James S. Murray is joining us today to talk about his novel with Darren Wearmouth, Don’t Move. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Megan Forrester has barely survived the unthinkable. Six months ago, she witnessed a horrific accident that killed her husband and son, and lives with the guilt of knowing she could have done more to save them. Now, Megan hopes to mend the pieces of her broken spirit by attending a local church group’s annual camping trip. But the church group members—riddled with dark secrets of their own—make a catastrophic navigational mistake, leaving them stranded in an untouched canyon in the West Virginian national forest.
Isolated from any chance of help or rescue, Megan and the others quickly realize why this side of the canyon has never been surveyed by humankind: it’s home to a terrifying prehistoric arachnid that patiently stalks its prey through even the slightest movement or vibration in the forest. And it’s desperate for a meal.
Grief-stricken and haunted by her tragic loss, Megan now faces her ultimate test of endurance. Can she outwit a bloodthirsty creature hellbent on ensuring that no one gets out of alive? When a single wrong turn can mean death, she only has one option: DON’T MOVE.
What’s James’s favorite bit?
JAMES S. MURRAY
We’ve all had that “oh sh*t” moment.
It’s that sudden feeling of dread when you realize something terrible is about to happen—a sharp, recognizable mix of fear and helplessness. The moment itself can come in many different forms. Maybe you felt it in the split second after seeing your dog hop up onto the Thanksgiving dinner table. Perhaps you felt it when you looked in your rear view mirror and realized that the car behind you was inching dangerously close to your bumper.
Or maybe you’re like Megan Forrester, and your “oh sh*t” moment happened when you realized that a giant prehistoric arachnid is descending onto your campsite to disembowel you and everyone you know.
Hopefully, you haven’t personally experienced this exact moment, but for Megan, that’s precisely the type of “oh sh*t” that the last line of Chapter Seventeen evokes. It’s a line of dialogue that comes in over the scratchy speaker of a satellite phone from the forest rangers meant to be the camping group’s saviors.
“Pastor, are you sure you’re in Davies Canyon?”
Sure, the line itself doesn’t seem particularly horrifying, but that’s why it’s my favorite bit from DON’T MOVE. It’s the kind of line that gives you shivers as you write it. We can all agree that blood and guts are great. But there’s something uniquely chilling about planting that tiny seed of concern right before all hell breaks loose.
Chapter Seventeen is that moment at the top of the roller coaster—that moment when your heart skips a beat and you can see the whole park stretched out beneath you. By Chapter Eighteen, that roller coaster car has plummeted off the precipice, spiraling down into a disorienting blur of chaos. And that line is the one moment of clear blue sky right before the plunge.
At this point in the novel, the story has followed Megan’s church group on their annual camping trip to the woods of West Virginia. But on this particular trip, the church group stumbled into the wrong part of a canyon, a section that hasn’t been touched by mankind in hundreds of years.
And tensions are running high. By this chapter, the wandering church group has already been splintered by mysterious circumstances. All that’s left of the trusty bus driver is a splatter of blood on the back of a jacket. The footsteps of an elderly couple and their grandson, hiking just a few yards behind the group, have grown eerily quiet.
Trip leader Pastor Rizzo, realizing that something strange is afoot, phones the park rangers to come pick them up. What’s left of the group points their eyes and ears towards the sky, praying that the service helicopter will hover into view and return them to civilization. Not long after, a distant buzzing sound begins to rustle the leaves of the treetops. The group breathes a collective sigh of relief, thinking it must be the helicopter here to rescue them.
But when the helicopter pilot says he can’t see their bus, the group is left momentarily confused. They can’t be that far off from where they started.
It’s in this instant where everything clicks into place, both for the reader and for Megan. That buzzing sound is not the chopper.
It’s an “oh sh*t” moment. And it has eight legs, razor-sharp fangs, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
James S. Murray is a writer, executive producer, and actor, best known as “Murr” on the hit television show Impractical Jokers along with his comedy troupe, the Tenderloins. He has worked as the Senior Vice President of Development for NorthSouth Productions for over a decade and is the owner of Impractical Productions, LLC. He recently starred in Impractical Jokers: The Movie, and also appears alongside there rest of the Tenderloins, and Jameela Jamil, in the television series The Misery Index on TBS. James is the author of the international bestselling AWAKENED trilogy.
Darren Wearmouth was born in Yorkshire and spent six years in the British Army’s Royal Signals division before pursuing a career in corporate technology. After fifteen years working for telecommunications firms and a startup, he decided to follow his passion for writing. He currently resides in Manchester, England.