Friday, 30 September 2011

Blog Tour: Forbidden by Jana Oliver

So I'm a big fan of Jana Oliver's Demon Trappers series (seriously, read it, the books are awesome) and she's written up a guest post for us as part of her UK blog tour. (Please note that the US covers and titles are different.) :)

I know the blog tour is for the second book in the series, but here is the summary of the first to avoid spoilers for those who haven't read the series yet:

The Demon Trappers: Forsaken
by Jana Oliver

Summary: Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?

Now, onto Jana's blog post:

Topic: "How do you put the series together from original idea, research and the actual writing process."

A book or series often starts as the tiniest germ of an idea. At that stage I file it away as something that has intrigued me. It might be nothing more than “I’d like to write something about the endless war between Heaven and Hell.” Often the germ of a story will have to wait patiently (sometimes for years) before it reaches a point where I can actually work on it. Some of those little ideas never grow beyond that initial seed.

In the case of the Demon Trappers Series I became intrigued by Sir Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s GOOD OMENS, which I read well over a decade ago. It’s the story of the endless tug of war between Heaven and Hell as told from the point of view of a demon and an angel. I loved that book and have reread it countless times. It wasn’t until I’d finished my previous series that I came back to the idea and it began to grow. At just the right time I had the privilege of viewing a piece of artwork by Todd Lockwood which depicted a brutal battle between a legion of angels and demons. It’s stark and graphic and made even more poignant by the fact the battle is being fought on the back of a human being. The idea began to grow.

The concept quickly became a “What if?” question - What if I had a young girl learning how to trap demons and she finds herself caught between the forces of good and evil? What if she had to make choices that would affect the very survival of the cosmos?

Now it was time for research since I really don’t know much about the origins of demons, the ranks of angels and such. I dug into various religious tracts––Jewish, Christian and Muslim––to see how each faith viewed Hellspawn and the Divines. Then I read books on the fall of Lucifer and how he evolved in sacred literature from an angel firmly under God’s thumb to Satan, the arch-enemy.

Once I had a reasonably strong footing, I began to craft my own world. I start with the types of demons my heroine (Riley Blackthorne) might encounter. I created nuisance demons, like the kind that steal your jewelry, all the way up to the kind that generated earthquakes and windstorms. Then I figured out how Riley and her fellow trappers would actually capture these guys, and what they would do with them after that.

Further world building required me to formulate exactly what a 2018 Atlanta would be like in terms of economy (bad), politics (worse) and infrastructure (crumbling). How Riley would live, where she would go to school, who were her friends? These details had to be developed so that the reader could fully immerse themselves in her life.

Once I had all the various pieces in place, I sent my seventeen-year-old apprentice demon trapper to a law library to capture a Biblio-Fiend (a foul-mouthed demon who destroys books.) The series took off from there.

Creating a new story/series is much like building a house. You start with a concept or blueprint, lay a firm foundation, build the shell and then add the windows, doors and roof.

For me the finished book is a work of wonder and a labor of love, from that initial germ of an idea to the finished product. I sincerely hope my readers agree.

I wish it was March 2012 already so I could read the next book. You can find out more about Jana and her books on her website or the Demon Trappers website.


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