Sep 8, 2010
Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I have a special treat for you here on JoJosBookCorner. Author of Dark Time, and new Release Sacrifice in The Mortal Path Series, Please help me give a warm welcome to Dakota Banks *round of applause*
I needed a new name to keep my new work separate from my techno-thrillers, so I borrowed a name of a character in an unsold book: Dakota Banks. It seemed right that as I reinvented myself, I took a name from my own fiction. There was a practical aspect to it, too. Banks is near the beginning of the alphabet and would place my books close to the beginning in a bookstore section. It didn't take long before I had a character and story line I loved, but it took a lot of research and trying out different versions of the Mortal Path before I was ready to write about it.
One thing that I decided early in the process was that I was going to do something unusual in urban fantasy in two ways. First, the world is based on ancient Sumerian mythology, an area that is not heavily used. This takes the Mortal Path books out of the Judeo-Christian background present as the basis of most urban fantasy, and leaves out heavily-written elements such as vampires, werewolves, and witches. Instead, the concepts in the Mortal Path books might be familiar to a reader from the Sumerian culture 5,000 years ago--except that they're not written in cuneiform! The second thing is: once a thriller writer, always a thriller writer, so it seems. From the beginning I envisioned the books containing a thriller plot embedded in each one, full of action, adventure, and exotic locations.
The thing I like best about writing urban fantasy is world-building, something that has to be vivid and able to withstand the needs of a series. My idea is that I set out a world different from our reality, yet overlapping our reality in enough ways that my characters could easily pass you in the street and you wouldn't notice anything unusual. Readers accept the world and play along with it, if done right, but the underlying features of the world can't keep changing. So from the first book in a series, the world is defined and the author has to live within it, even if it would be convenient to keep throwing in new features to solve plot problems.
The second book in the Mortal Path series, Sacrifice, brings such strong challenges to Maliha Crayne that she considers returning to ways of her evil past, as the Black Ghost. Two hot immortals contest for her heart, and she returns to the deadly desert in Central Asia, the one she knew wasn't through with her. I'd like to offer a small passage from Sacrifice. To set the scene, Maliha has traveled into the Taklimakan Desert, crawled down a tunnel into a rock outcropping, and found a room she's visited once before.
Sitting cross-legged at the edge of the pool, Maliha leaned over and plopped in a throwing spike from her belly bag, thinking that maybe the sand didn't behave the same way all the time. Two seconds later, the sand pulled the spike down so forcefully that it churned the water, sending bubbles up that fizzed and steamed when they reached the surface.
Okay. Consistency is a big thing here.
She took a piece of paper from the pocket of her loose trousers, a paper that had been folded and refolded so many times it was tearing at the creases. On it was a drawing of the inscription on the back of the tablet, the words that had sent her to this place. She studied them again: go to sand.
I went to sand. I crossed the desert. Now what?
A thought hit her like an unnatural blast of frigid air in the desert. Goose flesh rose on her arms and her frightened mind pushed away the terrible possibilities unfolding in her imagination.
No, oh no, surely not …
She saw what she had to do. If she wanted to follow the cryptic clue, to find out what awaited her in Anu's cave, she didn't have to go to the sand but into the sand.
This sand, in front of her.
Maliha had to step into the boiling water and let the sucking sand in the pool claim her. Her mind rebelled against it. All of her logic told her that it was a trap. She would die in the sand from mortal injury, or be trapped there until her body aged and died. Yet Anu was telling her to do exactly that, if those were Anu's words on the tablet.
There was no rational way to decide. It would have to be a leap of faith.
Dakota is stopping by through out the day to chat, AND