Monday, December 1, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Naomi Clark!

Hey folks,

We have a real special treat for you today and that is an interview with Naomi Clark, author of the the Ethan Banning series! She's been gracious enough to sit here down with the United Federation of Charles and answer a few questions about her books. The first book, Undertow, was released August 24th, 2014 and was reviewed here.

The Ethan Banning series follows the titular character, a private investigator, as he deals with the fallout of demonic possession. While in nominal control over his body, Ethan is constantly tempted to violence or worse. Seeking a cure for his condition, he becomes involved in all manner of occult crises. The series is humorous and dark, Ethan making sardonic observations no matter how bizarre or perilous his circumstances.

Now let's get to that interview!

1. So, what separates the Ethan Banning series from other urban fantasy novels out there?

I'd say it's Ethan himself. He's not a hero and he doesn't want to be! Rather than being a strong man trying to make the world a better place, he's a walking disaster trying to avoid fucking up more. I like that – I like underdogs and I like exploring darker aspects of the human psyche. I think, for all his flaws and faults, Ethan is terribly human.

2. How would you describe your protagonist to our readers?

Not great, but trying pretty hard.

3. Tell us a little about Undertow's story.

Undertow is a mishmash of themes and ideas I adore. There's a huge Lovecraftian element, there's a creepy seaside town, and there's an exploration of what courage is, what goodness is, and where we draw the line between what we let happen and what we try to stop. Personal responsibility is a big deal in Ethan's world – how much can he blame on his demon passenger, and how much is down to him? Exploring that against a backdrop of human sacrifice and demonic pacts was a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun.

4. Was it difficult coming up with the Ethan Banning-verse's mythology?

No, it's been very organic. The seed of his world – that demons are real and they can interact with humans – is an old idea, but I hope I've fleshed it out in a new way, and hinted at a much larger world and history beyond what people see in Undertow. I started with a quite Judeo-Christian idea, but I've tried to draw in lots of different concepts to make the world complete and different. And that happened really just by me asking myself, “what can I put in here?”, rather than by having a plan ahead of time!

5. Is it hard to write the dialogue between Ethan and his demon?

Sometimes it's hard to think up really nasty things for the demon to say, but generally speaking I find Ethan's voice and humor very easy to get into, and that makes their dialogue a bit easier. My main concern is that I make the Voice too witty – I don't really want people (or myself) to start liking him more than Ethan!

6. How dark do you consider Ethan's story? Do you find the humor balances the horror or detracts from it?

It definitely goes to dark places. There's addiction, self-harm, and general horribleness, and that's not nice to write, as much as I think it's important to explore. I think the humor is important – reading a relentlessly grim story is not something I enjoy. I want a sense of hope despite everything bad that's happening, and humor can help give that. Ethan's humor is pretty dark too, but I think it's important to keep it in there.

7.  Why do you think readers love urban fantasy?

I think it's the sense of escapism, and also the idea that underneath the mundane world is a whole realm of secrets and magic. That's really appealing to me as an urban fantasy reader. I like the thought that there are magical things happening just around the corner, and that I could find them if I got lucky. It's a distraction from the humdrum real world of bills and work!

8. Who is your favorite character after Ethan Banning (and his demon)?

He doesn't show up in Undertow, but you will meet him in the sequel – Moss, the incubus who runs a strip club in Ethan's home town. He's not supposed to be in the human world, so works very hard to stay under the radar. He's great fun to write – very smooth and human on the surface, but very dangerous and inhuman underneath.

9.  Undertow has a non-traditional ending. Did you ever consider something more upbeat?

No. I wanted to leave things a little open-ended, because the events of Undertow will have repercussions in later Ethan books, so I never intended to wrap everything up neatly. And I wanted it to be clear that there are real consequences in Ethan's world when you mess up. It was hard to write, but I wouldn't change it.

10. What can readers expect from you in the future?

The sequel to Undertow is about 75% done, and I have plans for more Ethan Banning books after that. I'd also like to revisit the novel that Ethan first appeared in – it's crying out for a sequel, but I've been waiting for the rights to revert to me before tackling that. I'm currently working on an urban fantasy set in a different universe that I'm wildly passionate about and hope to get out into the world next year.

Thanks for the interview! Can't wait for the next book!

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