Interview with Seth Skorkowsky, Author of Dämoren and Hounacier
Last year I read and reviewed a book called Dämoren, an urban fantasy/horror novel about a character named Matt Hollis and his magical sentient gunblade. I was blown away by the author Seth Skorkowsky’s world building and fresh take on angels & demons, so when I heard about the sequel Hounacier from Ragnarok Publications, I jumped right in.
Hounacier greatly expanded the world of the Valducan series with a story that explored the spiritual traditions of voodoo through the eyes of another knight, Malcolm Romero (see the review). While reading it I knew I wanted to find out even more — so I went straight to the source! Seth kindly agreed to chat with me about his series. Enjoy the interview!
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Hello Seth, and welcome to The BiblioSanctum!
Seth: Thank you very much for having me.
Seth: The Valducan series follows an order of modern-day knights that hunt demons. When someone is possessed with a demon, they take the form of a monster, such as a werewolf, oni, wendigo, etc., and the only true way to kill them is with a holy weapon, which each knight is bonded to a unique weapon. They’re a lot of action with some horror thrown in for flavor. I usually describe it as a mixture of Hellboy, Supernatural, and Hellsing.
I love that the series is centered around the idea of sentient holy weapons. What inspired you to write these books?
Seth: Originally I had two separate ideas. The first was that the classic monsters of old were really demonic possessions, and that mortal weapons like silver bullets could only kill the host’s body, while the demonic spirit just moved on to another. The second idea was how to make a magic gun. Magic swords have been a staple to stories for centuries and I wanted a modern variant. The trick was figuring out how the magic moves from the gun to the bullet. Eventually, I realized that those ideas fit together really well and the rest just grew from there.
What kind of research did you do? What was the coolest or most fascinating thing you came across while researching for Dämoren or Hounacier?
Seth: For Dämoren I did a lot of research on folklore monsters and 19th century handguns. With Hounacier I spent most of my research time on Voodoo. I really wanted to be more authentic and respectful toward it than how its normally treated. I knew my perceptions of it had been skewed by Hollywood myth, but didn’t realize how much until I started digging.
The books Dämoren and Hounacier are both named for the holy weapons wielded by their main characters. There are many more of these fantastical weapons featured in this series, all with some very interesting names! Where do you get the ideas for them?
Seth: The majority of the names are rooted in real words. Dämoren is based on the German word ‘Dämon’, which means demon. Hounacier is a mixture of ‘Houngan’, which is a Voodoo priest, and ‘-mancer’, like necromancer. Some of the weapons, like Feuertod, are literal translations (That means “Death by Fire”). Others, like Ibenus, are completely made up.
I love the fact that the holy weapons and their owners have a very special bond. Do you personally have a favorite weapon from your books, one you would choose to bond to if you could?
Seth: My favorite is Dämoren. She was the first and became the most special for me. Many of the other weapons have some pretty cool abilities, but I’ll always love her the most.
The main protagonist of Dämoren is Matt Hollis while the second book Hounacier follows the story of another Valducan knight named Malcolm Romero. Why did you decide to switch characters for the sequel, and what made you choose Malcolm?
Seth: I decided to switch characters to keep it fresh. Matt’s big mystery about himself is solved by the end of the first book and I didn’t want to keep re-hashing the same story over and over. There’s a lot of characters and each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, and focusing solely on Matt would get boring.
Originally, I’d planned to make the second book Ibenus, and follow Allan Havlock. Hounacier was originally going to be Book Three. But a few weeks after finishing Dämoren, my wife and I went to New Orleans and I had a stroke of inspiration. So I just had to follow along with it and make Hounacier the second one.
Now that I’ve picked your brain about your books, I’d love to know more about you, the author! Did you always want to be a writer?
Seth: When I was younger I really wanted to be a writer, and my 8th Grade English teacher even helped me submit some stories for publication. Then in high school I got distracted with girls and punk rock. I became very involved in debate and public speaking. Everyone told me that I had a great radio voice, so I went off to school to go into broadcasting. It wasn’t until after college, and deciding that I didn’t actually want a career in radio, that I picked up writing again.
Which authors or books have been your greatest influences?
Seth: Probably the biggest influence was Clive Barker. I love his prose, and despite his reputation as a horror author, the bulk of his work is fantasy. Imagica was the first time a book really blew me away. After him I would say William Gibson. His ability to describe things is simply incredible. Virtual Light is a standby audio book on my iPod. I’ve listened to it more times than I’ll ever admit.
What are your hobbies, or favorite pastimes for when you want to have fun or take a break from writing?
Seth: Tabletop role-playing games have been a major part of my life for years. We still play once a month, usually Dungeons & Dragons or Cyberpunk2020. Renaissance fairs are also a huge part of who I am. I used to work them in college, performing or selling in shops, but now I just go to have fun. Lastly travel. The world is such an amazing place and I love experiencing the history and culture of different parts of it.
Wrapping up, are there any other projects you’re working on currently or in the near future that you’d like to share, either writing or non-writing related? Will there be more Valducan books?
Seth: I just released a series of pulpy sword & sorcery adventures titled Mountain of Daggers, which follows a thief/assassin called the Black Raven. While they’re different short stories, they’re linear, so it’s like a Season One. The second book, Sea of Quills will be coming out this October.
I’m currently writing the third Valducan novel, Ibenus. But I’m also working on several short stories that take place in that world prior to the events in Dämoren. The first of those will be coming out later this year.
Definitely looking forward to those. Thank you so much for the interview!
Seth: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
*** For more information about Seth Skorkowsky and his books, please visit his website at http://skorkowsky.com! ***