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Written To Thrill

January 24, 2014
High-school English teacher Geoffrey Girard ’90 is enjoying scary success with his first full-length horror novel, Cain’s Blood, published by Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone.

Geoffrey Girard dislikes writing.

“Writing’s hard. All that stuff in the middle is a drag,” said Girard, 46, of Cincinnati, a 1990 alumnus with an undergraduate degree in English literature.

However, Girard – whose influences include Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burrows, and H.P. Lovecraft – likes being a writer.

“When you’re a reader, the next step you want to do is write. You want to be one of those guys up on the bookshelf,” explained Girard.

Although he’s written books of short stories for Middle Atlantic Press – Tales of the Jersey Devil, Tales of the Eastern Indians, Tales of the Atlantic PiratesCain’s Blood is his first full-length adult-oriented novel, which the Horror Writers Association nominated for a 2013 Bram Stoker Award in the Best New Novel category. Girard also wrote a young adult companion novel, Project: Cain, telling the same story from another perspective.

In Cain’s Blood – a horror/science-fiction thriller – the Department of Defense secretly clones notorious serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and the Son of Sam. However, these clones escape with deadly bio-weapons. So it’s up to ex-Ranger Shawn Castillo to stop them. His uneasy ally is Jeff Jacobson, Dahmer’s clone.

“The obvious theme of the two books is nature vs. nurture… I had the clones who are certainly an argument for nature-trumping. I had this idea if you were a clone of Dahmer, it would be a terrible thing. I needed the nurture part. What makes Sean unique is he’s been off to war for 15 years. He’s hasn’t quite shaken off Afghanistan and Iraq,” he explained.

Girard researched how the military trains soldiers and what’s changed since World War II. Many return with post-traumatic stress disorder more so than each previous war.

“People say we’re biologically meant to kill others. No, we’re not. That doesn’t prove out statistically; we don’t like killing each other. What [the military] did after World War II was teach our soldiers how to better kill other human beings. The first thing they did was [have them shoot at dummies] remotely humanoid,” said Girard. “Lo and behold, in the Korean War, the number of fire-rates jumped up to 95 percent. Nowadays, on video games, you have three-dimensional models popping out at you and when you shoot ’em, you get this pink mist… I get it; their job’s to kill, but you’re certainly messing with people’s nurture when you do that. How do you turn that off? I thought I could explore some interesting things with that.”

Girard wrote a serial novella Cain XP-11, published in APEX Horror & Science-Fiction Digest in 2007. It was his students at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School, where he teaches English, who inspired him to revamp and expand this concept into these two books.

“We started talking about serial killers one day. It dawned on me – ‘Oh, wow, I know something these kids are interested in,’ so I dusted off an old serial killer story I’d written,” he recalled. “Simon & Schuster was interested in doing a 1-2 punch. On the same day the adult book was released, so was this spin-off… Since I’m a teacher, I thought it’d be a cool opportunity to try out particular and unconventional fiction devices that I hoped would work specifically for teen readers based on what I’ve seen and learned in the classroom.”

Last modified on Jan. 29th, 2014 at 11:49am by .