Saturday, March 21, 2015

Guest Post by Seth Skorkowsky

   One of the great things about social media is that it has allows me to chat with fellow writers and favorite authors. When possible I like to invite them to write a guest post, usually on their influences, since that is a thing that fascinates me. Author Seth Skorkowsky was kind enough to take time from his scedule to tell us a bit about his new book, Hounacier and about some of his inspiration for writing it.

Story Inspirations: The History and Hidden Places of New Orleans
One of the most common questions that authors are asked is, "Where do you draw your Inspiration?" The answers to that are as diverse as the authors themselves. For me, the most frequent response is, "Travelling."
The most common of those places has been Italy. I've visited there three times and can easily point out its influences in Dämoren and many of my Black Raven short stories. Usually those inspirations are fairly small, restricted to something I'd seen, or a story I heard, or maybe just an emotion that I felt there. They never cause me to say, "I need to write a story about that." Its more often, "I need to add that to a story." Those ideas and feelings are merely spices or ingredients to a dish, rather than the dish itself.
That was until Hounacier. In this case, the inspirations didn't just flavor the story, they created it.
I'd already planned to write several novels in my Valducan series and after Dämoren, the first of those was going to be titled Ibenus, and follow the character Allan Havlock. I thought it might be fun to make the third book, Hounacier, and follow Malcolm, who was not the most likable character in Book 1, and show him off under a different light. But I had no idea what it would be about.
Then, a month after completing Dämoren, my wife and I visited New Orleans.
We'd been there ten years before, fresh out of college and on a shoe-string budget, and had always planned to make it back. This time we had an idea of what to expect, and had more time to do it. The other big difference is that my wife had gotten into geocaching.
For those not familiar with geocaching, it's a game where people have hidden little artifacts all over the world and using a GPS unit, players can hunt for them. These hunts led us out on foot to many areas outside the French Quarter. We were hunting for a particularly difficult one in Bywater when I looked over at a stack of graffiti-coated shipping containers and said, "There. Something important needs to happen there."
We visited the cemeteries, listened to jazz, scoured the incredible antique shops on Royal, got hustled out of $20, and soaked up the atmosphere. Every time I returned to our room, I jotted down everything that I saw, the smells, the atmosphere, everything. I filled several pages with notes and all of it was later used.
One of the biggest influences was taking a Voodoo History Walking Tour. I'd originally thought the tour would be some cheesy overdramatic touristy thing that reiterated the Hollywood myths and horror stories surrounding voodoo. Instead we were treated to a few hours of actual history and meeting with real practitioners who were very eager to dispel those myths. It was absolutely fascinating, and I knew that when I finally got around to Book 3 I'd show voodoo in a much different light than how I'd always seen it depicted.
The clincher for me was something much less dramatic. We were walking along a street past a narrow alley. I have a thing for alleys. They always seen to house some secret or hidden history and my wife has had to chase me though many over the years. At the end of the alley was a little gate that looked out into a courtyard behind a house. It was hidden garden, paved with old bricks and filled with flowers and ferns. It was beautiful.
Once my wife had finally coaxed me away from peering into some person's back yard, I was stuck in the idea of what it would be like to wake up on those moss-coated paving stones, covered in blood, having no idea where you were, and the only means to escape being to climb the walls, all crested in broken glass, or though the house of a stranger. That idea dominated my day, and very quickly, all of the other inspirations I'd had, and would have, started melding together, forming a story.
I hadn't known then that Hounacier would be my next novel, I was still focused on writing Ibenus. But every time I tried to plot what I wanted to write, I kept returning to those New Orleans streets and that secret courtyard. Finally, I was forced to admit that Hounacier had taken over my imagination and had simply muscled its way to the front.
Every author draws inspirations from different things. Sometimes those inspirations can change the course of a story. This time the inspiration forced its way into creating the story.

Told you it was fascinating. Thanks much to Seth for stopping by, And here's a bit about the author.

Raised in the swamps and pine forests of East Texas, Seth Skorkowsky gravitated to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. 

His debut novel, Dämoren, was released in 2014 by Ragnarok Publications. Its sequel, Hounacier, was published in 2015.

When not writing, Seth enjoys tabletop role-playing games, shooting sports, and traveling the world with his wife.

Find the book here!

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