This week I’m taking a (hopefully brief) break from the #ownvoices author spotlight series I’ve been doing for the past months to interview an author whose dark fantasy novels are some of the most exciting I’ve seen around. I’ve had a wonderful time chatting with him about his upcoming novel, Talon: The Spider’s Web, and I’m excited to read it–but frankly, I’m more excited about one of the projects he’s still working on. You’ll have to read the interview to see what I’m talking about!
For centuries after surviving the destruction of The Lost Colony of Roanoke, Nicky happily embraced being the monster he had become: a vampire hell-bent on revenge after witnessing the murders of his mother and sister.
After coming across a young girl who could have been his sister’s twin, however, things changed drastically. Nicky was determined to right the wrongs he had done. This led him down a path of no return.
Nicky comes across the mysterious Sadie, whose powers no one can explain. With her help, he kills a Pureblood Vampire – a crime punishable by death. Vampire law requires him to kill Sadie, but knowing that he owes her his life, Nicky can’t do it. Instead, they go on the run together. For the first time in his life, Nicky has decided to live by his own rules. The Demon within and his humanity are at constant odds as he both fulfills his blood-lust and acts as protector to the mortal girl who has bewitched him.
Can you tell us a bit about the themes in Talon: The Spider’s Web?
This novel has a lot to do with facing your past and whether or not one can find redemption after centuries of murder and mayhem. Nicholas (aka Talon) watched his mother and sister be murdered right in front of him. It sent him into a blood-frenzy for over 400 years. At the start of the novel, he’s happy being this person. He still takes joy in the suffering of others, but when he comes face to face with a girl who could be his murdered sister’s twin, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. Everything he thought he had blacked out about being a mortal comes back to him. He decides to try and save this new girl from the horrible situation she’s in. It starts him down a path that he can’t turn around on. It changes him. It makes him get back in touch with his humanity, and leads to him meeting this girl named Sadie. Unlike a lot of Vampire novels, Sadie actually helps save Nicky, putting him in a life debt to her. Instead of following Vampire law and killing her for knowing what he is, he takes her under his wing and protects her because for the first time in his life he realizes he actually doesn’t have all the time in the world.
What part of the story came to you first?
This story actually started as a blog on MySpace. *Waits on the laughter to end.* It was a diary style piece in the beginning, but I always saw him coming face to face with his past and how it would change him. His character grows a lot, but don’t think just because he’s gone soft for a mortal or two that he still doesn’t have his brutal moments—he just focuses them on really bad people. Think of Dexter with fangs perhaps.
What was your favourite part of writing the book?
Nicky’s fascination with Sadie. Nicky is used to charming others, not being charmed himself. There’s a kind of innocence in Sadie that brings out the best in Nicky, but at the same time, she’s different from anyone he’s ever met. She’s a former preacher’s daughter with a very foul mouth. She can be so proper and lady-like and then turn on a dime and be chaotic. It’s her duality, I think, that mesmerizes him so about her.
You’ve released two books within the past year and you have another one coming in July. How did such craziness happen?
Well, the first book actually accepted for print was Talon: The Spider’s Web. My science fiction novel, The Rise of UMBRA, was supposed to be published by an indie publisher that closed its doors right as the book was to be released. The book was so close to completion, the editor and I decided to finish it because we both really loved the project. It’s a little bit Firefly but it has a dark fantasy twist to it. The 2nd novel that’s already come out is Alabama: Nightmares and Urban Legends. While waiting on the edits for Talon to come in, I wrote a lot of short stories/novelettes that were horror tales based on real places and legends in my state. Over the year I wrote enough of them that I had a full length anthology’s worth.
What have you learned from having such an intense release schedule?
Keep writing. Keep working on the craft. Be willing to bounce around and let the muse take you where she wants you to go. Forcing a story never works. I just write what the muse wants to focus on at the time and so far it’s worked for me.
If you could sit down for lunch with any author in the world, living or dead, who would it be?
There’s so many great ones, but if I could sit down with Edgar Allan Poe that would be magnificent. I own his complete works and his dark stories influenced me a lot in becoming a writer. I’m still not sure if I’d want him sober or intoxicated. Intoxicated might be more fun and I could hear his imagination run wild for a little while. I’d love to find out more about Annabel Lee. Was she a real person or a creation of his mind?
What are you working on next?
Edits on Talon, the sequel to UMBRA, and what I think might be one of the more interesting challenges I’ve started as a writer, a dark fantasy retelling of the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is a modern girl with a lot of issues and once she reaches Oz, the ruby slippers she’s given still contain the essence of the wicked witch (the previous owner). The shoes talk to her, manipulate her, and send her on a murdering spree through Oz as she fights to not have to go home.
About the Author
Jay is a 42 year old Alabama resident who writes Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. He’s appeared in numerous magazines and horror anthologies over the last year. He has two novels two his credit (A science fiction piece and a one man horror anthology that deals with local Alabama Urban Legends) with a third on its way in July. He’s happily married and the father to three very wild, beautiful girls.