Author Tyler Christensen Serves Up Horror With Novel As Dead Things Do

Author Tyler Christensen, a former Wilmington resident, writes that a particularly spooky old barn in Trinity, North Carolina, helped inspire his novel “As Dead Things Do”, a haunted house thread set in the Tar Heel State.

Caleb and Jared, a gay couple with a rocky marriage, decide to move from Los Angeles to western North Carolina for a fresh start.

Jared just inherited a 200-year-old family home there, and Caleb, a writer, can do his job anywhere.

There are a few challenges. The old place needs a lot of repairs – complicated by Jared’s father, who is still around and throws a tantrum if anyone tries to make changes or dig too deep in the grounds.

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Soon, while Jared is away from his job at Appalachian State University, Caleb begins to hear things: creaks, clicks, the occasional moan. The doors open and close by themselves. A strange light keeps lighting up in the basement. The air seems laden with cigar smoke. (One of Jared’s late uncles was constantly puffing cigars.)

Jared’s little nephews and nieces, constantly running around the yard, seem to have an invisible friend who isn’t so invisible.

It’s not until page 47 that Jared finally admits that, yes, the house is haunted.

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Today, Caleb is a horror movie buff. (He regularly treats nieces and nephews to his DVD collection, including the made in Southport “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, which Caleb thinks is very underrated). Why he’s not calling Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga at this point, or someone very much like them, is a mystery.

Paranormal phenomena are intensifying. It is clear that the House does not contain only a host of spirits. He, and the land around him, hold a powerful, gooey, fetid presence — Caleb calls him The Yuck — a presence that needs regular nurturing.

Christensen, a screenwriter, is no Stephen King, but he handles the horror genre deftly and his story unfolds diligently. It’s easy to imagine that this novel will be shot in a few years, perhaps in the Wilmington area.

BOOK REVIEW

“AS DEAD THINGS DO”

By Tyler Christensen

Off Limits Press, $16 paperback

Irene B. Bowles