What do horror, being a lawyer, and stress have in common?
All played a part in my life when I worked full time as a lawyer. Also, all factor into the three short stories in the new paperback edition of The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror.
I finally released this paperback edition while home recovering from my broken foot–one good thing about the many weeks in the cast.
The Man In The Mirror
I'm particularly fond of this story, as it's the first one I ever sold. (Sort of–the check bounced. But I have a contract that said I'd be paid. Really.)
It takes place during a recruiting event at an amusement park that turns deadly when the attractions develop minds of their own.
It also delves into the mind of the main character. He's a new lawyer struggling with feeling too much like a grown up kid in his expensive suit, flailing through relationships with female coworkers, and jealous of those around him who gain success faster than he does.
In The Merger, a woman struggles with whether to stay in her soulless job after a large corporation swallows her company. She feels her autonomy disappearing, but the money she can earn there beckons.
Many lawyers and clients I worked with struggled with this type of conflict. And many more do now as companies and firms grow larger and larger.
Of course, because this story is part of a collection of Twilight Zone-like tales, the “soulless” part may very well be literal.
The Tower Formerly Known As Sears
In my early drafts of this story, the protagonist was a partner who made life hell for the new attorneys stuck working for him. But as I saw growing pains in the law firm where I worked, I began thinking about it from the perspective of a new leader trying to persuade everyone that change is good.
In this final version, the lawyers push back against the leader. And so does the skyscraper where the firm is located, the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower).
A few years after I published this story as part of the ebook edition, a short film of it was made under the title The Willis Tower. The film takes yet another approach, linking the horror less to the skyscraper listed in the title and more to the protagonist's psyche.
While the story changed a bit, I loved seeing the director's take on the narrative. And it was fun seeing actors playing the parts I'd written.
All of which is to say I'm very excited to finally be offering this short book in paperback. Readers asked for it over the years, but it seemed some other project always took priority. Now it's finally here. This edition includes a sample first chapter from When Darkness Falls, a gothic horror novel set in Chicago's South Loop.