Written by Slade Stevens
had been writing for five years. There was never any question for me about what
genre I would write. Any novel with the ‘Written by Slade Stevens’ tagline
on the cover was guaranteed to be two things; bloody, macabre, and horrific,
and a book that you could not put down once you had opened it. Or that’s what
my publisher used as their marketing blurb.
made no difference to me; I just wrote them. Prolifically. At the rate of one
every eight months, it seemed. I had been blessed with an inherent feel for
plot, words, and grammar, to the point that my books needed only minimal
editing. In a way, it was scary, and I kept waiting to turn out something that
was total crap, but I would write until that happened. Then, three books into
my writing career, I picked up an unlikely fan. William Ravenscroft was an
Englishman who had become famous, equally for the quality of his food, as for
the vulgarity of his demeanor.
England, it was unlikely that he would have achieved the level of fame that he
had done in the good old US of A. The networks clamored for him to sign
extended contracts to do his shows with them, but he never signed for more than
a single season at a time.
he loved my work. His endorsement was always free; every time I released
a new book, the hardback copy was featured prominently on his counter, no
matter what the network. And it cost me nothing! The networks were constantly
running me down for advertising, and my publicist was always turning them away,
more vigorously, unless they had a Ravenscroft cooking show scheduled for
release. We saved hundreds of thousands in advertising.
expletive-laden descriptions of my work guaranteed more sales than any other
form of promotion would have. Occasionally, I condescended to do an interview,
especially if it was close to a Ravenscroft special.
all knew it, and I shamelessly exploited the situation. One comment from William, like, this is the most fucking fantastic
read that you can pick up this spring. Or, if you enjoy horror stories,
this one will have your tummy turning collywobbles from page 1; by page 10,
you’ll be shitting yourself! was worth a few thousand sales.
one day, he called me directly. I mean, yeah, I was making a name for myself,
but William Ravenscroft was a star!
he turned up unannounced for a visit. Not driven in an entourage, but simply
pulling his Porsche into my yard, bouncing out cheerily, sticking his hand out,
and saying. “How the fuck are ya, Slade? I hope you’ve got a few minutes for
your #1 fan.”
on in, William. Always have time for you.” We went into the house, and I poured
two stiff shots of Scotch, handing one to him.
To what do I owe this visit? I’m honored.”
patted the leather couch next to him, and I sat as he started to talk.
conversation started me off in a different direction with my writing. It became
a national secret, and no one got a look at my manuscript without signing a
really onerous non-disclosure agreement.
became a regular visitor, arriving in nondescript Japanese vehicles which needed
painting and staying out of sight of anyone who might recognize him.
would be the big reveal. William came over to meet my agent. When the three of
us were sitting there, Scotches in hand, I handed an envelope to Mike McGinley,
the man who had been my agent when I was still producing crap for online
have a look and let me know what you think.”
pulled out the 80,000-word manuscript and looked at the front. He paled.
“Jesus, Slade, William, without reading any further, I can say that this will
be HUGE!” He read for a half-hour while we sipped our Scotch, refilling the
book was auctioned to a list of the top publishers in the world and yielded an
initial advance deep in the six-figure range. After that, it flew through the
cover design phase and a cursory edit, as did all of my work. Then it went to
months later, we were ready to launch. It was all set up under massive
security; we had more than two thousand copies at the launch, all covered with
dust cloths. On each side of the table stood easels, covered from just below my
trademark cover top; a black and white image of my heavily-shadowed, deep-set
eyes below a banner that read Written by Slade Stevens.
sat behind the table. Waiting for the press. People gathered, filling the ample
ballroom space; the cameras were set up.
stood and walked around the table. An expectant hush descended on the crowd.
evening, readers. Today I have a special guest who needs no introduction. I
have recently become privileged to call this man my friend. William?”
stepped back and waved to my left, and William Ravenscroft stepped out on that
side of the table. There was a hushed silence, then thunderous applause broke
started in a typical fashion. “I don’t think that anyone here is so fucking
stupid that they don’t know that this man is one of the finest fucking writers
of horror stories in the world. I am — ”
was a popping sound, and William looked up, surprised. Then, two more pops and
two more red spots appeared on William’s white tunic. He looked down and
started to pirouette to the floor, and a man in jeans stepped out of the crowd,
pistol in hand, and screamed, “That’s fixed you, you foul-mouthed heathen.”
that exact moment, a security guard drew his service pistol and placed four well-aimed
rounds into the gunman’s chest.
dropped to the floor next to Ravenscroft, holding his head carefully. “Stay
with me, William.” But it was no use; his blue eyes glazed over, and he stopped
breathing. People pulled me away.
cover on one of the easels had come off in the fracas. The book cover was
displayed for all to see.
Recipes to Die For.
Slade Stevens and William Ravenscroft
the crowd noticed the cover, and a slow clap started, ending in thunderous
agent was right. This would be Fucking HUGE!
Alleyne is a native-born Barbadian who has been involved in creative activities
all his life. He is a photographer, a painter, and a woodworker and has also
written unpublished poetry and published two coffee-table books of Barbados
landscapes. He has been divorced for over 15 years and is the father of two
young men and grandfather of two. A collection of some of his short stories—Into
the Mist—is available on Amazon. He is currently working on a collection of
novels, still looking for that elusive book deal!