Title: Grace Falls: An Anthology of Wonder and Fright
Author: G.A. Finocchiaro
Nothing is as it seems in Grace Falls, Pennsylvania. The town looks and feels like every other small isolated town across America. There are yearly holiday events, family-owned businesses, and gossip that never dies--like the demons of its past. This collection of stories set in the eighties is filled with nostalgia and the petrifying fear of the unknown. The novella "Mum" starts the collection off with a bang, as a mysterious killer stalks the town's women and teenage girls. Misfits Sid, Reed, and Danny are caught up in the slayings, and distracted by the new girl in town, Chrissy; a beautiful California transplant with a mysterious past. As the town's secrets are revealed, the following stories unravel a deepening plot, introducing us to other residents, and draw out the twisted and dangerous creatures that have invaded Grace Falls. For fans of Lovecraft, Stand by Me, and Stranger Things, this pulse-pounding collection will keep readers turning pages into the night. Visit Grace Falls... if you dare.
The town of Grace Falls was located in Pennsylvania somewhere north of Philadelphia, south of Buffalo, and east of Pittsburgh. The town was nestled close enough to Lake Erie to receive all the lake effect weather that blew in from Canada, and four hundred miles from the beaches along the country’s eastern shores.
Grace Falls was home to 31,131 people, and although it wasn't a small town, it remained isolated behind a wall of mountains. That isolation was both a blessing and a curse.
The waterfalls were located a few miles outside of town—a tourist attraction that brought the occasional visitor to experience its unique beauty. There were three falls in total, each flowing into the next, named after the Fates—Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. The first of three, Clotho, was the largest, and when her water exploded off its stony shelf and rumbled into the lagoon below in a beautiful display of water and mist, it was a dazzling sight to behold.
The only way in and out of Grace Falls was via Highway 13, or small back roads that traversed the Appalachian Mountains. A giant billboard welcomed people into town, framed by flowering shrubs and a spotlight that kept it lit all night long. The billboard included a brief welcome message to Grace Falls, followed by its population and a motto, “Where Water Falls & Dreams Soar!” If an outsider drove through the town square, they would find themselves transported to a simpler time of malt shop diners, five and dimes, apothecaries, and hardware stores. There was a seasonal drive-up burger shop with teenagers on roller skates serving meals to car windows with trays, while classic doo wop and rock n’ roll played on the radio. Grace Falls had a school, a hospital, fireman chili contests, cheerleader car washes, and a Labor Day Fair that was each and every year's biggest event. There were antique car shows, and a Samhain Pumpkin Festival with a hayride through the necropolis on the west side of town.
Now the home of the Milton State University Red Devils, a division II university known for its athletics and science departments, it was once a mill town known for its paper and lumber industry. The watermill wheel no longer spun, but an influx of new jobs and people moved into the area, necessitating new housing developments, supermarkets, and a growing police force.
Grace Falls had its skeletons, as all towns do, but some problems had deeper roots than others. There was a drug problem, from meth to heroin, that grew worse every year. There were domestic disputes, affairs, tragedies, and the occasional drama that played out in the public eye, for better or worse.
The fact was, Grace Falls was no longer a small town, and hadn’t been in quite some time. But in many ways, it still believed it was, and it clutched to its identity for fear of being swallowed by the coming times. Such was the spirit of the place and its people. Perhaps that was why the people of Grace Falls struggled against the notion that something wasn’t quite right about their small burgh.
Strange things transpired in Grace Falls. Odd occurrences and strange phenomena were part of local customs, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1986 that things took a dark turn. Something happened that summer that opened the jaws of hell beneath that old town.
That’s why those who had lived there long enough to know whispered about its secrets. And to some the town’s motto was forever altered: “Grace Falls, Where Angels Fall & Demons Soar.”
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What’s your favorite thing about the Fall season:
Fall is by far the best season of the year. There is nothing like throwing on your best jacket to go tromping through piles of crunchy orange and brown leaves in the warm sun. The smells, the comfort, the best holidays, and of course—Halloween—an obvious favorite of mine.
What inspired you to write this story:
Short-form horror, like Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Twilight Zone, and Amazing Stories inspired me, and I wanted to create a series of shorts that when read together formed a larger story. I grew up in a small town and sometimes the mythology and ghost stories of those small towns become a beast of its own. These six short stories are a love letter to the stories that spooked me—the stories that made me laugh and cringe equally.
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Runs September 1 – 30.
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G.A. Finocchiaro was born and raised in South Jersey. He is a self-described goofball with a taste for bad jokes and good burgers. Finocchiaro currently lives in the Philadelphia suburbs. Grace Falls is his second novel.
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