Guest Blog with Leigh M. Lane

Check out this big news from Leigh M. Lane. I read her novel “Finding Poe” and absolutely loved it. I am very excited that she has yet another book to read!! You should be too!

The Beautiful Illusion
by Leigh M. Lane

Physical appearances are rarely entirely what they seem, especially in today’s world of Photoshop, airbrush, and cosmetic overhaul. While one might be able to appreciate beauty in its many forms—art, a nice gesture, a pretty face—on a superficial level, that which lies beneath is often a different thing altogether. For example: a work of art might be a statement against one of humankind’s many evils; a nice gesture might have ulterior motives; and a pretty face might mask a person who, deep down, is grotesque. What seems is rarely what is, and such is a common theme among literary writers. Still, it is a theme I would like to explore with you not only as a writer of literary prose, but one of dark, provocative horror.

In my new release, The Hidden Valley, I subject a family to a secluded town that, at first glance, seems too perfect to be real. Of course, at the risk of delving into the cliché, the town’s beauty is the bait for a trap set to pull them in and keep them there while it slowly devours them. To parallel this, the main character is an ageing mother realizing the finite nature of her fading beauty, as well as a daughter who is too young and beautiful to appreciate what she has. However, everyone in the family is too concerned with their own personal demons to be capable of seeing the true evil that lies before them all, and because of that, they each find themselves in a personal nightmare that only a good, hard dose of reality might resolve.

In addition to being a ghost story, The Hidden Valley is an experiment in structure. The reader will find that nearly every chapter is, in itself, a work of flash fiction, each with its own pseudo-conclusion. Moreover, each main character’s story may be read individually, and with a different effect, or the audience can read The Whole Story, which is a chronological compilation of each story, as well as a few extra surprises. Again, this plays on the theme of what seems versus what is. Any one of the characters’ individual stories leaves the reader with a different sense of the town’s true nature—and whether or not the family has any chance at escape. The truth to the matter is up to the individual and how he or she wants to interpret the various series of events.

Consider this excerpt, which comes from one of a small handful of chapters told from the family cat’s point of view:

Smart Kitty scurried into the bushes as Smokey-Smelling Male came barreling out of the house grumbling and crying like a lunatic. The cat watched, partially perplexed and partially frightened by the strange display the young man made when he realized the car was not out front. Smokey-Smelling Male pitched the keys into the driveway with animalistic fervor before pacing up and down the street a couple times in search of the missing vehicle.

Smart Kitty thought to run to him, wishing to tell him that he too felt so desperate to leave. He understood the limits of their language barrier well enough, however, to know Smokey-Smelling Male wouldn’t understand their shared motivation. Smokey-Smelling Male would put him back in the box to calm down. So he stayed in the bushes and watched the short tantrum from the uncertain safety of the shadows, only daring to emerge after the boy shuffled back into the house and slammed shut the door.
Nothing smelled right. Everything had the same smear on it, the same stench as the Foul-Stinking Thing. Everything had that same hint of decay on it as if the whole town had been brought back from the dead just to die again, but very slowly. Everything about it was unnatural, and he would have no part of it.

Smart Kitty shimmied out of his hiding spot, his aching joints biting into him as he pulled out of his longstanding crouch. He had never taken a beating from a fall quite as severely as that one. Nothing hurt beyond repair, though, so he pushed himself to get moving. He had tried crying at Safe Scent Girl’s window, and there was no waiting for her any longer. There was something seeking out each of them, something he had never before encountered. The people hadn’t noticed it. They had told him to calm down. He knew those words well: calm down. The people usually said that when he had every reason to worry and they were too oblivious to notice. They couldn’t perceive the stench with their dull, little noses. They were smart ones, the people, but they couldn’t see or smell anything worth a damn.

The cat, actually named Maxwell (all he know is he was named after a “smart man” from an old television show) offers a view of his surroundings that is far different from those of the main characters. His world is one of heightened senses; he observes more than just what he sees or hears, and for that, he is able to offer an insight to the town that no one else can. He understands that their intelligence level exceeds his, and yet he is still the “smart one” because he is able to perceive past the illusion that has fooled all but him.

About The Hidden Valley:

Deep in a hidden valley, there is a ghost town that has experienced a miraculous rebound. It is separated from the rest of the world by a mountain pass, but it’s found a dark and deadly lifeline…. Carrie and her husband Grant are moving wayward teenage twins John and Jane across the country for a fresh start. South Bend seems like the perfect place for it. Maybe just a little too perfect. When they become aware of the trap that has been set for them, will it already be too late for any of them to escape?

Go to for more information.

About the author:

Leigh M. Lane lives in the beautiful mountains of Montana, where she writes speculative fiction that spans from sci-fi to horror. All of her works contain a gritty realism that hallmarks her unique voice, which also often has social or political undertones. Her recent releases are The Hidden Valley, Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods.

Leigh’s influences include H.G. Wells, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, Rod Serling, and Stephen King.

Check out her Amazon author page:

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3 thoughts on “Guest Blog with Leigh M. Lane

  1. The book really sounds intriguing. I’m also amazed at the level of intricacy involved. I will have to check this out further. Thanks to Leigh and Erik for sharing. Have a great week, you two.


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