Isaac Thorne’s debut horror novel The Gordon Place continues to impress reviewers as it enters its second month following launch. The story is set in the fictional sleepy rural town of Lost Hollow, Tennessee. It was released on April 15, 2019, and promotional efforts have been ongoing since that date.
The book launch kicked off with reviews and interviews from My Gay Toronto magazine, Indie Reader, Kendall Reviews, and TN Horror News, then branched out into other promotional vehicles, such as an appearance on Rob and Slim Show and a blog tour by RABT Book Tours, which ran the entire month of May.
“The blog tour thing was very new to me,” Thorne says. “I really didn’t know what to expect. Most of the blogs ran excerpts from either Chapter One or Chapter Two of the novel. Some spotlighted it. A couple of them featured new interviews with me, and a few more actually reviewed the book itself. Overall, it was a good experience.”
In addition to the blogs and reviews, Thorne ran ads for the novel on Twitter and Facebook, and in print in Scream magazine and Famous Monsters magazine.
“I’m thrilled with the reception so far,” Thorne says. “I explored many marketing avenues to get the word out about The Gordon Place and it seems to have paid off some. The reviews are awesome to read. Even some of the critical reviews–and there have been critical reviews–have had a lot of good things to say about the novel. I’m not naive. Not everyone is going to love a story that contains a struggle that hinges on the generational perpetuation of the American South’s racist and violent past. But I think this is a story that needed to be told.”
When asked about the most critical of the critical reviews the novel has received so far, Thorne chuckles.
“Well,” he says, “there is a one-star review out there that I think could use some clarity. The reviewer said that they hated it and did not finish it, which is fine, but then they followed that review with a private message to me admitting that they only read about nine percent of the novel before deciding that I am an ‘Obama-loving liberal.’ Then they proceeded to tell me what my opinions on other subjects ‘probably are.’ Nine percent of the novel translates to only the first two chapters.
“I’m not sure what about those first two chapters would identify me as an ‘Obama-loving liberal,'” Thorne continues. “I didn’t even vote for Obama the first time. Maybe that reviewer was just upset over the fact that one of the main characters is a black woman and another a gay man. The story is not intentionally to the political left, although it can be read as a piece about growing up left-leaning in a region that is hard right. It also does demand that readers open their minds a little and understand that racism is passed down from father to son, mother to daughter.
“In fact, there’s an old episode of Quantum Leap titled ‘Justice’ that lent some inspiration to the themes of this novel. In that episode, Scott Bakula’s character Sam Beckett leaps into the body of a young father who is being pressured by his father-in-law to join the KKK. When Sam tries to explain to his son that hating others based on the color of their skin is wrong, the son notes that his grandfather does it. So, then, why is it wrong? Sam’s response to the youngster is: ‘Well, his daddy told him, and his daddy told him, and no one ever thought to say Stop.’
If tackling [generational racism] in fiction defines me as ‘liberal’ and turns off some readers, so be it.Isaac Thorne
“More than that, though, we live in an age where you have racists shooting up churches and some folks in law enforcement who are too quick on the draw depending on the color of a suspect’s skin. This is also an age where people are calling the police on other people just for being black. If tackling those issues in fiction defines me as ‘liberal’ and turns off some readers, so be it.”
Despite the occasional critical review, the majority of readers on Amazon and Goodreads so far appear to have positive opinions of the novel, which Thorne says he appreciates.
“I’m really happy that there are people out there who are reading my work and enjoying it. Although I write primarily for myself, I put my work out there to be read and enjoyed by others. I write stuff that I would want to read, and it’s wonderful to know that I’m not alone in what I enjoy.”
Thorne’s novel The Gordon Place can be purchased through this website or from Amazon.com, IndieBound, or other retailers.