Do you have a specific writing style?
When I sit down to read a book, I feel as if I'm having a conversation with the narrator, even if it's the nebulous omniscient floating head of Lawrence Olivier… thus, for me, voicing is king. I do my level best to really hone in on my protagonist/narrator's vocal cadence and selection of catch phrases, even down to vocal pauses. If I've done my job, my readers will hear the voice instead of reading it.
Dorian's self-effacing yet nobbish sense of sarcasm is his real selling point. He's a touch insufferable, but you want him to keep talking. In my most recent finished work, a stand-alone novel set in the Old West, I had to be sure I wasn't writing Dorian the Second… I truly wanted a new, fresh voicing.
Do you write in different genres? If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
I'm game for any manner of speculative fiction. I have finished manuscripts in science fiction, horror, urban fantasy, and even a post-apocalyptic "powers" novel which may or may not ever see the light of day. Each of the genres into which I've dipped my pen (I swear that's not a euphemism for anything) offered its specific joys. Post-apocalyptic novels are some of my favorite to read. As long as it blows minds, I'm down with it.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
The Curse Servant is a direct sequel to my debut urban fantasy, The Curse Merchant. The title for Servant is a double-reference to the nameless entity that plagues my protagonist throughout the novel, and also to Matthew 6:24: "No man can serve two masters, for he will hate the one and love the other, or hold to the one and despise the other." Dorian Lake finds himself torn between his obligations to his profession and his search for his soul, versus the hope for a normal life with someone he suspects might want to share that life with him.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
I planned the Dark Choir series to be a six-book arc, and I had both Curse Merchant and Curse Servant titled before I sat down to draft them out. My current work-in-progress, book three of the Dark Choir series, only just recently got a title (as did books four through six). I definitely prefer having a title in situ before I get the word count pumping.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
As I mentioned, the third Dark Choir book is now in-process. I spent the last six months or so wrapping up a standalone horror/western titled "Yea Though I Walk." It's kind of a cranial take on vampires vs. wendigo vs. cowboys.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Scarlow steps out of the jailhouse to meet me before I've dismounted.
"You sober?" I ask.
I drop onto the dirt in front of the building and take a sniff of some malodor.
"Did you have to put him down?"
Scarlow shakes his head.
"Should you have?"
"Well, I suppose that's as for the better. Got designs for our little mongrel."
He slaps a hand onto my shoulder. "Keep your head, now. That man's name is Eugene. I've rode with him since North Texas, a good three years now. He never gave me shit, and now's not the time to start tossing it in his face."
"That's good and well, but you need to get something soaked into your skull. Eugene, that fellow you rode with since North Texas? He's dead. The thing in that jail cell ain't him, and never will be again. So, no disrespect to Eugene, but let's go see if we can find a way to kill that abominated sumbitch."
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest thing has always been finding the time to crank out writing hours while trying to balance "real life." I hold down a day job, and I have a family at home who enjoys the sight of my face from time to time. Then there's eating and working out to keep all the eating from taking too high a toll… squeezing in sufficient time to churn out the word count is easily the greatest challenge. Being married to another author helps, though. We keep each other on task more often than not!
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
That would be Dean at Conzpiracy Digital Arts. My publisher, Curiosity Quills, went to Dean for my first cover, and I'm thrilled they tapped him again. He's done artwork for Stephen King books… horror and occult truly is his wheelhouse. I've cultivated a bit of an online conversation with Dean, and he had a blast with the cover for Curse Servant. He rather channeled Clive Barker, I feel. I'd be happy if he stays with me through to the end of this series!
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 that creepy smile got.
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