Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies program requires a final project called a capstone—something like a final thesis but with more flexibility. Since we live in an area dubbed The Mushroom Capital of the World (honest—see Cadaver Blues), I originally planned to write a proposal on how to make mushroom operations fully circular, which is to say, zero waste. But as I learned more about coming tipping points relating to climate change and environmental pollution, incremental improvements in one small industry started to feel banal. My capstone adviser had been urging me to do a creative capstone, so I went all-in with a novel—my ninth. I set the story in a ruined world and used a fantasy quest structure, but there’s no magic. It’s based on science, and the coming landscape may prove all too real if we don’t address what we’re doing to Earth’s biosphere. Although I meant the book as a warning, it comes to you in the form of page-turning entertainment!
I have a short attention span. Depending upon the subject or project, it runs on a spectrum between six months and five years, which turns out to be not great for a corporate career but perfect for a book writer. In the past 15 years, I have written nearly a dozen books, mostly novels. While most of these could be characterized as thrillers, I don’t specialize in any sub-genre. If you’re looking for an author who dives deep into a niche, I might not be your guy. If you want someone who follows his curiosity, give me a try.
About 15 years ago, we moved from the New York area to the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, outside Wilmington, Delaware. We bought a nineteenth-century fieldstone Quaker farmhouse, undertook a major renovation, and began to rehabilitate our substantial acreage (substantial for the suburbs, that is). We called it Puddock Hill after the many toads and frogs who are our neighbors. Puddock means frog or toad in Scottish.
I’ve long been an environmentalist, and I decided a few years ago to attend graduate school, earning a Master of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania in December 2022. Soon thereafter, I started writing a Substack newsletter detailing and reflecting upon our efforts to promote nature on our property, an effort I call Backyard Stewardship.
In 2015, as part of a convoluted discussion with a Hollywood producer-director, I wrote a horror novel called The Prisoner of Hell Gate. The movie never happened, but the book got published under the pen name Dana I. Wolff. I had decided on a pen name for two reasons. First, horror was a new genre for me, so I decided a new identity would be appropriate. Second, the novel has a strong feminist theme, so I thought it would be best to use a gender-ambiguous name. Whether any of this was a good decision, I don’t know. But now that I’ve started, I soon intend to resume writing short horror novels under this slowly budding brand.
“A rich mix of alternative history and historical fact, vividly brought to life… A dazzling tour de force.” —Bestselling author Vincent Zandri
“The eerie hypnotic mood here is perfect as are the frights, the startling climax, and the amazing blend of history and fiction. I was reminded of Richard Matheson’s classic Hell House and have no doubt that this too will become a classic.” —Bestselling author David Morrell
“A strong, quick, and perfectly upsetting little shocker.” —Booklist
“At once terrifying and mesmerizing.” —Bestselling author Kitty Pilgrim
“Fishman is a deft, fluent writer who’s great at turning out intricate action scenes, and he gives us appealing characters.” —Kirkus
“An appealing debut thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
“Excellent imagery and pacing…a strong bet for thriller fans.” —Library Journal
“Starts fast and never lets go.” —Seattle Post Intelligencer