Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Curse Merchant" by J.P. Sloan: SPOTLIGHT, GUEST POST & Review!!!

The Curse Merchant, by J.P. Sloan

Genre: urban-fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Re-Release : September 15th, 2014

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts (


Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

About The Author: 

I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between. 

I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central Maryland. I’m surrounded by grapevines and cows. During the day I commute to Baltimore, and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations dovetail nicely!

Find J.P. Sloan Online:

The Voicing of Dorian Lake
One of the most regular comments I receive on the Dark Choir books is how people enjoy Dorian Lake's voicing. This puts me over the moon, because voicing is something I really work on with my writing.
Here's a snippet from the first page of The Curse Merchant that samples Dorian's voice:
The tricky thing about screwing with other people's karma is, from time-to-time, it screws you back. I took quick stock of my personal karma as I stared at the end of Gina Desalo's snub-nose revolver. I didn't consider myself to be a bad person, necessarily. A man in my line of work has to take a somewhat liberal view of morality, after all. But it wasn't my view of morality that mattered at the moment.
It was Gina's. After all, she was the one holding the gun.
"What did Jackie ever do to you?" she sputtered from across the table, her hands shaking from what I hoped was anger, and not drugs. Anger I could work with.
"Who's Jackie?" I whispered.
In hind sight, I could've come up with a dozen more intelligent, survival-motivated responses, but having a gun shoved in my face wasn't doing the logic center of my brain any favors.
Gina slammed a hand down on the worn Formica card table between us.
"You know God damn well who."
I really God damn didn't.
"Thing is, Gina, I don't even remember you. If we've done business―”
"You don't remember me? You ruined my life, and you don't remember me?"
"You'd think I'd remember something like that."
The gun inched closer to my nose. I had to watch what I said, or Gina was going to redecorate this cheap motel room in Smartass Red.
The sarcastic-yet-earnest timbre of Dorian's banter is one of the things I loved most about writing The Curse Merchant. I like Dorian, largely because he's not quite like real life, but feels grounded in the world I move through every day.
I actually began The Curse Merchant in a Third-Person POV, but stopped and retread the entire draft once I started to hear him rise out of the pages. A First-Person POV requires a strong voice, and when I knew I had one, the choice was easy.
So, how did I go about crafting Dorian's voice? I had three tricks:
1. My character worksheets: There is a box in my four-page Excel character spreadsheet for character parlance, in which I specify three specific idioms, vocal pauses, or catch phrases the character is prone toward. For example, the one that stuck for Dorian was his propensity for starting a sentence with "Truth is…" or "Fact is…" Each of the principle characters has similar vocal pegs.
2. It often helps to capture a real person's voice to emulate. In Dorian's case, I took a voice I heard on the radio each morning which suited the character well: Scott Reardon of Baltimore's 98 Rock. Currently one of the morning show DJ's, at the time he was the show's producer. He's native to New York, just like Dorian, and relocated to Baltimore, just like Dorian.
3. I read my work out loud when I do my edits. It's amazing what awkward phrasing looks fine in print until you say it out loud. I've found this pushes me toward shorter sentences and more rapid-fire dialogue. Not that discursively eloquent sentences are bad… it's just not my voice.
Funny thing… I took a break between Curse Merchant and its sequel, during which time I watched the first season of House of Cards. When I plunged myself back into the world of the Dark Choir, it seemed that Frank Underwood had crept into my voicing. All of my beta readers commented on Dorian's jarring shift in vocal quality, and I had to go back and re-read the first book to step back into the zone.
Voicing is remarkably organic, often subconscious. When it comes off right… I often simply feel lucky.


What did Sister Sinister think of CURSE MERCHANT?
* * * * *
I give it 5 Stars!
* * * * *

I was gifted a copy of this book in return for my honest review, and as a part of the Curiosity Quills Tour. I have to say, fans of Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" will probably love this series!

Dorian is a wise-cracking hexes and charms merchant (not curses!), who we meet whilst he has a gun to his head. Understandably, he has to explain just what it is he does, and his explanations for how his karmic justice works sold me. How cool would it be to help karma along when someone you know has wronged you? And like any good protagonist, you can't always say you agree with what they do, or how they feel, but you can understand where they're coming from.

CURSE MERCHANT is part of the DARK CHOIR series and its found a fan in me!