Today I would like to welcome Sean Cummings to Darkly Reading. He is the author of a new urban fantasy series that takes place in Calgary, Canada. There are shadowy forces, a mentor that seems alot like Yoda, and a zombie borg brain hive. His heroine - Valerie - is a great no-nonsense girl that may not be as tough as nails but is tough enough to get the job done. Stay tuned till the end of the interview for your chance to win a copy of Shade Fright and Funeral Pallor - and the giveaway is international.
Q: Thanks for visiting Darkly Reading Sean (love the zombie pic btw)! Could you do a quick introduction to your books for my readers and why you decided to place a hot bed of paranormal activity in Calgary, Canada?
A: Thanks for having me! Calgary is where I grew up so I wanted to write a setting that I was familiar with. What I learned was that because I was familiar with, say for example the giant statues outside of the Calgary Board of Education, I came up with a whack of ideas I could use for the plot. (Hint hint to anyone who hasn't read the book - statues are awesome at kicking demon butt.) It's a great city and a great place to have an urban fantasy series. :)
Q: I loved that the books were located in Canada! Do you base some of your locations on actual places in the Calgary and the area? When you were going through the editing process did you ever get responses back that something in your books was too "Canadian" and might not be understood by non-Canadian readers? I was also wondering what a Mickey pocket is and if Tim Horton's is just like Dunkin' Donuts?
A: Excellent questions. There isn't enough Canadian urban fantasy out there and from the outset, I wanted to write something as seamless as any other quality urban fantasy novel available in bookstores today. My mindset had always been, well damn ... why NOT Canada for a setting? All of the places in both books are actual places and I've peppered book one in particular with Canadianisms, like Tim Hortons. Canadians LOVE Timmies. (Dunkin Doughnuts is pretty good, but Timmies coffee is addictive!) A Mickey pocket is an inner breast pocket of a jacket or blazer where one can slip a flask of hootch.
Q: Valerie has some interesting friends in the book - D.T.a troll who is her mentor who looks alot like Yoda, Fifty Dollar Bill a ghost and a former Prime Minister, and Caroline - a zombie who retained her soul. How did you come up with this cast of characters? And is D.T. really based on Yoda?
A: D.T. sort of happened by accident and Yoda was a big part of it. I'd intended for her mentor to be a human but it seemed to me the story would be far more interesting if there was a diminutive creature from the preternatural world who spoke in King James English. Plus in having a dwarf troll as a mentor, I get to make all the characters refer to him as "The Yoda Dude". Fifty Dollar Bill is by far my favorite character in both books, though he's much more prominent in book one. William Lyon Mackenzie King during his life was a huge occultist and when I started writing book one in 2007, it seemed to me that I thought it would be cool/ironic that he was interested in hanging out with the living now that he's dead. He's eccentric, wise, a pain in the butt and a really fun character, so I hope readers will get a kick out of him. As for Caroline, well - I love zombies and I hate lawyers. :)
Q: How many books do you hope to do in this series? What do you have planned for future books? Do we get a final showdown with the Conclave? Does Caroline regain a living body? Any hints?
A: The Conclave is going to be featured extensively in book three because someone is going to be kidnapped before someone's big day and someone is going to have to come to the rescue. Someone is going to die - a central character - and Valerie is going to be tempted by the Conclave as well as a dead sexy guy who wears black and doesn't do sunlight.
I have three more books I'm planning so I might well end the series at five - we'll see.
Q: In the first book,Shade Fright, we are first introduced to the love of Valerie's life - Dave the dump truck driver. But rather than being a typical tough guy boyfriend like many an urban fantasy love interest he is freaked out by the supernatural world - why did you decide to give Valerie a boyfriend who is not as embedded in the supernatural world as she is?
A: One word: Fargo. Anyone who has seen the BRILLIANT movie Fargo will know that Marge Gunderson has a steadfast husband who loves her unconditionally and supports her 100%. He is the inspiration for Dave - as well, (and I might take flack for saying this) but urban fantasy is filled with male love interests who aren't named Dave - they're always STEEL or RICARDO or something like that. I wanted a down to earth love interest for Valerie and no serious complications. It would suck if he died though, eh? Val might go off the deep end. (Not saying I'm killing him off. There are things far worse than death that can happen to Dave.)
Q: In book two, Funeral Pallor, Calgary is having a bit of a zombie problem that Valerie and her friends have to solve - and these zombies aren't your typical shuffling and mumbling type but seem to work together and possibly have a hive mind - did you base your zombies on the Borg from Star Trek?
A: You bet - 110% ripoff from the Borg and I'm not ashamed to admit it! They lack a Queen though and readers will hopefully pick up on the rather large hint I've dropped in FUNERAL PALLOR.
Q: I loved the newest cast of supporting characters in book two - the Newby brothers and Reaper - will we be seeing more of them?
A: The Newby Brothers are really fun characters so they'll be back. They're my homage to heavy metal music (I'm a bald headbanger). Tim Reaper is getting his own novel (which I'm doing revisions on right now) and you can read the first chapter at http://goodgirls-badjuju.com/?p=701 . I'm planning a series for him because he's just a blast to write. He's a misogynist, he's amoral, he kicks butt and he tries to do the right thing.
Q: The covers for your books are great - do you have any input on their design? What do you think of them?
A: I do, actually. Anna Torborg did my cover art and from the start we wanted cover art that didn't feature scantily clad women in leather pants with tattoos on the small of their backs. That's what most urban fantasy covers look like where there's a female protagonist. Shade Fright was all Anna and for Funeral Pallor, I was really lucky because I wanted to do an homage to the Queen II album cover. :) I love the cover art - it's unique - it's fun (like the characters) and it contrasts all the other urban fantasy novel cover art that's out there.
Q: Do you know when we'll be seeing more of Valerie and Calgary?
A: I've just started writing book three - finished the outline in the last month, actually. I don't have a date for it but I would expect it to be available sometime in 2011.
Thanks for stopping by Darkly Reading Sean!
Places you can find Sean:
facebook: Sean Cummings
Good Reads: Sean Cummings
Now for the giveaway - Sean is giving away a copy of each of his books and the contest is international. To enter leave a question for Sean or answer the following - what public figure would you most like to be haunted by? (Would you go for a government figure like Fifty Dollar Bill or maybe a "100 Dollar Ben" or would you prefer a haunting by Elvis Presley or another celebrity?)
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Contest will go till July 24th!
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