends, played sports, and secretly wrote stories for a hobby. Sure, his confidence was impaired thanks to a kid named Jared Hall, but otherwise, things were good. However, normal life changed when the evil Warlord, shadowy leader of the Benedict Mafia, uncovered the dark secrets of Woodvale and used them to gain awesome power. Now Ron, whose confidence was shattered by a common bully, has become the only thing between the Warlord and world conquest. He must draw on his friends and his writing to succeed, but does he have what it takes?

This was the first novel-length book I ever published; I was a 16-year-old high school sophomore. I’m pretty sure sending copies out with my applications is what got me into college. Nearly 20 years later, I find the story taken at face value to be pretty embarrassingly bad (just look at that cliche-riddled teaser text), though it does sometimes rise to the level of entertainingly weird (think Redwall meets Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction acted out by humans, and then it’s also Jimmy Neutron). But I no longer take the story at face value: since I coyly suggested in the text (which, to my younger self’s credit, is at least grammatically and logically competent) that this book was actually written by its own protagonist, Ron Bently, I now choose to read it as his work rather than mine, and I attribute the difference between the way I wrote the story in 1999/2000 and the way I’d write it now to Ron changing, hiding, or being in denial about different things he thought or experienced. Basically, NoCT is most interesting when studied as the work of a repressed gay man who hadn’t come out to himself yet.

Though I took great pains to scrub the original iUniverse printing from the face of the Earth years ago, you can now get a faithful Lulu reprinting, if you really want it, by using the Contact Me form (I’ll email you back a direct-purchase link). NoCT is technically the genesis of the Woodvale Universe, though I was calling the town Wirville in 1999/2000, so some of the parts of the story I still accept as true are in continuity. Though I should note that, just because things weren’t confusing enough, young me did a find/change to insert the name of my real-life hometown, Westwood, in place of Wirville just before the iUniverse publication, hoping to generate local interest. All this move actually accomplished was to confuse the few people who bought the book, as they encountered a setting that obviously wasn’t really Westwood. The Lulu reprint undoes this strategic error and changes the name back to Woodvale (I considered using Wirville just to be contemporaneously accurate, but then I said to myself, haven’t you muddied the waters enough already?)