Set to be released this fall, The Cursed Man novel is being filmed for the big screen. This thriller features Alister’s relationship with Death and the impending doom that has settled in around him, and is sure to leave you with feelings of discomfort and shock. Whether you are a fan of Keith Rommel’s work or new to the series, his new film and most recent release are sure to spark your interest. The Cursed Man is the first installment of the Thanatology Series and is followed by The Lurking Man and The Sinful Man, which is set to come out this May. We got the chance to pick Keith’s brain about the series’ success in an interview and are excited for this year’s releases! Check out the interview and photos below for more about the series.
Sunbury Press: What type of reaction are you hoping for when readers pick up your books? What mood or emotion are you trying to produce regarding plot, setting, and characters?
Keith Rommel: I am looking for the wow factor. Wow in the sense that the story I am telling is refreshingly unique, the characters are lifelike and the plot has a certain challenge to it. I am looking to pull all sorts of emotions out of my readers that include anger, fear, contempt, surprise, sadness, disgust, and joy.
SP: Tell us how excited you are for The Cursed Man movie to come out. Did you think in the beginning that it would be so successful?
Keith: I had a very strong connection with all of the characters in The Cursed Man. The book took me five years to write. Given that amount of time and effort going into the story, I got to know each character intimately. Some characters I really cared for and others I disliked. But as I reflect back to the struggles and triumphs I had in putting the story together, never in my wildest dream did I think I would have the honor of getting to see these characters come to life on the big screen. It is in a sense surreal.
SP: How closely is the movie going to follow the novel? Are readers in for some surprises?
Keith: The movie is going to follow the novel, in most instances, very closely. We did spruce up the ending a bit to add an on the edge of your seat dramatic chase, which will have the same end result as the novel, but done in a different fashion. To say anything more would be spoiling it, so you’ll have to wait until the movie to see what the surprise is going to be.
SP: What were your initial expectations for The Cursed Man novel? Did you always have a series in mind, or did that develop later? And what are your expectations and hopes for The Sinful Man?
Keith: The idea of creating a series off of The Cursed Man came to mind soon before the initial release of the novel. From that idea, I came up with calling it the Thanatology Series. Different, inquisitive, and holding a deep meaning that most people haven’t heard of, I felt it the perfect name. Thanatology is the study of death and dying and the practices associated with it.
I have been careful to try and keep each book an independent read from one another, where readers could get a full experience from each book without having any knowledge of the prior. But when I began writing The Sinful Man, it began to take a shape I hadn’t planned and certainly didn’t expect. I began pulling characters in from both The Cursed Man (book one) and The Lurking Man (book two), which I believe created an expansive web between the books that begins to showcase how they’re all really interconnected and have an endless potential for multiple books.
I would hope The Sinful Man is as well received as its predecessors and continues to show how unique these books are and gets readers talking and wanting more.
SP: What are your goals for the movie coming out this fall? Are you nervous about its success or are you feeling confident?
Keith: My personal goals are to make sure that the story that is being told on film is similar to the one that is in the book. That is important to me, and having had my hands in co-writing the screenplay with producer James L. Perry, I think we did a very good job at that.
Hope, prayers, and a strong belief in the story and that hard work pays off leads me to believe we have all the elements needed to make this a success. The story is unlike any told before, and I believe that all the people involved in the development of the movie have a strong vision of what the movie should look like and are executing that at a very high level. I have seen some pretty amazing scenes and can’t wait to see how the public reacts to it.
SP: Can you tell us anything else about the film? Where it’s being shot perhaps. How do you feel about the acting and its progress thus far? Is it proving to be all you hoped for? How will readers react do you think, those that have read the book and those that have not? Do you think people that have not read the book will be compelled to pick up the books to finish the series?
Keith: The film is being shot in Los Angeles, California. The progress of the filming is coming along nicely, but most people that are like me want instant gratification. I know that’s not going to happen, so it has taught me a great lesson in patience. So each little snippet I get is an inside look and it is like getting a gift delivered to my email inbox every so often.
Readers that have read The Cursed Man will be satisfied with the film as I am reassuring them all of the complexities of the story is still there, just beefed up in some instances to add Hollywood flair! For those that have not read the book, I suggest they do as they’ll have a greater insight to the film. But if they’re resistant and choose to see the film first, I know they’ll want to immerse themselves inside the world with a man cursed with death. And their time there will be unlike any other read they had before.
SP: The Cursed Man follows Alister’s struggle with Death. The Lurking Man switches gears, and we meet Cailean and learn of her struggle with Death as well. Will The Sinful Man introduce a new main character as well? Also, why did you choose to introduce a new character for each installment? What do you feel that brings to the series? Is it to keep it new and exciting, or perhaps we can look at it from Death’s perspective? Is Death who the series is really about?
Keith: Yes, The Sinful Man will introduce a new main character as well as tap into some previously explored characters. Death is who the series is about, but it is also about the characters the readers will meet throughout each book. The unique part is that they will find out that death comes in many forms and has many different motivations. Death may come as a man, a woman, or even a child…Readers will fear death in one book and may have sympathy for their plight in another.
SP: The Sinful Man is set to come out this May. What sorts of chilling twists and turns should readers look forward to? Is there anything you can tell us without giving too much away?
Keith: The Sinful Man was actually inspired by two true crime events in the area in which I live. One was a victim named Melanie Jean Henningsen, and the other was from the tragic events surrounding Tyler Hadley. Though the victims and circumstances surrounding these events have been changed and buried deep within the curving, unpredictable plot, they are there nevertheless. The idea was inspired by the biblical passage in Psalm 23:4, which states, “Yea, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”
What if you were in that valley and had something to fear?
SP: Will there be more installments in the series for readers to keep an eye out for? And do you think there will be films coming out for the rest of the series in the future?
Keith: There will definitely be more books coming out in the series. Many more. I am hoping to see The Lurking Man as a movie and will keep everyone updated as that possibility is being explored.
SP: Where did your inspiration come from to start this eerie and enthralling series? And what continues to inspire and motivate you? It certainly is not easy to have readers on the edge of their seats, reading quickly, and flipping pages in order to see what happens next. What can you attribute your success to?
Keith: Every book in the Thanatology Series has been based off of a real life event, twisted in such a way to fit a fiction story. As with The Cursed Man, that novel is based off of a childhood friend of my uncle’s. With The Lurking Man, that novel is based off of my mother and aunt’s life and I portray them as a little boy, twisting things so it’s not easy to understand where I came up with the idea. And above I explained where my inspiration came from in writing The Sinful Man.
I write most every day and read when I am not writing to learn from others. It is a continuous process of learning and growing as a writer and taking praise as well as criticism. That is the only sound advice that I can give other writers. Keep writing.
To me, success is measured differently by each individual. What some may consider to be success, others may see it as another opportunity to continue to learn and grow.
SP: Is there anything else you would like your readers, and future viewers, to know about the novels and film?
Keith: I would like them to know that I am working as hard as I can to bring them something unique to the genre. I hope it blows them away and keeps them coming back for more. I am proud of the novels I have written and am humbled that I have had the experience of working with a production company. I know the odds are rare and I don’t take the opportunity lightly. I greatly appreciate the support and words of encouragement, and if you haven’t read any of my work, I hope you’ll allow me the chance to challenge your imagination…