Today I am very excited to bring you an author that really started me on the path of trying to find new authors who were on the darker side of the paranormal genre,
Please Welcome DAKOTA BANKS to Blood Rose Books today!
You began your writing within the suspense thrillers with a virtual reality science fiction aspect to them and you state you felt hemmed in by reality. Why did you feel hemmed in even by the science fiction genre?
My suspense thrillers (the PJ Gray series by Shirley Kennett, my real name) were intended to give readers a view into the developing world of forensic computer simulation. An elementary example would be a vehicle accident recreation shown in 2D or a 3D rendering on a flat screen. The cars approach the corner, the blue car runs the stoplight, and boom. That’s known as looking through the window virtual reality, meaning the viewer is outside the action and the cars aren’t seen at full size, just two inches long on the screen. In the PJ Gray books I used immersive virtual reality so the viewer becomes an actor in the scene (by wearing special glasses), can manipulate things, and the surroundings appear life-sized. I also enhanced the VR with artificial intelligence, so the computer could run through a homicide simulation using its best guess about how the crime was committed. All of this is what hard science fiction means to me: extrapolating current trends and technology and then looking at the effects on society. But I still kept things feasible and grounded in reality, even if it’s the reality of the near future.
Then I became intrigued with writing about phenomena that puzzle us now for which there may be no scientific explanations in the future, either because humans are flat-out making this stuff up or because we can’t wrap our minds around them. Examples: remote viewing, seeing auras, the gods and demons of ancient mythologies affecting our lives. That last one was the seed for the Mortal Path books.
I think horror is truly difficult to write. The Mortal Path books have elements of horror in them, but building an entire book around horror and sustaining the feeling in the reader for more than brief scenes would be tough. I don’t mean slash and splash that is a pale imitation of horror. Anybody could do that.
The paranormal genre has grown within the past 5 years, what do you think it is about your books that have helped them stand out from other authors?
The paranormal genre has come to be almost synonymous with stories about vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, witches, ghosts, and the occasional zombie—especially vampires and werewolves. The Mortal Path books don’t have any of those characters, so they’re bucking the trend. Instead, the stories are based on ancient Sumerian legends come to life. A three-hundred-year-old woman used to be a Sumerian demon’s assassin, but now she’s into redeeming her soul by saving lives instead of taking them. I worried at first if I would find a publisher willing to take a chance on the series, but the HarperCollins’ Voyager imprint was eager to take it on and promote it as a fresh twist on the urban fantasy series.
There are various type of “Monsters” within the paranormal genre, why did you choose to focus on Demons and their Ageless Servants?
The demons I use are the Utukki, straight from Sumerian mythology, with cool names like Rabishu (Croucher), Tirid (Expulsion), and Sidana (Staggers). These demons were tasked with causing chaos, death, diseases, and general evil-run-amuck among humans. I’ve done a lot of research so that my stories fit neatly with the legends but allow me a departure point. The Ageless are my invention. They’re humans who’ve made deals to follow demonic orders (chaos, etc.) in exchange for immortality. This lets me explore evil and redemption outside the usual Judeo-Christian mindset, which means anything goes. So now we’re back to putting things in the stories that aren’t even vaguely grounded in reality. Fun! What’s a sparkly vampire compared to the Demon Rabishu?
The premise of your Mortal Path series is about redemption, what appealed to you about a redemption story?
I wanted to work with a character who was initially good, then became sucked in by evil and gloried in it. She stays young and beautiful, and lives a decadent life, by being a demon’s assassin, always furthering his evil plans. Could I take a reprehensible person like that and convincingly transform her into a seeker of justice and a saver of souls, including her own? Someone worthy of deep
friendship and love? Someone the reader would root for? My character, Maliha Crayne, is a work in progress who can sometimes alienate and go down the wrong path, but readers seem caught up in her quest, as am I.
I know I am interested in learning and exploring more of the Demon world you have created, are we going to see more of Rabishu in the next novel as well as more of the hierarchy of the Demon world?
Absolutely. As more Ageless are introduced, we see the demons they serve, and Maliha will be interacting with Ageless in every book, since she used to be one. There is also a story line that continues in every book concerning Maliha’s quest to collect artifacts that when assembled, can be used to destroy the demons. The idea in the story is that the activities of these demons over the last half a million years have stunted the advancement of the human race. If Maliha succeeds in destroying them and we’re freed—of war, disease, even death—what’s the future of humankind when we can finally express ourselves to the fullest? Okay, it’s a big idea, but this is a series. Series should have big ideas behind them.
Especially within your second book Sacrifice of your Mortal Path series, none of you characters appear to be safe, is this important aspect when writing a storyline and characters that can be hurt or killed off? Are you less attached to the characters because of this?
In the third book, Deliverance, this mortal fear is even more prominent. I don’t think any of the series characters are or should be safe, because of the dark nature of the battle for redemption. I’ve never promised that Maliha will succeed in saving her soul, or in the grand idea of killing off the demons. The odds were stacked against her from the start, and as she ages more and more of the abilities she enjoyed as an Ageless slip away from her. She’s going to have to work for every inch of progress. The friends she’s gathered around her might not all make it to the end of the series. My problem is I’m very attached to all of them. If a character is hurt or dies in this series, you can be guaranteed my tears are already on the page by the time the book reaches you.
You have created a very interesting possible triangle between Maliha, Jake and Lucius. Are we going to see more of the two male characters in future novels?
Yes. Or No....
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Deliverance, book 3, will be released in March 2012. There’s been a delay between the publication of books 2 and 3 due to my sister’s slide into poor health and passing away. It’s hard to say it even now. She and I were very close and my writing fell by the wayside for a while. My editor was kind enough to work with me on the deadline for book 3, and I hope readers of the series will be patient.
What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
I was in the audience at the International Thriller Writers Awards Banquet in New York in July 2011. I heard J.T. Ellison speak as she accepted the Thriller Award for Best Paperback for her book The Cold Room. As I saw her overcome with genuine emotion on the stage, I felt respect flowing from one writer to another—not just from me, but from the whole audience. I have a copy of that book signed by J.T. I haven’t even read Chapter One, but I know it’s going to be great.
I want to thank you to Dakota for agreeing to be part of my Blogoversary and I cant wait to get my hands on the third book in the Mortal Path series Deliverance. If you would like to find out more about Dakota's books, check out my reviews of Dark Time and Sacrifice as well as check out Dakota Banks' Website.. Dakota has very nicely offered a one SIGNED copy (either ebook or paperback, will be winner choice) of the second book in the Mortal Path Series Sacrifice. Thank you once again Dakota.
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3. This Giveaway is Open Internationally
4. The Giveaway ENDS on October 7, 2011
5. The winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hrs to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen
6.Book provided by Dakota Banks