Saturday, June 17, 2017

Interview with Jennifer Rainey, author of The Last Temptations of Iago Wick

The latest person to kindly answer our fiendish interview questions is Jennifer Rainey, author of The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, a novel about a retired demon, and the forthcoming novella, Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen, a prequel.

In your author biography on Amazon, you describe yourself as a sometimes-author, sometimes folk-singer. Tell us a little about the folk-singing. Does it influence your writing?
Absolutely! I’ve been performing as a folk singer since I was about 18 years old, and when you’re a singer, you’re a storyteller. It’s your duty to add the words and extra emotion to the story that the instrumentalists are already telling, particularly when you’re singing folk music. It’s a genre of music that really focuses on storytelling. That emotion absolutely transfers to writing.

Your novel is called The Last Temptations of Iago Wick and the protagonist is a demon on the verge of retirement. Usually demons get to be bad guys who get zapped at the denouement. What made you choose one as your hero?
I have always loved demons. I think there’s so much to work with there. You have this creature that is, perhaps, supposed to be allegiant to Hell and to Lucifer… and then you think, “But what if they’re not? What if they want to go against their nature?” I think they make excellent anti-heroes, they’re so engaging and fabulously flawed. Iago is definitely caught in that internal struggle—he wants to be true to himself but convention says he’s supposed to bow down to Hell. It’s really about the idea of freewill, of integrity. He has something of a moral code. These are things that are valuable to Iago, and he’s starting to question in this book if his dedication to Hell is standing in the way.

Iago Wick is a lovely name, and so is Dante Lovelace. What do their names tell us about their characters?
First off, thank you! Iago, of course, comes from Shakespeare’s great villain in Othello. In that play, the character of Iago is constantly playing characters against each other in his quest to bring down Othello, and my Iago (while not quite as evil) does that, as well. He’s always tempting humans to do things which will lead to their damnation. His surname, Wick, comes from two things: a) it stems from the word “wicked” and b) it’s like a candle wick, a small flame which, if given the chance to grow, can destroy or corrupt. Dante Lovelace is Iago’s partner, and his name is a bit simpler. Dante is a demon who creates catastrophe and disaster for humans (think shipwrecks and fires). He’s a very Gothic and Byronic character, so I wanted a name with a dark sort of beauty to it, something almost a little over the top!

Are there elements of humour in your writing, as well as terror and mystery?
Absolutely! I love injecting my writing with a little humor. I value that as a reader, and so, as a writer, I’ve always tried to add a certain amount of wit.

Your writing sounds as if it’s firmly rooted in a particular place and era. Is that correct?
Yes and no. I’ve always LOVED history, particularly the late 19th century. When I was about 11, I started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I’ve never looked back. So, The Lovelace & Wick Series takes place around the turn of the 20th century. However, I also love adding steampunk elements and enough ambiguity that the reader isn’t one hundred percent certain when the book takes place! I think that sense of timelessness is really cool.

What about your forthcoming novella, Iago Wick and The Vampire Queen? You say there are cyborgs, which suggests there may be steampunk elements.
Definitely! The Last Temptations of Iago Wick has some steampunk elements, but this novella really steps it up. The whole series will feature a lot of steampunk-inspired details. I won’t tell you too much about the cyborgs, but they end up being really creepy!

In your world, do vampires and demons hit it off?
Oh, absolutely not, haha! There’s a lot of animosity there!

Please tell us more about your Pinterest addiction.
I LOVE Pinterest. I’m one of those people who gets obsessed with a certain aesthetic, especially as it relates to my writing. So, the Pinterest board for Lovelace & Wick has a lot of Victoriana and Gothic imagery and Steampunk gadgetry. It’s a great way to jumpstart that inspiration when you’re feeling like you’re in a little bit of a rut. (Also, recipes. There are sooo many recipes. Mr. Wick is very fond of cake, and Pinterest offers no shortage of cake.)

What are you planning next for Wick and Lovelace?
Currently, I’m working on the second book, Binding Dante Lovelace, which sees Dante and Iago joining forces with a witch (rather against their will). This book will have a lot adventure, a lot of magic, and some Lovecraftian elements, as well. There’s also another novella/short story which will probably be out in the next year. These demons have quite a lot to say, and I’m very happy to keep telling their story.

I couldn’t help noticing you attended the Ohio Bigfoot Conference. Are you a fan of Forteana and indeed Cryptozoology?
YES! I think it’s so fascinating. The Ohio Bigfoot Conference is a great event, too. Awesome speakers and a great atmosphere.

Why is America such a rich source of mythology for horror, the uncanny and folklore generally?
I can’t help but think of American Gods. I think it’s because there are so many cultures crashing into each other in this country. There are so many different stories and mythologies that have become a part of our culture as a whole. It’s really astounding, and it’s definitely something to be celebrated. I love seeing what different authors do with American folklore; it’s fascinating.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?
I have four cats. They’re excellent at sitting on the keyboard while I’m trying to write, but also, there is a cat in Binding Dante Lovelace who is based on my cat, Bellamy. So, she’ll be immortalized once that book is published! (She’ll be tickled; she thinks very highly of herself.)

Would you choose tea, coffee, or something different?
Tea! Always tea. I do like coffee, but that’s an office drink for me. I drink that at work. If I’m writing, it better be tea!

Who do you consider are your major influences in writing?
Definitely Terry Pratchett. He’s a huge influence, as is Ray Bradbury. Recently, I’ve been drawing a lot from HP Lovecraft’s brand of horror, as well.

On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?
Oh, 10. Absolutely 10. The décor theme in my bathroom is Psycho (yes, the movie—I like to make my guests extremely uncomfortable), and I collect mid-century matador memorabilia. I go ghost hunting in my spare time, and I talk to my cats. I might even be at an 11.

About Jennifer Rainey:

Jennifer Rainey is a sometimes-author, sometimes-folk singer from Central Ohio who has always had a love for fantasy, history, and the paranormal. She is woefully dependent upon tea and simply cannot drive past an antique mall without stopping.

Ms. Rainey--having confronted, befriended, and frequently dined with her own demons--is very fond of writing about other demons. She's currently writing the tales of Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Wick and hopes you enjoy reading of their adventures.

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