Only fanatics and lunatics believe demons can possess human beings. Or at least, that’s what Callie White thought until one possessed her best friend. Now, wanted for murdering the thing that crawled into her friend’s body and dealing with hungers and powers she doesn’t understand, Callie White just wants to die. She just has to make sure no one can bring another demon over before she goes. When that proves more difficult than expected, Callie is pushed to her limits and discovers just how common demon possession really is.
First, I’d like to thank Kate for letting me do a guest post! Second, I’d like to thank the people reading the post.
Over the course of my life, I’ve read or heard four pieces of advice that had a significant impact on my writing. In this guest post, I’m going to focus on one of them: write what you know. Given that I prefer genres that involve demons and vampires and witches (oh my), that’s not always been the most useful advice. Sorting out what it meant to write what I know took a long time (like two decades).
Graduate school was a formative experience for me. In many ways, graduate school breaks you down. The classes and the culture require you to narrow your focus, train your brain to move in linear patterns, and reward you for developing an obsession with grammar and sentence construction. No matter what I said, a professor always seemed to be saying, “you need a citation for that.” Once, in frustration, I asked if I needed a citation to say the sky was blue. My professor, with a straight face, said, “it would help.”
And yet, immersing yourself in the sheer quantity of human thought (even though you’ll never manage to absorb more than a fraction of it) teaches you to ask nuanced and focused questions about the world. The favorite question of a social scientist is “why?” followed closely by “how?” and then “so what?” Asking questions has always been one of my favorite activities and graduate school gave me a question-asking arsenal.
I was in the home stretch of writing my dissertation and I was dog-tired. I hated the topic, I hated the dissertation, I had nothing interesting to say anymore, and I was so sick of citing that I thought I might tear my hair out in frustration. I have always loved reading and have been trying to write fiction for most of my life (though that’s a story for another post). My brain needed an escape and it found one in a whole new set of questions that didn’t need a single citation.
What if demons were real? What kind of demons? Horned denizens of hell? Vengeful spirits of the dead? Evil creatures that torment people? Numerous cultures have examples of creatures that threaten, bedevil, and tempt. Some are beautiful and some have horns. Some come from other realms and some are created by human error or arrogance. What explanation could make the myths of the demons across the world semi-cohesive? Good god, what if demons were really real?
My brain spit out answers so fast it was like a fever. For every answer I could come up with, a dozen new questions popped up and then I was writing like a woman possessed. When I don’t know how to answer the question, I make up an answer. All it has to do is make sense within the framework I’ve already laid out. I swear, every time I do that, a part of my brain howls in triumph. Fuck you, Academia, and your stupid little citations too! HAHAHAHA!
Every writer has to answer these kinds of questions (i.e. do world building and character development), but how they go about asking and answering reflects their own process of writing what they know. For me, writing what I know is about the asking the questions my career path trained me to ask in the fantasy worlds I’ve been visiting since I was little.
Below, I’ve included descriptions for Bitten (Book 1) and Addicted (Book 2) as well as links to my personal webpage and Smashwords. The Amazon link is for Bitten (which is free). You can also download the books at Barnes and Noble.
“There is another world touching ours that is filled with demons or, at least, that’s what we call them. They call themselves something else entirely, though that is neither here nor there. Every now and again, human beings manage to pull these demons through to our side. The human dies, of course, and the demon gets a person shaped suit to live in. We call these creatures the demonridden.”
Since the end of the Great Demon War, Silas has done his best to teach the newly bitten how to harness their abilities and do as little harm as possible. After nearly two centuries, however, Silas is starting to feel like he’s fraying around the edges. He can only hope that the magic that binds him and honor will be enough to keep him one step ahead of those who would see him fail.