Blood Over Water is the novelization and remake of a miniseries that was first produced for the Ferris Access Channel by Dozerfleet Studios in the fall of 2009 at Ferris State University. This version is set in the Dozerfleet Comics world of Cataclysmic Gerosha, and expands significantly on the miniseries' original plot. Unlike the miniseries, events in the novel happen over the course of four months. The original miniseries happened in about a week of story time.
On May 10th of 2013, two different versions of a teaser trailer for the book were released to YouTube, one in native 3D anaglyph format. The story bears some structures of a reverse-whodunnit, but with emphasis on drama. Aaron is depicted as a near-clueless amateur detective who gets caught up in the drama, with the reveal delivering itself to him right before he gets the chance to actually crack the case. This is a near reversal of the miniseries, where Aaron didn't even know for certain that Mark was dead, let alone who was responsible. While he is shocked in both versions to learn that Chris is the killer, the novel makes it no secret to the reader. The miniseries tried (however poorly) to mask it from the audience as well as Aaron.
Sleet Mountain CEO Bob Lusital throws a party at Crooked Lake, MI to celebrate his retirement. He hands over control of the company to his vice president, Clyde Spendelworth. He didn't know about Clyde's double life as a tycoon in the underground sex trafficking market, or that Clyde is emptying Gleeful-N'-Young of its child labor so that they can bring down the heat and get the Hebbleskin Gang to buy them. However, Clyde needs a place to hide evidence of his other company's crimes. To tie up loose ends, Clyde has an escaped mental hospital patient named George Lawence follow Bob's car after Bob leaves the party, and Bob is never seen again. Meanwhile, Sleet Mountain employee Vance Lingolin is busy visiting with his friend-with-benefits Monica Shelly in Big Rapids. He decides to skip the party, since he doesn't have much confidence in Clyde as the new CEO. He seizes the opportunity to discuss with Monica whether or not they want to upgrade to a more seriously relationship, and she states that she'll "think it over." Other employees Chris Kennal and Mark Stefflin sneak away to another party on a different part of the lake, where they attempt to pick up loose women. They trick Mark's twin brother Aaron into going along, though he stays behind in the boat as he is not amused by the other two's antics.
While Chris and Mark prepare themselves for a new company direction under Clyde, Aaron visits with his girlfriend Meredith Celestine. Meredith reveals that she and her mother Wanda are moving to Nashville, and are leaving Big Rapids permanently. Aaron vows to visit Meredith in December. He decides to declare his major officially as Music Industry Management, though he was leaning in that direction anyway. This is so he can help Meredith succeed as a Christian-country singer, in spite blacklist threats from a music producer named Tobey Moffin, who is offended by the doctrine-rich lyrics of her songs.
Vance gets curious what Clyde is really up to at the company after only two weeks of Clyde being there. He believes he has discovered something, but is stopped by George from exploring further. Clyde then calls Mark, Chris, Vance, and a warehouse supervisor named Kyle Tugrass into his office to discuss his plans for the Sleet Mountain Lower Northern bottling plant to defraud the EPA. His plans are to have his Gleeful-N'-Young associates impersonate staff from a company that is required to deal with the plant's waste. From there, they will dump the waste in a nearby pond, and cook the books so it only looks like they're paying to have their waste removed properly. Clyde believes that his company will save millions of dollars by implementing strategies similar to this at all of the company's bottling plant locations. Vance decides he's had enough, and vows to have Clyde exposed.
Vance quits his job on the spot and storms out. However, his minivan is followed by George. Vance is never seen again, although Monica catches George and Kyle in the distance torching Vance's minivan. She waits until they leave, and then recovers Vance's license plate. Monica attempts to get the police involved, but they don't believe her story about a murder in spite her having evidence in her hands of a charred license plate. She vows to analyze the evidence herself and build a case, as she tries to determine who would want to do something like that to him. She also meets with Aaron about the matter, and he states that he will ask Mark if anyone at Sleet Mountain had a grudge against Vance. Mark begins dating Ashley Phillips at work, unaware that Clyde is watching them. Aaron's phone call alerts Mark that something is very wrong, leading to Mark asking questions. Chris and Kyle try to pressure Mark into not saying anything. Mark decides not to let the matter go, and discovers the hidden illegal porn and evidence of Clyde's brothels and their horrendous crimes. However, he is unable to secure evidence of it. He instead breaks into Clyde's office and steals a "Confidential"-marked manilla envelope containing evidence of the cleanup fraud scandal, though most of the files are redacted heavily. He hides it beneath the carpet under his bed in his apartment.
Clyde immediately suspects Mark has betrayed the company, and immediately discovers the envelope is missing. He decides that Mark has to die. He orders George to break into Ashley's file cabinet and dig up anything incriminating against her. Discovering she once had an affair with a megachurch pastor named Harry Campelli, Clyde blackmails Ashley into going over to Mark's apartment to coax Mark into giving the envelope back. Mark calls Aaron up and says he needs to "discuss some things" with Aaron over a fishing trip, which is Mark's excuse to say he suspects George and Kyle may have been involved in Vance's murder while giving Aaron the envelope to give to Meredith to give to the FBI. Clyde then plays on Chris' emotions to convince Chris into following Ashley to Mark's apartment. He promises Chris that if he can get Ashley to cooperate with him in disposing of Mark, then he will make sure no harm comes to her. Chris, feeling personally betrayed due to Clyde's speech, lets George give him a gun and a lock-picking kit. He stalks Ashley from a distance, following her all the way to Mark's place.
When Ashley gets there, however, Mark convinces her to forget about what Clyde is doing and run away with him. They begin to plan how they will grab Aaron and all escape to Tennessee together. As the gravity of their situation hits them, the two embrace. They soon head to Mark's bedroom to make love. As they are busy, Chris picks the lock to Mark's apartment door and sneaks in. He walks into the bedroom when the two are unable to hear him, and shoots Mark in the head. At gunpoint, he forces Ashley to get dressed and help him clean up the mess. He also has her ransack the apartment in search of the missing envelope. Frustrated, Chris leaves the scene with Ashley and with Mark's body. He tells George and Kyle to search for the envelope instead. However, he arrives at Sleet Mountain to find that Clyde tricked him. Chris is introduced to Clyde's dark Gleeful-N'-Young underworld, along with all the company's worst secrets. He pretends to go along with it, but is angry when Ashley is abducted and sent to work as a slave in one of the brothels.
Aaron awakes and is confused when Mark doesn't answer his phone. He heads over to Mark's apartment to investigate, and discovers the missing envelope while hiding under the bed to avoid being spotted by George and Kyle. He immediately suspects foul play, and escapes after a high-speed chase in which George and Kyle give pursuit. He tries to go to the police, but they dismiss his claims just as quickly as they did Monica's. He gives some of the envelope's contents to Monica so she can perform forensic tests. The next several weeks involve a cat-and-mouse game between Aaron and his pursuers, with Chris feigning ignorance in order to gain Clyde's trust. Meanwhile, Chris decides that what was done to Ashley was taking things too far. He steals some of the illegal porn from the Sleet Mountain upper storage rooms, and manages to avoid being detected by Clyde. He then formulates a plot for how he will himself betray the company. He also calls up Kylie Drimmon, the girl he met at Crooked Lake, to break up with her for her own safety.
After Aaron finally learns too much, Chris decides to lure George and Kyle to Aaron. They correctly deduce where Aaron and Monica will be one evening, and then capture them. They are about to execute Aaron and Monica at the same spot as where Vance was killed. However, Chris decides to put his plan in action. He pretends to shoot Aaron and Monica while knocking them out. He then immediately turns the gun on Kyle and George when they least expect it, killing them for real. Chris drives off with Monica, leaving Aaron alone with a note and the porn. He instructs Aaron in the note to waste no time heading to Tennessee and delivering the evidence to Meredith. Chris drops off Monica in a spot in the woods, and then flees into the night. He takes with him the directions to the brothel where Ashley is being kept.
Aaron and Monica help each other out a few more times, then part ways to protect her family from any further threats from Gleeful-N'-Young or Sleet Mountain personnel. Aaron flees with the evidence to Meredith in Tennessee. As Clyde sends more men to Aaron's house, they find it vacated. They don't know who Meredith is or where she lives, so they are unable to track Aaron down. Meanwhile, Chris raids the brothel and saves Ashley. He uses his guns and wits to slaughter 28 of Clyde's personnel there. Ashley flees to Tennessee to meet up with Aaron and Meredith, who proceed to take evidence against Clyde to the FBI. But by the time the FBI and EPA arrive at Sleet Mountain, Clyde has also vanished. Those left in the company's hierarchy of power, who knew about Clyde's cleanup fraud and said nothing, are sued to the tune of every dollar they pocketed from the scandal. Sleet Mountain is forced to close its doors. While Aaron, Ashley, and Meredith are able to start their lives over and find happiness, they lament the friends they lost along the way. Law enforcement personnel, however, lament that both Clyde and Chris are still at large. Chris is last seen fleeing the scene of yet another attack on a Gleeful-N'-Young brothel, this time carrying much heavier firepower and commenting to himself that his life must now be about destroying Clyde's sex trafficking empire - to avenge Mark and Vace's blood that was shed over water.
The following is a list of characters to appear and be mentioned by name:
- Aaron Stefflin: A student at Ferris studying for a Music Industry Management degree. He is the twin brother of Mark Stefflin, who used his connections to skip a lot of schooling and go straight into business. Aaron is more cautious, moral, religious, and a bit of an instinctual detective. While not entirely invincible, he does tend to exercise a little more common sense in his actions than Mark.
- Monica Shelly: A nurse's assistant at the local hospital. She is also a student at Ferris, learning a few of the in-and-outs of how to perform autopsies. She met Aaron in one of the biology classes she needed to take for her program, and they became good friends afterward. She sometimes babysits her niece Annabelle, and has a friend-with-benefits relationship with Vance.
- Mark Stefflin: Office Manager at Sleet Mountain. He is initially lured into being a part of the grand scheme, being greedy. However, he begins having second thoughts when he learns of what is involved in the money. When he learns about Clyde's other hobbies, he realizes that he can no longer be a part of the plan. Unable to secure the necessary incriminating evidence against Clyde for the sexual slavery ring, he contents himself with making off with incriminating evidence about the cleanup fraud and pond pollution. He is corruptible and has trouble saying no to women who make advances on him. He has a crush on Ashley, though not as big as the one she has on him.
- Ashley Phillips: Secondary Marketing Assistant at Sleet Mountain Lower Northern. She is a fairly new recruit, but quickly falls for Mark. Clyde is quick to take notice, and exploits the situation to blackmail her. She has little idea she is about to be used as bait for a death trap, with Mark the intended victim.
Sleet Mountain personnel
- Bob Lusital: The former CEO and Chairman at Sleet Mountain Lower Northern not far from Big Rapids, Michigan. A benevolent and kind man, he is oblivious to a lot of discontent from some of his underlings. He is also in poor health and struggles to keep the company profitable. He becomes convinced that Clyde will make an adequate replacement for him. However, he vanishes after the company party at the cabin on Crooked Lake - and is never heard from again.
- Clyde Spendelworth: Bob's successor. Few at Sleet Mountain are aware that he is also the top pimp in charge of operations for Gleeful-N-Young Ladies, an escort service that is itself a front for illegal sex trafficking. In order to keep secret his real plans, which involve abducting female workers at the plant and imprisoning them at Gleeful-N-Young; Clyde sets things up to look like his plan is to come up with a get-rich-quick scheme to save the company millions of dollars. This eventually leads to cleanup fraud, involving polluting a pond while collecting the benefits due for not doing so. He enlists the most easily-corrupted employees to aid him in keeping this scandal from spreading - even if that means murder. A master at blackmail, he tends to read his underlings like a book and strives to stay one step ahead of them at all times.
- George Lawence: An enforcer from Gleeful-N-Young Ladies, Inc. Hired by Clyde to keep his elect at Sleet Mountain in line for protecting his use of Sleet Mountain as a front for his real operations. George is also the de-facto hitman when other employees get out of line. Several years ago, he escaped from a mental hospital.
- Kyle Tugrass: Sleet Mountain's Warehouse Supervisor. He is initially reluctant about getting involved in knowing too much about Clyde's operations; but George talks him into it, tempting him with greed. Kyle, unlike George, does not entirely trust Chris. He is very strict about keeping things a secret. He's also very insecure and hot-tempered towards those who are beneath him in power structure. As a hitman for Clyde, Kyle is often very nervous and paranoid. This makes him a contrast with George, who lives for killing.
- Chris Kennal: Area Account Representative at the company. He is a tad hedonistic, but likes to live his life for "the cool of it all." He is usually quite friendly, but is also very self-centered and greedy.
- Vance Lingolin: The Accounts Receivable department head at Sleet Mountain. Unlike Mark, who at least tries to be discreet in the beginning about exposing Clyde, Vance denounces Clyde immediately. George is sent after him to make sure he never talks. Mark begins to grow suspicious of why George leaves the meeting so soon after Vance; and even more so when Vance is never heard from again. He essentially becomes one of the major inspirations behind Mark betraying the company - which later becomes Chris' inspiration behind doing the same.
- Meredith Celestine: Aaron's love interest. A kindhearted and very religious woman, she seems almost too virtuous to be real. However, her family and academic pursuits take her elsewhere. This means that Aaron has to content himself with her being a long-distance relationship until he is able to graduate and move closer to her. When her initial music career ambitions are endangered by a hostile label producer, Aaron offers to devote his learning in the Ferris State music industry management major to helping her succeed anyway.
- Wanda Celestine: Meredith's mother, who thinks Aaron is beneath her daughter and that Meredith can do better. Even so, she knows a thing or two about how to help friends disappear into witness protection. When Aaron finally convinces her that Clyde will stop at nothing to harm both him and Meredith, she gets on board with Aaron's plan to expose and destroy Clyde's entire operation.
- Rev. Steve Barnel: A friend of both Aaron and Meredith. He offers moral support where he can, but is only slightly more helpful to Aaron in terms of solving the mystery of Mark's disappearance than the police are. Needless to say, he becomes another source of frustration when Aaron cannot convince anyone that Mark's vanishing is a matter of serious importance.
- Eric Phillips: Ashley's father. He calls her on the phone one day while she is dating Mark, and wonders why there is a man in the background. He is very concerned about his daughter, but knows nothing of the dirty secrets she keeps. He is married to Trista, Ashley's equally clueless mother. Clyde threatens Ashley with letting Eric and Trista know about Ashley's past affair with Harry Campelli, as a way to blackmail Ashley into visiting Mark and seducing him in an effort to get back the "Confidential" envelope.
- Trista Phillips: Ashley's mother.
- Rev. Harry Campelli: A minister at a growing megachurch in Iowa. He used to be in a relationship with Ashley that he fears his wife finding out about. In spite this, he does not treat Ashley very kindly; and he even refers to her rather misogynistically as his "chocolate cheesecake." He is also shown to be a bit of a fraud as a preacher. He gives sermons without any doctrinal substance, advocates violence against pro-life groups, and is even rude to members of his congregation seeking treatment to rid themselves of same-sex attraction; telling them that remaining "stuck that way" is best for them and to hush up about not liking it. He's also revealed to be a smoker and a philanderer. Ashley keeps evidence in her file cabinet at home of her past conversations with Campelli. Clyde, on a hunch, decides to have George and Kyle raid Ashley's home and uncover any evidence they can use to blackmail her with so she will seduce Mark into giving Clyde his folder back. Her revelation to Harry that evidence of their affair was stolen fails to yield much cooperation on his part.
- Kylie Drimmon: One of the many women partying on the lake with Chris and Mark near the story's beginning. She ends up sleeping with Chris at one point, and even tries to become his girlfriend. However, Chris rejects her advances when he realizes that what's going to be necessary for him to undo Clyde's schemes would put both himself and Kylie in danger.
- Vanessa Fogsdorn: A redheaded woman who sleeps with Mark at the beach party. She initially was hitting on Aaron, but Mark intervened. He claimed he was "looking out" for Aaron, trying to disguise a self-serving ambition with Vanessa as a selfless deed. She is not seen again later.
- Betsy Shelly: Monica's older sister, who was unlucky in love but had a child. It is because of what happened to her that Monica is hesitant to commit to a relationship with Vance.
- Annabelle Shelly: Monica's niece, who is around six or seven years old. She is oblivious to most of the frightful events in Monica's life, and Monica takes pains to keep her from knowing them.
- Tobey Moffin: A music producer / manager for a Contemporary "Christian" record label located in Nashville. He throws a tantrum and destroys Meredith's favorite guitar, because he is outraged by the theological implications of her music which indicate that man does not have the right to over-rule God on the role of sex in the human experience. This is in spite the fact that she does not talk about sex in the actual lyrics of the song she performs, but that Tobey had to connect the logic dots to reach that conclusion. After threatening to have her blacklisted within the industry, he is revealed to be involved in an incestuous relationship with his male cousin. It is this act which convinces Aaron to devote his life to making sure Meredith overcomes Tobey's blacklist threat and proves herself a successful musician in spite of him.
- Mike Solatz: A member at Glimmering Horizons Church in Iowa, who is struggling with same-sex attraction and wants to be rid of it. When he asks Rev. Harry Campelli for help over the phone, Harry dismisses the possibility of Mike being cured. Mike objects to Harry celebrating violence being committed against pro-life groups, and Harry responds by hanging up rudely on Mike. This leads to Mike contacting his old friend Ralph about getting him to a reparative therapy clinic. Word begins to get out that Campelli is a fraud. The way Campelli treats him makes it clear that Ashley is not the only one from Harry's past whom Harry treats abusively.
- Ralph Stevens: An old friend of Mike's, who has been to a clinic to treat his SSA and is now mostly rid of it. He has met a woman named Wendy, and the two are getting along great together.
- Wendy Worzell: Ralph's fiancee.
- Janelle Campelli: Harry's wife, who is oblivious to Harry's numerous adulterous affairs and his radical left-wing activism.
The notion of a novelization of Blood Over Water had been floating around for a long time at Dozerfleet, but was not actively pursued until the months of February-April of 2013. Pursuit of it came on the heels of a re-release to The Dozerfleet Channel of the 2009 miniseries, containing 3D options and closed captions. Contact was established with Angelica McClary, who played Ashley in the miniseries, to discuss the expansion of her role beyond her portrayal. She seemed enthusiastic about the prospect of reading a revision of the class' old tale. In late 2013, around August, full time work began on preparing for the writing of a novel version.
Work on the actual story began in late January of 2014, with February seeing the completion of the first two chapters and progress made on a third.
One of the first concerns coming to the forefront involved characterization. New characters that had been alluded to from almost the beginning, like Vance, were finally included in the novel's plans. The novel also canonized Clyde Spendelworth as the Sleet Mountain CEO's name, whereas he previously hadn't had one in the miniseries. Ashley's name also gets addressed by name this time, whereas she was a bit part in 2009. Aaron's academic and love life were only ever implied to exist in the original. The novel expands on both and attempts to make them relevant to the plot.
Since Mark fills up much of the early plot, giving him flaws and keeping him interesting was imperative. Even Chris, the most developed of all characters in the original, gets some expansion into his past and motives. Kyle Tugrass and George Lawence are given some development also, since their roles are central to the plot. The most improved character by far is Ashley, who went from having almost no characterization to having an elaborate and colorful past that leads to her developing one set of feelings or another with the entire cast. The least altered is Monica Shelly, though her claims of having a family are elaborated on.
The marketing for a Blood Over Water novel initially consisted of mentions on TVTropes. It expanded to include DeviantArt sketches, and mentions on Facebook.
On May 10th of 2013, two versions of a teaser trailer for the book were released. The 3D version consisted of a native 3D anaglyph still collection that scrolled from left-to-right while interspersed with one-word descriptions of what each scene means. Unlike its 2D counterpart, the 3D version had the unique challenge of trying to force-convert those elements that would have been near-impossible to record in native 3D, and intersperse them with the native footage. The introductory video from Sims 3 of Mark walking down a Sleet Mountain hallway was converted from 2D, whereas the stills of cast characters were all in native 3D. Description cards were left in 2D, and the Dozerfleet logo was given a slight 3D conversion. The 2D version was given some 3D conversion option treatment via YouTube's built-in features, allowing viewers to watch it in conversion 3D with the viewing method of their choosing. The native 3D version, however, requires red-cyan glasses. In either version, the video introduces the first instance of Clyde Spendelworth in a video to be depicted from the front. Before that, all video depiction of Clyde was from behind; in a Dr. Claw fashion. The model used for Clyde in this video set looks very similar to the Cataclysmic Gerosha version of Victor Nanale.
As a way to censor the final shot of teaser/spoiler footage, only the upper half of Ashley's bare back is visible from behind. The original scene called for a shot of Ashley preparing to reach down and kiss Mark, with the emphasis being on Chris sneaking up on the two and carrying out the assassination. However, when the poses for Sims proved impossible to work with while maintaining an upper-PG/lower PG-13 safe zone, the shot was abandoned in favor of a toplessness-implied shot of Ashley reacting to the murder, while Chris threatens her with his gun. The notepaper filters in Photoshop, however, nearly destroyed all detail depicting Mark's legs on the bed, footage there also carefully angled to censor out excess detail.
Music for the teaser trailer consisted of the track "Highlight Reel" by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.com, chosen due to some similarity of note progression in parts with the original miniseries' ending theme tune "Cheddarman." It was also chosen due to its eerie tone, reminiscent of the theme tune for Men in Black: The Series. Mark's walking sequence at the beginning was also inspired by the opening theme of MiB: The Series.
Main article: DzMD
When Utterly Sims was revived in January of 2014, a Blood Over Water: The Novel pack was released specifically for The Sims 3 on the 18th around 2:33 PM EST. The pack required that World Adventures, Ambitions, Late Night, Generations, Pets, Supernatural, and University Life be installed. This made it the first time in the history of Utterly Sims that University Life was explicitly required for one of its character packages to run. It featured heavy redesigns of characters that employed new expansion pack material, leading to an even-tougher-yet-looking George and a more-authentic Chris. This is because Chris's gray jacket was upgraded to a University Life hoodie, consistent with what actor Chris Wilson wore in later episodes of the miniseries.
Meredith Celestine, Wanda Celestine, Vance Lingolin, and Bob Lusital were added to this package, whereas the miniseries versions that were released in 2010 only featured the original eight characters. To ensure that any required concept art for the novel's promotion that might need to be made was as complete and weather-accurate as possible; the Seasons expansion was purchased on Friday, January 24th at a Target store on the south side of Lansing. However, the characters submitted to Utterly Sims' Tumblog didn't require the Seasons expansion to work in the game. DzMD currently hosts the set, along with a version for The Sims 4.
A draft of the first chapter began on January 25th of 2014 around 12:15 AM EST, and focused on a time skip forward to Ashley as she sought to warn Harry that her folder was stolen and house burgled. Efforts to collaborate with Angelica were made later on the 25th. On February 21st, she showed some interest in the reinterpretations of characters being made for the novel.
- Blood Over Water (2009 miniseries)