Never Dead Enough
And Some Thoughts on Development of
The Dead Among Us
Posted on September 8, 2016 by Jim
A few days ago SFFWorld.com hosted the cover reveal for my new book Never Dead Enough, book 3 in my urban fantasy series The Dead Among Us. NDE will shortly be available for preorder on Amazon, with final release and availability for download on February 1st. For the reveal I provided some thoughts on the development of the series, which I thought I'd repeat here, along with a few additional comments.
The inspiration for The Dead Among Us did not come in a sudden flash of insight. I'd been writing traditional fantasy and hard science fiction for years, and I was ready to try something different, something in an urban fantasy style. I began with the concept that wizards, witches, demons, and all the denizens of Faerie, are living among us, but hidden in plain sight, with we mundane mortals completely ignorant of their presence. One goal I set for myself was to write something that would be a fun read, though not a comedy.
I did a fair amount of research into Irish, English, Scottish and Celtic folklore, and into demonology as it is depicted in various religions and cultures. That provided the inspiration to develop my own spin on the supernatural, which evolved into the Three Realms: the Netherworld, the Mortal Plane, and Faerie.
In Faerie I adopted the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Scottish folklore, though King Ag and Queen Magreth are my own fictitious characters. The non-aligned fey, the assassin Sabreatha of the black fey, and the whole concept of Leprechauns as neutral arbitrators in the constant strife between the Faerie Courts, are inventions of my own twisted mind. I must admit I had fun with Leprechaun's names like Jim'Jiminie, Boo'Diddle and Dan'Dandio. And they provided a nice counterpoint to the more serious moments.
I populated the Netherworld with a cast structure of demons. At the bottom are non-caste demons like imps, succubuses and incubuses. Next are Tertuis cast, weak-willed creatures that, if physically manifest on the Mortal Plane, will invariably feed on mortal souls with uncontrolled abandon. That draws the attention of mortal wizards, and the Tertius is hunted down and annihilated rather quickly. A Secundus cast is stronger, will feed carefully, and with caution, might reside on the Mortal Plane for centuries. The most dangerous of all are the Primus caste, basically the nine princes of hell. The last time a Primus manifested on the Mortal Plane, the Roman Empire fell, and civilization plunged into the dark ages.
Enter the hero and heroine, Paul Conklin and Katherine McGowan, both thirtyish. In the 1st book Paul is a wizard, but doesn't know it and is completely ignorant of wizardly ways. When he spontaneously produces a powerful conjuration, he finds himself in a lot of trouble with dominant senior wizards like Katherine's father, Walter McGowan, and Vasily Karpov and his Russian thugs. While everyone else is trying to join the kill-Paul party, Katherine takes his side, teaching him about magic as they try to survive.
In the 3rd book I introduce Madge, the potty-mouth cat. Tilda, our little black-and-white cat, was the inspiration for Natasha in the short story Natasha Knows. In turn, Natasha was the inspiration for Madge in this story. Madge got her talkativeness from Tilda who is frequently quite vocal, though Tilda is not a potty-mouth. However, she is often very direct and outspoken. Tilda was also the model who posed for both the cover on this book, and the short story Natasha Knows.
I had a lot of fun with this story.