I almost feel guilty for using the amazing Pando quaking aspen forest in central Utah as a setting for a horror story.

Sorry, Pando!

All those pictures of your massive single root system not only stuck with me for years after I first saw them, but they also creeped me out. As in, I kept imagining terrible things involving the very thing that makes you a one-in-the-world wonder: your roots.

And because I have an overactive imagination, this led to the conjuring of The Root Witch. It invaded two bits of valuable real estate: my head and your quaking aspen forest of one hundred and six acres.

Pando has a perfect name. It means, “I spread” in Latin. New trees sprout from the massive single root system. The USDA Forest Service says the aspen forest is just one tree.

Unfortunately, the naming happened too late for the story, set in 1986.

Why did I choose that year?

For several reasons: 1) I’ve always wanted to write about what it was like to work in a newsroom before cell phones, before the internet; 2) It was a great time to work in local TV; 3) I worked as a brand new news producer in Salt Lake City, and it was great fun to recall the challenges of working at the assignment desk without the benefits of instant communication.

So, what if such a story assignment went wrong? I mean, spectacularly wrong?

And what if that story involved a terrifying urban legend called The Root Witch?

So that’s what I set out to do in this HORROR NOVELETTE.

As for the wonderfully creepy cover, credit goes to James at GoOnWrite.