Friday, 19 September 2014

Author Interview with J. P. Sloan

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!

Wow. I'll try to dig deep into the stupefying banality that is my personality, here… let me see:

1. I'm a National-ranked Beer Judge, which means I've trained to taste and evaluate beer for competitions.

2. I have a birthmark in the shape of the state of Ohio. No, I won't tell you where it is. (ok, ok, I'll tell you where it is… it's between the states of Indiana and Pennsylvania, just underneath Lake Erie)

3. I used to play the doumbek (a Middle-Eastern goblet drum) for belly dancers at Renaissance festivals. We'd meet once a month at a reggae bar for "hafla night," and aside from the atrocious well drinks they poured there, I always had a fantastic time doing it.

Summarize your book in one line.

"Dorian Lake has two weeks to save the soul of the woman he loves… good thing he's the best damned hex-peddler in Baltimore!"

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!

The character of Edgar Swain (the main character's best friend) is based on a real-life person, also named Edgar. I described him as he looks and dresses, and even emulated his speech patterns for the character. And yes, the real Edgar knows he's in the book.

Why did you decide to write this particular book?

I was struck with the whole concept as I commuted in and out of Baltimore. The idea of sinister goings-on transpiring down dark alleys and in basement offices just beneath our feet titillated me. I tried my best to keep the supernatural elements of the Dark Choir series as near to reality as I could manage, in order to sell that same feeling I had driving through the city.

Best part of the writing process?

Writing the last sentence of the first draft. Sometimes it's one final declarative "I DID IT!" Other times it's a long, petering re-write that culminates in a "well, yeah… that's probably it." In any case, it's just the best feeling… putting the first draft to bed.

Share one thing you learned writing this book.

My greatest education in writing The Curse Merchant was in the cooperative nature of beta-readers and editors. Merchant is my eighth completed novel, but the first to get "shopped." My first beta-readers, my first editors, my first feedback from a literary agent… Receiving input from so many outside sources was new to me. New, and exhilarating!

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!

I went through a period of time when I practiced various forms of neo-paganism, often with organized groups. I won't call them Wiccan, because none of them could be strictly described as such. At one point I drove into the back country of Southern Louisiana between Baton Rouge and Hammond to buy some materials for a ritual. Turns out the fellow who owned the shop was a practicing vodoun. Halfway through a conversation with this fellow, he began to… well, I suppose the best way to describe it was he was "ridden." It was a slow switch, but after the space of several sentences I realized I was speaking to someone else entirely. This other "someone" had a lot to say about the state of things in general. Regrettably, very little of it was of any specific use to me in my situation. Alas. Got a good price on charcoal plugs, though.

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.

If I were to take a salacious turn with this, I'd say that crazy party mansion in Eyes Wide Shut… but instead, I think I'll take the high road and say "Biblical Eden." Something about a nice outdoorsy locale where the weather is perfect, never having to work for anything, and the fact that you can cozy up to apex predators like they were cuddly kittens just appeals to me.

Name one real place you’d love to visit.

Somewhere in the South Pacific like Tahiti or Bora Bora. I'd love to find a white sand beach with crystal-blue water, soak up sunlight, and drink all of the available rum.

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

How about the opening line?

"The tricky thing about screwing with other people's karma is, from time-to-time, it screws you back."

J.P. Sloan
J.P. Sloan Bio:

J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author … primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.

A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.

In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a certified beer judge.


The Curse Merchant

Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

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