What can we expect from the Arcanium series?
I’ve had elements of horror in many of my stories thus far, but writing the circus Arcanium was my permission to stop flirting with horror and instead embrace it. I wasn’t even sure Totally Bound would want the story, because I didn’t scrimp on the horror elements. I’m thrilled they did, of course. It’ll be interesting to see how it does among the rest of Totally Bound’s list, since it’s so out of their usual wheelhouse.
In general, erotic romance and horror don’t always mix, but erotica and horror have never really had a problem getting in bed together—any fan of the genre will tell you that. The real issue was bringing romance in without compromising on either the romance or the horror—in a lot of ways, they’re diametrically opposed genres. But since I have a history of loving my villains (mine and other people’s), I figured it was about time my villains got some love.
You can expect some serious moral ambiguity. You can expect moments that make you wince or cringe or turn on your bedside lamp to ward off the darkness. And you can expect moments that make your spine tingle in all the right ways. Each book is about a different character, a different element of the circus, so when one doesn’t strike your fancy, another might inspire some curiosity.
I’m having a blast.
The idea of the Arcanium circus is so unique and interesting! What inspired you to write this story?
I talked about my love of horror movies and villains above, and I pay homages to several of them throughout the series.
But the other big inspiration was a dream I had about a bratty girl who got accidentally left behind by her long-suffering mother at a demonic circus. I’d originally intended for the story to be YA, and only one book. As you can tell, that all kind of got away from me. However, it went the direction it was meant to go. It just feels good this way. Because the cast is so varied and the concept is so flexible, inspiration hasn’t been hard to come by.
In general, I prefer to write about people who are outside the norm, perhaps because I feel and sometimes look on the fringe myself. I was able to flex my unconventional muscles in the Sanctuary series, but Arcanium is where I really break free, using the genre conventions themselves to defy them.
Demons, human oddities, souls trapped in purgatory—is it weird to say I relate?
Fortune has quite the reader advisory, why did you choose to write about so many different elements?
I’ve always been somewhat overly cautious when I write my reader advisories. Spending time in fandom makes you sensitive to other people’s triggers. However, when I look at Fortune’s reader advisory (and the ones for the other books), I can’t help but laugh. I’ve even had a few people who said that, after reading the advisory, now they definitely want to read Fortune. And the really funny part is that I didn’t catch all of them. My editor suggested a few more.
I didn’t set out to include so many elements, but between the erotica, the romance, and the horror, there’s a lot to warn for, especially since there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to read them mixed together. For instance, the horror might turn off the romance readers, the erotica might turn off the horror readers, etc., etc. I’m hoping people take a chance on the disparate genres, if just to try something a little different than the usual fare.
However, what looks like a lot of elements is just what happens when you write about a demonic circus, with a large and varied cast of characters all stuck in one place together. There are lots of monsters to play with, and so many different ways to play. It’s all so seamless, not patchwork at all.
What made you choose the title for book one, Fortune?
Each book title is one simple, powerful word that encapsulates both the pertinent element or cast member of the circus, but also rings soft and deep with a kind of foreboding. Fortune could speak to the fortune teller of Arcanium, Bell Madoc, and his relationship with Maya, our protagonist. Or it could speak to Maya’s fortune at being brought into Arcanium—but is the fortune good or bad or somewhere in between? That’s the question.
Did you enjoy writing about a powerful and attractive jinn character?
Hell, yes. Bell is the epitome of the mysterious, morally ambiguous, attractive, intense, passionate immortal, but he’s not brooding or in any way at odds with his own nature. The thing I love about Bell is that he’s unapologetic, and he mostly loves what he does (every job has its drawbacks, and the same goes for a wish-granting jinni). For some of my favorite horror villains, the thing I like the most about them is their glee. As Jekyll said about Hyde, it’s wonderful how much he loves life.
Bell has glee in spades. I wouldn’t call him pure evil, but he doesn’t really put himself anywhere close to the good side of the human ethics spectrum. The question I bring up is whether he has a place on that spectrum at all—same with all the other non-human creatures I write about. I guess that’s up to the reader to decide in the end. I just write about ‘em.
You have a variety of paranormal genres in your backlist, what’s your favourite?
Hard to say. My horror is just an extension of the supernatural fantasy genre—my supernatural stories have a little bit of horror, and my horror has more than a touch of supernatural fantasy. Vampires have their special place in my heart, but I think a bulk of it is slated for horror.
What can we expect from you next with Totally Bound?
I just had the gritty, fun vampire/werewolf novella Red Queen come out earlier in the month, and one of my short stories will be in Totally Bound’s dark vampire/werewolf anthology Wild after Dark. I’ve been contracted for three more Arcanium novels—Carousel, Aerial, and Ringmaster—and a number of others are in the works. I’m in the process of finishing up the last book in the Sanctuary trilogy too. In the background, I’ve been working on an urban fantasy angels and demons series for Totally Bound, so we’ll see how that turns out, hopefully next year.
Like the sound of Fortune?
Buy it here: https://www.totallybound.com/fortune