I have a lot of fond memories of the 1990s. From the ages of 9 through 19, the decade brought an enormous amount of change into my life. Some good, some bad, but it all helped shape me into who I am today.

I hold a high degree of nostalgia for that era and relish the fact that a certain song or movie can transport me back in time. It’s also a double-edged sword, as I divide the decade into a time of my relative innocence (1990-95) and my transition toward adulthood (1996-99).

Alas, we aren’t here for me to simply wax nostalgic. No, we’re here so I can share some insight behind Night Driver, my upcoming horror novella set in 1994.

So, grab a beverage, settle in, and let’s take a look.

Night Driver: Origin

When I was a kid, I had a fascination with cars. I loved them. My mom took me to a car show when I was 8, thanks mainly to the presence of the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman.

Going from one vehicle to the next, I would fixate on at least one feature of each car that stood out: the taillights of a new Ford, the stance of a Chrysler concept. It all fascinated me.

As every day has its night, my obsession had a dark side.

Thanks to films like Christine, The Car,  and Duel, the idea of being hunted by a car (or truck) held a macabre allure over me. On many summer nights, I—along with my cousins and friends—would stand on the sidewalk and wait for a car to come along. Keep in mind this was in a small town, so traffic was usually light.

When one came along, we’d wait as long as we could hold out before running and hiding. Occasionally, a bewildered driver would slow down, undoubtedly wondering what the hell they just witnessed. Yes, it was dumb but, in our defense, we were just a bunch of dumb kids having fun.

Burned Into Memory

Granted, that’s not particularly dark. Rather, it wasn’t particularly dark until one night when I was alone in my room.

Wow, that sounded way more foreboding than I intended. Oh well, I’ll go with it.

My second-floor bedroom overlooked a chunk of the street, the view slightly obstructed by the limbs of a pecan tree. Late one Saturday evening, a howling wind drew my attention. I’ve always loved storms, so I decided to take a look outside.

To my dismay, there was no thunder, no lightning, just the occasional breeze. Just as I turned to go back to whatever it was I had been doing, a car rolled to a stop in front of a house across the street.

To paint a clearer picture, the car stopped well short—around 75 feet—of the nearest traffic light. I stood still, transfixed, watching and waiting.

Maybe they were picking someone up. It seemed unlikely since I knew the family that lived there. Still, I couldn’t be sure.

Perhaps he was a serial killer, on the hunt for a victim. Maybe he was a thief looking for a darkened house to rob. The possibilities were endless, and none of the ones I conjured up were good.

After what felt like 10 minutes, the driver emerged, walked around the rear of the car, and stood, head tilted down. It looked like he was staring at the storm drain, but I couldn’t be sure.

It was around this time I realized a light was on in my room. Yep, I was watching (some might say spying) on this strange man standing in the road at midnight, completely backlit.

Like I said, dumb kids.

I sprinted to shut the light off and, when I returned to the window, the man was staring directly at me. Now, I’m not saying he actually saw me, but he was looking straight at the area I stood in. Terror flooded my underdeveloped brain; I was sure I was about to meet a grisly fate.

To my immense relief, he returned to his car and drove away. I never saw that car again, at least not that I’m aware, but that memory seared itself into my young brain.

(Sega?) Genesis

Horror is a genre that I’ve always loved and one that I’ve dipped my toes into a few times. The urge to revisit it is always there, so when I decided to come back, I wanted a story that resonated with me.

Naturally, that night returned to me, and I was right back in the 90s, standing at my window, watching the mysterious driver.

That was it; that was my EUREEKA! moment.

The town of Eden Falls became the idealized placeholder for my own hometown, a place where kids did stupid things at all hours of the night as a rite of passage.

In this town, you’ll meet a trio of young friends: Adam, Paul, and Terry. They’re young, full of enthusiasm, and naive about the darkness that exists in the world. They represent an innocence yet to be tainted by growing up.

Then there’s a quartet of teenagers, including Adam’s sister Jenny. They have hope for the future but are being pulled in multiple directions by hormones and crushed by the weight of expectations. They are the ones whose innocence is at its most fragile.

There is also a handful of adult characters, led by Adam and Jenny’s grandfather, Bill. He’s been to war and seen the world for what it is. He knows that good and evil exist, and he’s become a pro at telling one from the other. He’s been through the wringer and come out wiser.

Last—but certainly not least—we have the driver. Oops, I mean, The Driver. I’d better show the proper respect, lest he appear in my driveway in the middle of the night.

Night Driver

That’s all for now. I’m still working on completing the story, but I wanted to share a little insight behind the story with all of you. 

You can comment below and let me know what you think, and be sure to keep an eye out for the official release date.

Also, I’ve created a soundtrack for the book. I like to make music to capture the feel of a project and listen to it when I write. If you like, you can check it out below:

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Ashleigh O'Briant
Ashleigh O'Briant
9 months ago

So excited for the novella. Great behind the scenes look!