Friday, July 1, 2016

Interview with novelist Susan-Alia Terry

My special guest today is Susan-Alia Terry and we’re chatting about her urban fantasy, Coming Darkness.

As a child, Susan was a voracious reader of all things not sanctioned by the educational system. Comics, along with tales of ghosts, vampires, witches, and monsters, fascinated and delighted - even as they fueled her need to sleep with the light on.

As the years passed, while still content to read what was offered, she noticed a growing desire to read something a little…different. The desire continued to grow until it became apparent that the easiest way to read what she wanted was to write it first.

And so, Coming Darkness was born.

She resides in Charleston, SC with her family, and her “earthly angel” Charlie.

Please tell us about your current release.
Archangel Lucifer's spoiled life comes to a halt, as he learns that Heaven is empty, and his Father missing. Seeking answers, he’s brought face to face with a race of Creator-Gods unhappy with his Father and the world He’d created - for Order is the way of the universe and Free Will means chaos. Planning to wipe out this heresy by removing those in their way and letting Darkness reclaim the earth, they imprison Lucifer in Hell. Finding his way out will mean traveling its depths, a task fraught with despair and hopelessness.

Meanwhile, the Archangel's lover sets out to prove all his opponents wrong. But Lucifer’s influence runs deeper in Kai than he suspected, and his fear that he’s merely Lucifer’s pet becomes all too real.

What inspired you to write this book?
I always thought Lucifer was an interesting character, but his story had been told so many times. Because I like to ask “what if?” questions, I asked myself “What if Lucifer never went to Hell?” and it all fell into place from there.

Excerpt from Coming Darkness:
Lucifer sat at the bar and signaled to the bartender. Te ensured that all the staff knew to not only fulfill his requests promptly but also to never hassle him about money. The bartender, for example, knew that unless told otherwise, when signaled he should bring over a glass of Glenfarclas. The bartender placed the glass carefully in front of him and quickly walked away. Lucifer hadn't paid attention to whatever tale Te had spun about him because it didn't matter. What did was that they were afraid to make him angry, lest it get back to their boss.
He drank the scotch because he enjoyed the taste, but like the pot, it would not get him intoxicated. Taking a sip as Michael claimed the seat beside him, Lucifer ignored him and lit another clove.
“Hey, you, blondie. There's no smoking in here.”
Lucifer turned to face the young woman who spoke. She was typical for the crowd the bar attracted: young, probably mid-twenties, hip, and casual, but not a regular. They knew better than to bother him, although he did get flirted with quite a bit. She stood squarely on her fancy sandals, hands on hips, glaring at him with fierce blue eyes. He stared back, took a drag, and blew smoke out and into her face.
“That is so rude,” she said, glaring at him while waving her hand to clear the smoke.
“Why must you antagonize the humans?” Michael asked him.
“Because they're so reactionary,” Lucifer said, still watching the woman. Her two friends rallied around her, but the staff avoided her requests for help. Disgruntled, she stalked out. He was a little disappointed. She looked like the type to cause a scene.
“So? Why are you here, Michael?”
“He's right in there, officer. Smoking in a public building, breaking the law.” The young woman's voice followed the officer as he strode over to them, utility belt jangling at each step. The cop looked annoyed at being forced to deal with something so mundane but determined to do his job. Lucifer continued smoking.
When the cop reached them, Michael stood and showed him a badge. While the cop looked at the badge, Lucifer felt Michael’s gentle push. The cop instantly relaxed.
“I apologize for my suspect, Officer…”
“Officer Singleton. He's a person of interest on a case I'm working on. I bent the rules when I shouldn't have. We'll be going now.”
Lucifer scoffed. “I haven't finished my scotch.”
“Person of interest?” Although still relaxed, the cop’s eyes turned eager, more interested. “You need any help, sir?”
“Sir?” Lucifer mocked. Michael sent him a warning look.
“No, thank you, Officer. He's not dangerous; he only thinks he is.”
At that, Lucifer was tempted to play belligerent and start a fight. He and Michael hadn't fought in ages, and the idea was more and more appealing. Michael seemed to sense his intent and discreetly shook his head.
Lucifer knocked back his drink and stood. Starting a fight in front of humans, that would inevitably involve humans, would bring him all sorts of family grief he could do without. He took a drag from his cigarette, looked at Michael, and blew out the smoke. He then turned and walked towards the door.
Michael followed him outside.
“What was that badge? FBI?”
“Army Counterintelligence. It seems to play well in the South.”
“I'm sure it does. Probably as well as those stupid wings used to. But who needs wings when you can have a badge.”
“I think only Uriel hated those wings more than you did,” Raphael said, surprising Lucifer, who turned toward him. Dressed as a typical biker—leather chaps over denim, leather vest over a t-shirt, and a rough beard—Raphael leaned against the side of the building, smiling at him. His shaggy, black hair fell over brown eyes crinkling with mirth.
Lucifer smiled back, despite himself. Raphael's words elicited a wave of nostalgic camaraderie within him. Raphael laughed and nudged Gabriel, who stood nearby, to Lucifer's ongoing surprise. Gabriel twitched and drew into himself as if to avoid having his pristine, gray suit sullied by Raphael's proximity. He too wore his rust-colored hair long, and as with his brethren, his amber eyes and stunning beauty were the only things that hinted at his otherworldly origin.
The last time these three came to see him, they'd staged what could only be called an intervention. It did not end well. Lucifer hoped they had the sense not to try anything so ridiculous again. Lighting up another clove cigarette, he crossed the street, heading toward Waterfront Park.
“We’re here because we have a problem,” Michael said, coming up beside him.
“We? Since when am I a part of we?
“Since always,” said Raphael from behind him. The sidewalks in this part of town barely held two people, forcing Raphael and Gabriel to take up the rear. “It was your choice not to act on it.”
“Uh huh. So what is this problem?” Lucifer asked, stopping at the corner. A car had come up to the intersection, and he waited for it to pass before crossing.
“It would be best if we showed you,” Gabriel said.
On the other side of the street in front of the park, Lucifer stopped walking and turned toward his brothers. They appeared honestly sincere, but then for angels on the straight and narrow, that was a character trait.
“This better be worth it,” he told them.
“It is; I promise you,” Michael said.
“Then lead on.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Working on the next book in the series. A lot of what was set up in the first book gets resolved, new characters get introduced – I’m so excited!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
During a weekend workshop in grad school. We had an assignment – I don’t remember specifically what it was – but I went home and created Kai’s origin story to present the next day. It was the first time I had “written on demand” and it was then that I finally began to consider myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t have an “outside” job. I spend a fair amount of time writing in my head – slotting pieces together, creating scenes, etc. I spend 3-4 hours at a time on the work, sometimes more if the story is really loud, or if I’m approaching the ending.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I find it really hard to write to music! I know for a fact that I can’t write to anything I really like or dislike – I’m either spending way too much time singing along or grumping that the music sucks! LOL To deal with ambient noise, I’m experimenting with dubstep, which is an interesting experience. But I really prefer writing in complete silence.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be one of the Supremes. Wearing glamorous dresses and singing back up to Diana Ross looked like so much fun.


Thanks for being here today, Susan!


Mari Collier said...

Interesting interview and story concept. Good luck!

Unknown said...

Thanks Mari :-)!