Robert R. McCammon's BETHANY'S SIN


Even God stays away from the village of BETHANY'S SIN.

For Evan Reid, his wife Kay, and their small daughter Laurie, the beautiful house in the small village was too good a bargain to pass up. Bethany's Sin was a weird name, but the village was quaint and far from the noise and pollution of the city.

But Bethany's Sin was too quiet. There were no sounds at all...almost as if the night had been frightened into silence.

Evan began to notice that there were very few men in the village, and that most of them were crippled. And then there was the sound of galloping horses. Women on horses. Riding in the night.

Soon he would learn their superhuman secret. And soon he would watch in terror as first his wife, then his daughter, entered their sinister cabal.

An ancient evil rejoiced in Bethany's Sin. A horror that happened only at night...and only to men.

--From the back cover of the Avon paperback edition of Bethany's Sin

Robert R. McCammon Tells How He Wrote Bethany's Sin

Robert R. McCammon Tells How He Wrote
Bethany's Sin

This is the question fired at all authors: "Where do you get your ideas?"

You can answer by saying you clip interesting articles out of newspapers, you remember your dreams, you've overheard a conversation you think might be the seed for a story, and so on and so forth, but I think there are really two, intermingled answers: "I see something strange, and I'm curious about it."

That's how Bethany's Sin, my second published novel, was born.

I used to drive the same way to work everyday, a twisting route through Birmingham's Southside. On that route, I always passed a rather forbidding-looking Gothic house with a simple sign out front. That sign said: Women's Club. Nothing else.

Women's Club. Okay. We start from there.

I never saw anyone enter or come out of that house, though there were always cars parked in front. Lights were on at night. A shadow moved across a window: someone looking out? Women's Club. Anyone know what they do in there, or what purpose the club has, or anybody who belongs to it? No. It's just ... always been there.

Now we enter the realm of the imagination. Imagine, if you will, a town whose center is the Women's Club. It's a lovely town, of course. The lawns are always perfect, the storefronts neat and appealing, the streets are clean, and there never seems to be any crime in this town.

But there is, of course, the Women's Club.

See how these ideas get started?

I used real place names as towns that surrounded Bethany's Sin. After the book was published, I received a letter from the mayor of one of those towns. The mayor said I ought to come up and spend a few days, and see just how wrong I was about that area.

That's what she said.

I didn't go.

After reading Bethany's Sin, tell me if I was chicken or not.

I still have no idea what went on—goes on, because the place is still there—at the Women's Club. Maybe all men suspect strange things go on behind the walls of anyplace we're not admitted. Maybe it's just a place where ... well, where women's club stuff goes on.

A friend of mine, married for many years, read Bethany's Sin and told me he found himself awake late one night, looking at his wife as she slept peacefully beside him. He told me he thought of horses in the dark, and falling axes, and he wondered if he knew everything that went on in his wife's mind. Maybe he was afraid there was a place in her where he wasn't admitted, and what went on behind those walls were....

Better left unknown?

But then he got up against her and kissed her cheek, and everything was all right. After all, it's just a book. In our society, loved ones don't kill each other, do they?

I pass the Women's Club occasionally. I have yet to see anyone enter or leave, but the lawn is always perfectly manicured, the building itself is well-kept, the walkway leading to its front door clean and swept. Everything is just as it should be. The Women's Club members must be very proud of their house. They know how much appearances count, in this imperfect world.

Late at night, there are lights on in the Women's Club.

And somewhere, if only through the nightmare landscape of the mind, there are hoofbeats in the dark.

Robert R. McCammon
June 1988

Copyright © 1988 by Robert R. McCammon. This essay originally appeared in the Pocket Books paperback edition of Bethany's Sin, first printed in October 1988. Reprinted with permission of the author.
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