I’m Writing About Demons

Greetings, my dears! For my next trick, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my current work-in-progress (WIP). Earlier this week, I mentioned that I’m writing a paranormal fantasy novel. It is, as yet, untitled, so I’m bringing my formidable, literary creative powers to bear upon the title challenge and calling this book Demons 3. Boo-yah.

“So, O Most Formidably Literary Creative One,” you might be thinking, “what does the numeral 3 denote in the title of your work-in-progress?”

Saltmarch, Where The Demons Live

Ahh, my dear Questioning Ones, I am so glad you asked. The “3” in Demons 3 denotes the fact that this WIP is the third in a trilogy I am, thus far, calling “Demons of Saltmarch.” This trilogy consists of:

  • Colors of Deception (projected publishing date: June/July 2011)
  • Shadows After Midnight

and, of course,

  • Demons 3.

The Saltmarch trilogy (hmm…maybe that should be Saltmarch Trilogy — and here you’re witnessing how a writer revises aspects of her work even as she discusses it) had its genesis in vacuuming and vivid dreaming. One night in early 2008, I dreamed that I was standing in the center of a grated bridge. Facing me at one end of the bridge was this human-shaped figure with its jaw unhinged like a snake’s. A ring of darkness came out of its mouth and spread out toward me. Terrified, I knew that the ring should not touch me. I ended up on my hands and knees, scrambling to get away.

But in dreams, we never can get away, can we?

The dark ring engulfed me, and the whole world turned the “color” of TV static. I blinked and was in a different place, surrounded by people who didn’t quite look like people. Somehow, I knew they were demons. They’d used their powers to make this place look like my childhood home. But even though it looked familiar, I knew there was something wrong with it. I knew it wasn’t real. And I knew that the demons called it “Saltmarch.” Then, the dream ended.

Now, some people would have awakened from that dream and felt residual fear and confusion the rest of the day. They would have called it a nightmare and shuddered whilst relating it to friends over mid-morning coffee. Me? I got all excited, wrote it down, and decided it would make a great fantasy novel. If only I could come up with characters for it.

Fast-forward a few months, and I’m vacuuming my hallway, lamenting to myself that I can’t hear my favorite INXS CD over the jarring noise from this behemoth of a dust-sucking apparatus I’m shoving around my home. And, out of nowhere, the thought pops into my head:

What if one of the demons is obsessed with the music of INXS?

I don’t know how these things work. I don’t know why INXS triggered the beginnings of a character description for a character in a story that consisted of nothing but a rather odd dream sequence. All I know is that two months later, during NaNoWriMo 2008, a whole story came pouring out of me, and that dream sequence turned into one of the last scenes leading up to the climax.

That story became Colors of Deception, and it revolves around a young lady named Holly Idaho. Holly’s a sophomore at a Christian university. She’s got her problems: boy issues, tension with her girlfriends, doubts about her faith, an intense crush on the new music teacher, too much homework. Pretty standard stuff for a college student, right?

Until the demon with the INXS obsession shows up. And, as far as Holly is concerned, all hell breaks loose.

Colors of Deception is Holly’s story: how she deals with doubt, terror, love, lust, betrayal, and forgiveness. Her story is filled with the bizarre and the ordinary — a tale I hope will both fascinate readers and connect with them on a basic, I-know-how-that-feels level.

Shadows After Midnight picks up a few months after Colors ends. This second book in the trilogy is the story of Peter Townsend, who is Holly’s somewhat antisocial friend and doesn’t know that he shares a name with several famous people (and wouldn’t care, even if he did know). I won’t tell you much about Peter, because it would give away too much of the first book. But suffice it to say that Peter has a lot of arrogance to get out of his system (oh my word the boy’s got an ego, but I love him!)…and the demon who shows up to plague him has just the tricks to get him to make a mess he can’t clean up on his own.

The unfortunately untitled Demons 3 tells the story of Anne Waylock, another of Holly’s close friends. I feel like a mother hen playing favorites among her baby chicks…but I almost want to say that Anne is my favorite of the three. She’s snarky, unapologetically obnoxious, borderline blasphemous, and deeply, heart-breakingly sensitive. Her external challenges seem more threatening than those Holly and Peter face in their stories — and her internal challenges are far more subtle. I think. I’m not even through Draft 1 of her story yet, so I’m still getting to know her. There are aspects of her that haven’t crystallized yet.

So, that’s my paranormal fantasy trilogy in a shelle du nut. When I talk to people about it, I refer to it as “young adult (YA) paranormal,” but in some ways, I feel this is misleading. No, it’s not “adult” fiction, but if I had kids, I’m not sure I’d want my kids under age 15 to read it. On the other hand, I’m hoping the books will appeal to the wide audience of adults out there who’ve been devouring so much YA fiction over the past decade or so. (Some of you are reading this. 😉 )

Either way, I am so excited to get these books into the hands of readers, I can hardly stand it!

15 thoughts on “I’m Writing About Demons

  1. Court,

    I really enjoyed reading the full description of the series. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this much detail from you before. It makes me anticipate reading “Colors of Deception” all the more!

    And I’m not typically a YA fan, but I’ll keep your target audience in mind when reading and let you know what I think about age range when I’m done.

    • Ooooh, thanks, Becca! Obviously, I’m glad when genre-fans read my stuff…but it’s it’s just as valuable to me when non-genre-fans read it and give feedback. It’s such a great way to get a different perspective and identify the places where I need to clarify my writing and not lean on genre conventions. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you have to tell me!

      • Josh Unruh says:

        This won’t shock you, but I say lean on genre conventions until they snap under the weight like twigs! Most of them are the literary version of titanium, the can take it!

        • Haha, agreed, Josh! They wouldn’t be conventions if they were wimpy. But what do you think about the danger of leaning on convention until it becomes cliche? Is there a danger of that? Is there even a connection between convention and cliche?

  2. Josh Unruh says:

    So I’ve got this story, it’s a novel now, has one written sequel and another in my head, that got started when creating a character for a roleplaying game crossed paths with the song Ghost Riders in the Sky and my usual desire to do genre mash ups. It’s a Western where the cowboy has to save his friend’s soul from the Devil with a golden gun made from relics. There’s also an immortal bandito in it. In other words, I think I can relate.

  3. Kay Weger says:

    It scares me to know your mind works this way. So many of your plots develop from dreams; no wonder you are often so tired. But I did enjoy your blog and, even more, the novels. So glad I get looks in advance. Happy writing!!

    • Thank you, Mama! And thank you for commenting — you made my day. 🙂 I, too, am glad that you get to see all the novels in advance. I couldn’t ask for a better beta reader! I’m sorry my mind scares you, but you know I can’t take full responsibility for how I turned out. 😉

      (And yeah, I’m tired a lot…but it’s worth it!)

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Courtney Cantrell, Courtney Cantrell. Courtney Cantrell said: Today on my blog: How dreams & vacuuming turned into my work-in-progress! http://bit.ly/gMXrPq #SHINEonline #blogging […]

  5. Robert Goodrick says:

    Your character is “…snarky, unapologetically obnoxious, borderline blasphemous, and deeply, heart-breakingly sensitive.” Sounds like a couple of people from class. I love it! I’m excited to read them.

    • Ha! Yes, I suspect my subconscious channels the memories of fellow students quite often when I write! It’s great. 🙂 And thanks, Robert, for being excited with me! I hope the books live up to expectations!

  6. Aaron Pogue says:

    Those were some excellent descriptions of your book, Courtney! It really makes me want to read them.

  7. […] Once upon a time, dear inklings, I told you the story of how my Demons of Saltmarch came into being. […]

  8. Palabra says:

    I’m a fellow writer who is embarking on a story about demons, myself. Do you have any advice on where to find research material on the subject? So far, I find a lot of Latin primary sources and a lot of paranoid rambling.

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