Dare was born in 2012 from the ashes of the motion picture Dark Shadows. I enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. But as a diehard fan of the 1960s soap opera, the movie drove a stake through my heart, a desecration of my beloved TV show. It was not supposed to be funny!
Even now missing the old show, I watch reruns of Dark Shadows on Amazon Prime Video. By today’s standards, the series is laughable—missed lines, off-stage bumps, bad special effects. But back then, it was ground-breaking and unique. I remember flipping on the TV, not realizing I watched a daytime soap. And I remember being scared… and loving it! Dark Shadows was my introduction to horror. My purity lost. The dark opera led me to seek more horror, and I found it in the works of Stephen King and horror movies of the day. I was in heaven… or maybe hell.
Fast forward to 2012: from the moment I left the theater, I wanted more. Dare grew from the seed of wanting a better story. I needed to create my own dark soap opera.
But questions needed answering, choices made. Should I create fan fiction of Dark Shadows or spin a new tale in a new place with a different cast? Fan fiction is fine, but I wanted to flex my creative wings and fly from the nest I loved.
Several years passed with the story churning inside my head. I jotted notes along the way, found my setting, assembled my cast, and wrote the first line in August 2020.
When developing the story, I wrote what I knew. I’ve never been to Maine, which served as the backdrop for Dark Shadows. But I have travelled North Carolina far and wide. One place resonated with me. The first English settlers came to Roanoke Island, and the first tragedy occurred there—the Lost Colony. Manteo is a town on Roanoke Island, and much of Manteo exists in Dare, like the Marsh Lighthouse pictured above. My wife and I visited Manteo in the spring, and I half expected to see my characters walk out onto the streets.
But what about the mythos? Vampires in Dare didn’t fit. As a boy, I roamed plowed fields in winter, searching for arrowheads. They fascinated me. I found many—flint, quartz, even clay—and regarded each one as a time capsule. I wondered who last held the stone. What was his story? How had she lived? What had become of him or her? A connection back to those here long before us–the Native Americans–seemed fitting.
Mother Vine, sweet Mother Vine. On Roanoke Island, the Mother Vine is the oldest known grape vine in America. But in Dare, Mother Vine is a Native American spirit woman who survived the European settler’s arrival. She guards the island even in this new age.
Once I assembled my cast, Dare became my Dark Shadows, my soap opera—a dark opera, if you’ll permit me. Each character has a story arc that intertwines with other characters as the tale pushes forward. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed the journey of writing Dare. Now, on to book two; the dark opera continues…