Six Elementals Author Interviews will introduce prospective readers to some of the best writers in their genre you may, or may not, have heard of, via a series of six questions. I encourage you to check out the work of these phenomenal creatives! Links to their websites and purchase links will always appear, accompanying the interview. Check them out!
Today I get the treat of speaking to a fabulous grimdark author, and a fellow Canadian (Go Canada!), Joy Demers! Joy’s currently published works include: Awakening; From the Darkness Comes; She-Wolf on a Leash; and Daughters of Darkness.
P.L.: So honoured to be able to interview you, Joy, for Six Elementals Interviews! From the Darkness Comes was a great book, and I can’t wait to continue reading your Darkness in the Mist Series! For those readers who have not read your awesome work, can you please tell us what your series is all about, and what inspired you to write it?
Joy: Thanks so much for having me! The Darkness in the Midst series begins as a typical revenge story – a village is destroyed and a survivor sets out for vengeance. Pretty standard fantasy, right? But I guess what makes my series a little different is the fact the protagonist comes back from the dead. And she doesn’t really come back alone. There’s something within her that gives her a supernatural boost. In an otherwise (seemingly) magic-less society, this makes her a freak. As the series moves along and revenge is or is not gained, the revenant aspect comes to the fore as other themes, like redemption and free will are also explored in the setting of Ledonia, a land under as much turmoil as Cadda herself.
I started writing this series in 2011 or 2012. I used to read a lot of historical fiction/fantasy set during the Roman Empire and there was this one book that I really loved that inspired me to try my hand at creating my own world. That book was The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie. I first read it when I was a teenager and it actually even inspired me to study history and minor in Classical Civilization! So you can say I was inspired by Auriane, the fictional kickass heroine in Gillespie’s books, and other historical figures, like Boudicca, out for revenge against the Romans. I was also inspired by my own Kanien’keha (Mohawk) culture when creating the Ruromanni peoples especially. But I really wanted them to have swords!
P.L.: Absolutely love kick-ass female warriors: there were so many throughout history and we need more books about them or characters based on them! One of the best features, for me, about From the Darkness Comes was it’s troubled main character, Cadda ni Caridos. She’s intriguing, dangerous, and her life is pretty tumultuous. In other words, she is a very compelling character. What made you write Cadda the way you did?
Joy: I didn’t want Cadda to be perfect. I didn’t want her to be a Mary Sue. But I also didn’t want her to be completely unlikeable. A critique group I used to belong to once warned me that she was completely unlikeable. So I did have to rework her a little bit in the early stages. As it is, some people still don’t like her! I don’t think you have to like a character to keep reading, as long as that character shows some hope of redemption or growth. I think I managed to do that with Cadda, though it takes a lot of time to get there. She does get put through the wringer throughout the series and it was a lot of fun deciphering how it would affect her. I tried to keep her human, even though she wasn’t quite human anymore. Humans aren’t always purely black or white; it’s those grey areas that make things interesting.
P.L.: Completely agree, grey main characters are far more interesting than ones who are portrayed as being mostly good or mostly bad. You are part of a rising group of dark fantasy Indie authors, whose works are starting to make some real noise in the fantasy world. Why do you choose to write dark fantasy, and to what do you attribute the popularity of this sub-genre?
Joy: I chose to write dark fantasy because, funnily enough, it seems more realistic to me than other fantasy genres. What I mean is that, life is not always going to turn out the way we want it to. The good guys don’t always win. Sometimes things just suck. Yet, its not all dark. Sometimes, in the midst of an apocalyptic release of a demon horde, one character will turn to another and say something like, “guess we shouldn’t have read that spell out loud.” It’s about the characters for me and I think that’s why the dark fantasy or grimdark sub-genre is so popular. It has the most interesting characters – they’re not fully (or painfully) heroic and good. And interesting characters are what keep me reading. Just look at Sand dan Glokta in The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie. He tortures people for a living but somehow, he is one of the most memorable characters from that series.
P.L.: Funny you mention Glokta, he is one of my favourite characters in all fantasy literature and I agree one of the most memorable! Canada has produced a lot of incredible fantasy authors. Who are some of your favourite Canadian fantasy authors, or Canadian authors of any genre?
Joy: Besides Pauline Gedge, I really haven’t read many Canadian authors (that I know of anyway). This is an area I definitely need to improve on! I’ve heard great things about Steven Erickson and Guy Gavriel Kay and they are on my to-read list. Nicholas Eames and Sebastien de Castell are others I’ve heard mentioned that I need to check out! I’m a slow reader. As for indie Canadian authors, there are a few on my radar: Marian L. Thorpe, Krystle Matar, and of course, P.L. Stuart!
P.L.: I am so honoured to be included in that list Joy! Thank you so much! The feeling is mutual! Can you please speak to any other projects you are working on, or plan to publish?
Joy: I am currently working on a novel set in the same world as The Darkness in the Midst. The focus is on a new set of characters, however, there are some familiar faces that make an appearance. I hope to get this released by the end of 2022, if I’m lucky. I’m also a slow writer. I have plans for at least two other stand-alone novels in the same world.
P.L.: What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a self-published fantasy author?
Joy: For me, the main advantage to being a self-published author is making my own schedule. I tried the querying thing a few years ago. I received two full requests out of about a dozen queries sent and waited over a year to be rejected. Even had I found an agent, there was no guarantee they would find a home for my books and it would’ve taken another year or two if they had to finally get my book in hand. I’m too impatient for that. It takes me long enough to write a book. There’s less pressure to write when it’s only me pressuring myself to get things done! I also like that I get the final say in what goes into the final published product. Which is also a double-edged sword because ultimately, I am solely responsible for the failure or success of my books.
The main disadvantage of self-publishing, for me, is all the upfront costs. You don’t get any advance. You have to put in the money if you want a professional looking final product. You have to pay for a cover, for editing, for layout. You can do these things yourself but it doesn’t always turn out right. You might never recoup your investment. And probably the saddest part of going the self-publishing route is that I will most likely never see my book on the shelves of Indigo (or another big name book store). Either path, though, won’t help you with marketing and that is one thing that I am terrible at. I have a hard time telling people to buy my books!
P.L.: Well I for one will be someone encouraging people to buy your awesome work! Joy I have truly enjoyed our chat!I truly appreciate you joining me on Six Elementals Interviews! Thank you so much!
Buy From the Darkness Comes here https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Comes-Midst-Book-ebook/dp/B07NTV794D/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2K5ZW0DRU3325&keywords=From+the+Darkness+comes&qid=1644161460&sprefix=from+the+darkness+comes%2Caps%2C111&sr=8-1
Buy She-Wolf on a Leash here https://www.amazon.com/She-Wolf-Leash-Darkness-Midst-Book/dp/179866402X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Buy Daughter of Darkness here https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Darkness-Midst-Book-III/dp/B087677V9N/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=