You’re in for a real treat today as I interview the amazingly talented and witty Sidney Stone, author of Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War. We’re discussing everything from sex to wine to movies. If his novel were romance, that order of topics might be reversed but since Jennifer Ainsley is a delectable blend of top notch New Adult Fiction and deliciously macabre horror, I think the topic list will stand. 🙂
Be sure to read to the end where you’ll find a contest entry link for the Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War virtual book tour. You won’t believe the wonderful prizes offered to a few lucky readers. I’m talking quality SWAG!
Now, on to the interview . . .
Let’s talk sex. I realize “Jennifer Ainsley” is a horror/fantasy thriller with a great deal of violence (and some seriously dark humor) but I was intrigued by your blog post about how much attention the ONE sex scene garnered from readers. Why do you suppose that is? Because six pages is a LOT of sex? Or perhaps the fact a male wrote such erotically charged content and may have totally crushed our argument that men will never know how we feel? Or . . . (fill in your own thoughts here. LOL)
Ha! Ha! Ha! Awesome! Lets start the Author interview with sex 😉 Just add wine and dark chocolate and we have perfection!
And first, where does this argument come from that men cannot understand what a woman feels in bed? 😉 A good lover knows what a women feels and the lover who recognized the scenario that played out in my scene as one that she participated in, I think she would agree I know what a woman feels and how to get her there 😉 Hey, is it getting hot in here?
The thing with that scene is that it is actually very important in the story, more than just a titillating aspect. It is my heroine’s first time making love and it has to illustrate the incredible connection and love these two characters feel for each other. You have to believe their love and that they would die for each other. The first people to read my manuscript were a few trusted friends who I called my Gorgeous and Intelligent Readers. And yes, they are four beautiful and literate women who I could also count on to give me the honest truth about my book.
Regarding that scene, the beginning drafts they felt did not accurately describe how someone’s Jennifer’s age would feel about that experience or how she would act while lovemaking even if she was deeply in love with him. They felt I had to tone it down while making it a bit more playful. So that scene was edited repeatedly and sent back to my group for comments and finally, I think the version that is now in the book is as “correct” as I could make it while still serving the story in the way I needed to.
Of course other friends read it and commented that they could only visualize me acting this scene out while writing or they were impressed with my hero and his mad skills 😉 Ha! Ha! Your readers can judge if I was successful 🙂
This is a lengthy novel by today’s standards. Did you plan it that way or did the story just evolve? How long did it take to write the completed manuscript?
I outlined the story from the start. I could see from the number of chapters it was going to be a substantial first novel. Looking at word counts for debut novels, Stephen King’s Carrie came in under 80,000 words, as did Harry Potter. That was my goal and yet I busted through it with 102,000 words. One of my Gorgeous and Intelligent Readers though felt the book should have been another 50 pages longer. Another friend gave me a similar comment as did my Kirkus reviewer. There is just that much “stuff” and detail in this novel. It is hugely ambitious and the second one even more so.
I did 7 drafts of this manuscript. The first “take” was 239 pages in manuscript form and sucked tremendously 😉 No one will ever read that draft. It took 8 months to write. The second version was 260 pages and only sucked without the tremendous. I let my Readers critique that one. Third draft was 300 pages and my first editor helped me with the troublesome beginning. 4th draft came in at a substantial 350+ places and was submitted to my CreateSpace editor. We had graduated to mediocre at this point. By the final draft, we were at 354 pages but that included new formatting and such and was actually pared a bit from the later versions. I hope we ended with a tale far beyond mediocre 🙂
I know so many books these days, and a lot of entertainment in general, are created as a disposable commodity to be forgotten. In novels, they are written as just one of many generic and similar “series”. This book is not meant to be disposable and the readers who have given it a chance have been surprised at how much they have been drawn in to this world and these characters.
What persuaded you to become an author after a career in creating affordable housing?
I have actually had several careers. First in Customer Service when I worked myself through college (the first time) then in outside sales…then obtained my Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from University of California, Irvine which helped transition me to the public service side. But I’ve always enjoyed writing having written 4 screenplays in the 90’s since everyone in Southern California is either an actor, director or movie writer J This story, Jennifer’s story, grabbed me though and wouldn’t let me go. It was time to go back to writing but not a screenplay. Jennifer’s tale, while certainly movie material, deserved to be fleshed out more as a novel.
Any future writing projects in the works? If so, would you share a little information about what we can look forward to?
My next novel is the sequel to Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War. It will be titled: Jennifer Ainsley: This Time We Really Mean It, The Final war (Just kidding). The next book is Jennifer Ainsley: The End and the Beginning. Even more epic and encompassing, if I can pull this off it will essentially be my The Stand. Only with more humor and emotion. And maybe more severed heads…
You had me at “deer whisperer” in your bio. Actually you had me at living in California because I’m an East coast transplant and miss my old California haunts. So three questions regarding the first line in your bio: “Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur.”
- Where is your favorite place to hike?
Such a great question! I will start by saying, since I live in both areas, Northern California has Southern California beat on hiking (and a few other things too like wineries!) The Redwoods, Big Sur, the wild Northern California coast; very few areas are comparable. One that is though is the island of Kauai. It is my favorite Hawaiian Island and a place where I “found” myself at 17. Depressed and suicidal, two weeks on Kauai changed my life forever (that plus just one encouraging sentence from my running coach Chuck Taylor. You never know when what you say will have an impact so choose your words thoughtfully). The Na Pili Coast in particular is a place where my soul is at rest. It has been too long since I’ve been back and I think another journey may be needed soon.
- What are your suggestions for a moderately priced red AND white wine? You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine 🙂
Define moderate 😉 Ha! Ha! I will go with two selections that are excellent choices right now: Meomi Pinot Noir (usually found between $17-$25) and Tangent Sauvignon Blanc (Usually found between $11.99 and $15 although I just bought a six pack for $9.49 each at a local grocery store). As a bonus pick, the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier for under $15 is my other everyday drinking white.
- Clarify deer whisperer and how you gained such a title.
Ha! Ha! Another awesome question!!! Until very recently, I was a prolific reviewer on Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=NGcH1lvIvrzgzCTPca3DEQ
Unlike most people though, I take photos of my hikes, not what I eat. Invariably, I always spot a deer (and usually wild turkeys and cows when I’m hiking on ranches). So that’s where the nickname came from (although with my cow shots I have been called the cow whisperer too).
You mentioned being a fan of movies, Field of Dreams and An Officer And A Gentleman. I love both and give a thumbs-up to the soundtracks, as well. The genre of these films is far removed from the dark theme of Jennifer Ainsley – The Final Demon War. Do you watch horror flicks and if so, what is your favorite and why?
I enjoy a good scare but not the gore fests of slasher or horror porn (in spite of the fact my book, especially the banquet hall scene, tears hundreds of limbs apart and decapitates a few hundred heads too). I love films that imply horror more than show it like Psycho, Halloween, Alien (only the stomach scene is really graphic in that film), Carrie (which earns the blood with the psychotic coming of age section), Silence of the Lambs (um, okay I guess the Hannibal escape scene is the exception to my rule), Blair Witch Project, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining (yeah, I guess there are buckets of blood there too), 28 Days Later (perfect performance by Cillian Murphy who was also so good in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine).
From this list, I have to go with Silence of the Lambs. I enjoyed the Thomas Harris books very much, both Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal was disappointing), and this film may have been one of the best book to movie translations ever. Perfect performances and writing, great visuals and soundtracks plus Chris Isaak as a SWAT sniper. Just a great film (one in which I took a first date to who unsurprisingly never called me again afterwards).
If you could visit any time period from creation to 1950, where would you go and why?
Easy…Year 0-33AD give or take a few years. When Jesus walked the Earth…I need to know what is true and false about that time period. And am I going to hell for using Matthew 10:34 the way I did in my book 😉
Thank you for highlighting and featuring my book! This was the best author interview yet 🙂
The Final Demon War
Date of Publication: December 2013
Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 102,400
Cover Artist: Pencilbox Studios
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” – Matthew 10:34
Demons are preparing to launch the Final War to destroy humanity.
Can one young woman wielding the Sword of Jesus ensure our survival and redemption?
Will she lose both her love and her soul in the process?
Submitted for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”
– Matthew 10:34
Jonathon Tait, whose demon-enhanced 170-year-old life has helped make him the richest man in the world, secretly renounces his alliance with demons in order to save his twins and redeem himself in the eyes of the two women he loved and lost. Jonathon has visions that his beautiful college-aged adopted daughter, Jennifer Ainsley, may be the key to humanity’s survival and works with an underground movement to fight back against both the demons and the human leadership that is guiding our civilization towards total annihilation.
Can Jennifer wield the Sword of Jesus to fulfill her destiny even as the planet hurtles towards its destruction? Is she mankind’s only hope and can Jennifer save everyone that she loves; including her destined soul mate Andrew Walker, or are we all doomed?
Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a gripping, fast-paced fantasy/horror novel grounded in the contemporary world. The characters are extremely likable and engaging, and a great deal of humor is successfully incorporated into the book, despite its often grim and macabre themes. There are several action packed tour-de-force chapters including “Scenes from the End” and “Kasey and Tracey’s Amazing Adventure”.
The book deftly tackles issues of greed, humanity’s neglect for its weakest members, the race for power among individuals and nations, and the ability of love and courage to transcend personal weaknesses. It is a tale that combines horror and fantasy to tell a story of love, loss, sacrifice and redemption. It is the first chapter of an exciting new trilogy that deserves to find a wider audience.
Heather couldn’t believe she was going to die in front of her peacefully sleeping twins, who were oblivious to the unspeakable acts occurring in their nursery. These infants, this life, were all she had wanted, and in those lonely nights before sleep overtook her, she admitted to herself that she had been groomed for this since birth. She had been groomed to be a beautiful, nurturing wife to a wealthy and powerful man and she had been groomed to care for his children and teach them to take their rightful place in the world while she also maintained this lovely home—with a slew of maids, servants, and other staff of course. She threw the best dinner parties and had a special banquet hall included in the new Napa Valley estate just for that purpose. She knew all the right people to invite, and they raised all the right money for all the right charities.
Yet here she was in midair, swaying back and forth, seeing herself reflected in the rectangular Craftsman-style floor mirror she personally had picked out for the nursery. The demon Palvakia held Heather by her strawberry-blonde hair, a mane her husband Jonathon Tait called “gorgeously luxurious,” while her lithe and toned, almost split-in-two body, spilled her blood and guts onto the new Berber carpet (a lovely light blue she also had personally picked out for the nursery). How important Heather had thought every design detail of this room was. She had placed so much importance on the mundane materials that now meant nothing. She was escaping into the blackness now, the dark abyss whose passage she hoped ended with a consummating light. Was there light beyond death and beyond this horror?
It was insane, Heather thought, that her husband, the man she loved and admired, was watching this scene unfold with an expressionless face as Mordock, a repulsive and despised demon, stood next to him. Mordock was in human form right now, unlike the demon who had torn her in half, but Heather still felt the evil lurking underneath. She had tried to banish Mordock from their lives and had pleaded with her husband to stand up to him. Yet Jonathon had done nothing to remove him from their lives or to stop Mordock from carrying out her murder. If there was a light at the end, how could the Keeper of Light cause this to happen or not prevent it in the first place?
And what of the twins? Alexander and Sophia were so beautiful and full of life, with old-soul eyes, even as infants. My lovely babies, Heather thought with her last bit of consciousness. Who will keep you from harm? Can your father somehow be your guardian angel? Will he succeed with you where he failed with me? The darkness with the light behind it is approaching. Will I see you in heaven? How long will I have to wait? Hopefully a long, long time…
Heather took her last breaths just as Palvakia began to devour her. To her horror, though, death did not come instantaneously. A morbid trick of the demons is to keep their victims on the cusp of dying so they can witness themselves being eaten. Heather couldn’t even scream as the pain ripped through the ever-decreasing parts of her body.
When Palvakia was finished, not one ounce of the physical being that once had been Heather Tait was left in the room. Even the carpet was clean…and the twins continued to sleep peacefully.
About the Author:
Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur. An addicted reviewer on Yelp, he is also creator of affordable housing (although technically he is homeless part-time), thinks The Replacements are the best band of the Eighties and loves to boost his LinkedIn count with people he doesn’t know.
He lives in both Northern and Southern California while constantly traveling to Orange County to visit his son, who can now beat his father at ping pong and chess rather easily (and is charmingly arrogant while doing it). A graduate of UC Irvine and Pepperdine University, Sidney wishes he chose at least one university to attend that had a college football team to root for.
The first scene Sidney thought of for Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War included a rather large massacre (take that for what it is worth). However, inspired by the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker; the book’s violence is offset by dark humor and deep human emotion just like in real life where Sidney’s darkness is offset by creatively placed sarcasm and an overwrought romanticism. For example, while Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a Fantasy-Horror novel, Sidney also still tears up at the end of both Field of Dreams and An Officer and a Gentleman.
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