About The Author
My name is Robert William Duder and I was was born in London, Ontario in 1978. Parts of my childhood were spent in several small towns throughout Ontario, Canada. Eventually, around 1990, my family (Mom, Dad and younger brother) settled in Owen Sound, Ontario where I still reside today.
I attended grade school and high school in the Owen Sound area. I grew up much of my young-adult life wanting to be an English teacher but ended up going straight to work following High School and I spent many years in retail management.
One thing never changed and that was my love for writing.
I wrote short stories and novellas as a kid, mostly action or fantasy and loved to have other people read them. Getting reactions from readers has been making me happy for decades. There were a few contests won in Grade School and reading and writing were second nature to me.
My first novel Ryerson was started around 2000 when I was just 22 years old. I wanted to tell the coming of age story of a man growing up in the sixties, a time I always felt a connection to. Ryerson was also going to be my first feature length novel. For years, I worked on it, researched, interviewed and did everything in my power to get the story right. It wasn't until 2011 while talking to another Ontario author that I decided to enter the world of self publishing. Ryerson was ready after a decade of being worked on. The book was a mix of stories people told me about their growing up and also some experiences of my own as well. On April 3rd, 2012 I released Ryerson with a small book launch at a local book store. I travelled all over Ontario and the East Coast to book signings and readings for Ryerson. Wherever I went, it was unanimously agreed to be a hit. Readers loved Ryerson. It gave me the incentive I needed to keep going with writing. But coming-of-age drama wasn't the dream I was having.
Another book lurked in my author's mind. See Sarah and I had married in September of 2011. We had met at a job we both worked nearly 10 years earlier in Owen Sound where Sarah was born and raised. For our Honeymoon, on a last minute whim we headed out on a road trip across Ontario into the United States and to Atlantic City. While on that road trip, we stopped at so many truck stops and rest areas. And as we did, a seed began to grow in my mind. It was the seed of a story. The truck stops and rest areas all had so much in common and for me they were creepy as hell especially at night.
So I started writing Desolation on my honeymoon and over the course of the next two years the story would come to life. I even took to writing some of it in a truck stop off the 400 highway in Ontario. A particularly powerful writing session came from writing in a rest stop, during a blizzard (the entire premise of the book.). That rest stop that became the "real-life" inspiration for Desolation burned to the ground less than a year after Desolation was released. I was able to attend the fire site and take some pictures of the hollowed out rest stop. I will find those pictures and post them on the site sometime soon.
During one of the many edits I went through, a good friend and editor of mine suggested I chop the entire last chapter of the book and leave it with the current ending. So that's what I did.
On April 3rd, 2014, two years to the day that I released Ryerson, I released Desolation. A blood-soaked horror thriller that reviewers called "a claustrophobic, moody, intense horror." Desolation's book launch was done in Owen Sound, Ontario as well and extremely well received.
A claustrophobic, moody and intense horror
The reviews I received from Desolation truly were humbling and even more impactful than they were for Ryerson. I felt as though I had found my genre and I had more ideas to come.
But it would be awhile. I was about to become very busy! In April of 2015, Sarah gave birth to our daughter Lauren. Those first two years were spent with not a lot of time or energy for writing but that doesn't mean the ideas weren't building.
I was the stay-at-home Dad and as Lauren got older I found myself with a little more time to read, reflect and generate ideas. It happened to be that I had two very big ideas brewing, one of which would turn into a series and the other would be a passion project for me. It was also turn into the biggest releases I had ever done.
I love the city of Toronto. I have always found the big city to be cathartic and inspiring and full of art and wonder. I was visiting Toronto one summer and was in one of the many subway stations (I can't remember which one) but I noticed as the subway sped by there was writing on the far wall. Not so unusual to see graffiti but it struck me as odd that someone would have had to have jumped on the tracks, between trains, boost themselves up and leave that mark there. It was crazy the thought of it gives me chills. But then the train went past and I was left looking at the mark on the wall. It said one word, a name actually. And honest to god it looked like it had been written with crayon. You know that really bad font you can get on computers that makes it crayon like? It looked like that. And all it said was, "Amy."
That's it. That was the birth of the world's deadliest six-year-old. There were times late at night when I'd be up writing after finally having gotten Lauren to sleep and things like toys casting shadows or making noises or the lull of the creepy nursery rhymes that you play to get your child to sleep but there is something absolutely inherently terrifying about children. Amy was a passion project in and of itself because I am a huge fan of horror films. I have been since I was a teenager. Halloween, Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream... I love the legacy of those classics. I love the indelible footprint they've left on pop culture. I wanted to create a completely unique story that paid homage to that genre of film. When you read Amy, from the original through the three sequels (as of writing this there is one sequel but two more are coming!) you can find a host of easter eggs in there. I couldn't even tell you most of them now but there are a lot of them. Feel free to email me with them when you find them.
Tangent about Stephen King
I think the first work by Stephen King I read was The Stand. I was raised in a Christian home and that kind of material was not encouraged. I do remember the works of Christopher Pike though as a teenager and being very inspired by him. The Stand was the biggest book I had ever seen much less read. I think I probably saw the mini-series first and just HAD to read the book. I remember it took me the better part of a year (probably a year.). But that year I was obsessed. The characters, the world they were surviving in, the good vs evil, the depth of the writing, the way King draws you into his characters like you're one of them. It started my love affair with Stephen King. No, not literally, calm down. I've read everything he's written, I've seen every movie, I've re-read The Stand and in my personal top ten books I've ever read, Stephen King is on their four times. Those four books are as follows:
I think the first time I read "Insomnia" was in the mid-2000's and it blew me away. I've heard a rumour that it's one of King's least favorite of his works and that saddens me because I've read it multiple times now, listed to the audiobook so many times it would cause you to wonder how I have so much time to do that, and it inspired me.
THE ART OF DYING
Insomnia had a sub-plot about an old man coming to terms with his own old-age. The Stand had a sub-plot (a significant sub-plot) about Religious devil vs God, Revelations type story. I wanted to merge those two ideas. Now that I felt I had this knack or permission to write in the "horror" genre, I wanted to get down and dirty with a core human fear... death. And I wanted to tell a story with a bit of a fantasy edge, angels, demons, good vs evil, love and friendship and death. The Art of Dying is one of my most personal works and one I am very proud of. It actually didn't sell well though I try to talk it up whenever I get a chance. However, it was the first victim of Miss Amy Walker which is both wonderful and disappointing.
I had these two novels, Amy and The Art of Dying and remarkably they were coming along at very similar speeds. At some point, close to being prepared to release them I had this "wonderful", "brilliant" idea of releasing two novels simultaneously. I hadn't released anything in three years but now wanted to jump back in and release these two side by side. So I did. I also wanted to capitalize on Halloween so I released both books on October 15th, 2018. Amy was almost instantly a success. I had people calling me asking me for copies, ordering online and at book sales, and stopping me in grocery stores to tell me how much they liked it. Once again, I was feeling the wave of success. But in that wake, The Art of Dying sold very poorly and I forgot to push it as hard. If I made money on Amy, I lost it in The Art of Dying. I tell you this for two reasons. One so that you'll go and buy it because you feel sorry for me. But also because The Art of Dying is really, really good! I feel very strongly about it.
One of the most common questions I'm asked is basically variations of "Does art imitate life?" Most times I say no. "Amy Walker" is not the embodiment of anything real in my life. But I found out the following year after I released Amy and The Art of Dying that writing for me was far more cathartic than I realized.
This is the part of the biography where you get the "yadda yadda yadda." Mostly because it's my bio and I don't want to relive any of that. So let's just say that between 2018 and the following year, bad shit happened. It knocked me on my ass mentally, physically, emotionally and I'm still crawling out of it today. During the height of what was going on, I had pain, anger, sadness, rage, inferiority, defeat ... and I needed that to go somewhere.
If you read my work or plan on it and you read Desolation and then Captive, you'll probably think to yourself "well, that escalated quickly." Captive is some dark shit. It deals with love, loss, terror, torture, and some morality sprinkled in there. It's a novella that sometimes misses it's mark in the story it's trying to tell in order to do some more torture. There is absolutely a market for this and anyone who has read it has said (quite hesitantly) that they liked it. It goes to some dark places and people who really want something dark, gritty and horror-filled will get their fill right here with Captive. One of my long-term dreams some day is to come back to Captive and flesh it out with like a "Duder-Cut of Captive with all the ideas I had for it that just needed to be put aside to get the story out that I did.
I released Captive a year to the day after Amy and The Art of Dying on October 15th, 2019. It was my only release that year for many reasons. But what I didn't know was the writing was about to flow in some major ways for me.
In 2019, I found a new career outside of writing and retail. I found a career with a company that I truly respect and appreciate and I feel they do the same for me. I also found a job coaching people and I find that incredibly rewarding every day. Part of the reason, I think I was able to jump into writing with both feet once starting that career is because this place encourages our work-life balance and in fact, gave me the time and space I needed to write, market and promote my work. Feel free to check out the Blog I wrote for them on writing which you can find here.
I remember being at a precipice with my writing. I had a few ideas floating around but only one that was really nagging at me. If there was one thing I hear from nearly every single person that reads Desolation is "...that ending? Where is the rest?" So I knew at some point I needed to take on the next challenge in front of me which would be writing a sequel. I had promised so many readers including my wife's grandmother who barely let me in her house until I updated her on sequel progress. So I decided it was time.
I think it was sometime during the writing of Desolation that it crossed my mind this could be a trilogy of some kind. I always had this idea of Desolation | Isolation | Seclusion. So in 2019 I started working on Isolation. One thing that is interesting about Isolation is years ago, I mean years and years, long before I first published, I started writing this novel called "Ill Town" (horrible title maybe that's why it died). but I had this one major scene and chapter from "Ill Town" that I kept for years and years and I ended up reworking it as one of the chapter for Isolation. The entire first Chapter of Isolation is the last Chapter that I pulled out of Desolation. So Isolation really is sort of an amalgamation of a few ideas reworked into a Desolation sequel.
I released Isolation on April 3rd, 2020. Selling it was easy because Desolation sold very well so anyone who was picking up Desolation usually took Isolation with them making it a win financially for me. I was still doing book markets and garage sales and craft shows whenever I could. I love meeting new readers and existing readers and signing autographs honestly never ever gets old. I have been asked what it's like to sign one for real and it's pretty awesome I won't lie to you.
The Harrowing had been in my head for a very long time. I worked very hard on it. It also has a distinct adventure quality that I really like and think others will too. It has multiple main characters much like Desolation and I really became attached to those characters. It also blends religion and horror together similar to what I did with The Art of Dying. When someone who is not much of a horror fan wants to read my work I often suggest The Harrowing. It also allowed me to write about and expand on one of my recurring characters "Noah White" from Isolation and Desolation. I wanted to give him his own adventure and I think I succeeded with that.