by Jeannette Kirchner
SNHU graduate student, Patrick Donovan, is a self-proclaimed nerd in addition to being a father, student and writer. He talked with us about his new urban fantasy book, “Demon Jack,” published by Fable Press.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
About me? Honestly, I’m not really that cool. I’m kind of a nerd. Ok, I’m a total nerd. I still play freaking DND (Dungeons and Dragons RPG) and stuff like that, which probably explains why I’ve been single for a hot minute. I guess as far as specifics go, I’m a father, I’m a student, I’m a guy who writes–that’s really all there is to it. I want to tell a story that takes someone outta their crap day and makes them forget the world for a bit. It’s why I do what I do.
How did your interest in writing come about?
I don’t think it really came about. It was kind of always there. When I was a kid, my mom would give me brown paper grocery bags cut down the side so that they folded out into one big sheet of paper, and I’d draw my stories on them. That’s before I really knew how to write. I was super young.
Do you have a specific writing style? How would you categorize it?
Style, not really. Honestly, I just try to tell a story that people will dig. I mean, Jim Butcher, who’s a huge influence on me, when he writes it’s almost like Harry Dresden is sitting down with you and having a beer. You start feeling like he’s telling you his story, not that you’re reading it. I really like that vibe, but I don’t try to copy it.
What inspired you to write this first book, “Demon Jack”?
The idea for Jack as a character came from a lot of different places. I remember a big part of it. I was watching some police procedural show on TV, and they had this homeless guy talking to God or something, and I had this thought go through my head. “What if he’s really talking to someone, and it’s not who he thinks.” After that, I threw in some old punk rock and Jack just sort of…came about. So, I guess I was inspired by The Clash and Law and Order, which is just weird now that I think about it.
What is “Demon Jack” about?
Jack is kind of a twofold story. The blurb I wrote for it goes something along the lines of this:
Fifteen years ago, Jack died and was presented with a simple choice. Stay dead and go to Hell, or sell his soul to a demon and keep living. Now, a few years out of prison and living on the streets of Boston, Jack is perfectly content to keep a low profile, to avoid all the bad things he did in the past, and be a nobody.
It’s all working out until the only person he considers a friend turns on him, possessed by something far worse than the demon holding the contract to Jack’s soul. Now, he’s been recruited by an ancient order with roots in the Inquisition to hunt down whatever it is that’s turning Boston’s homeless into ravenous killers. At the same time, someone from his past with a massive vendetta and nothing in the way of conscience is looking for Jack, hoping to issue a little payback of his own.
Paired with a centuries-old witch and the only person to survive the rampage thus far, Jack is in a race to track down whatever it is that’s killing his people, all while staying one step ahead of his own brutal past.
Under that thought, I wanted to take a very, very flawed man–someone who’s just morally weak, selfish, and just an all around not good person–and walk them back towards something positive over the course of a series. That I think is sort of the underlying aspect to it. It’s not just about the monsters and Jack; it’s about finding your way back to the light after you’ve been to some really dark places. It’s something that I’m going to be stretching out and running with the more I go through and write it out into what I hope ends up being a series.
What genre does “Demon Jack” fall into?
Jack falls into the urban fantasy genre. I’ve also heard horror, action, occult, and supernatural as genres, too.
Is this your favorite theme/ genre to write about?
I’ll answer both fronts of this question. My favorite theme, honestly, is redemption. I love the idea of taking someone flawed, someone way on the outside, and having them come into the fold, find their way back to something a little better, a little, for lack of a better term, warmer. As far as genre, I love love love fantasy, especially contemporary and urban fantasy. The world can be such a downer sometimes. It’s fun to think about what it would be like if there was a little magic left in it, if the good guy did win once in a while.
What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?
The most difficult thing, honestly, was after it was finished. I’d just created this whole 70 some odd thousand-word opus, and I wanted to put it out for the world to see. There’s a lot of fear with that. It’s like sending your kid to school on the first day of kindergarten. I felt like I had something, so I started querying agents. Then the rejections came, and then more rejections. That was the hardest part–being told “Hey, you’re not good enough for here.” It’s all subjective, yes, but you start thinking, “If these people don’t like it, will anyone?” Then someone tells you, “Hey, I do want this,” and you get this indescribable feeling of elation like you made it to the dance.
Since this is your first time with traditional publishing, could you describe what that’s like and give some pointers to new writers?
Honestly, it’s been pretty surreal. The folks at Fable Press have been really cool about the whole thing, because yeah, I managed to write a novel, but I have no clue after that. Promoting it, cover art, all of that was just way beyond me in a lot of regards, so they’ve been handling a good portion of the hand holding involved there. Promoting the novel that falls a lot on the author. So, in regards to advice definitely, definitely, start getting an idea together of where you’re going to go with it. Getting it published, that’s your ticket to the dance. Promoting it though, that’s walking up to the cute girl and asking her to dance, you know? You gotta make her want to hit the floor with you and take a spin. Develop a thick skin. I have a stack of something like fifty rejections, but eventually, you push hard enough, and one of those girls is gonna give you a chance. As far as other advice, read everything–technical manuals, and newspapers, whatever. Read as many words a day as you write, if not more. Finally, don’t forget who supported you. That’s a big one for me; there were so many people who told me I could do this when the people I wanted to impress were saying I couldn’t. I can’t thank them enough, because if they hadn’t backed me up I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this.
As a special treat, read a sample of Demon Jack.
“Demon Jack” is now available in the Amazon Marketplace, visit here.