Inkwell Guest: Devon Ellington on Hex Breaker
Today, I’m very pleased to host author and good friend, Devon Ellington, here at the blog. She took time out to do an interview and talk about the re-release of her novel, Hex Breaker.
Two scenes came to me before the rest of the book. One was the scene in the car, where Jain, Billy, and Nick are driving back from the location, and they get into a car chase (with surprising results). Driving back from a location myself late one night, I had a car crawling up my tailpipe for no good reason, and the scene came to me. The other early scene is the one, early in the book, where the zombie attacks the actors during a meal break. On a different set, working ridiculous hours, we were joking about feeling like zombies, and one of the actors clapped me on the shoulder and said, “Oh, I’m not worried. You’ll protect me.” I’d been playing with the character of Jain for awhile, not sure what to do with her, and this seemed like a good fit. The book when from there.
What do you like most about your heroine, Jain Lazarus? How will readers relate to her?
She’s skilled, smart, competent, tough, doesn’t take crap, and yet retains her compassion. She’s also built up a wall to protect herself from emotional pain, shut herself off from being hurt, and some fissures are starting to appear.
What do you like most about your hero, Wyatt East?
Again, he’s skilled and smart. He likes and respects women as people. He tries to do the right thing. He likes hard evidence (he’s a cop, after all), but he’s not going to pretend something doesn’t exist simply because it’s outside his realm of experience. He, too, has built up walls. How he and Jain tear down each other’s walls is a fulcrum in the series.
Since this is the Adventures of Jain Lazarus, what else do you have in store for us with this character?
The main drive is that, throughout these adventures, both Jain and Wyatt have to face the losses in their pasts and build from them. Not get over them, but integrate those losses in what they feel for each other. The paranormal is “normal” to Jain, but emotional risks aren’t anymore. The paranormal is new to Wyatt, but he’s also cut off a lot of his vulnerability after the deaths of his family. In the meantime, there’s a bigger series arc driving through the books that’s connected to Jain’s past that needs to be dealt with.
The second book, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, is from Wyatt’s POV, and deals with his search for Jain when she disappears after a romantic weekend and he’s the main suspect. It’s tied to her past. Solstice already contracted that one. The third book, CRAVE THE HUNT, alternates between Jain’s POV and Billy’s POV, mostly in Scotland, and deals with even more of Jain’s past. Solstice gets that at the end of the summer. The fourth, LOVE AND FURY, is when all the emotions Jain and Wyatt have kept walled up over the years, completely explode. That should be done late winter/early spring.
In addition, I’ll be releasing some short stories in the coming months, as free limited downloads, some dealing with Jain’s life pre-Wyatt, some that cover events in between the books. At some point next year, they’ll be collected, along with a new novella about how Jain started on this path.
The entire seven book series is in outline, which helps shape each book, and then the stories can explore things that aren’t pivotal to each book, but also are pieces of the Jain and Wyatt puzzles.
What made you want to write paranormal?
The world is a magical, fascinating place. Paranormal makes possibilities tangible.
How did you bring their world to life?
I worked in theatre, film, and television production for years. I know that world. I know actors. Zombies have never really been my thing, but they were the right choice for this book, so I researched the legends. Ghosts, tarot, paranormal – those aren’t out of my wheelhouse; I’ve been dealing with all that stuff for years. I research police procedure specific to whatever area I’m writing about. I think the best way to bring something to life is through a focused POV and layering in sensory detail.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’d probably still be working in production, on Broadway and in film and television. Of course, now that I live on Cape Cod and have a garden, I’m thinking, hmmm, might be fun to work part-time in a garden center and part-time in a bookstore! Really, at this point, the only thing I’m qualified to be is a writer.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
I read across all genres. I’m a paid book reviewer for a weekly publication, and I review literary fiction for them. I love mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, cross-genre. I’m getting into steampunk lately, as a reader and a writer. I read a lot of non-fiction – mostly biography, diaries, letters, etc., for research.
The only thing I loathe reading is a novel done in the present tense, regardless of genre. Nothing is more frustrating or distracting. Nothing pulls me out of the story as an artifice saying, “See? You’re not really here? Ha, ha, ha!” than a novel written in the present tense. It feels like the author is spitting in my face, instead of pulling me into an enchanted world. Some short stories need it and can sustain it; I have yet to read a novel that worked for me in it. I’m sure someday a novelist will write something brilliant that will change my mind, but it’s yet to happen.
Where can we find you online?
The Jain Lazarus website is: http://hexbreaker.devonellingtonwork.com
Main website, with other pseudonyms, information about workshops, etc.: www.devonellingtonwork.com
The blog on the writing life (5x/week): Ink in My Coffee, http://devonellington.wordpress.com
Billy Root’s blog (1x/week, since he’s got such a huge fan base): http://billyrootblogs.wordpress.com
What’s in your TBR pile?
I’m eagerly awaiting Juliet Blackwell’s next Lily Ivory mystery, and Yasmine Galenorn has a new book coming out this summer, so those will go to the top of any pile. And I think Deborah Harkness’s next release, after A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES will be out. Loved that book, so I’ll be putting everything aside to read the next one! Right now, I’ve got books by Sharon Shinn, Tanith Lee, Henry James, Carol McCleary, and a pile of whaling journals by women who travelled with their sea captain husbands, in preparation for an upcoming project.
Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
Available from Solstice Publishing
“You cut off a man’s head, Ms. Lazarus,” Wyatt East said. “I have to ask you questions.”
Jain snuck a look at her watch. Two and a half hours in the interrogation room. Dennis was running out of time. Jain looked up at Wyatt, watching him pace back and forth across the room, and folded her arms on the table. “I understand that, and I’m willing to answer anything, but we need to get to the hospital or Dennis will wind up in the same shape as Mike.”
“If we don’t get to him in time.”
“Since you’re the one who decapitated Mike, I’m not so sure I should let you near Dennis.”
“If you let me near him fast enough, I won’t need to decapitate him.”
“So you admit that you would?”
“And why would it be necessary?”
“By the time I separated Mike’s head from his body, there wasn’t anything of Mike left. I saw it snuff out. He was completely under his handler’s control. Whoever his handler is.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Wyatt slammed his palm on the metal desk.
“Detective East, your carefully planned gestures don’t intimidate me. I deal with much more dangerous factions every day than annoyed cops.”
“Maybe you should give me some information about who you really are and what you really do and I won’t be such an annoyed cop.”
Reviewers love HEX BREAKER and the Jain Lazarus Adventures!
5 Angels from FALLEN ANGEL REVIEWS:
“The character of Jain is fascinating. . . The author keeps the reader guessing by trickling out the information about the paranormal events until the pieces finally come together and the story heads for the final confrontation between Jain and her friends and the bad guys. If you want stories about a fun new kick-butt paranormal heroine, then this is a good first book of a new series that will keep you entertained!”
4.5 Books from LONG AND SHORT ROMANCE REVIEWS:
“Wyatt East is the great hero. . .As a team, Jain and Wyatt are good. The chemistry between the two is well developed and solid. The cast of secondary characters is large and offers great depth to the plot. Billy Root is by far my favorite and hope to see him in other books in the series. I would dare any reader not to like Billy. The ‘bad’ guys range from human to demon to God and all are exceptional. . . Hex Breaker is the first book in a series and if all the books are as well developed as this one it is, they all are guaranteed to make it on to my must read list.”
4 Tombstones from BITTEN BY BOOKS:
“HEX BREAKER is definitely a fun read that is filled with action. There were simply so many elements to the story: zombies, demons, gods, that I was and still am interested and am hoping and looking forward to more stories with the butt kicking Jain Lazarus.”