Today I'm excited to share the blog with author Kevin Harkness who's stopping by to talk about his new YA fantasy novel, City of Demons. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Kevin!
THE SPARK, THE SMILE, THE WORK
There’s a scene in a movie, Topsy Turvy, that captures my favourite part of writing. Jim Broadbent, playing the nineteenth-century writer of light opera, W.S. Gilbert, is playing with a sword he bought at a Japanese exhibition. He swings the sword back and forth, pauses, then a small smile appears, and in his eyes you can see the birth of The Mikado.
That is the best part of writing. When you have it, in that moment, you are Gilbert - and you are Mozart, Gaugin, and Einstein too. You are genius.
Granted, the feeling doesn’t last, because now you have to remake that concept using words. This was no problem for Gilbert. He seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of lunatic humor under his Victorian tweed – the scene in which Broadbent does a straight-faced reading of The Mikado’s silliness for his partner-composer Sullivan is worth the price of the DVD alone. Most of us, however, struggle to give some form to our grand ideas.
My YA fantasy novel, City of Demons, started with two such ideas. The first was from a memory of my own childhood. I was five years old, and something bad lived in my closet. I’m sure this was a common problem, perhaps even a cliché for five-year olds across Canada, but it seemed very important and personal to me. One day, after many weeks of almost, I opened the closet door. That may have been the bravest thing I have ever done or will do. It led my adult self to think, who is more courageous, those who fight or those who fear – and if a monster's main weapon is fear, who is better suited to fight it?
The second grand idea was born in magic, or more specifically a Magic, The Gathering card. I was a teacher in a Richmond, B.C. high school at the time, and these were all the rage among the Grade Eight and Nine boys. One such card was left in the class, and I put it on the corner of my desk, where it sat unclaimed. Before class one morning I was examining it. The card showed a wide expanse of prairie. Golden grass swayed and grey clouds scudded over a distant horizon. I began to wonder, who would cross such a plain. Where were they going, and in what company? Did they travel by choice or necessity? My first grand idea about fear poked its nose in to have a look.
I smiled, and City of Demons was born.
Or at least conceived. The pregnancy was difficult and the creature presented at birth needed a lot of reconstructive surgery, but the concept kept me going. With the help of wise and patient reading friends, I improved my writing, learned plotting and pacing, and even some lunatic humor. I still can’t read my own prose without wanting to fix it, but maybe Gilbert felt the same way.
And now for my point.
Don’t give up on a concept. Work at it. Rewrite it. Edit, polish, add, cut – do whatever it takes. You may never publish - I collected a fine set of rejections before Tyche Books saw something in my novel – but keep working. That idea gave you one of the best moments of your life. You owe it some sweat.
Perfectly stated Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us how City of Demons came to be! More information on Kevin and his books can be found here:
Tyche Books Buy Link
Amazon Buy Link
CITY OF DEMONS
Demons are invading the Midlands for the first time in centuries.
The farmers have no defences against the murderous creatures. Swords in the hands of ordinary soliders have no effect against demons, for the ability to resist a demon's power - a projection of paralyzing fear - cannot be taught.
Garet's life is forever changed the night his midlands family is attacked. Demonstrating a rare talent for resisting demon fear, Garet is taken to the city of Shirath to become a Demonbane: one who can withstand the demons' psychic assault, trained in combat, and learned in demon lore.
But the ancient city isn't a safe haven, it's a death trap. While opposing political forces vie for the throne, a new demon terrorizes the citizens. To save Shirath, Garet must find friends and allies quickly, because the biggest treat to the city isn't the demons, but the people living within the city's walls.