I’m nearly ready to launch the first of a series of short mysteries featuring Roger Sotil and Jake Savage – the heroes of Hell has its Demons.
The story is called Death on the Lips and comes in at a hefty 10,000 words – so quite long for a short story.
The action take place after the events of Hell has its Demons, when Roger and Jake have settled down to a life of paranormal investigation in the City of London.
Here’s the draft of the blurb:
The Countess of Suffolk lies dead in her own bedchamber. Her body has been horribly mutilated. Clearly a case of a demon attack according to her chamberlain. The alchemist she retained has fled the house—and surely he must be to blame? But when Jake finds a pot of lip paint and a tally stick other possibilities emerge. It’s another case for Roger Sotil and Jake Savage, Sorcerous Investigators to the court of Richard II. And as usual things are not as they appear.
What I enjoy most about Mark Lord’s writing is that he manages to convey a sense of period without knocking the reader over the head with detail. His settings feel authentic without being manufactured. The dialogue of his characters is perfectly readable and feels natural, as do their actions.
Click here to read the whole review. And to check out Hell has its Demons go here!
Plunge Into A Nail Biting Historical Fantasy Novel That Will Leave You Breathless
Set in the Middle Ages, Mark Lord’s novel tells a gripping story where demons and necromancers engage in a power game with the adventurous protagonists Jake, Roger and the beautiful Isabel, who is accused of witchcraft.
Investigating an infestation of demons in the town of St Brett’s is the last thing that Jake Savage wants to do this summer. But for his master, the controversial Oxford scholar Roger Sotil, it is a chance to prove his theories about demons and avoid charges of heresy.
The Abbot of St Brett’s has called for Roger’s help to rid his town of demons. Jake owes Roger a massive debt, but St Brett’s is a town that holds dark memories for him. Who is behind this plot and what is the ultimate prize?
An Electrifying Plot That Merges Skillfully Actual Historical Events With Fantastical Elements
In Hell has its Demons a plot unfolds to use demons to take the ultimate prize of all – the crown of Edward III, King of England.
“With ‘Hell Has Its Demons’, Jake Savage finally gets a novel and it’s a good one.” – SFcrowsnest
“What I enjoy most about Mark Lord’s writing is that he manages to convey a sense of period without knocking the reader over the head with detail. His settings feel authentic without being manufactured.” – SFcrowsnest
Hell has its Demons is the first novel in a trilogy.
What if the demons portrayed in the Middle Ages were real and could be conjured by necromancers?
And what if those seeking power decided to use demons to get what they wanted? In Hell has its Demons a plot unfolds to use demons to take the ultimate prize of all – the crown of Edward III, King of England.
Investigating an infestation of demons in the town of St Brett’s is the last thing that Jake Savage wants to do this summer. But for his master, the controversial Oxford scholar Roger Sotil, it is a chance to prove that demons can be conjured and avoid charges of heresy.
In St Brett’s Roger sees demons possessing the townspeople. Jake thinks they are just acting very strangely. The people are scared and want answers fast. A beautiful woman, Isabel Haukwake, is accused of witchcraft. Roger feels sure that she isn’t guilty. Jake knows she isn’t. He was once engaged to marry her, until his father took her from him.
Hell has its Demons is the first novel in a trilogy.
My fantasy short Demon River is now free for Kindle for three days, from 2nd March 2012 to 4th March 2012. Enjoy!
Set in a fantasy world of dark magic, Benetus, the King’s chancellor, fears the return of a rival he had thought banished from court. Benetus turns to the help of demons to rid himself of his enemy. But things are not always as they seem in the spirit world.
“Recently I had even felt the beginnings of optimism. After years of cloud and storm, the sun had broken through and I could at last bask in the success that I deserved. After all, who else now stood between me and the ear of the King?”
The last few weeks have been spent editing my historical fantasy novel set in the Middle Ages: Hell has its Demons. At present I am half way through reading the first draft. I am not making too many edits at the moment, unless I spot a glaring typo. This is my first time editing a full novel length story, and I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. But I have found that the most valuable thing to do is to just remind myself of what happens in the novel, what I wrote, and to get an overview of the major things that need fixing. For instance I have realised that there are a number of inconsistencies in the middle of the book – chapters out of order etc. Also there are some characters I introduce early on that die away, so I need to make a decision about whether to keep them in and develop them further in the book, or to get rid of them completely, or at least minimize their importance.
I’m enjoying this phase of the process. It’s nice to read through what I have written again as a holistic exercise rather than just reading bits and pieces here and there to check what I should be writing next. The good thing (or perhaps the dangerous thing) is that I like what I have written so far!
My experiment with writing a novel from different first person perspectives – see the Vulture posts, lead me to realize that it would be a lot of work to do this for Hell has its Demons, and I think not necessary either. My reread so far leads me to believe that the three different third person POVs will work quite well. First person POV writing gives fiction a completely different flavour, especially over an extended piece such as a novel, but I hadn’t appreciated that fully until I started writing the Vulture as an experiment. Who knows maybe I’ll take the experiment further at some point in the future, but I know it definitely has helped inform my writing of Hell has its Demons.
If you’re interested in finding out more about demons and demonology then I am sure you have come across sources such as the Goetia and the Pseudomonarchia daemonum. Both sources have a fairly similar list of demons, which I believe were compiled in the later middle ages/early modern period, just as the interest in magic, demonology and necromancy really started to take hold. This was the era of witchhunts and famour ‘magicians’ such as John Dee, Johann Weyer and Heinrich Agrippa.
King Solomon, arch necromancer?
The lists of demons were allegedly derived from texts written by King Solomon, who according to Gnostic accounts was famous for his control of demons and spirits. However, I think it is likely that the magicians of the early modern period such as Weyer and Agrippa were really just making these lists up based on their knowledge of Christian and Classical myth and legend.
What you get is a strange mix of sources to provide the bibliographies for these demons.
For instance Bifrons, who I have been researching, with a possible starring role in my novel Hell has its Demons, takes a lot of his powers and nature from the Roman god Janus, who was also called Janus Bifrons.
I think whoever came up with the name of Bifrons as a demon was probably looking back through account of various pagan gods and saw this name Janus Bifrons. Janus would perhaps have been too well-known in its Roman context, and perhaps also didn’t sound demonic enough, whereas Bifrons does sound rather devilish.
The Latin meaning of Bifrons
In Latin, the word bifrons sums up the nature of Janus quite well:
However, both the Goetia and the Pseudomonarchia daemonum shy away of describing Bifrons in terms that are too reminiscent of Janus. For example from the Goetia:
The Forty-sixth Spirit is called Bifrons, or Bifrous, or Bifrovs. He is an Earl, and appeareth in the Form of a Monster; but after a while, at the Command of the Exorcist, he putteth on the shape of a Man. His Office is to make one knowing in Astrology, Geometry, and other Arts and Sciences. He teacheth the Virtues of Precious Stones and Woods. He changeth Dead Bodies, and putteth them in another place; also he lighteth seeming Candles upon the Graves of the Dead. He hath under his Command 6 Legions of Spirits. His Seal is this, which he will own and submit unto, etc.
Janus was a god of transitions, who could look into the future and the past, and often appeared at gateways. He had some control perhaps over the living and the dead in this gatekeeper role.
The Renaissance demonologists allude to that nature in the fact that he can change dead bodies and has power of divination (although most demons had this power). Perhaps the closest parallel is that the demon Bifrons has too guises: a monster who can change into a man and vice versa.
It’s fascinating to see how the source material from the myth of Janus was used to create a new myth over a thousand years later by the esoteric demonologists of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The difference is perhaps that Janus was properly worshipped as a god, whereas Bifrons the demon was only ever a work of fiction.
I have been working through some ideas of how to portray hell in my novel Hell has its Demons. If you read the synopsis of the story you’ll have noticed that it ends with a journey by some of the main characters into hell itself. As the story is set in the middle ages there is some quite rich imaginative material for how hell was seen. The most obvious example being Dante’s Inferno, which is a complex and masterfully imagined place. Other medieval portrayals often depict it as a pit of fire where sinners are eaten or tortured by demons, including Satan himself. Dante’s portrayal is more subtle – with complex punishments depending on the exact nature of the sin. Also he put Satan frozen in ice, doomed to remain there as he breathes out frozen air himself so ensuring he will never be able to break free. Peter Lombard, writing before Dante, said there were two opinions of Satan’s freedom. Either he was able to roam and tempt man on earth, or some others believed that he was bound in prison in hell until Antichrist should come, then he would be loosed to seduce men in the final days of apocalypse.
I have thought about approaching the portrayal from a different point of view. As I see it Satan is really doing a job for God – after all God wants sinners to be punished doesn’t he, and Satan sort of makes sure this process gets done. So in my version I think Satan will probably have his freedom, but set under strict limits by God. For instance he can’t go into the world and seduce people unless God wills it – for instance to test a candidate for sainthood maybe.
Punishing sinners is a fairly tedious and onerous job for most demons as well. They can’t appear in their own form, but rather as shadowy air – according to Peter Lombard – and there must have been a lot more work for them as the number of sinners constantly increases. I am thinking that there would need to be a strict shift pattern for demons and a hierarchy of supervisors to make sure things got done. I wondered what hell would be like if a modern dictator got his hands on it – well probably quite bureaucratic and efficient and that I think will influence my portrayal of hell in this story.
There will be traditional elements – demons will appear monstrous, but I wanted to add more complexity. Some of the demons will have been recruited from amongst men – just as angels could be created from saints – and perhaps some of these men might be a little less willing to do their hellish duty than others?