Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Curse Merchant by J P Sloan: Character Interview : FMB Tour Stop

Interview with Dorian Lake, crafter of custom charms and hexes.


Welcome Dorian!  Thanks for stopping by so we get this chance to find out a little more about you.  *What was the scariest moment of your life?


For a man in my line of work, having a scary moment is, like, Tuesday. I had a moment when my mentor took me to a black lodge convocation in Belarus. I had a moment when we were given ten minutes' warning to leave Prague before the Order of Sebastian made sure the Policie wouldn't find the bodies. I even had a moment recently when a client pulled a gun on me. But the scariest moment of all was probably when I received the phone call about my Mom. It was exactly one week after Dad ate a bullet in the upstairs office. The shock was just wearing off and we were just realizing what our lives were going to be like now. Then some drunk t-boned her in Queens. I was seventeen and was almost completely unprepared for real life.

*As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

That's what I like to call a trick question. The damn thing about St. Anthony's Preparatory was that no one labored under the misunderstanding that we had any choice in what we were going to be when we grew up. Me? I was going to be a speculative investment banker like Dad. Want-to-be didn't really figure into it. So, I frankly didn't waste a lot of free time fantasizing about vocation outside of the panty-dropping possibilities of stock futures. Freelance hex crafting sure as hell wasn't on the radar. Funny how life works out. Or, you know… doesn't.

*If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

You got a few hours? Truth is I don't feel a lot of guilt about my trade. My clients receive what they pay for, and the targets of my services aren't injured beyond what the Cosmos intends. My job is to speed up the process. If I had to think on it, there is one person whom I owe a genuine apology. I stood her up for a date. It was my last week in London before moving back to the states, and I was things were going very well between me and her. Much to the chagrin of my teacher, Emil Desiderio. I don't know, maybe ten years was enough to live the bachelor life with an aging Spaniard, and she was the first real girlfriend I had since high school. Emil hated that she was distracting me from my studies, and I loved that he hated it. Yeah. We had a real good argument about her. The kind you don't really come back from. I was going to meet up with her after packing my things. That's when I found Emil's body. The police held me for questioning, and by the time I was cleared I wasn't in the mood for dating. So I'd apologize to her. Whatever her name was.


Do you have any special routines or rituals?


You're asking a hermetic practitioner about rituals? Well, skipping the obvious… I truly can't function without coffee in the morning. The irony here being I can't actually make coffee. Seriously. I never figured out coffee makers. There's this cafĂ© two blocks down I like to go to in the morning. When the weather isn't completely horrible I'll sit in the outside tables and do most of my daily thinking. After that, if I ever had a predictable day I'd be grateful.


*What is something people would be surprised to know about you?


I don't actually believe in magic. Most people get this notion in their minds that I'm some kind of wizard or witch. If those people exist (and I've met a couple), and I'm not particularly interested in their kind of existence. My point here is that what I do isn't paranormal. It's normal. Natural perhaps is a better word. I don't deal in magic; rather, I manipulate karma, which is as natural a cosmic force as gravity. Aeronautic engineers create airfoils that use natural laws to suspend a heavy-ass hunk of steel in midair. It seems impossible, but it makes sense if you understand how the rules really work. That's all I do. Truly paranormal workings are rarely safe or sane, and I'm not interested in the consequences of breaking the rules.


*You just won a huge lottery what is the first thing you'll buy?


I've fantasized for a while about buying up some of the old properties in and around Baltimore and refurbishing them. I tried my hand at property rental, but my tenants tend not to be interested in the historical value of their homes. But take a drive through west Baltimore, you'll find these huge old brick foundries and Victorian mansions and smokestacks. They're all abandoned now, or in bad neighborhoods, but what would it be like to just take an entire section of the city and restore it to its Golden Age?


*Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?


I think it was Voltaire who said that God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. Every damn time I open a newspaper I'm reminded of this. We're taking ourselves so seriously that we're losing sight of how ridiculous we really are. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one laughing.


*Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?


My Dad used to joke with me about his motto in life: "Buy low, sell high, deny everything." I think it was probably the single worst piece of advice I've ever received, and I've studied the great thinkers of humanity, so I've had ample opportunity to be led astray. Still, those words constantly ring in my ears for no good reason. Probably because I recognize where that advice brought my Dad. Maybe because he knew how very wrong it was when he said it. So, remember that advice kids, and you, too, will end up alone in your office with a gun and exactly one bullet.

Title: The Curse Merchant
Series: The Dark Choir #1
Author: J.P. Sloan
Genre: Urban Fantasy Noir
Publisher: Self-published
Format: Ebook
Words: 83,000
Purchase: Amazon | Smashwords |
Book Description:
Dorian Lake has spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.
His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

Carmen Gomez stood in front of me, hands on hips caressed by an emerald evening gown. Long raven black hair spilled over her shoulders, feathered bangs framing long, elegant eyes alive with seething hostility. The corner of her mouth was twitching. I had learned long ago that was a sign she was trying to keep her head from exploding.
"Well what? Had a rough day."
"So, in cases of acute 'Almost Got Your Head Blown Off', four out of five doctors recommend Shitface." I lifted my glass to her and added, "So, cheers."
She squinted hard at me.
"We discussed this, Dorian. You're not supposed to be here."
That damned stabbing headache kept me from coming up with a clever response, so I just rolled my eyes.
Carmen reached out and snatched the glass from my hand, slapping it down onto the bar with enough force to make me check my arm for shrapnel.
"I was drinking that."
"You're done. Goodbye, Dorian."
"Christ, Carmen. I didn't come here to spite you. Seriously." I rubbed the bridge of my nose to ease the pressure and swiveled back to the bar. "Ben?"
He was towel-drying a martini glass with his back turned to me. Coward.
Carmen huffed. "You're the last thing I need to deal with right now, Dorian. Please just honor your word for once, and go. You owe me that."
I put tremendous effort into remembering what word I had given. Then it came to me. I felt my shoulders wilt as my ego deflated.
"I suppose I do." I reached over for my glass, and drained the last of my scotch.
She stepped around my stool and waved at the glass. "What are you doing?"
"I'm leaving. Jesus."
"You just tossed back an entire fistful of that hooch!"
"Hooch? Are you kidding me? This is Vintage Seventy-Eight--"
She shook her head with a smirk. "God, you're such a snob about your liquor."
"Any idea how much that 'hooch' costs?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact. I was here when you got conned into buying it."
"It's my money."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's your father's money, is what I mean."
"Well, thank you for bringing that up, because my day didn't suck enough."
"What, I'm supposed to feel sorry for you? Know how much my papa left me when he died? Nada. I had to work, Dorian. I worked, and I made something of myself. I didn't pay dues to clubs I couldn't afford. I didn't buy expensive booze or German cars. So you had a bad day? Congratulations."
I peered through the headache into her livid eyes.
"Your dad didn't eat a bullet, Carmen."
More memories flooded into my addled brain, and I willed them away, spinning off of the stool.
"Where are you going?" she snapped.
"Again, with the leaving."
"Well, you can't leave now. You just pounded scotch." She sighed and shook her head. "You'll have to wait, now."
"Because I'm not letting you drive, that's why."
As I slumped back down onto the stool, I caught Ben snickering in the corner of the bar.
"Can I get some water, Ben? Apparently I can't hold my scotch anymore."
Carmen muttered something in Spanish under her breath as she put fingers to her temples.
"We had a problem in May with one of the members. He got in a wreck on Charles and we had issues with the Beverage Control board. Scared away a lot of the regulars."
"Yeah, kind of noticed that."
"I don't need more problems. So just sit right there and don't move. You can go when Ben says."
One of the girls approached Carmen from behind. Carmen stepped aside to speak with her. I checked Bright and his pride of professionals. They all were eyeballing me thanks to Carmen's usual lack of volume control.
Carmen gestured to them with authority, and the girl stepped away with verve. Carmen's eyes followed her across the room as she joined Bright's party. The only party, actually.
Then it occurred to me.
Why was Carmen giving the girls marching orders?
"Carmen? Where's Mama Clo?"
She closed her eyes for one long blink, then looked down at her shoes.
"She's sick."
"Sick? Is it bad?"
"Yes, Dorian, it's bad." She inched backward and leaned against the bar. "She's in a hospice at Johns Hopkins."
"What is it?"
"Pancreatic cancer."
I sucked in a long breath. "Damn."
"She asked me to take over for a few weeks, she said, last August. By Christmas, we all figured she wasn't coming back. When I went to visit, she asked me to take care of the girls for her."
I took a sip of the water Ben had provided, watching the room. More memories of the glory days came spilling into my frontal lobes. There was a lot of laughter then. This whole place was lighter. Not dead and dreary.
I caught Carmen looking at me.
"What's this about getting your head blown off?"



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