Sophie Duncan Guest Post
Check out this guest post by Sophie Duncan 🙂 Over to her…
Thanks Amos Cassidy for hosting me today as part of the Blogger Book Fair.
I write in quite a few genres, whatever takes my fancy from crime through to horror and I’m going to be talking about urban fantasy, also sometimes called contemporary fantasy, a wide genre where magic and/or other fantastic creatures/things are placed in familiar, modern settings. Specifically, I’m going to be talking about a subject that can walk the line between paranormal and fantasy fiction, demons.
I am currently working on a set of stories called The Hidden War, which begins with The End of The Journey. Strange name for a first book, you might think, but with endings, there are always beginnings. The Hidden War takes place in contemporary Britain, but is a struggle that has been going on for thousands of years between those who wish to raise demons and wreak their own kinds of havoc and those who want to stop them and protect the unknowing general public. My two protagonists are Damon Wulfres, son of the most powerful demon-raiser in Britain, and Zac Kithrall, a demon-seer who spends his life in hiding to protect him from Damon’s people. As you can tell from the names of the roles I have given my protagonists, demons are at the heart of the magic and fantasy that I am creating in The Hidden War. Hence, as the stories began to evolve in my head, I began to develop my approach to demons.
I’ve watched many a horror movie and read many a book involving demons. I particularly enjoy Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and it’s sequel, aptly titled, Evil Dead II. These stories are on the horror/paranormal side of demon fare, but they also had some fantastical elements as well. These come in the form of the magic and the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, reading from which had already raised the demons when the unlucky protagonists arrive at the cabin in the woods in both stories.
They’re very creepy and bloodthirsty stories, not the atmosphere I am going for with the Young/New Adult Hidden War series, but what has always struck me about these stories is the demon possession process and its consequences. Once possessed in Evil Dead, the host is generally gone, dead. However, Ash, the hero, is saved alternatively by his own grief and the rising of the sun. In The Hidden War, the idea of going into and coming out of demon possession is crucial to the first book, The End Of the Journey and I can trace my embryonic thoughts about that back to stories and movies like Evil Dead.
Demons in mythology don’t just possess humans, though, and that is also true in my stories. There are many grades of demons, some of which I am sure I haven’t thought of yet :), and these can suit many purposes. I haven’t come up with a rating system, I thought that a bit too orderly for such archaic practices, but I have already distinguished between lesser demons, which can be called and obey their master and higher demons with their own sentience. The lesser demons I have introduced so far are called imps, nasty little creatures that are used as weapons by demon-raisers. And, with every weapon, there has to be a defence – in this case, a good old-fashioned fireball will deal with them. I have to admit, the imps were a spur of the moment idea as I was writing the confrontation scene between Damon and his father in which they first appear. It was the look of them that came to me first, little black, rat-like things with glowing red eyes – pretty classic, but effective, in my opinion.
In comparison to imps, the Scion, which is the major evil in The End of the Journey, is a far more elaborate concept, naturally so, due to its impact on the plot. It has its own purpose, albeit the end of the world, another classic from fiction (I never shy away from classic plot lines, it’s how they are executed that is important to a reader’s interest). The Scion, thus, also takes much more than a mere fireball to bring it down, the methods of which I shan’t go into here, since that would be spoilers. 🙂
Well, needless to say, I am enjoying playing with demons and have continued to do so in the sequel to The End of The Journey, A New Path, which will be coming out soon in its own volume, but is also available in Myriad Imaginings, an anthology of short stories. I am also serialising the third story in the series, A Fork In The Road, on my own blog, the first part of which is already available here.
Are you writing about demons, or have a favourite book, or film involving them? I’d love to hear about them.
- Her blog, Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
- Sophie also contributes regularly to Fantasy Boys XXX
- Twitter @thwax and @wittegenpress
- Wittegen Press on Facebook
The Hidden War has been raging unseen by normal eyes for generations and Zac Kithrall, demon-seer, and Damon Wulfres, demon-raiser, have grown up on opposite sides of it.
Zac knows these truths, but when he finds himself mostly helpless and under Damon’s control, he can’t remember why he trusts his enemy, or why they are running from both sides in the war. Weak, and fighting a raging power that is threatening to tear him apart from the inside, Zac is forced to rely on Damon, friend or foe, and, together, they face a race against time to prevent Armageddon.
The End Of The Journey is the first story in The Hidden War Series.
The Hidden War is a YA Contemporary Fantasy containing a male/male romance.
Zac…reached up for the drink that was being held out to him. His fingers never touched the pale green saucer, because a loud crack from the bedside table distracted both men. Zac looked towards the sound as the cups of tea hit the floor. Damon moved faster than Zac could turn his head, and had picked up a small, glowing crystal from the fake-wood surface before his senses caught up.
His own emotions were as slow as his wits, but Zac recognised the alert concern Damon was showing and let it lead his own dull feelings. As much as he could, he focused on the taught figure his companion had become and waited for enlightenment as to what was going on.
“They’ve found us again,” Damon informed Zac, a glance telling him he should be alarmed. “They’re in the hotel.”
Who ‘they’ were was a mystery, but they were clearly a threat. Still, Zac did not know what to do to make the concern on Damon’s features go away. He sat dumbly as Damon dived past him and grabbed for a small pile of possessions on a chair at the other end of the room. Shortly, a ratty pair of trainers was chucked at his feet and Damon, his back turned while he urgently stuffed a mixture of clothes and other items into a back pack, instructed Zac, “Put them on.”
Zac had no problem pulling the shoes onto his feet, albeit slowly, but when he looked down at the laces, which were hanging loose, half of the thoughts involved in tying them were absent. He struggled with the gaps, knowing the end point he needed to reach, but being unable to find the way.
“Merda,” Damon swore when he noticed that Zac was failing in the basic task and he dived down to start tying Zac’s shoes.
It was only a profanity, but the Latin cast Zac back to the dream he had almost forgotten. Shoe laces tied, Damon turned away, gathering up their possessions hastily once more, but Zac dwelt on the dream. He pushed again at his lack of thoughts, forcing himself to focus and using the vestiges of the dream to search for a path to the rest of his mind. There was so much missing, ideas and will that he knew he had lost somehow, and there was a barrier between his present condition and what had been.
Still, some stubborn determination remained in Zac Kithrall, and he pushed at the mess of his thoughts: the response made him scream. As he tested the blank barrier, something broke: what little reason Zac had left was swamped with images and emotions. They were too many and too horrible to make sense, but they cut through the bland protection of Zac’s thoughtless world with pain and terror. Zac reared and threw his hands over his head, a cry of regretful fear the only coherence he could manage.
Anger scratched at his brain, pushing out and dominating Zac’s thoughts, grasping for control and clarity. He heard his own voice deepen with that rage, a possession forcing aside his fear. He fought the alien feeling, his instincts at war, and his cry died in his confusion.
“Not now,” Damon’s words filled the gap where Zac’s scream had been.
Zac shied away from the shape that came at him, but he was in no state to avoid the attack as Damon’s body barrelled into him and forced him back onto the bed. He struggled and screamed again as the rage inside him wanted to hurt Damon, but his companion’s body pinned him down, and the anger became a growl as Damon proved much stronger and faster than him. Damon pushed Zac’s arms, which were hiding his face, out of the way and something metal smashed into his teeth through the snarl that expressed his conflict.
Zac tried to turn his face away from the touch, but Damon pushed on his forehead, forcing his skull into the mattress, and continued to apply the small metal mouth-piece to Zac’s lips. Both hands engaged in trying to tip something down Zac’s throat, Damon was defenceless, and Zac hit out. Damon ignored the feeble fists, a look of determination on his features, and he spoke with amazing calmness, “Come on, Zac, drink.”
The liquid that ran through Zac’s teeth made him cough with its astringency and he tried not to swallow it, but Damon kept pouring. A large quantity spilled out of the sides of his mouth, but enough hit the back of his throat, and reflex made Zac swallow. It was only seconds after the first mouthful of what had to be a potion that Zac felt the effects. A wave of disorientation ran through him, wiping out what little strength he had and forcing back the rage. This was not a discriminatory effect, however, and it also drowned the small amount of sentience that had been in front of the barrier as well.
The anger retreated back behind the wall of thoughtlessness from whence it had come, and that in itself was a great relief to its frightened victim, but without that power, his will crumpled under the touch of the potion and Zac swooned.