Snowcrow, a new novel by Blake Alb, tells the story of Teddy, a precocious Minnesotan schoolboy dealing with the usual trials of growing up plus one more: evil snowmen. (Teddy’s suspicions that he was in for it ought to have been aroused the day he enrolled at Anomaly Academy.) Will Teddy discover the origin of the foreboding frozen golems popping up around town? Could all of it be in his head?
I wish I could tell you. I had wanted to print the entirety of the novel in this issue of Shop.Dine.Live. and then take the month off, but the Shop.Dine.Live. lawyer told me that copyright infringement is against the law. Instead I spoke with the writer of Snowcrow himself, whose name is Darrin Albert when he’s not penning fiction. The North Dakota native has a master’s in psychology, works as a mental health professional, and draws inspiration from his field of study as well as “all things geeky.”
“Snowcrow is my first solo novel,” said Darrin. “I call it a horror-comedy, which sounds like an oxymoron, but I love how that formula worked in movies like Gremlins, Zombieland, and District 9. I also tried to balance escapism with a layer of seriousness like in the original 60s The Outer Limits.
“On its surface Snowcrow has the fun elements of fear and a menacing threat, but beneath that it’s a story of paranoia. The reader who analyzes Snowcrow closely will realize that nothing supernatural is necessarily going on. — just enough coincidence to keep our hero Teddy on edge at all times. It’s an interesting lens to glimpse his mental health through.
“I chose to write Snowcrow in the first person style of a diary. It’s the best way to treat the reader to your protagonist’s intimate feelings and thoughts. I took some inspiration from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, which reads as a series of first person obituaries. Masters did a wonderful job of understanding people, their biases, and how different archetypes interact with one another. I set out to make Teddy his own unique character, but he certainly resembles me in several respects. On a subconscious level, a lot of writers process their internal demons by writing.
“I believe setting Snowcrow in the Midwest makes it more relatable, although I did kind of worry that might turn off prejudiced readers who consider the area boring. I took reassurance from the work of the Cohen brothers. If they could romanticize the Midwest, there’s a chance for Blake Alb to do it, too.
“For me, the challenge of finding an appropriate publisher was arguably the most challenging aspect. It took a thick skin, and I’m a sensitive person. You have to rely on brute force and mail manuscripts to anyone who looks like they might publish your genre. In the writing world, publishers can be pretty polite, and will at least send a rejection letter explaining why your manuscript isn’t for them. I am grateful that there was interest in the book rather early on.
“I’m not super well-educated on pen names. I only picked ‘Blake Alb’ because I thought it was the right thing to do. Now I’m not so sure, but I’ve made peace with it.
“I feel that Snowcrow is well-suited for adults and young adults alike.” Enjoying a good read like it is rewarding on its own merits, but demonstrating to the country that Fargo reigns supreme in all aspects, including literature, by buying a copy is especially gratifying. You can find Snowcrow at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon, as well as worldcastlepublishing.com.
By David Scheller