Friday, September 23, 2011

Forbidden blog tour: Q & A with Jana Oliver

As part of the Forbidden blog tour, allow me to welcome Jana Oliver, author of The Demon Trappers book series to my blog today.

In today's interview she introduces us to Forsaken, the first book in The Demon Trappers series and tells us a little more about the world-building process, her characters and why she chose to write about demons as opposed to other supernatural beings, so prominent in today's YA fiction.

Thank you so much for joining me on the blog and for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Set in the year 2018, Forsaken introduces 17-year old Riley Blackthorn, an apprentice demon trapper living in a world filled with demons and necromancy.
1. With vampires, mermaids, werewolves and fairies all currently being the rage in YA fiction, what was it that made you decide to write about demons?


I figured demons needed some love too. ::laughs::

Actually, I wanted to write about the endless struggle between Heaven and Hell and that meant there had to be demons and angels involved. 

Add in the complicated life of a young teen longing to follow in her father’s demon trapping footsteps and that where the story began. 

At present there’s a trend to make demons supernatural hotties. 

I wanted to return to the old hardline sort of Hellspawn, the ones that were smoking but only because of the brimstone. Angels, however, can be devastatingly hunky.

2. For those who haven't read any of your books in the Demon Trappers series yet, can you tell us a little more about the demons that we can expect to encounter?

Demons in my world are graded according to how smart they are and how dangerous.

They range from Grade Ones (Biblio-Fiends who tear up books and Klepto-Fiends who steal shiny objects) all the way to the Grade Five Geo-Fiends who can create windstorms, tornadoes and earthquakes. 

Those can level a city. Because Riley is an apprentice, she’s still learning how to trap the smaller fiends. As she gets better, she moves up the ranks of demons and the danger increases.

While the Biblio-Fiends are nasty, foul- mouthed little dudes, the Magpies (Klepto-Fiends) seem to be the most popular with my readers. Nicknamed Hell’s cat burglars by the trappers, they’re not nasty, just obsessed with bling. A lot like some folks I know (LOL).

3. Quick character question posed to Riley:
3.1  Riley, please describe yourself in less than 10 words?

Addicted to chocolate.

3.2  What do you love most about being a demon trapper?

It’s always different and I really have to keep my head in the game. Just because a demon is supposed to act in one particular way, that’s not always the case. 

And where I’m trapping the demon (in a house or an office or out in public) can make the job harder or easier. So I guess like the challenge of being a trapper because its never boring.

3.3  Let's talk about boys (Oh, don't pretend you didn't see this one coming). 

Since some readers haven't yet had a chance to read Forbidden or Forsaken yet, please tell us about Simon. We hear you have a bit of a crush on him?

I really do like him! He’s cute and he’s a really nice guy. I mean, he’s the kind of guy who opens car doors for you and is always polite even if you’re being a jerk. 

He’s really religious, which doesn’t bother me, but he’s so serious sometimes. I think I’m good for him because I can get him to laugh. I’m hoping this works out with us.

End character questions

4. The Demon Trapper series is set in the not-too distant future. For me, great characters and fantastic world building go hand-in-hand.

What would you says are the key ingredients to creating settings that not only draw the reader in, but are above all else, believable?
The key element to world building is to make it believable.

That world can be set on a star ten light years from here or in 1930’s London, but it has to have enough depth that the reader can immerse him/herself into that environment. 

For the Demon Trappers Series, 2018 Atlanta is much like the current version, only darker and grittier. I played a game of “What if?” 

I took some of the currently depressed economic system and took it one or two steps worse.

The school system is bankrupt so Riley and her friends are attending classes in abandoned buildings. Folks are finding new ways to make money, be it legal or illegal.

The city is raising taxes and cutting services. If, as the author, I’ve done my job correctly the reader will readily accept there are four-foot tall hairy demons running around Atlanta. Which they are. At least in my stories.

5. Can you tell us a little about how you approach and implement your research into your novels? How do you decide what works and what doesn't?
I start with basic research. In the case of the Demon Trappers Series I dug into the history and folklore of demons, angels and Lucifer’s fall from heaven. 

I read Christian, Muslim and Jewish texts to get a feel for how the major religions view Heaven and Hell. Once I had a feel for the subject, then I checked out Atlanta. 

Just because I live here doesn’t mean I know everything about the city. I went on photo tours of Oakland Cemetery (an 1850 Victorian cemetery on the east edge of the city) and trudged around the area of town called Five Points.

That portion of Atlanta became Demon Central, as the trappers call it. I took lots of pictures and notes because I have to stoke up my brain with information before I begin the actual writing process.

Not everything I’ve learned goes into the novels or they’d be huge. A goodly portion of what I’ve learned is for my benefit, not the readers’.

That’s the tricky part for authors: don’t include all the fiddly bits that you discovered during research. Herman Melville is a classic example: he knew a lot about whales and, by heaven, he was going to ensure his readers did as well.


6. What are some of your favourite scenes you've written in the Demon Trapper series so far?

I’m very fond of the Riley and Beck trapping scene in FORSAKEN where they go after a Pyro-Fiend in a parking garage.

Any scene that involves a snowball fight ranks high with me. I’m also partial to a particular scene in FORBIDDEN where Riley learns one of Beck’s deepest secrets over a meal of BBQ.

7. If you could have any character from any book, guest star in your books, who would it be and why?


I have two characters I’d love to do a walk-through in my series. 

The first would be Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher’s totally amazing wizard, and the other would be Kate Daniels, the kick butt heroine of Ilona Andrews’ urban fantasy series. Both would be so cool!

8. And finally… what do you hope readers take away with them after reading Forsaken and Forbidden?

Besides enjoying the books, I’m hoping my readers dig a little deeper into the questions that those stories pose. Riley, Beck (and some of the other characters) have difficult choices to make.

These are both life and world-altering choices. Nothing is truly black and white, good and evil. 

I’d love for my readers to search inside those the layers that even I might not know exist. Each reader brings his or her own personal history to my books and that partnership of author and reader is what brings added depth to any story.

Thanks to Jessica Dean and Macmillan UK for inviting me to be part of this tour.

For more about Jana you can:
Visit her website here:

Check out the Demon Trappers website here.
Follow her on twitter here.

To view the Forbidden blog tour schedule - head on over here.

3 comments:

Jan von Harz said...

Great interview. I really enjoyed Demon Hunter and love Riley.I have yet to read book two, but hope to soon.

Shelagh said...

Great interview Tammy - it's fun to hear more about the person behind the books. Jana has created a great world in the Demon Trappers series and I'm really looking forward to reading Forbidden.

Shelagh
The Word Fiend

Aisle B said...

Love love love the interview with Jana Oliver. Now I have to look for this series and discover the demons within her creative novels. The marketing dept did a superb job on the covers - the coverholic in me is screaming "GET THEM!"

Great interview and will be adding this one to my shelf :)