Friday, July 16, 2010

Interview with Sean Cummings - author of the Valerie Stevens series and a Giveaway!

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 . 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?)
Extra entries:
+1 Tweet the contest (leave link in your comment)
+1 Follow @DarklyReading or @saskatoonauthor
+1 Follow blog

Contest will go till July 24th!


Bethany C. said...

I think I'd want to be haunted by MLK Jr. He'd make an amazing spirit guide!

I follow blog and on twitter (bcardoo79)

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Bethany - great choice!

Angelique said...

First of all, HELLS YEAH to not wanting a scantily clad leather pants wearing tramp stamped hooker on the cover lol! Love the sound of your story and that you're not travelling down the over trodden urban fantasy path. i REALLY wanna win these!
And just to be official, hmm...I will take haunting by Bram Stoker for the "I could write a kick ass sequel to Dracula" win =)

Barbara E. said...

If I had to be haunted by someone, I'd want it to be someone interesting, so I pick Queen Elizabeth I. I think it would be awesome to hear what it was like during her reign and she'd probably be pretty bossy.
I really love that you chose to set your books in Canada Sean, and the covers are totally awesome - they do really stand out among the crowd.

+1 Blog follower

Sean Cummings said...

Barbara E - thanks so much for your compliment on the cover art - I'm quite fond of it, and Canada, well we rock (I'm pretty sure)

Angelique - I've nothing against tramp stamps and leather pants, but they're everywhere in bookstores these days :)

donnas said...

Great covers. I actually just got Shade Fright and am really looking forward to starting it. Glad to see theres already at least a third in the works. I think I would pick a good musical artist, someone that could do more than just stand around. Maybe a John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix type for entertainment too.

tweet -
I follow you both on twitter.
I am a blog follower.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

A'lina said...

I'd be haunted by Marlon Brando as the Godfather. He'd go around trying to give me an offer I can't refuse. lol ;)

+1 follow blog

Unknown said...

I would want to be hauted by Elvis Presley. He was a great singler. I am a follower. Please enter me in contest.

doreen lamoureux said...

I was thinking perhaps Marylin Monroe. That would be a trip!
Love the books and hoping to get my hands on them either way...hopefully this way...wink
Canadians do rock!
I follow....dor
Follow you both on twitter.....doreen riopel

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Christine said...

Great interview! I have both books waiting on my wishlist, now I really want to have them!
I would want to be haunted by someone lika maybe Henry 8th or Anne Boleyn.

By the way, you´ve got an award! Stop by my blog and claim it if you want to!



Jessica N. said...

I think I'd want to be haunted by Jane Austen! I've read her books a ton of times, I think we could bond.

Following you now on here and twitter!

Midnyte Reader said...

Great interview! I think I would want to be haunted by Eleanor Roosevelt, because she could probably give me some great advice. I was also thinking my dad, just cause I miss him or someone from Medieval times so I could learn about that era.

buddyt said...

I don't think I would particularly like to haunted at all but if it had to be then I would probably choose someone like the headless knight from the Harry Potter books !

Thanks for the giveaway.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

I am a Follower

draconismoi said...

If I have to be haunted by a public figure....I think I'd go literary. James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon). It would pretty much guarantee fascinating conversation, and if you are going to be haunted by someone, discourse is preferable to creepy.

As I Lay Bleeding said...

Wow, you said Elvis and I thought, 'Heck Yeah!'. So Elvis is my answer... he would be funny and interesting IMO. Plus he could sing me to!

+1 Follow @DarklyReading
+1 Follow blog

nedsped at gmail dot com

Stephanie said...

I want be haunted by Jim Morrison.

+1 Follow blog

Sara M said...

I'd want to be haunted by Ben Franklin to see if there are any more invention he never got around to.

+1 blog follower
+1 follow Sean on twitter (@sara_UFblog)

Sara M
sara_UFblog [at] yahoo [dot] com

debbie said...

I would pick leonardo davinci. He could help inspire some of my work.
I am a gfc follower +1

k_sunshine1977 said...

i love the homage to queen on your second cover - that's awesome! i can't wait to read this series! :)

i would pick peter steele from type o negative....i had always wanted to meet him in person - so i suppose being haunted by him is the next best thing....

i am a follower

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Julie S said...

Hmm.. I would probably prefer being haunted by some cool celebrity, like marylin monroe, than some political figure.


i'm a follower.

heatwave16 said...

You totally picked mine with Elvis. How cool would it be for him to serinade you...well, as long as its not 3am. :)

+1 old follower
+1 for twitter follower
+1 tweeted -


Simcha said...

I've never heard of these books before but they sound like fun.
I don't think I'd like to be haunted at all, but if I had to choose I would go with a good looking male celebrity (should make the haunting more pleasant). Perhaps Heath Ledger

Spav said...

I would pick someone really smart, like Einstein, so he could give me the right answers to my tests and explain his theories to me, because sometimes they make no sense.

+1 Blog follower
+1 Twitter follower: (@Sparima)

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