Robert James, Author of The Keeper's Secret

Author Robert James
Welcome to my favorite time of year!

I’m grateful for the praise I received for the opening of The Keeper’s Secret, and I’m excited to have my story in this year’s anthology. Special thanks to Elizabeth Fortin and the Tell-Tale team for their patience and guidance, and congratulations to the other winners! I hope our collection of stories hit their mark.

When I discovered the 2015 Halloween Horror Party and explored the twisted world of Tell-Tale Publishing, something clicked. It just felt right. When I saw the contest, I couldn’t resist the challenge: hook the judges in 500 words or less. Several characters and stories were rattling around in my nugget, but it was The Keeper’s Secret that screamed the loudest. I studied the judging rubric, wrote, revised, obsessed, and perfected a catatonic stare out my bedroom window. I hope you enjoy the result.

To understand where this story came from, you need to know a little about me. Writing is a fundamental aspect of my professional life, but I didn’t start writing fiction until about 5 years ago when I was in the throes of a raging mid-life crisis. I don’t care how you try to spin it, there’s a reason 40 is the magic number. Your mind and your body begin to break down as you start that inevitable slow-motion slide to the grave. Like many, I had face-planted into a wall professionally, demons lurked in the shadows of every corner of my personal life, and my internal clock was racing out of control.

Life was kicking my ass.

So, I did what any relentless dreamer would do, and retreated to my creative shell to cope. I took up the guitar and I started to write – outlines of ideas, character sketches, scenes – just for the sake of my own therapeutic Zen. By the time I heard Tell-Tale’s siren call last summer, I was awash in new struggles with a novel. I had two competing ideas mashed together, fighting a steel cage death match on my computer’s hard drive.

My literary therapy had stalled and I still sucked at guitar.           

Something had to give.

“Short is the new long!” proclaimed a best-selling peddler of literary advice, so I decided to embrace smaller things. I put aside the marathon and started running 5Ks, and I have to say, it was really nice to get across some finish lines.

I wrote The Keeper’s Secret during that time, drawing on my love for Great Lakes maritime history, some of my darkest fears, and the Irish chip on my shoulder. In many ways, Megan is my hero. The chunky (but athletic) 17-year-old girl with purple hair and tattoos looks her fear in the eyes, spits in its face, and starts swinging.

I hope you enjoy my words, and if I inspire some of you to battle your own demons, that would be pretty cool too.


To see more of what RJ is up to and order a copy of his anthology, be sure to visit Tell-Tale Publishing's 6th Annual Halloween Horror Party! This year's theme is Haunted New Orleans!