Friday, October 24, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Seth Skorkowsky!

Hey folks,

We have a real special treat for you today and that is an interview with Seth Skorkowsky, author of the Valducan series! He's been gracious enough to sit here down with the United Federation of Charles and answer a few questions about his books. The first book, Damoren, was released April 21st and was reviewed here. 

The Valducan series follows the adventures of the titular demon-hunting organization. In a world filled with spirits which possess humans and turn them into the monsters we know and love (vampires, demons, werewolves, etcetera), the only way to permanently kill a demon is with a holy weapon. Damoren is a holy revolver wielded by anti-hero Matt Hollis in a, previously, one-man crusade against the forces of evil. In Damoren, Matt gets recruited the Valducan to find out who is destroying their holy weapons.

Even if many of the organization want him dead.

Thanks for coming by, Seth!

1. So, Seth, what separates Damoren from other Urban Fantasy novels out there?

I’d say that the most significant separation is that Dämoren is just as much an Action/Horror as it is an Urban Fantasy. Instead of a mystery story set in a large city, it’s a globe-hopping adventure. Most of my inspiration came from movies and anime, and I wanted to emulate the same feeling that I got from Blade or Hellsing or Hellboy.

2. Your protagonist, Matt Hollis, is a very interesting character. All rough-edges and thick-skin. How would you describe him to prospective readers?

Matt is a loner. His family was killed when he was very young and his only friend was his adopted father who taught him how to hunt.  Since then, his only real friend is Dämoren.  He lives in a very secretive ‘kill or be killed’ world, flying just below the radar. Matt fears what he is and he buries that fear in a full-on war against these monsters. 

3. Damoren is as much a character in your novel as her wielder. How did you come up with your first novel's titular weapon? 

The original concept for Dämoren was simply an attempt to explain how a magical gun would work.  Magic swords are as old a fantasy itself, and the concept is easy to understand.  Magic blade hits the monster and kills it.  But with guns, the gun itself never touches the target, so I wanted to show how that enchantment transfers to the bullet.  Later on, I decided that I wanted it to be an old-style single-action revolver, and then later that it was crafted from a broken holy sword.  The blade under the barrel was a last-second addition.

4. Can you describe the Valducan for readers?

The Valducan follows a secret society of demon hunters. Their principal duty is to protect their holy weapons, which are the only means to kill demons. Each of these weapons in unique and bonds with its owner.  In a lot of ways, the weapons are the Valucans and the people are the tools they use to kill monsters.

5. The series is named after them rather than Hollis. Do you see them as the real stars? 

Yes. There are so many personalities, both for the weapons and the hunters, and each of them has their own story to tell.  I’d grow bored if I simply kept following Matt around, doing what Matt does, when there are so many other stories that can be told in that world.

6. Your mythology is pretty binary with the holy weapons on one side and the monsters on the other. Is it ever shades of gray or it is monsters versus humans with never the two meeting? 

The monsters will always be monsters. They’re inhuman and evil.  Later stories will go into deeper details about them, but they’re always going to be evil.  However, there are other entities that won’t fall into either category.

7. Matt doesn't get along very well with his fellow demon hunters in the Valducan. Do you think it's a good thing your hero is such a loner?

I think it’s easier for a reader to empathize with him. Like Matt, the reader is an outsider that’s being introduced to this society and learning the ropes with him.  Matt’s specialty is working alone, and forcing him into a group, especially one that doesn't trust him, is part of what he has to overcome.  The next book, Hounacier, will follow the opposite approach.  There, we’ll take a very accomplished team-leader, isolate him, and force him to work alone.

8. What do you think is the appeal of Urban Fantasy to writers? How about you specifically? 

Unlike Historic Fantasy or Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy takes place in our own world.  We can’t fly in a starship or live in a castle, but we can walk down the streets of London or Chicago. Writers don’t have to project their adventures to some far-distant place that they’ll never see, but can put them here and now and make their own world more interesting.

For example, when I was first starting the novel, I spent a week in Florence Italy. My very favorite statue is Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa. I remember standing on the street, looking up at it, and how much I enjoyed it.  So in Dämoren, when Matt is looking up at it, he’s standing exactly where I was, and everything he hears and sees and smells is real.  I love knowing that in some minor way I’ve shared this experience with him. I hope to find out that a reader gets to have that experience, too.

9. Aside from Hollis and Damoren, who is your favorite character in the novel? 

I go back and forth depending on my mood at any moment, but it’s either Schmidt or Malcolm Romero.  Both of them serve as conflict characters for Matt, but in order to explain why they dislike him, I had to put the most work into how they thought and where they were coming from.  I didn't want them to be conflict characters just to be conflict characters, I needed to get into their heads and have logical reasons for their behavior rather than simply saying, “They’re just dicks.”  That made me really fall in love with them.

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

I’m finishing the second book, Hounacier, right now.  I expect it done in the next week. It’s a much darker story with more of a noir/mystery element. We hope to have that out next year.  In the meantime, Emby Press will be releasing ‘The Vampire of Somerset’ in their Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests anthology.  It’s a 1930’s short story from the Valducan’s archives. It’s the first of my planned Archive Adventures.

I also have two Sword & Sorcery collections coming out next year with Ragnarok Publications.  Mountain of Daggers and Sea of Quills will follow a thief character called the Black Raven, who is kind of like James Bond meets the Gray Mouser. 

Thanks! Those sound awesome.  I can't wait to get my grimy mitts into them. We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

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