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The Scariest Part: Keith Rommel Talks About THE DEVIL TREE


This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Keith Rommel, whose new novel is The Devil Tree. Here is the publisher’s description:

Based on the Port St. Lucie Legend…

Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there…and bodies buried there…exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers…one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Keith Rommel:

When I stumbled on a local legend called The Devil Tree here in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, I was horrified by the back story but was equally intrigued. When I started to dig into the legend, I discovered a serial killer that was a sheriff’s deputy had picked up two people and had taken them to an ancient oak tree. The goliath tree dripped with Spanish moss and that is where the killer tormented his captives, beat, raped and murdered them. It is also said he hung them from the tree and soon after buried them there. As legend would have it, the bodies remained under the tree for many years before a local fisherman discovered bones sticking out of the ground.

After the killer was caught and had been incarcerated, he had been noted as writing, “Doing doubles is far more difficult than doing singles, but on the other hand it also puts one in a position to have twice as much fun. There can be some lively discussions about which of the victims will get to be killed first. When you have a pair of teenaged bimbolinas bound hand and foot and ready for a session with the skinning knife, neither one of the little devils wants to be the one to go first. And they don’t mind telling you quickly why their best friend should be the one to die.”

To think what these people might have gone through is disturbing and frightening on many levels, but it isn’t even the scariest part; at least not for me. When I wrote The Devil Tree and handed the manuscript into my publisher, owner Lawrence Knorr told me that I had to include the necrophilia scene in because that’s what the killer did. I know I didn’t mention that the killer was into necrophilia because it’s quite disgusting. Yeah, the killer deputy often went back to pillage the bodies until they reached such a state of decomposition that he could no longer use the bodies.

I remember Lawrence telling me to do the necro scene “tastefully”. We got a big belly laugh from the request and the wording used behind it. Even though I turned down writing such a scene and I thought Lawrence was kidding — I mean, how can someone write a necro scene and do it with taste? Lawrence quickly reminded me that Hannibal Lecter ate people. If you think about it, that is rather repulsive and has a high shock value to it, but the way it was portrayed, it wasn’t over the top make you look away from the screen sort of nasty. If there is such a thing as making something so vile tolerable to the squeamish, then author Thomas Harris did it tastefully (pun intended).

So I sat down and wrote the scene and I won’t lie that I was sweating while I was doing it. I hand wrote it at first, crumpling up some pages and starting over until I found an angle that I felt captured the essence of the act but didn’t go too far. I typed it in and sent it to Lawrence and then I got a phone call. He said, “You did it. That’s exactly what I was looking for.”

I had another belly laugh and told Lawrence that I needed a blessing and a shower. I think readers will find it was done tastefully and that it was a good inclusion and an important piece in trying to portray the legend with as much realism as possible.

The killer deputy was sentenced to prison after being caught and was soon stabbed to death.

Keith Rommel: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Facebook community for The Cursed Man film

The Devil Tree: Amazon / Sunbury Press

Keith Rommel is an award-winning author of eight books and is the co-screenplay writer of The Cursed Man movie adapted from his first novel with the same title. It is expected to be released October 2015 and has brought in talent that worked on such movies as The Matrix, Madagascar, Cabin in the Woods, Green Lantern, Harry Potter, and The CW’s Supernatural.

2 responses to “The Scariest Part: Keith Rommel Talks About THE DEVIL TREE”

  1. Lisa says:

    I live a couple miles from that tree ..I did my own investigation there today..let’s just say I had a strange experience

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