Thursday, May 17, 2012
Dark Shadows: The Labyrinth of Souls
Back when I had more hair, Beth Massie and I co-wrote our first novel together—Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark—for HarperCollins. It was a grand thing writing this book, being all kinds of Dark Shadows fans, don't you know. The book did well, and things looked promising for contributing future entries to the series. Once Dreams was finished, I immediately took to plotting a new one, titled Dark Shadows: The Labyrinth of Souls, this one overtly taking up the Dark Shadows storyline where the original ABC-TV series ended in 1971. As main characters, it featured Quentin Collins, Barnabas Collins, Carolyn Stoddard, Julia Hoffman, and a new antagonist, Dr. Maitland Karswell (if you've read a certain pair of stories by Robert Bloch and M. R. James, respectively, you know exactly where that name comes from). I completed a detailed synopsis, wrote the first three chapters for good measure, and packaged it up for HarperCollins. Then... the very next day... Harper dumped its media tie-in division, HarperPrism, and thus went the Dark Shadows novel series.
Sometime later, there were rumblings that Tor might take up the line, and indeed, Tor did pick up Lara Parker's follow-up to Angelique's Descent, titled Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch. At that point, I was pleased enough with the initial work on The Labyrinth of Souls to go full bore and complete the thing, hoping to have a leg up if things went well with Tor. S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders; Rumble Fish; That Was Then, This Is Now) had also written a new Dark Shadows novel, but the publisher declined it, and Ms. Hinton repackaged it as an original, stand-alone book and sold it as Hawkes' Harbor. Tor decided that, as far as Dark Shadows novels went, they'd proceed with Lara's work but weren't interested in looking at other potential entries. So much for that avenue.
At that point, I placed Labyrinth on my website, strictly as fan fiction, one chapter per week, making it a continuing drama, and it picked up a pretty good following. A few years later, Big Finish began producing their series of Dark Shadows audio dramas — I was fortunate enough to script three of them — and they initially took a serious interest in producing Labyrinth of Souls as an audio book. Thus, with that possibility open, I removed the novel from my website. However, within a relatively short span of time, the audio series developed its own continuity, and in Big Finish's view, attempting to shoehorn Labyrinth into it would prove prohibitive. So, yet again, the book fell by the wayside.
Since Dark Shadows fan fiction has been a thriving noncommercial enterprise for many years, and this novel is essentially unsellable in its current form, rather than go the route S.E. Hinton took with Hawkes' Harbor, I am once again offering Dark Shadows: The Labyrinth of Souls on my website, strictly as a work of fan fiction, free of charge. It can be downloaded in PDF or Mobi (Kindle) format. Fair warning: the novel never made it past first-draft stage, so the version you download is the first and only draft. I hereby offer the disclaimer that all characters and settings directly based on the Dark Shadows franchise are owned by Dan Curtis Productions, and that no copyright infringement is intended. The author does not and will not receive any remuneration for this work. That said, you may find this monster here: Dark Shadows: The Labyrinth of Souls by Stephen Mark Rainey