Sitting at a local coffee shop, author and Serpentine Drive resident Bill Evans can be found working on his latest story. The retired police officer listens to Buddhist chants through his Bose headphones while writing. This drowns out nearby conversations, allowing him to get lost in his thoughts. He works in three 45-minute increments each day, taking short breaks to stretch his legs between writing sessions.
This routine has served him well. His psychological thriller, G: The Story of a Madman, was published this summer. The book documents the life of Gregor, the mentally ill main character, in a series of vignettes beginning in his childhood.
“I was not going to write just another zombie apocalypse,” Evans says. “This had to be something that was unique, stylish and more psychological horror than physical,” he adds.
This helps broaden Evans’ reading audience. “I have received such positive feedback, not only from horror fans… from people who just like short stories and characterization, which is what I like, too,” Evans says. He believes characterization is the key for a short story writer with any merit.
Evans’ writing is influenced by his career path. He spent 29 years as a police officer, beginning in Sewickley and spending most of his career in Monroeville.
“When you respond to a call, you try to anticipate every scenario that could happen so that you are not caught off guard,” he says. “So de facto, you become a student of human behavior.”
Evans’ real-life experiences informs his characters. “You’ll see the authenticity of how these police officers talk and respond to this character, because Gregor is sort of a mixing point of everything that I have lived and seen,” Evans says.
Evans’ interest in horror goes back even further. Like many Pittsburghers of a certain age, he grew up watching Bill Cardille’s Chiller Theater, a late-night horror and science fiction movie program. At age 10, Evans would go to bed at 8 P.M. and his father would wake him and his brother at midnight with “Chiller bags” of snacks. “It was a bonding thing—my dad, me and my brother all watching Chilly Billy… I still look back at it with great fondness,” Evans says.
G: The Story of a Madman is available in paperback and e-book format at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Evans’ next book, Tales That Will Leave You Hanging is slated to be out in summer 2018. For additional information, including details of upcoming book signings, visit billevansbooks.com.