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5 Digital copies of The Curse Merchant, Book 1 of the Dark Choir series
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Be sure to keep reading after the interview for an excerpt from The Curse Servant!!
A conversation with author, J.P. SLOAN:
You’ve said your writing is “dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.” How do you switch mental gears from an ominous world to being a father and husband?
Ooh… nice question! I think it has a lot to do with mental balance, in general. I do my level best not to repress my dark notions too hard. If you cage the beast, the beast is likely to break the lock and bite your head off, given time. Dark fiction is one way I indulge the shadow self. When it’s sated, it’s not all that difficult to downshift and be wholesome with the family. It helps that my wife is also a horror writer, so she gets it.
I’ve often wondered how horror/paranormal authors explain their dark subject matter to their children. How do or will you deal with potential questions as your son matures? Are your books fiction or could they contain an element of truth?
I don’t find it at all hard explaining my fiction to my son. I realized early on that my son is as strict a rationalist as I am. Our conversations invariably swing toward talk about planets, rockets, chemistry, why the moon looks orange when it’s near the horizon, how we make table salt, etc. His mind is a steel trap, and he doesn’t let me get away with a lot of tomfoolery, so I have to play it straight with him. Good news being that he doesn’t think much about the occult. He finds notions of ghosts and demons to be silly. Now, if I wrote a book about killer tornadoes, he might lose sleep over that!
Bearing that in mind, yes. My books are entirely fiction, at least from a rationalist point of view… which is the view I’ve endeavored to foster in my son.
What made a Louisiana boy relocate to Maryland? Do you like it? Hate it? What are some of the things you enjoy about both locations?
What made me move to Maryland? In a word: Katrina. My wife and I both grew up in Southern Louisiana, and were living in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans) when Hurricane Katrina hit. We rode out the storm with my parents in Baton Rouge, but when it all blew over, the greatest damage wasn’t so much to our house as it was to the local economy. We couldn’t get work, and the bills were still piling up. A friend of ours was teaching at Georgetown, and he let us know that one of the local counties was offering rent and utilities relief to any evacuees who relocated to Maryland. I got a job interview before we even left Louisiana, was hired immediately… and we never really looked back.
We adore living in the Mid-Atlantic. Unlike the Deep South, we get four distinct seasons, we’re a couple hours’ drive from both the beach and snow skiing. We can hop a train to Boston or NYC or Philly. The culture here in Maryland is pragmatic yet incredibly warm. Plus, Baltimore has a lot in common with New Orleans. They’re both major port cities with an Old World oeuvre and a peculiarly specific seafood culture. I just traded the Blues in for Hard Rock.
I have a doormat that states “A Wine Snob and A Normal Person Live Here” with the “O” in Normal containing a beer cap. It sounds as if you could be a “Beer Snob” as in connoisseur. How does one become a certified beer judge? Are there tests or training involved in getting a certification?
There is a volunteer organization called the Beer Judge Certification Program, which compiles periodic “standards” for world beer styles. They also conduct exhaustive tests to rate one’s knowledge of beer making and styles, and evaluation skills. This is all done in order to improve the public’s understanding of beer, and to assist homebrewers in improving the craft. There are several books available towards understanding the whole scene, and an amateur can get started by checking out http://www.bjcp.org. Ultimately, though, the best education comes from years of homebrewing and tasting beers from around the world first-hand. I benefitted from a “judge club”, a group of fellows who went in together to buy several beers of a single style each month, and over the course of a couple years we basically ran the gamut. Much easier on the liver to taste 2 oz of seventy styles of beer than 12 oz!
You’ve written two novels in the Dark Choir series, The Curse Merchant and The Curse Servant, as well as a short prequel. Are more books planned for the series? What are you working on now?
I plan to write six total books in the Dark Choir series. The first two were sold at the same time to my publisher, Curiosity Quills. In the interim between the releases of the first two books, I’ve written a stand-alone horror/western which is almost ready for submittal. As I put the final spit-shine on that manuscript, I’ve already begun drafting the third book in the Dark Choir series, The Curse Mandate.
Your main character is Dorian Lake. If your books were adopted for film, who would you want to play Dorian and why?
I think that Sam Witwer would slam-dunk the role, personally. You’ll recognize him from the role of Aidan in the US version of Being Human. I think he could pull off smarmy and self-effacing at the same time, while preserving the sense of doom that Dorian lives under continually.
The Curse Servant
The Dark Choir
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: February 26, 2015
ISBN (eBook): 9781620078228
ISBN (Paperback): 9781620078235
ISBN (Hardcover): 9781620078242
ISBN (Smashwords): 9781620078259
Number of pages: 346
Word Count: 99,400
Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts
The one person standing between Hell… and an innocent girl… is a man without a soul.
A regular life isn’t in the cards for Dorian Lake, but with his charm-crafting business invigorated, and the prospect of a serious relationship within his grasp, life is closer to normal than Dorian could ever expect. In the heat of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, Dorian has managed to balance his arrangements with Deputy Mayor Julian Bright with his search to find his lost soul. Dorian soon learns of a Netherworker, the head of a dangerous West Coast cabal, who might be able to find and return his soul. The price? Just one curse.
Sounds easy… but nothing ever is for Dorian. A dark presence arrives in the city, hell-bent on finding Dorian’s soul first. Innocents are caught in the crossfire, and Dorian finds it harder to keep his commitments to Bright. When the fight gets personal, and the entity hits too close to home, Dorian must rely on those he trusts the least to save the ones he loves. As he tests the limits of his hermetic skills to defeat this new enemy, will Dorian lose his one chance to avoid damnation?
Available at Amazon
I knew this wasn’t going to be the typical meeting with Julian Bright when, instead of the usual political organ-grinders at the campaign headquarters, I found a soccer mom duct taped to a chair, foaming at the mouth. Her grunting and growling echoed off the bare sheetrock walls of Julian’s office, vacant except for the three of us.
I peeked through the blinds covering the locked storefront to make sure none of volunteers were back from the morning rounds. Satisfied we were alone, I turned to Julian.
He waved his arm at the woman in a lazy circle. “So, this is why I called.”
“Who is she?”
“Her name is Amy Mancuso. You know her?”
I shook my head.
“She’s a volunteer. Her team was working Cold Spring by Loyola when she started swearing and spitting at the residents. By the time her team captain called me, she’d kicked someone’s dog. Terrier, I think. Or one of those purse dogs.”
I winced. “Remind me not to hand out yard signs for you. Jesus.”
“It’s not like we do background checks on volunteers. I figured she probably missed some meds or something.”
“But you called me instead of the paramedics.”
“Why?” I asked as I took a step toward her.
Amy’s grunting halted as she straightened in her chair. Her head swiveled slowly in my direction, and her eyes sent the creeping chills up my neck.
With a nerve-rattling tone she growled, “Is that Dorian Lake I smell?”
I’d never enjoyed the sound of my own name less.
Julian turned a shoulder to me and whispered, “That’s why.”
I slowly approached Amy, pulling my pendulum from my jacket pocket in a slow, non-threatening motion. Last thing I needed at that moment was to send a crazy person into a panic. I assumed she was crazy. My pendulum would determine whether she was unnaturally energized or the usual cat-shaving flavor of lunatic.
Her eyes were dilated; her mouth twisted into the most unsettling smile one could imagine on the face of an otherwise average woman.
“Have we met?”
“Poor little Dorian lost his soul.”
Okay, this was probably a legitimate problem.
I dangled the pendulum in front of Amy. The little nugget of copper spun from the end of its chain in a perfectly Newtonian fashion. Nothing pulled it contrary to the laws of Nature. I couldn’t even feel a tug on the chain.
She continued, “Lost his soul, he lost his soul. Dropped it down a rabbit hole.”
“I suppose you think you’re being clever?”
“Is he doomed or is he dead? Will he damn your soul instead?”
This conversation had lost all of its charm.
“Who am I talking to?”
She sucked in a huge gulp of air and craned her neck at a painful angle toward the ceiling. A sick squealing noise leaked from her lips as her arms trembled. When she finally released her breath and sank back down into her chair, she simply chuckled.
“We’re going to find it, you know. And when we do, we’re going to eat it.”
I leaned in as close as I dared and whispered, “If you think I’m afraid of you, then you need to know something. I’m not impressed.”
“It won’t be long now.”
“Did someone send you, or is this just a courtesy call?”
She smirked. “We’re going to enjoy this.”
I was knitting together a clever response when a loud rip of tape crackled through the room. Her hand slammed up underneath my jaw, fingers clamping around my throat. My head filled with blood, and I tried to cough through the gag reflex. The harder I beat on her hand to let go, the wider
About the Author:
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.
Web page: www.jp-sloan.com