One of the most suspenseful and frightening stories in the Campfire Tales collection, Safe From Harm was inspired from a true event in Rhodes' past. His sister attended college in Rome, Georgia, the story's setting, and was also crowned Miss Rome. One weekend after midnight, when AX and his parents were already asleep, the phone rang. He heard his mother answer their home phone. After saying hello, she fell silent. AX listened as his Dad said, "What is it? You turned pale! What's wrong?" His mother handed his father the phone and repeated the message an odd voice had spoken to her. "The man said, 'Mrs. Rhodes, I have your daughter.'" Read about what happened next in Campfire Tales.
During his teens and early twenties, Ax despised writing contests and most short fiction publications, because they limited the length of their submissions. At the time, Ax felt only longer works allowed for adequate character development and the complex stories that sprang from his imagination. Long fiction seemed to fit his writing style, although he loved the short stories of Poe, Bradbury, and Stephen King. But after reading novellas by Machen, Matheson, and Bloch, Ax noticed a lot of extremely scary books were short. This revelation led him to begin writing shorter stories. The Familiar Stranger was born from Ax's desire to write the scariest book ever written. In his humble words, "I came close."
What horrifying event from A.X. Rhodes' family inspired the chilling tale of a serial killer in Safe From Harm?
The longest story in the Campfire Tales collection, The First Strigoi is set in the United States, Bulgaria (for a paragraph), and Romania. Although Ax knew about Transylvania, Wallachia, and Vlad the Impaler from his brief literary studies of Bram Stoker's classic, Dracula, he had never read a vampire tale that incorporated a lot the cultural aspects of Romania. To make the story more realistic, language, food, architecture, economy, and the friendly nature of people in the Eastern European nation are utilized within the story. The modern setting and cultural backdrop helped to create something ultimately scarier than tales from distant past. Ax is considering writing a series based on The First Strigoi.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR AX FACTS?
What nation and culture did AX study to make the new short story The First Strigoi so real and inherently frightening?
What inspired A.X. Rhodes to create the horrifying novella The Familiar Stranger?