1000vultures Book Review

An Inside Look Into The Creepy Mind of Dathan Auerbach

Friday, July 05, 2013 Sophie Magdalena

An Inside Look Into the Creepy Mind of Dathan Auerbach
The Story of How a Regular Guy Became a Hit New Author

By:  Sophia Sanchez

“I didn’t light candles or put on a black robe or anything, but it was a pretty exciting moment for me,” 

speaks breakout author Dathan Auerbach of what it was like putting a copy of his own book – Penpal – on his bookshelf for the first time.  Auerbach simply wanted to test the waters with his writing abilities and possibly scare a few people in the process, and yet today, he finds himself a published author with a rather reputable name in the cyber community. 

A philosophy teacher and Florida native with no prior writing experience in fiction sat down in September of 2011 and wrote the short story titled Footsteps;” an obscure, first person narrative of a time when as a young boy, for reasons unknown, he woke up alone and in the woods in the middle of the night.  

As quoted directly from Auerbach, With huge amounts of reservation and self-doubt,” he posted his story to nosleep, a subreddit of the reddit community; a platform which allows registered users to post their personal, yet “true” tales of terror. 

Instantaneously, nosleep readers wanted more.  And what started off on a whim, quickly turned into a six part series that was written over the course of the following month.   A year and a half later and largely due to the support of his reddit family, Auerbach has since launched a wildly successful kickstarter campaign, has self-published his short stories in an expanded adaptation titled Penpal, and has even been approached by an Academy Award winning producer about turning his novel into a movie. 

The humble author states, “This experience is really phenomenally staggering, incredibly humbling and flattering,” when asked how the sudden success has changed his life.  And having had no prior aspirations of being a writer, the big question is ‘how and why did he do it?’

“I never considered writing to be a viable option for what I could do with my life.  So this did very much come out of nowhere.” 

Auerbach at a book signing

From his very first post on nosleep, his stories were received with huge embrace.  Almost immediately his readers began making comments and sending him private messages letting him know how truly moved they were by his words.  Comments such as “Where can I buy your book?” and “I’d love it if this were a book!” flattered the young author, however essentially slipped into the back of his mind without further thought. 

It wasn’t until several months after his final installment on nosleep that he realized he was “on to something.”  Having won a “favorite monthly reader award” on the nosleep forum, being approached by fans about turning his short stories into podcasts on YouTube and most importantly, still receiving messages from readers was the final push that Auerbach needed to take that next step.  His mindset became “if other people are doing stuff with it, then maybe I should too.” 

Auerbach's username on reddit.com

Not wanting to waste his time waiting for a “big name” publisher to take notice, Auerbach decided to take matters into his own hands.  But how does one go about self-publishing?  In today’s ever-growing era of technology, the process is easier than you might think.  What it came down to, as I’m sure it is for other’s pursuing the same dream, was cost.  Many of his fans had offered to send him money simply because they were so moved by his story, but not wanting to accept donations for something he’d already given away for free left the author feeling like his only choice was to cover the cost himself.  After many discussions with friends and family he was persuaded to use Kickstarter – an online platform used to help raise funds for creative projects – to raise the money.  Once again, the support from his fans came through.  Using Kickstarter was the best decision for Auerbach, because not only did he meet his goal, but he far exceeded it by almost ten times. 

Penpal was no longer a dream, but a reality sitting in his hands and in the hands of many of his fans.  But the dream didn’t end there.  Almost a year after the release of his novel on Amazon, his book continues to sell.  He’s even made several best-seller lists, including “Bloody Disgusting’s list of 2012’s Best Horror Novels;” which for those unfamiliar, is a huge honor for authors who write horror.  And just when he thought things couldn’t get any better, Auerbach was approached by Academy Award winning producer Rich Middlemas about turning Penpal into a movie.  Middlemas is currently trying to find a home for it within Hollywood. 

T-Shirt that can be found at www.1000vultures.com

So who is Dathan Auerbach and where did he come from?

A 28 year old, college philosophy teacher from Florida with no dreams of being a writer, has suddenly discovered his hidden talent.  As someone who has always enjoyed literature and all methods of story-telling, Auerbach states, 

“I’ve always had a kind of impulse to want to create something.  It is a scary and daunting task to bring something new into the world.”  

Yet, that is exactly what he’s done in Penpal.  Having grown up reading the Goosebumps series as many young readers did in his generation, he realized his love for literature at a relatively young age.  Being molded and inspired by great authors such as Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison and Stephen King, it is no wonder his talent has emerged so effortlessly.  

When asked what his favorite book is, Auerbach responded without hesitation, “1984 by George Orwell.”  Quickly and colorfully he added, “There is no scarier book in existence.”  

This comment, in and of itself should give you some insight into the mind of whom in my opinion will be another tremendous author. 

T-Shirts that can be purchased at www.1000vultures.com

In Penpal you’ll find the story of a young man trying to piece together the unsettling memories of his childhood.  

Each chapter, as details emerge, begins to fit together like a puzzle and before you even realize it, you are completely engulfed on a rollercoaster ride of emotions begging to get off. 

 In this deeply moving, unsettling and delightfully terrifying novel, Auerbach has beautifully constructed a work of art that is chilling and raw at the most basic of human levels and will leave you double checking your door locks before the night is through. 

What is next for the young and talented author? 

“I am writing some new stuff.  I am not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it will get out there at some point, somehow.  But I plan to keep writing for as long as people seem interested in what I have to say.”

Follow Dathan Auerbach on Facebook HERE and get your copy of Penpal today at http://1000vultures.com 

Penpal Book Cover

An Excerpt From Penpal
Written By Dathan Auerbach

                “I’m so glad you’re home, sweetie.  I was worried I’d never see you again.”  She had begun to cry as well.  “Where did you go?”
                “I…. I don’t know… I don’t know what happened.”  My fear of the whole event being ineffable was coming true.
                “What do you mean you don’t know what happened?  Where have you been?  Oh, look at you.  You’re filthy!”  She surveyed me now that we were in better light.  “Oh God!  Your feet!” 
                I looked down and winced.  The tops of my feet were caked in a thick, dark coat of my own blood that had already begun to crack with the pattern of damaged glass.  As I moved my feet against the linoleum, I could feel that the blood was acting as an adhesive, and I could hear the sound of my skin peeling free from the floor as I lifted them. 
                “You went into the woods?  Baby, we’ve talked about his.  I can’t believe you.”
                “Mom, I didn’t!  I don’t know what happened!”  I protested. 
                This was quickly becoming an argument, and neither my mother nor I was feeling up to it. 
                “It’s ok… It’s fine honey.  Just don’t ever do this again, okay?  I…. I’m not sure me or my shins could take it….”
                A little laughter broke through my sobs, and I smiled a bit.  “Well, I’m sorry for kicking you, but why’d you grab me like that?”
                “I was afraid that you’d run away again.  You had just come home; I wasn’t about to let you run of again after what you wrote!” 
                I was confused.  “What do you mean?” 
                “We found the note you left on your pillow,” she said, and pointed at the piece of paper that the police officer was sliding across the table.
                I picked up the note and started to read it as my mother and the police officer walked into the kitchen.  The note said that I was unhappy and that I never wanted to see her or any of my friends again.  It was a “running away” letter.  While the policeman exchanged a few words with my mom, I stared at the letter.  I didn’t remember writing any letter.  I didn’t remember anything about any of this.  But there were many times when I would do things at night that I couldn’t recall.
                I kept reading the letter as I thought about how I would sometimes use the bathroom without remembering getting up, or would wake up and be so tired that I didn’t remember the ride to school.  But this was different.  This was wrong.  Even if I sometimes went to the bathroom at night and didn’t remember, or even if I could have gone into the woods on my own and gotten lost – even if all these things were true, one thought repeated endlessly in the background of all the other questions and doubts that filled my mind:

                This isn’t how you spell my name… I didn’t write this letter.  

This full article is featured in the Half Stack Magazine Digital Print Summer Issue.  Click HERE for this article and to read up on other great articles pertaining to books, music, fashion, and more... 

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