The Modoc WellFirst of all, Happy New Year! For my first post of 2024, I hearken back to my first of four horror novels. Originally titled The Well and published by Bantam Books, the book is now called The Modoc Well and is part of my own imprint, Atoris Press. In addition to being a rip-roaring yarn (IMHO), it is a prime example of writing what you’re feeling. I shall explain.


Not very well, to tell the truth, at that time of my life, over three decades ago. Job woes, money woes, and other personal woes made it kind of hard to even sit down to write. The personal woes, naturally, involved people, some of whom I would’ve liked to see depart this plane of existence, whether aboard a Mother Ship or in a box.

Being a pacifist, however (read: wimp), and a writer, I chose to knock off these folks in the only way I could: on paper. And in some rather nasty, bloody ways, which is why I chose the horror genre as a vehicle. The Modoc Well is the goriest of my horror novels, and arguably bloodier than most of my sword & sorcery and sword & planet stories.


A brief overview: the setting is Northern California, near the Oregon border. In a prologue, the vacationing Lowell family is driving toward the town of Bonner. Greg Lowell, whose maternal ancestors were Padgetts, was born there, but his parents left when he was an infant under suspicious circumstances. Nor would they ever talk about it, which made him curious.

Part I takes place in 1856 and chronicles the settling of Fire Valley, including the town of Bonner. The Padgett family is among the first settlers. Their land sits atop unholy ground, where a demon of Modoc Indian legend had once fought with, and been buried, by the tribe’s version of the Great Spirit. Three Modocs observe the land and are fearful that the Padgetts might unleash the demon—which they do when a drought necessitates the digging of a well. The demon, not strong enough to fully emerge, nonetheless causes all manner of horrors, including the Fire Valley Massacre, where many settlers are killed. Young Ben Padgett, the only surviving member of the family, is Greg Lowell’s great-grandfather. The well is sealed, the Modocs are blamed for the massacre, and Fire Valley remains quiet for well over a century.

The Lava Beds National Monument is near the fictional town of Bonner.

The Lowells, fed up with their L.A. lifestyle, fall in love with Fire Valley and ultimately relocate there, even purchasing the ranch that once belonged to his Padgett ancestors. Needless to say, having a “Padgett” in the vicinity reawakens the demon, and the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan. Non-stop horror dominates the balance of the story.

The Modoc Well is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle, free on Kindle Unlimited. A gory story to be sure, but (here’s a cool word) un-put-downable. Enjoy!

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