Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Dark Man's Son by Meg Whitlock: Interview & Excerpt

She claimed the muggers were demons, but of course Jason didn't believe her. At first.

When a mysterious woman appears in a dirty alley to rescue Jason Latimer from a pair of muggers, he tries to write her off as a garden variety lunatic. But he can't shake the memory of her intense green eyes that seemed to flash gold, or the glowing sword she'd worn on her hip.

She calls herself Alex (no last name) like she'd made it up on the spot, and she offers Jason her protection. From what, she can't or won't say. He refuses, and that night he dreams of a dark man with the same offer. His black eyes flash blood and garnet, and he smells of burning things. Jason refuses him, too.

A chance meeting brings Alex and Jason together again, and she tells him of the Guardians: two immortal beings created near the beginning of time with the express purpose of fighting for mortal-kind's soul. She is Light, and the man from Jason's dream is Dark. Jason must choose, because Lucifer, for reasons purely his own, has unleashed the armies of Hell to hunt Jason down.

But there are things about Jason that not even he knows, and he'll face hard truths and bitter choices as he struggles to find his place in a world redefined. Will he rise to the challenge, or, when the time comes, will he falter?

From Renaissance Florence to the French Revolution, from World War II to the modern streets of New Orleans, The Dark Man's Son is a riveting journey filled with unforgettable characters, wry humor, dark twists, and a touch of romance.

Kindle  |  Nook  |  Smashwords 

   He turned away from the door with an angry huff of breath, and she followed him inside. Closed the door behind them. “The library’s through here,” he grumbled. “Do you really know anything about old books, or was this whole thing just some weird set-up?”

She followed him down the short hall and lingered in the library’s doorway to get a good look at the room. “That would be an elaborate plan, even for me,” she said, her eyes trained on the sprawling shelves. “No, the bookstore you called is mine, and I’m the one who does all the appraisals. When I saw your name in the appointment book…well, I figured it was just a funny little twist of fate.”
“Fate has a pretty messed up sense of humor.”
Her gaze moved to rest on him for the first time since they’d come into the library. “Yes. But she’s also a stubborn bitch, and arguing with her is futile. So here I am.”
He crossed his arms over his broad chest and leaned back against the desk. Dark blue eyes narrowed as he watched her set the briefcase on the table and begin to unpack its contents. “Your brother says hi.”
She froze, though only for a moment. “Does he?” she said. He sensed the strain in her voice as she struggled to sound casual; her hands trembled; she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “And how did you two get on?”
Jason gave a lazy shrug. “Not so well, actually. He’s sorta pushy.”
She snorted and seemed to relax. “Nailed it. He’s very impatient, and very ruthless. I am a bit surprised he found you so quickly, though.” She pulled on a pair of white cotton gloves and flashed him a smile. “Where would you like to begin?”
“Are you serious about this?”
“You made an appointment, Jason. You obviously have need of my services,” she said with a gesture that encompassed the neat stacks and the mess he’d already made. “I wouldn’t think our prior meeting should have any impact on a possible business relationship, should it?”
“I’m sorry, I just…this is all a bit too weird for me.” He rubbed the tattoo on his upper arm like he did when he was anxious or deep in thought. She caught the gesture, and her eyes narrowed.
“Interesting tattoo,” she said.
“Huh? Oh, yeah. I designed it myself.”
“Did you?” she murmured. “Hmm.” She took a few steps closer, and the whisper-soft feel of her gloved fingers against his skin surprised him. “What was your inspiration?”
“Um, you know, just…life? I don’t know, really. I wanted a tattoo, and I wanted something different. I sat down and started doodling, and this is what I came up with.”
“Hm,” she said again. Her expression turned quizzical, and she cocked her head to the side like a curious bird. “What do you do, Jason? When you’re not being attacked by demons or overwhelmed by an old man’s minutiae, I mean.”
He had to smile at the way she phrased it; it was the first genuine smile he could remember since hearing about his grandfather’s death. His navy eyes warmed and a dimple appeared in his left cheek; a shallower one flashed on the right. Her own mouth curved helplessly in response. “What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said with a shake of his head. “Everything. I don’t know. But to answer your original question, I work with wood. I guess you could call me a carpenter.”
“Like my brother,” she said.
“That creepy guy’s a carpenter?”
She made an impatient gesture. “No, of course not. My other brother.”
Somehow his mind made the impossible leap, and shook his head again at this new madness. “You’re insane. Are you trying to tell me your brother—”
“I’m a child of the Divine,” she said in that same serene, implacable tone. “So was he. Different, of course, but the same.” She shrugged a little. “There were many before him, a few since, and there will be more. It’s just the way of things.”
He didn’t have an answer to this, but she didn’t seem to expect one. “The creature you met last night—what did he call himself?”
Her expression turned sour. “Of course he would. Luke. He employs a thousand tiny cruelties. Do me a favor: next time you see him—and there will be a next time, I’m sure of it—call him Cassius.” Her eyes seemed over-bright, and her next words were brisk. “As for carpentry, he’s incapable of creating anything. He exists only to rot and destroy.”
“He called you a bringer of nightmares.”
She wandered away and began to carefully sort through some of the books he’d culled from the deeper parts of the library. “Yes. He would. To his kind, I am a nightmare.”
Jason ran frustrated hands through his hair; scraped it back off his forehead and tugged hard. “Could you please just explain to me what you are? I’ve been trying to find some sort of clue, but it’s like no one has ever heard of you.”
“I told you last night that we keep a low profile. It’s necessary when you’ve existed…as long as we have.”
“Enough with the riddles, lady—Claire or Alex, whatever your name is! I’m tired of these mind games. I just want a straight answer.”
She cleared her throat and stroked a leather binding. “Your grandfather seems to have an extensive collection of books on demonology, mythology, and religion.”
“Yeah, I noticed that. So?”
“Some of these are quite rare. Look at this. I haven’t seen one of these in centuries.” She held up a thick book, its binding dark and cracking with age, but Jason ignored it.
“You mean…no one’s seen one of those in centuries. Like…reports and stuff haven’t mentioned it. Not you, personally.”
Her jade eyes—flashing gold, like he’d noticed last night—met his, and the expression there terrified him. “I’m a daughter of the Divine, Jason. Do you have any idea what means?”
“Obviously I don’t. Why do you think I’ve been begging you for a little clarification?”
Her mouth lifted at one corner. “You won’t believe me.”
“I already don’t believe half the stuff you say. I don’t know how much worse it could get.”
She turned away and very deliberately set the delicate old book back on the table. When she faced him again, her eyes were entirely gold, no trace of the green. Jason blinked. “Your…eyes…? What…?” A trick of the light, it had to be.
“It’s not a trick, Jason.” She took a step toward him, and he pushed away from the desk and backed up. She kept advancing; he kept retreating. She stopped and sighed. “You’ve no reason to fear me.”
“You’re joking, right? I watched you beat up a guy three times your size. I met that freak show who calls himself your brother. Now you’re standing in my grandfather’s library with color-change eyes claiming that you remember a book from centuries ago. Either one of us is seriously unhinged—”
“Or it’s all true,” she said gently.
“I was gonna say ‘or we both are’.”
She pulled the desk chair out for him. “Sit down, Jason.” She claimed one of the chairs near the fireplace and dragged it closer. “We need to have a serious talk.”

MY Review of The Dark Man's Son

 Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why? 
            Yes, so important! The main character, Jason, is named after his grandfather, Jameson O’Connor. When he meets Alex, she recognizes the name from her past and offers Jason her protection because of it. It sets the entire plot in motion, and it’s all because of a name. 
            Alex herself has about half a dozen names in the book, and each one means basically the same thing— “bright” or “shining”—except for the name “Alex,” which means “protector of mankind.” I spent hours researching her various names to make sure they fit not only her, but the culture they were coming from. 
            Cassius, Alex’ brother, is called “He of Many Names,” among other things. When he and Jason first meet, he rattles off a list of names that he’s been called throughout the ages, and they help establish Who He Is. From that list, you know he ain’t no nice guy (to quote Stephen King). 
            Every name of every character has some sort of significance, and every name was carefully researched before it made it into the book. The demons are all named after demons from mythology; the succubus’ name, “Yasha,” means “she-demon” in Japanese; and I spent forever making sure the Provençal names were accurate. I guess I’m a little obsessive…. 
 Beatles or Monkees? 
            Monkees. That’s probably sacrilege, right? We listen to The Beatles constantly at my “day job,” so even though I have a complete Beatles on my iPod, I skip their songs most of the time. 
            A few years ago I saw Davy Jones live and he was awesome. I guess I just have a soft spot for The Monkees. 
Does travel play in the writing of your books?
            Oh yeah. I love to travel, and I’m often inspired by places I’ve been or places I want to go. It’s funny, because of all the locales in The Dark Man’s Son, I’ve never actually been to any of them. I’ve been to England, but not London. Germany, but not Hamburg. France, but not Paris. I guess it’s a lot of wishful traveling on my part! One day I’ll write a book that takes place entirely on the Greek Isles, a place I have been and love very much. 
 Do you listen to music while writing? If so what? 
            Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Occasionally music with lyrics is distracting, so I switch to a white noise app I have on my iPad. When I am listening to actual music, it’s a playlist I made in iTunes called “mellow.” It has…let’s see…Adele, David Gray, Duncan Sheik, Bob Schneider, The Avett Brothers, David Ford, Ari Hest, Chris Isaak…stuff you can sorta sink into, like a nice bubble bath. 
Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it? 
            There are two, probably. One is something Alex says to Jason the first time they meet. She’s describing what the Guardians are, and it pretty much sums them up: “We are the choice everyone must make, and we are the choices everyone makes every day.” Big, small, in between, every action is a choice, and every choice is another step along your path. Free will is one of the book’s main themes, and that quote sums up the power of free will in a neat little sentence. 
            The second one is pure, self-indulgent silliness. Cassius, the Dark Guardian, has just been through a battle, and he’s covered in blood. He stops a moment to consider the events thus far, and he comes to a momentous decision: he’s going to sacrifice himself to save his son. For him that’s unprecedented. But then he sees himself in the mirror.… 
            First things first, he thought with a frown. Before he could get down to the business of saving his only son’s immortal soul, Cassius had to buy a new suit. 
            It’s just so…Cassius. He’s a horrible creature with no conscience, but sometimes I couldn’t help but love him. 
LOL!!  Too funny! So, flipping to the good guys.  What are your hero and heroine of the story like?

            The hero is Jason Latimer, and he’s…I like Jason a lot. He’s constantly described as “kind of a smart ass,” and he definitely is. He’s a carpenter. He designed his own tattoo. He lives at home because it gives him the freedom to pursue his work, and because he feels very protective of his mother. He loves Quentin Tarantino movies, but he also really liked Chicken Run. He’s afraid of gerbils due to a traumatic incident at Kindergarten show and tell. That last bit didn’t make it into the book, but it’s true. He’s 6’4”, but he doesn’t use his height to intimidate people. He’s a nice guy who finds himself in a crazy situation, and he has to cope with it the best he can.

            Alex is something else altogether. She’s the Guardian of Light, meaning she’s “the good one,” but as she herself says, to an immortal being sometimes good is relative. She’s existed since almost the beginning of time, and she sees all the evils, big and small, mortal-kind has ever committed. But she also sees all the good, and she never, ever gives up hope. Her brother, the Dark Guardian, calls her gullible, but as she tells Jason: “never confuse goodness for naïveté.” 
What do you find most rewarding about writing?

            When I was in college, I wrote a play that ended up being produced by my school. We took it to the American College Theatre Festival in Savannah, GA, and it was performed in front of 500 people. It was a comedy, and the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life was hearing 500 people laugh at all the meant-to-be-funny parts. 
            What I mean is that the most rewarding part about writing is knowing that you can move someone. To laughter, tears, anger, whatever…they’re feeling because of what you created. It’s different with a book, of course: you aren’t there listening to the reader laugh. But, still. If they take the time to review, it means you’ve affected them, and that’s what matters.

Meg Whitlock has been writing nearly all her life, and she’s glad she finally got over her laziness and wrote the book she’s been dreaming about for years. She graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a BA in Comparative Arts with an Art History specialization and an Ancient History minor…which is a mouthful no matter how you say it. She has four cats (including an invisible one), a baby elephant disguised as a Honda Civic named Babar, and a vivid imagination.
            In 2001 her one-act play, “The Shoebox,” was produced by Catawba College in Salisbury, NC and presented at the American College Theatre Festival.

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Smashwords code for a Free download of The Dark Man's Son
Ends July 21, 2012


Holly Bryan said...

Alright, sounds like I've got a fellow North Carolinian in Ms. Whitlock! Lovely to meet you. I really enjoyed the excerpt (and was honestly wondering much of the time if I could *ever* have a library like the one mentioned in there ;-)). Your book sounds great and I would love to win and be able to read it! Congratulations to you on the publishing of this book and I wish you all good luck!

Darlene said...

Wow, what an accomplishment to write a play! It would be such an amazing feeling to watch your own story be told. Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...


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k.a. said...

i was really impressed how much research the author did just on picking the characters names...i had no idea that so much detail went into the littlest things