Level Zero: A Nightmare in Riverton Novel
SUSPENSE/THRILLER HORROR MYSTERY
OVERCOMING THE MONSTER/INTERNAL JOURNEY & REBIRTH
1980s & '90s
CHRIS WILKERSON: 40. LEAD. COURAGEOUS. INTELLIGENT. MODEST. RATIONAL.
KATRINA: CHRIS’ ESTRANGED SPOUSE. AFTER SURVIVING A COMA, SHE WAKES WITH STRANGE NEW DREAMS AND MEMORIES. SHE LATER CONNECTS WITH TODD.
TODD ADAMS: A MAN WITH MENTAL ILLNESS PROBLEMS THAT LEAD HIM TO ACT IN UNHINGED WAYS. HE CRASHES A PLACE WITH HIS PARTNER INSIDE. AFTER SURVIVING A COMA, HE IS KIDNAPPED BY CREEPER JOE AND BROUGHT TO THE HOTEL.
CREEPER JOE: A MAN WHO LIVES BENEATH THE TUNNELS OF THE HOTEL AND KIDNAPS MANY PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE TOWN. HE IS CRAZY, ZANY, AND UNPREDICTABLE.
PENSKE: A POLICE OFFICER WHO LOOKS INTO WHAT’S GOING ON WITH CHRIS, CREEPY NIGHTS, AND THE MISSING PEOPLE AROUND TOWN. HE HAS A DARK SENSE OF HUMOR AT TIMES, BUT IS RELATIVELY GOOD AT HIS JOB.
LIVEWIRE: THE MAN WHO FIRST TELLS CHRIS ABOUT THE HOTEL. HE IS LATER KIDNAPPED BY JOE. HE KEEPS A MAP OF THE TUNNELS AND IS EXTREMELY CLEVER.
In 1982, a radio producer opens a horror hotline in a troubled hotel building. A financial advisor recovers from a coma, fighting unfamiliar memories with 53 others held captive just beneath it in an abandoned subway tunnel. Will they find the key to freedom?
Target Gender: Universal
Riverton, Texas (fictional town)
Based on a True Story
Status: Yes: with a Publisher
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Year Published: 2021
Broken relationships and unfortunate events leave two men devastated in a Texas town-- Chris, with his estranged spouse comatose in a boating accident, Todd, coincidentally comatose after a small plane crash on the same day. A mysterious hotel offers potential for unexplained opportunity and relief.
After 54 victims escape the tunnel beneath the hotel, the primary antagonist looks to be defeated, and all seems to be well. An unfortunate truth is uncovered when its discovered that one of the 54 victims is a decoy and antihero Todd Adams' wobbly past comes back to haunt him.
Information not completed
Hard Copy Available
Mature Audience Themes
Extreme Violence, Language/Profanity
Plot - Other Elements
Plot - Premise
Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth
Main Character Details
Name: Chris Wilkerson
Key Traits: Masculine,Secretive,Visionary,Modest,Unapologetic,Lone Wolf
Additional Character Details
Name: Todd Adams
Key Traits: Manipulative,Leader,Heroic,Crazy,Aggressive,Narcisstic
Additional Character Details
Name: Creeper Joe Bonsall
Key Traits: Crazy,Villainous,Engaging,Charming,Adventurous,Funny
Additional Character Details
Name: Katrina Wilkerson
Key Traits: Sexy,Sarcastic,Skillful,Aggressive,Decisive
Horror and thriller film fans often find themselves wading through a pond of choices that are quite similar and following the same formula-- leaving them without a notable impression. Level Zero is a novel that is essentially a gateway into a fictional universe of stories, characters, and tragedies that will continue to grow as more books are released. While writing, I envisioned bringing the page to life on the screen with harrowing and menacing description, complex philosophical and ethical questions, and captivating mysteries. The story balances the macabre, the campy, and the terrifying like a twisted game. Grandiose settings and locales make the worldbuilding in the story something special. The unique characterizations featured throughout the book give the audience greater depth to the various characters' backstories, allowing for more relatability. Perhaps what's most captivating is the peculiar but motivated antics of the story's antagonist married with the hotel's troubled past, making the audience struggle whether to root for him or give the broken victims a second chance at redemption.
A man's wife is injured and comatose. The man buys a hotel and inks an ominous deal in order to save her life. He opens a horror hotline, and the wife survives, but has strange memories of another life. A tunnel dweller in the hotel kidnaps people with similar stories as the wife, but they manage to defeat him and escape.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
For the most part the Book Profile does accurately reflect the book, though the horror is quite surreal and dreamy, which could be a good thing to note in order to prepare readers for the style of the book.
Draw of Story
The premise of this book is incredibly interesting, and the way the author balanced the different characters and various storylines immediately drew me in. I also enjoyed the detailed characterization. From the start, I felt like I knew and understood most of these characters.
Some of the dreamier chapters of this book, particularly the action that takes place in the tunnels, is quite hard to follow. Creeper Joe’s character motivations are also a little unclear. It’s clear that he’s collecting victims and assembling a group of people, but how does he choose who he kidnaps? Clarifying some of the more surreal plot points would be helpful, as would streamlining the plot points that take place in the tunnel. Some of the characters also behave in such strange ways that it’s difficult to believe they’re realistic. Penske’s conversation with Ron, for example, is so cruel and unprofessional. Why would he, as a police officer, play some kind of joke on a desperate person who’s in danger? Lastly, the italicized text that tells readers what characters are thinking feels out of place with the writing style of the rest of the story.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The premise is the main hook of this project, but the hotel setting is another strong hook. This is a creepy and atmospheric project with the kind of overall premise that would definitely intrigue horror and thriller fans. There is also some great action in this project, such as plane crashes and supernatural happenings in the tunnels.
Because this project would likely appeal to fans of the horror genre, it could potentially have quite a large fanbase. Though viewers who enjoy other genres might not enjoy this book as much.
With such a large ensemble cast, this project probably wouldn't have Awards potential for actors, but it's possible that set design or cinematography would shine.
Similar Films/TV Series
THE HAUNTED HOTEL, THE SHINING
What’s New About the Story
The setting isn't particularly original, as there are several infamous haunted hotels in film and television, but the approach to this story is very original. The premise, and the way the storylines weave together, feel unique and refreshing. Adding more specific details about the location could make this story even more unique.
Chris is a bold and courageous character with interesting ideas, which makes him stand out. Todd's unhinged behavior makes him fascinating to follow. The way Todd and Katrina flash back to previous lives also makes them stand out.
Uniqueness of Story
While the premise does feel like a rare gem, the plot is just a bit too difficult to follow in this book. For most readers, this probably couldn't be called a rare gem, but for horror fans looking for an atmospheric and unique story, it could be.
Film: Indie, Streaming TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series
WORK IN PROGRESS
This book has tons of potential, but a more streamlined plot would allow the premise and characters to flourish. The writing style is also very strong in the third person, but a bit clunky in the first person italicized passages. More cohesion in the writing and the story would benefit this project as a whole.
Tips for Improvement
The plot would need to be a little easier to follow, particularly the passages that take place in the tunnel.
Worlds converge when a radio producer opens a horror hotline company in a haunted hotel, an unhinged businessman recovers from a coma, and more than 50 people are taken captive by a tunnel dweller who feeds on blood and fear.
What We Liked
The premise of this project is eye-catching, exciting, and clever. This project juggles various interesting storyline and features a wonderful contained setting. The writing is creepy, atmospheric, and confident. The characters feel realistic and authentic. They are messy, imperfect people, and it's easy to root for them because they feel so real. For horror fans and thriller fans alike, this project is a strong offering.
Film: The project has a strong beginning, middle, and end, and the project's fast pace already lends itself well to film. The screenwriter wouldn't need to change much in order to adapt this project. The ending is also satisfying, yet intriguing enough to offer the potential of another chapter in the franchise.
TV: Because there are so many interesting characters in this project, a TV adaptation would best allow viewers to get to know them all. There are plenty of engaging stories to fill up countless seasons of television.
1. Intriguing premise.
2. Spooky setting.
3. Lots of riveting storylines.
4. Strong characters.
5. Satisfying yet open-ended ending.
We meet Chris Wilkerson in the summer of 1982, at Helena Reinhold’s funeral. Chris’ partner, Katrina, stands beside him as she mourns her mother. After the bereavement period ends, Chris returns to his work as a producer at WGBO radio station. He and Katrina agree to leave town for a few days in order to unwind. They plan to stay at the rental cabin. Meanwhile, Todd Adams and his girlfriend, Lorrie Hatcher, talk in the car after dinner. Todd tries to persuade Lorrie to fly with him. He’s been taking pilot training lessons. Lorrie is troubled by the way he sometimes checks out and has episodes. He tells her that he bought a plane, but she thinks he’s joking. They get out of the car at their apartment.
The next time Lorrie wakes up, she’s duct-taped to the seat of a plane. Todd is clearly having an episode. He makes a cocktail of drugs and faints while flying the plane. It plummets to the ground.
On Richlands Lake, Katrina and Chris witness the crash from their speedboat. As they’re speeding towards the crash, Katrina slips and hits her head. She is unresponsive. Chris forgets about the crash and takes Katrina to the hospital.
In the fall of 1982, Katrina is still in a comatose state. A man named Bob ‘Livewire’ James tells Chris about a way he can potentially help her: there’s an old folktale that going to the old hotel in the Oak Hollow District could help. Chris leaves to do just that, and Livewire passes out in a closet.
Chris arrives at the Oak Hollow and meets Sylvia Greenwich, who immediately tries to sell Chris the entire hotel. She tells him if he just signs the dotted line, she’ll scream at Katrina. He’s confused, but he signs the strange document. The room goes dark and Sylvia disappears, leaving Chris with the deed to the hotel. Chris decides he can use the location for his new business, Creepy Nights.
Meanwhile, Creeper Joe Bonsall lurks in the tunnels beneath the hotel. A shadow keeps Joe, the former bellhop, trapped, and there are others, such as Sylvia, who are trapped too. The Shadow instructs Joe to get Chris invested in the hotel and leave him breadcrumbs. He promises that Joe and the others who are trapped will soon get another chance at life.
As Chris explores the building, he meets Joe, who tells him all kinds of stories. Joe and Chris share a meal and Joe shows Chris the underground tunnels. Joe tells Chris that he’s tasked with drawing in purposelessness people in order to atone for the sins of his past. Despite his best judgement, Chris is intrigued. He agrees to partner with Joe, who tells him he’ll help make his business a success if he does so. After a dizzying time and a drink that he believes was drugged, Chris passes out.
Todd Adams wakes up in a hospital room and learns that Lorrie didn’t survive the crash. He has brain damage and he’s having a hard time staying focused on anything. The doctor knows Todd had something to do with Lorrie’s death, but he doesn’t know how to prove it.
When Chris wakes up in the Oak Hollow Hotel building, he finds himself in an old ballroom on the eighth floor. Chris goes to the hospital and learns that Katrina has woken up.
As weeks pass, Chris realizes that Katrina is different than the person he knew. She has vivid visions and dreams of another life. She even tells Chris to call her Sylvia Greenwich, which makes Chris realize what really took place when he made a deal with Sylvia. Sometimes she’s Katrina and sometimes she’s Sylvia. Chris can’t take it. He parts ways with Katrina and tells her they can reconnect later.
Chris continues working on Creepy Nights, where people will be able to call in and listen to horror stories. In the winter, Nancy Helbens arrives for a receptionist position at Creepy Nights. Like Katrina, Nancy woke from her coma on October 29th and struggled to tell dreams from realities.
In a restaurant bar near the hotel, Todd runs into Katrina, and they hit it off. Katrina tells Todd that Chris caused her mother’s death by pulling a cruel prank on her. Todd leaves and bumps into a strange man (presumably Joe).
At Creepy Nights, Joe tells Chris that he needs to hold up his side of the bargain and kidnap a man named Dale. Nancy tells Chris that Katrina called; she’s suing him for mismanagement of her dead mother’s trust fund. Chris tries to stay focused. He meets with new callers, and particularly connects with one named Ebony.
Chris goes to find Dale Creensteen. He knocks him out and a cop named Penske almost witnesses the crime, but Chris manages to talk his way out of the situation. He brings Dale to Joe at Creepy Nights. He goes on to bring Joe three other people, and while he feels guilty, he is also pleased that Creepy Nights is going well.
It’s revealed that Livewire, who first told Chris about the building, also woke up from his coma on that fateful night in October. He comes to Creepy Nights in search of his job, since the radio station didn’t treat him well during his coma. He agrees to work for Chris and set up surveillance in the tunnels. Like the others, Livewire struggles to stay in the present.
In the spring, Chris calls Katrina and asks if she wants to head up the Space Fiction floor at Creepy Nights. She agrees, and Chris shows her to a spot in the basement where she can live if she wants. As Katrina explores the basement alone, she runs into Joe. Furious at Sylvia over what she did to the residents of the hotel, Joe takes Katrina and tortures her. Chris is furious, but Joe won’t tell him where she is.
As Livewire finishes his work in the tunnels and the basement, he comes upon Katrina. He tries to help her, but Joe gets him too.
Meanwhile, Todd continues a strangely intimate relationship with his therapist, Julie. And Wayne at the radio station has another lightheaded episode, much like the ones that other people have been having.
At Creepy Nights, Nancy is fired for stealing. On her way home, the creep causes her to crash her car. Like he’s done with everyone else, Joe gives her a drink from the pewter cup. She passes out.
In the fall, Todd is knocked unconscious as he goes about his day.
At Ron and Wayne’s radio station, Ron tells Wayne that he’s quitting the show. As Wayne leaves the station, he runs into Creeper Joe. He leaves with him and passes out.
Todd wakes in a dark tunnel, in agony. Wayne wakes in the tunnel as well, with his tongue severed. Upstairs, Chris struggles with guilt over helping Joe. He wants to be free.
Outside, Ron wants to know what happened to Wayne. He meets Joe, and Joe threatens him and shows him Wayne’s tongue. Ron calls the cops. Penske comes to question Ron.
In the tunnels, Todd connects with a homeless man named Harvey, and then with Nancy. They realize that they both used to work in the building, and that they’re prisoners now. Later, Todd meets Ebony, who is angry after being passed on for a promotion by Chris. Ebony gives Todd some information and tells him a story. Everyone in the tunnels struggles to stay present.
A detective comes to see Chris about the unexplained disappearances. He doesn’t raise any alarms. Penske puts the pieces together though. He realizes the truth about the kidnappings. A lead takes him to Creepy Nights.
Todd slips from one state of consciousness, from one reality, to the next.
After passing out, Ron Richards wakes in an ambulance. It turns out that Joe is driving, and he’s kidnapped Ron as well.
From the control room, Chris watches the videos in the tunnel. Joe comes in and confuses him. When he catches Chris off guard, he slits his throat in order to seal their partnership forever.
Outside, Penske and the detective file paperwork to legally investigate the basement of Creepy Nights.
Todd wanders down a corridor and finds the Spring of Life. He looks into it and sees many things: Lorrie, angry that he killed her, his father, and many memories… Then he sees Katrina, who’s also almost entirely lost in the past. He continues past Katrina and meets a man with a bow and arrow, and then he runs into Livewire, who tells him he has a map that Joe doesn’t know about.
Penske sees Ron trembling outside in a car. Ron tells Penske he was kidnapped, and Penske gathers information.
Joe sends Todd to the mess hall to prepare food for everyone. The army of prisoners enters the room and eats their meal of fried bat and steamed rat. Todd feels a surprising sense of community with the other prisoners.
Detective Terry Herbert continues exploring the hotel and trying to find a path to the basement and tunnels. He finally finds access, but Joe is waiting there. After a troubling conversation, Herbert pushes forward anyway and enters the tunnel. It’s a dizzying experience. When he’s had enough, he climbs the exit ladder and is struck by a taxi and killed as he tries to escape.
Todd meets with Chris and they discuss Joe’s health and how they can defeat him. Since Joe is a Creeper, he feeds off blood and fear; those are the things they need to cut his access to. Todd continues to frequently get lost in his memories. He comes to and pours out Joe’s supply of blood.
The Shadow tells Chris that he’s broken his contract, and he collapses. Meanwhile, the prisoners rise up against Joe. Without their fear, he is defeated. Once Joe is gone, their ailments begin to heal and their strength returns. The prisoners are set free with new leases on their lives.
Penske and another officer find Chris lying motionless on the ground in the hotel. They wrap the area with caution tape.
The kidnappings get pinned on Chris after his death. Todd and Katrina have a healthy, happy relationship after everything they went through. Todd takes Katrina up in a private plane, but they’re shocked when a disfigured Lorrie appears and dooms the couple. The plane crashes into Creepy Nights, as Ron hears during his last night at the radio station.
The mortician tends to Chris’ body, and is surprised by a mysterious visitor: a round-figured man carrying a pewter cup full of liquid.