“We are watching you.” That’s the final line of a note carefully placed on the front porch of Aidan Marlowe’s new and increasingly suspicious mansion in the affluent town of Bury, New Hampshire.
The mysterious home is new to Marlowe, a recent Powerball lottery winner and widower. But for Marlowe’s creator, Erie-based author Carter Wilson—and of course, his devoted readers—the setting of his eighth and latest novel, The New Neighbor, is a familiar one: It takes place in the same universe as Wilson’s seventh book, The Dead Husband. In fact, both novels are set in the same house, the Yates mansion on Rum Hill Road in Bury. The disappearances that make The Dead Husband so thrilling ultimately play a role in Wilson’s latest book, too.
It’s the first time Wilson, who works part-time as a hospitality consultant, has written two stories with an overlapping plot. Initially drawn to New Hampshire because something about its affluent bedroom communities felt creepy to him (he even traveled the East coast state to get a sense of the setting), Wilson decided to invent his own coastal town. He admits to falling in love with the process. “After The Dead Husband, I needed to explore the place a little bit more. I knew that somebody else was going to move into that house in Bury,” Wilson says.
That “somebody else” is Marlowe, a superstitious Irishman who played the same lottery numbers for 15 years, until the day of his wife’s funeral, when by chance (or perhaps fate) he discovers he’s won tens of millions of dollars. Marlowe uproots his family and moves to Bury “just for the name” (the word “bury” repeats over and over in the widower’s mind during his wife’s funeral). As more notes begin to appear, The New Neighbor reveals itself to be about a man trying to navigate the two extremes of tragic loss and inconceivable gain. Risking his health and his family, Marlowe must uncover the truth about his new home and, more pressingly, about himself.
“If you read both The Dead Husband and The New Neighbor, there’s a lot more that gets revealed,” Wilson says. “It was a challenge for me to write, but that was the intention.”
Wilson, 52, describes his journey into becoming a writer as “serendipitous.” At 33, Wilson, who was born in New Mexico, was sitting in the back of a continuing education course in San Francisco. To combat boredom, he posed a question in his notebook to pass the time: If three people are murdered at the exact same time in the exact same manner in different parts of the world, what’s the connection?
This “riddle,” as Wilson describes it, began to consume him, and within 90 days he had written a 400-page manuscript that would eventually lead to his first novel, Final Crossing. It was just the first example of Wilson’s knack for setting a scene that’s easy to get tangled in. His page-turning concepts, like a journalist who meets a woman at DIA on her way to die at the Maroon Bells or a horror writer who’s accused of killing her husband, are often inspired by details of real-world events, including the Slenderman Stabbings in Wisconsin in 2014 or the Haunting of 657 Boulevard in New Jersey in 2018.
“If I’m reading something that piques my interest, it will just hit me,” Wilson says. “I tend to not read anymore about it and just have it as a thought. I’ll think, That’s kind of creepy. I want to explore that in my own head.” The author is a voracious reader of nonfiction, but like Stephen King, one of his inspirations, Wilson relies on the depths of his imagination to create the suspense that keeps readers coming back to his work.
And come back they do. Wilson has received four Colorado Book Awards for his original storytelling on top of killer reviews, including making it on USA Today’s bestselling authors list. After his third novel, Publishers Weekly, a well-regarded news magazine focused on books, began reviewing Wilson’s work. Publishers Weekly has reviewed works by famous crime and horror authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham, and Lee Child, but despite getting reviewed alongside well-respected writers, Wilson admits he still suffers from imposter syndrome.
“You gain a little bit more confidence,” Wilson says. “So, that’s helpful. But it’s always shocking when somebody tells me they read my book. I would never take it for granted.”
The launch of The New Neighbor, his first book event back in-person in two years, is Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Boulder Bookstore at 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder. Wilson will be signing copies of his latest work.
The author is in the editing process of his next book and already has an idea for a 10th. As for a return to the spooky town of Bury? “I have an idea for another book I want to write that doesn’t have to do with Bury,” Wilson says. “But maybe the one after that we will revisit. I’d love to go back there. Creating my own town was a blast.”