Pastor John Parris: The Warlock
by Andy GavinOne of my primary goals with The Darkening Dream was to develop a strong sense of merely seeing "the tip of the evil iceberg." So the book has a lot of villains, some working together, but each with their own quirks and agendas. I knew early on that I wanted one of these to be a warlock and a minister. For me, Parris represented the human villainy in the story. While he clearly dabbles in the supernatural -- hey, warlock! -- he isn't like al-Nasir in being wholly a creature of darkness.
What makes real people evil? Self interest certainly goes a long way, but I looked further into the twisted nature of the psychopathic serial killer. To do what he does, Parris had to be a deeply warped individual. As a local pastor he is a member of the community, but his role is aloof enough that people just write him off as a bit touched. He was raised by his crazy religious, repressed, and abusive grandmother. So severe was this upbringing that his adult pathology is devoid of all empathy. He can put on an external show, but his own fears and desires are all he really knows.
And he's a deeply lonely individual who connects with but one other -- and that other happens to be a domineering succubus moonlighting from hell. But that's okay, as in private Parris is only comfortable playing the bottom. Nothing like a human/demon BSDM relationship to spice things up.
I even wrote 10,000 words of flashback showcasing grandmother Grace and Parris' 1893 meeting at Harvard Divinity with his future demonic lover. But these scenes were left on the cutting room floor (although I might put them on the website sometime) because they are backstory, which really doesn't have a place in fast paced fiction. Still, they were pretty cool and their removal made Parris decidedly less sympathetic. Plus they contained one of my favorite magical rituals in the book: a deadly curse tablet baked from the excrement of the victim (courtesy of an ancient Roman book on witchcraft).
My Parris is descended from Samuel Parris (to the right) who was the Puritan minister in Salem during the witch trials. Following in his ancestor's footsteps, John Parris is the leader of what amounts to Salem's Puritan church, by 1913 called the Congregationalist church. Witchcraft and ministry are both threads that run deeply in his family.
Pastor Parris does a lot of magic in the book and I heavily researched his particular old-school brand of witchcraft (he's a ritualist, specializing in sympathetic magic powered by humors) and his complex conceptualization of protestant hell. For in the world of The Darkening Dream, hell is whatever inferno you believe in. His glyph (above) shows the tools of his trade: knives for bloodletting, bowls for mixing, and the flame -- gateway to below.
But how does any of this connect to my plot?
Parris is both a competent thaumaturge and through his demon lover he has one foot grounded in hell. When al-Nasir, my ancient vampire, is sent west to find something of great importance he seeks the services of this dubious man of God. For powerful things are guarded by powerful magics and dead flesh works no spells.
But Parris is no fool. The undead are not to be trusted. Still, when a vampire offers the lost grimoire of Dr. Faustus in return for help, who cares if a handful of innocents have to pay the price?
For information on developing the look of Parris' icon.
A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite!
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.
1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul.
Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, Carnivàle) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.
The Reviews Are In
"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews
"A gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying tale." ~Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review
"With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating turn of the century America." ~Amazon Review
"…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy tale... emphasis on grim." ~Amazon Review
The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The book has received rave reviews and is on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle from June 25th-29th! Download your copy here: Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.
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