Soulstorm (Tor Books, 1986)
My first novel, a paperback original from Tor. The three pages of maps and floor plans at the front of the book were drawn by my father.
To make the transition from short story writer to novelist, I wanted my first book to have a fairly limited cast of characters, and small number of settings. The traditional haunted house story filled the bill perfectly. The plot concerned a small group of people locked into a haunted house for a month with the goal of ascertaining proof of the supernatural entities there.
It was scarcely an original idea, but I tried to weave enough variations on a well-known theme to make it fresh and interesting, including a mercenary soldier who happens to be gay, a fairly uncommon concept in genre fiction at that time. A columnist for SF Chronicle called the book “the best horror novel of the year,” and the reviewer there labeled it “one of the most intense variations on the haunted house story that I have ever read.” West Coast Review of Books said, “a dark gem of a novel,” and under my entry in the three-volume Supernatural Literature of the World, it states, “The emotional and moral dilemmas the characters face…gives uncommon depth to what is essentially a conventional genre story.”
I loved the bizarre, surrealistic cover art, but was later told by someone at Tor that it was thought so grotesque that it had hurt sales.
The novel is out of print, but used copies are easy to find…