I love horror books and that's the main reason why I wanted to showcase Special Levels of Earthly Hell by Merry Freer. My other fascination was an atheist wondering about this case, how Freer would present it, what deviates, and what sources online say. There isn't and might not be enough information to sleuth out the latter, but with ripped from the headlines cases, I always wonder and twist the story around in my mind. For me, that's part of the appeal.
Drew Collins experiences the world in black and white. As an educated man of science, he rejects belief in the paranormal and the existence of demons. Until an evil energy he calls "The Beast" repeatedly enters his bedroom at night and takes possession of his wife's body. What he witnesses at night in his own bedroom cannot be reconciled with science. And yet he sees it with his own eyes, feels its presence, ominous and evil, with his entire being. Against every instinct, Drew reaches out for help. It is not just his marriage that’s at stake. The evil force has invaded his wife's family, tearing them apart and culminating in bloodshed and murder. Drew must face a stark choice: sacrifice his belief that the world is a rational place and Fight an entity he doesn’t understand and is reluctant to label, or abandon his wife and her family.
Author's Note to the Reader: Sadly, the most frightening and brutal events in this book are factual. The story is loosely based on one family's experience with multiple tragedies, some of them "ripped from the headlines." It is also an excruciatingly factual account of one man's experience with a loved one who is possessed by a demonic presence. However, it transcends genre and is as much a tale of romance, of cultural barriers, of abuse, and of family drama, as it is of demonic possession.The link between the introduction of an evil spirit and the heartbreaking misfortunes that are visited on the family is left for the reader to decide.
What's one thing you'd like readers to know before reading and what do you want them to take away from it after reading?
I am curious to know how readers interpret the phrases "based on" and "inspired by" when they see them attached to a book's title. By definition, "based on" requires a stricter adherence to actual events than does "inspired by." “Inspired by” gives the author greater leeway in adding to or changing events taken from a true story for the purpose of making the story more coherent, filling in gaps in time and information, and allowing the story to flow more smoothly.
"Special Levels of Earthly Hell" was "inspired by" a truestory. That said, I would want the reader to know that in my book all of the characters are inspired by real people that are members of the family depicted in the book. Further, those segments that are the most frightening, those that delve into the paranormal, and those that are the most horrific are all real. They were not invented for their shock value. Some were taken from interviews with the characters involved and some can be found by researching actual news reports. These were the experiences of persons in my nuclear family whose memories and perceptions I trust.
Each reader will “take away” his or her own truth. Whether or not the reader believes the events in “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” actually happened is a personal decision. The acts of violence can be easily found on the internet. My hope is that the reader will take away a greater understanding of evil and how it can and does exist in our world, regardless of the name one wishes to give it. It need not be attached to religious belief. The protagonist in this story is an atheist, and despite his very personal experience with the demonic presence he calls “The Beast,” his religious beliefs or lack thereof, do not change during the course of the book.
Look around you. Look at what is happening in the world both here and abroad – some of you in your own cities. People need not conjure up evil. It exists just as certainly as good exists. And as Drew, in “Special Levels of Earthly Hell,” learned, evil cannot be fought with evil. It can only be fought with love. I would like the reader to take away that thought.
About the Author:
Merry Freer is an author of memoir and fact-based fiction. “Special Levels of Earthly Hell: The Story of One Family’s Chilling Struggle with Demonic Possession” was inspired by actual events that were experienced by her nuclear and extended families, tearing relationships apart and making national news headlines. This book comes on the heels of her first book, a memoir named “Doctor, Doctor.” While "Doctor, Doctor" is her debut novel, she has been a writer and editor for many years, including work with the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Hall of Champions. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and has been a featured speaker for classes dealing with medical ethics.
Her controversial memoir, "Doctor, Doctor," topped the Best Seller List in True Crime/White Collar Crime for 10 months and received a "Best Books of 2014" award from "Suspense
Visit her Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/mfreerauthor
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