They say that behind every down-and-out, demon-possessed P.I. stands a great author. In Ethan Banning’s case, that author is Naomi Clark. The Cambridge, England based author has written more than ten books, mostly in the urban fantasy genre. Our head reviewer, Alexis Arendt, was lucky enough to get her to answer some burning questions about the series, and writing in general.
Ethan Banning was a supporting character in Afterlife. What made you decide to give him a book of his own with Demonized?
I just fell in love with him. He took over every scene he was in, and he was a joy to write. He could have all the witty one-liners and sly jokes in Afterlife. I knew I wanted to spend more time with him, so giving him a novella to see what happened to him after the events of Afterlife wasn’t a hard decision! In Demonized, when we’re inside his head as opposed to seeing him from Yasmin’s point of view, it’s clear there’s more to him than one-liners and terrible humour, and that was fun and challenging to explore.
Ethan has a pretty tough life. Is it hard to write about all the bad things that happen to him?
Oh yes. Some of the scenes in Demonized really bothered me to write, and I considered cutting a few of them. But in the end I felt it would have been a disservice to the reader to gloss over the bad stuff. I think Ethan’s story needs to go to these dark places – anything less wouldn’t be telling his whole story.
I’m curious about what happens to Yasmin at the end of Afterlife. Are there any plans for a sequel?
I’ve got about a quarter of a sequel called Halflife, set about six weeks after the end of Afterlife. It’s on hold at the moment though; I want to make Ethan my primary focus this year! But Yasmin’s story does and will continue, and hopefully it won’t be long before everyone can see what she gets up to next. I love Shoregrave and I’m looking forward to going back there. Hopefully readers will too!
The majority of your books are published through small press. What made you decide to choose small press publication, and it is a route you would recommend for other authors?
I think you can take more risks with small presses. Books that wouldn’t necessarily find an audience through traditional publishing have a chance to find one through e-publishing and small presses. That’s not to say I haven’t been down the agent/traditional publisher route, and it’s still something I would love to return to when I have the right story. But really, I think there are benefits to every form of publishing, from self-publishing to traditional, and I would never rule out any of them. It’s a matter of what you want as a writer, what your strengths are, and what works for you.
What authors do you turn to for inspiration or as role models?
I’ve been massively inspired by urban fantasy authors like Caitlin Kittredge and Stacia Kane, who are writing very different UF books and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Recently I’ve discovered some great indie authors too, like LM Pruitt and Shea MacLeod, who again are writing stories that are a bit outside the box and having great success. I think that’s really encouraging. It shows that you don’t have to stick to conventions to be widely read and appreciated, which I think is very important!
I’m heavily influenced by HP Lovecraft and MR James, as well as Dante’s Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise Lost. I love the themes they explored – heaven and hell, redemption and sin, the supernatural and how it interacts with the mundane world. I think you probably see that in the Shoregrave world!
Can you offer any tips for aspiring authors?
Please keep reading and writing. One is just as important as the other! Find a good critique group or beta reader – no writer should exist in a vacuum. And research when you’re ready to publish – there are more options for writers than ever, and whilst I believe all of them are equally valid, they’re not necessarily all equally right for you. But don’t be afraid to experiment!
What’s up next for Ethan? Is there any chance he’ll eventually catch a break?
I’m hoping his next adventure, Undertow, will be published this year. I have plans for three more books after that, and I do want to give him a happy ending…eventually. There’s a long hard road for him to walk first, though! But he deserves a bit of good luck, so in the next book, I will give him a tiny, tiny break. Maybe.
What’s your favorite Ethan Banning quote?
Oh, there are so many! I think it’s this one from Undertow:
“I don’t want to kill myself.” I sounded pretty unconvincing.
“Then don’t cut yourself,” he replied. He swiped an antiseptic wipe across my wrist. I hissed at the sting, but it was a good pain, a clean pain. “How do you feel?”
“Like a Johnny Cash song.”
(I’m a big Johnny Cash fan – I was determined to work a reference to him into a book somewhere!)
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