Danielle DeVor is the author of, amongst other things, The Marker Chronicles. I first read Sorrow’s Point, the first book in the series, the night before Halloween. It wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever done. The book itself isn’t exactly terrifying, but the atmosphere was fantastic, and her wonderful story-telling plus my over-active imagination meant I stayed up way too late finishing the book. I couldn’t go to sleep until I knew what happened to Lucy. So, I raved about it after I was done, connected with her, and basically spent the next year whining and begging to know when I could read the next book. She put up with my fangirling admirably, and a few days ago, I published my review of Sorrow’s Edge, second book in the Marker Chronicles. Now, you get to get inside her head with me! Thanks again, Danielle!
Author Interview: Danielle DeVor
S&S: Women writing horror is a fairly rare thing (at least those who get noticed). Do you feel like you faced any resistance when you began trying to get your work published because of the fact that you’re a female writing horror?
Danielle DeVor (DD): To be honest, I don’t know. It wasn’t like when I was submitting Sorrow’s Point that I noticed a bunch of exorcism books come out after me. I did get comments from a few literary agents that commented, “That type of book scares the crap out of me, so I can’t represent it.” It was really kind of funny.
S&S: That’s fascinating, actually. I think if I was an agent and got a book that scared me, I’d be like “Ooh yes, let’s do this!”
S&S: Books and Movies – What was the first horror book you read that made an impression on you? What about the first movie?
DD: Book: Meet the Vampire by Georgess McHargue – it is actually a folklore book and I am a total vampire nerd. I used to make my father read this book to me over and over when I was 3.
Movie: Probably, The Shining with Jack Nicholson. While it certainly wasn’t the first horror film I saw (My father used to stay up late with me on Saturday nights and watch the horror host out of Pittsburgh, Chilly Billy.), but it was the first one that I became obsessed with. I loved it that the child’s name was Danny and would imagine myself in his place. For a long time, the shut-down sound on my computer was the two twins saying, “Come and play with us, Danny. Forever, and ever, and ever.” Of course, my nickname is spelled Dani, but it was close enough. LOL
S&S: Do you have any taboos when it comes to writing horror?
DD: Sex. Kind of funny that most horror films feature sex as a huge component, but I want the horror to be about the horror. If I wanted sex to be a huge component, I would write erotica.
S&S: Yeah, it does seem like people think if we want to be scared, we also want to see two people going at it like the world’s going to end tomorrow. I appreciate those occasionally, but I also love to get my hands on a nice clean horror.
S&S:Do any of your stories ever come from nightmares or dreams that you’ve had?
DD: Many of my short stories do. The Shroud, Crabs, and then there are scenes in the books that come from dreams. And, I have lots of scraps of paper where I’ve scribbled down the good things from dreams. So, there will probably be more.
S&S: You have such interesting dreams! The last thing I dreamed was that my partner quit his job with a state agency to go work at Dairy Queen. *sigh* I guess that’s a nightmare in its own right, but still.
S&S:Could you explain for curious readers and other authors why you decided to re-release The Marker Chronicles? Is there anything changed in the new versions released?
DD: The first publisher Crescent Moon Press went out of business (a common issue with small presses.) So, I wanted to complete Jimmy’s story. Instead of letting the books rot, I found City Owl Press and the story will continue through the planned 5 book arc. The new versions are extensively edited. While the story is the same, scenes are added and bits of dialogue are refined. Jimmy isn’t quite as snarky to Tor in Sorrow’s Point in the new edition compared to the old one. A lot of people didn’t like Jimmy’s snarkiness.
S&S: How did the idea for the Marker Chronicles start? How long did it take the idea of Jimmy/Tabby/Lucy trio to form?
DD: I honestly had no idea I would end up with a series, let alone a book. It all started having a conversation with my cousin about how hard it is to find original horror films these days when the norm is to remake everything. And, I ranted about how easy it was to come up with a setting. Evil black house, a child murderer, cop coming to discover man gnawing on the leg of a dead child. Those three thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone. Suddenly, I started thinking about what would happen to people who moved into that house later on. Would the evil still stick around like the Barlow house in Salem’s Lot?
Originally, when I tried to write the book, it started out from Will’s POV. He was a bartender talking to a patron about evil. But, it just didn’t work. And, then it popped into my head—What if The Exorcist was written from the Priest’s POV? That was the beginning of Jimmy. Tabby came along when it popped into my head the reason for Jimmy leaving the church. (Seeing a trend here? I am a true pantser. LOL.) Lucy, well, she was originally supposed to die at the end of Sorrow’s Point. But, the original publisher didn’t want a child death in the book because I guess people freak out about that sort of thing. (You see it a lot in horror films, but people have issues with it in books. Usually people who are not horror fans.) At any rate, so the book was changed that Lucy would still have the horrific attack, and her body would be in a sort of Purgatory. A more hellish result, IMO.
S&S: Whilst I think Lucy dying would have bothered me a little bit, I actually loved the ending you had. Not because of the fact that she didn’t die, but just the idea of her lingering around with Jimmy was so different from what I was expecting!
S&S: Sorrow’s Edge is a very different book from Sorrow’s Point. I know from our conversations that this was deliberate. Would you mind telling us why?
DD: When writing about an exorcist, you don’t want every story to be a carbon copy of the last. Especially when sequels notoriously are not as good as the original. So, trying to avoid that problem, when I decided the Marker Chronicles were going to be The Marker Chronicles, I set out to write a series that dealt with exorcism and Jimmy, but every situation would be different. That way, hopefully, the reader would stay entertained.
S&S:If a Hollywood exec came to you and said they’d love to make some films about The Marker Chronicles, but only if they could change Tabby’s character dramatically – would you let them do it?
DD: No. Tabby is not meant to be a Hollywood starlet. Not to say that she isn’t pretty, but she isn’t a size “0” 20-year-old. It would look ridiculous next to Jimmy and be completely unbelievable.
S&S: It’s funny how people’s minds work differently. When I wrote this question, I wasn’t even thinking about her appearance! I was actually thinking “What if they made her a little less ‘witchy’ or a little bit less bold?”
S&S: You’ve stated that Jimmy is your favorite character of all that you’ve written. Why?
DD: His personality is a combination of me and my father. Literally, half the crazy things that comes out of Jimmy’s mouth have come from my father’s mouth at one time or another. I keep a notebook nearby when he starts ranting. It is hilarious.
S&S: Your dad sounds awesome.
S&S:What was the hardest part of writing Sorrow’s Edge?
DD: Doing the research into Tombstone. Ironically. I am not a Western fan, but my father was talking about how cool it would be to live in Tombstone or Truth and Consequences, New Mexico. And I laughed, thinking about Jimmy in either of those places.
S&S: Who would you recommend Sorrow’s Edge/ The Marker Chronicles for? Especially as the 2nd book, being so different, doesn’t really follow the typical formulae that people looking for possession horror normally enjoy.
DD: I don’t consider Sorrow’s Point a “possession horror” book. I consider it an “exorcist” book. There is a pretty unique distinction there. Because the stories revolve around Jimmy, there are different possibilities when dealing with who or what he will have to exorcise and how he feels about that. Imagine exorcising a dead body? Fans of Paul Tremblay would likely really enjoy The Marker Chronicles.
S&S: Yes, you’re right. It really is more of an ‘exorcist’ book. This is an area I have difficulty with, figuring out how to slot books that don’t easily fit into a typical genre. I think it came across more scary to me because of the situation I read it in. Regardless, it was a great read!
S&S:When will Sorrow’s Turn, the next book in The Marker Chronicles, be re-released? Are you going to make us wait another year?
DD: Sorrow’s Turn was never released by the first publisher. So, it will be the first story in The Marker Chronicles that was not published before. Right now, the plan is to release it sometime Spring 2017.
S&S: Well…I’ll give you a month’s respite before I start begging for a review copy then.
Uncovering The Truth…Will Take An Exorcist
Jimmy Holiday, defrocked priest turned exorcist, is trying to get his life in order. With his on-again off-again witchy girlfriend moving in, the spirit of the little girl from his last exorcism hanging around, and a secret organization of exorcists hounding him, Jimmy equals stressed.
When a stranger calls in the middle of the night asking for help with a possession, Jimmy is about to land in a mess of trouble. Especially since the man on the phone claims to have gotten his number from Jimmy’s old mentor. Too bad his mentor has been dead for years.
After a mysterious silver flask arrives at his doorstep, Jimmy is left with two options: either ignore the newest enigma the universe has tossed him, or listen to Lucy and travel to Arizona to solve the mystery before all hell breaks loose…again.