Tag Archives: background

Max’s Lair: Wyoming

When Max moved to America, he wanted to build his home in a completely isolated place so he wouldn’t have to deal with things like neighbors or police or SWAT teams–just in case, you know, one of his victims escaped the dungeon. He chose Wyoming, because back then, the only people in Wyoming were Native Americans, rugged mountain men and (eventually) Mormon pioneers who were really optimistic until the winter showed up.

Max’s ranch is near Rock Springs, but how near? Pfft like I know. He keeps it hidden, and he’s been spending a lot of money buying up all the land that he can. His tiny little ranch house is just a blip on the huge tract of land that he owns.

So, where does the most monstrous creature in the history of Earth call home? Check it out.

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The History in the Books

I really like history.

Don’t get me wrong: I hate memorizing dates. Ask me a date for something and I’ll just stare at you. French Revolution? Without Googling it, I’m going to guess 1780something. After the American Revolution some time. Meh.

But I can remember events well. And actually, writing The Herxheim Chronicle has helped me remember dates better. Some dates. Not the date of the French Revolution, obviously.

I Googled it. 1789? Close enough!

I spent a lot of time researching interesting points in history so I could better flavor the Vorator. If you’re going to have a race of immortal creatures spanning the millennia, then you’ve got to make them interesting.

There are some populations that I didn’t get to represent because it seemed like reaching to include them. Australian Aborigines. Inuits. Native peoples of South America (unless you include Aztecs, which I don’t; they were more Mesoamerican).

Boom. Aztecas on the left.

One of the themes of the Vorator is that they were all involved in some kind of tragedy, whether it be large-scale or private. Connor’s tragedy was, at the age of 8, losing his father to WWI and then watching his mother’s suicide. The other Vorator’s tragedies vary–Han Li’s home was washed away when the Yellow River flooded; Sophronia Palaio battled Persians to defend her home in Greece; and Orson Laroche’s family was executed during that pesky revolution I couldn’t remember earlier.

I think one of the best parts of learning something cool is passing that information on to others. I learned a lot of neat stuff while researching the Vorator, and now I want to share what I learned!

So since this is the first day of a new year, it’s the start of my The History in the Books series of blog posts! This will pair up with the The Myth in the Books series, which examines my inspiration for the monster that the Vorator is!

Stand by, stay tuned, and get ready to learn!

P.S. Happy New Year!!



Connor retreated to the entrance of the camp and stood with his hands in his pockets there. Ulrich joined him as soldiers from the 89th arrived and took in the gruesome sight before them. They had been ordered to leave the bodies where they lay, so the Nazi atrocities could be documented.

Ulrich lit a cigarette. “This place stinks,” he said.

Connor didn’t respond. He stared at the pile of bodies in the middle of the parade ground.

Ulrich took a drag and blew the smoke toward his friend. “Stop, Connor. You’ve seen bodies before, in worse shape than this.”

Connor shoved Ulrich half-heartedly. Ulrich hardly swayed. “Yeah, but this… this is horrible. They didn’t just kill them. They starved them and tortured them.”

“So?” Ulrich said. In a low voice, he added, “They’re just people, Connor.”

Connor’s Shirts

I’ve been writing my posts in advance and scheduling them for assigned days (which is something you do when you have small children–make time when you can!), and I scheduled this post for Dec 18, 2014. So this is a little bit late, but better late than never!

Connor, the protagonist of The Herxheim Chronicle, likes his T-shirts. And, whaddayaknow, so do I! Collecting interesting, strange, funny, or otherwise notable T-shirts is a hobby of mine. What’s that, you say? I’m too old to wear T-shirts with Godzilla on them? Or unicorns? NO! I’ll never be too old! I’ll wear a dinosaur shirt to my grave!


Anyway, all the shirts Connor wears are real. I either own them or I want to own them. There are two mentioned specifically in Vorator: a My Little Pony Tee and a Jigglypuff shirt.

And there they are.

What’s the best graphic tee that you’ve ever seen or owned?

The Myth in the Books: Wendigo

The Herxheim Chronicle: Vorator features a race of monsters that are kind of like vampires, kind of like werewolves, and kind of like neither. The first of their kind, a Neolithic man named Max, has been roaming around and slaughtering people for close to 7,000 years. There’s no way that a man like Max–who could shapeshift into a monstrous beast and wasn’t shy about traipsing into a village and laying waste to everything–would go unnoticed or un-spoken-of. But I wanted my Vorator to be unfamiliar to the majority of humankind.


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What’s a Herxheim, Anyway?

When asked the title of my book (or trilogy), I often have to pause and consider the response. Normally, it ends up being, “Well, this book is called Vorator, but the overall series is called The Herxheim Chronicle.”

And then I’ll get a nod and a “hmm” and then, “What’s a Herxheim?”

So since that’s a pretty common question, I decided to explain it here. It’s pretty central to the core of what the Vorator are, but I didn’t really have the opportunity to include it in the book much. Shame!

First of all, Herxheim is not a thing, it is a where. Herxheim, Germany. It’s located in western Germany near the French border.


Riiiiiight there.

“What’s so special about Herxheim?” you might ask. “What does it have to do with cannibal monsters?”

In the Neolithic Period (10,000 BC – 4,500 BC approximately), there was a culture of humans in Europe called the Linear Band Culture, or Linearbandkeramic (LBK). They were named such for the pottery designs they did. They used linear bands to decorate their pottery.


The LBK were mostly farmers, and also mostly peaceful. Sure they got into fights with each other, but overall their lifestyle could be considered idyllic. There was very little evidence of serious violence amongst them.


In 1996, excavation began in Herxheim for a new roundabout. When the construction workers began finding human bones, they halted the project and called in the authorities. The site was identified as Neolithic and archaeologists ran in with shovels and brushes, all excited about digging up old bones.

They uncovered evidence of a large village with houses and fire pits, which was pretty normal. But they also uncovered something that was definitely not normal: a semicircular pit around the village’s edge that was filled to the brim with human and animal bones. Further investigation would reveal over 500 individual humans in the pit, ranging in age from neonates to the elderly, who were all killed violently, and whose bones were exposed to fire and bore evidence of human teeth.

In short: they were sacrificed, cooked, and eaten.


This came as a surprise to archaeologists at the time, because the LBK had been considered so peaceful. The idea of mass ritualized cannibalism hadn’t been considered for them before; in fact, the site at Herxheim was the first evidence of ritualized cannibalism ever in Europe.

Gross, right? But how does this tie in with Vorator and the rest of the Chronicle?

The antagonist for my series is Max, an immortal Neolithic man who was born into the LBK culture. He grew up restless, violent, and probably a little psychopathic. During a hunt, he lost his temper with another hunter and murdered the man. Carried away by the thrill of murder, he consumed the victim’s flesh until he was discovered by his tribe. He fled, but the addiction to blood had begun. He returned over weeks and picked people off, eventually killing everyone in his village. This infected him with what he would later call “the Vorator Virus,” and he developed the traits that would define his species of monster: immortal, strong, fast, powerful, and compelled to commit cannibalism.

I wrote that Max alone was responsible for both the entirety of the Herxheim slaughter, and also for the eventual extinction of the LBK culture. Of course, neither of those things is true, but that’s artistic license for you!

I have plans to explain my inspiration for the Vorator Virus in a later blog post!