Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hellspawn: the best thing I've ever written?

My next new release is entitled Hell Spawn, part of my "St. Tommy, NYPD" series.

It may also be the best thing I've ever written, if I go by some of the responses I've gotten.

People who read it already want to nominate it for a dragon award.

My publisher has said he thinks it's the best thing I've ever done.

My new editor (more on that later) thought it was awesome when she was only 25 pages in!

I post small snippets on Facebook, and I have get least three MORE new readers who want to read it NOW.

This isn't one of my newer ideas. I took a course on Christian Spirituality and Mysticism course in college, some (muttermumble) years ago. While I listened to some of the abilities of certain saints -- like the ability to levitate, or smell evil, or bilocate -- all I could think was "Nice. When do we get that superhero movie?"

The short answer is, as usual, if I want to see if done, I have to do it myself.... (This is usually the point where someone tells me that it's already been done, but please, I was part of the Catholic Writer's Guild for years. If someone had done it and the CWG HADN'T heard of it, then they don't deserve the name)

I don't know why, but originally, I had considered my Saint as a uniformed patrolman. Probably because I wanted to see someone wearing all of that equipment floating in the air.

When Russell asked for "a new Urban Fantasy IP," I had bounced a quick summary off of him, and he loved it.
Officer Thomas Nolan is a saint. He can smell evil. He's forgiving to the lesser criminals who are merely desperate, and even the criminals he put away tend to like him. But when a serial killer wages war on the city, he's going to face the darkness on more levels than he can imagine. Because this killer leaves a stench Nolan can follow a mile away: but proving it is going to be a problem: because how do you do forensics on a killer possessed by a demon?
That was the pitch. Russell caught it, and it became a fastball... and that expends all of my baseball metaphors.

Somewhere along the line, between the time I pitched it and the time I started pounding out the outline, my main character, Thomas Nolan, had become a detective. Huh. I'm still not 100% certain how that happened. And he's married. Which also came out of nowhere. I usually have a romance subplot somewhere in all of my stories -- be it Pius, or Winterborn, even UnSub, to some degree.

The hard part was doing the outline...

For those of you who are new here, I generally don't outline. I sit down, I start writing, and I don't stop until I need to eat or sleep. This tends to be a general strain on my ability to rest, but it keeps the words flowing. I work 9-5, if not 10-6... sometimes, 8AM-10PM. No outlines usually mean that I can throw in a gunfight whenever the I feel the plot slows down.

But Russell wanted an outline.

After a few days of dwelling on it, I had an outline. There were only two murders, but they utilized everything I knew of serial killers and everything I could put together on demonology.

Unfortunately, there was a slight error as I went along...

You see, I used everything I had on hand about demons and serial killers.


Think about that for a moment.

Yeah, not fun.

So, this will get a little messy

So, what started as an urban fantasy definitely turned into horror.


At least next year, when I'm nominated in Best Horror at the Dragon Awards, it'll be right on target.

Obviously, once I started writing, the outline didn't quite survive first contact with the enemy. I felt the plot slow down at least once ... so I threw in a gunfight. In the outline, I had a random encounter at his precinct ... during the writing of the novel, I had a completely different random encounter (that I hadn't outlined) that allowed me to tie everything together, and created a subplot that I hadn't known was there. This became a subplot that's running through all three novels.

And there's at least three chapters that went entirely the right direction by the wrong route.

For the record, no, that car bomb wasn't in the original outline.

I finished this novel at just under 60,000 words in 6 weeks. I was slowed down by Christmas.

Right now, the most difficult part of the series was a title -- either for the series or for the individual novel. I decided that this was going to be the series where I would name the book after the villain.

Hence Hell Spawn.

I even had a few different choices for the series. My initial idea, Patron Saint of Detectives, was a little long. Then there was NYPD Saint. Blue Saint (I didn't like the initials). Someone suggested Tin Saint. "St. Tommy, NYPD" won out.

It'll be out in October. Making it eligible for the Dragon Awards in best horror in the 2019 Dragon Awards. Heh.... Yeah. I really do want one of those awards. Not for the PR, or for the honor, necessarily, but damn those are shiny.

Book two, Cult of Death is already written, and ready to be launched.

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