The Spawnstertown Chronicles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Karen Duvall
Date of Publication: 12/20/2014
ISBN: 13: 978-0692342633
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 86,000
Cover Artist: Karen Duvall
In an alternate history New York City—one hundred and fifty years after an earthquake from hell nearly destroyed the planet—the twenty-first century clings to an industrial age. Steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. Henry Paine, a half-demon taxi driver, is the go-to guy for just the right demon to possess your machine and automate any mechanical gizmo with or without an engine. The creatures are tame as pets. Or at least they have been… until now.
Wanda Snow is an exorcist who grudgingly admits to having a few drops of demon blood herself. She's come to New York to rid the city of demonic vermin as well as any other demons that get in her way. Wanda and Henry are naturally at odds, but the two are forced to become partners in a mutual goal to round up the rogue demons biting the Big Apple and take down the sinister tyrant who started it all.
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Wanda Snow fastened a row of buttons on her coat. Damn, it was colder than a banker’s heart out here. She studied the park across the street, watching leafless branches waggle their twiggy fingers in the fog. Drawing back a sleeve, she checked her watch, its large, visible gears a weight around her wrist. Four in the morning. Two hours until sun-up.
Leaning against a lamppost, she gazed up the street, her senses tuned in to the demon energy flowing through the city. She sensed a Bringer coming her way.
Unclasping the tin choker from around her neck, she opened it just wide enough to let the voices in. Eyes closed, she focused on the whispered thoughts of a hundred demons that confirmed the identity of the Hellspawn she waited for. He was the Bringer, and although he didn’t know it yet, he would help her stop the evil that conspired to take over New York City.
“How doin’?” A real voice came from the foggy dark, the words sounding burned as if by coal dust. She knew that sound. The raspy voices of coal-digging Spawnsters had filled the patch towns of her Kentucky home. She still heard them in her sleep. “Spare a dime for a man down on his luck?”
Wondering if she’d been followed, she turned to face him, her spine stiff and booted legs poised to kick what would hurt most. Wanda welcomed some trouble if it would warm her up. But the half-breed was a head shorter than her six feet, and his top hat had no top, his gloves had no fingers. The only threat he posed was the stink coming off him in waves strong enough to choke a skunk. Her gaze raked him up and down as she said, “I’m poor as you, mister. You won’t hear no coins clinkin’ in my pocket.”
“I be a pig’s uncle. You’s a woman, ain’t ya?”
“Last I looked.”
He chuckled. “You dressed too manly to be one of Hell’s Belles. What you doin’ out in Central Park all by your lonesome?”
“Waitin’ for someone. How ’bout you?”
His brown-toothed smile spread his mouth wider than normal for a human. He was a Spawnster, all right. And a drunk one at that. “Makin’ new friends.” He took a swig from a bottle wrapped in a paper bag and held it out for Wanda. “Wanna be my friend?”
She grimaced at the smell of rancid olive oil that was like a hundred proof grain alcohol to a Spawnster. Pushing the bottle away, she shook her head. “I’ll pass, thanks anyway.”
He frowned, his dark eyes starting to glow. Just her luck. A drunk Spawnster with a temper.
“I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but I ain’t interested. Share your oil with someone who can enjoy it, ’kay?” She turned toward the street.
“Fuckin’ human.” Venom deepened his voice. “You think you’re better ’an me?”
Strong fingers gripped her arm above the elbow and tried to spin her around, but she didn’t budge. The drunk yanked again and she took her time turning to face him. “You don’t wanna do this.”
He swung back a fist, aiming his scaly knuckles at her face, but she stopped the blow with one open palm.
Wanda slapped him hard in the face and he staggered backward, eyes wide. “Did no one ever teach you manners?” She slapped him again. “It ain’t nice to beat up on a lady.” A solid punch to his left temple dropped him face down in the gutter.
“Not that I’m a lady, you understand, but you still shouldn’t go ’round beatin’ up on people. It ain’t polite.” She smiled down at the unconscious Spawnster who was too dumb to be a spy. Even if he were, she’d left a clear message for whomever he worked for. His hat lay in the street about ten feet away. She picked it up, dusted it off with the sleeve of her coat, and set it on the ground beside him. He didn’t move. “Have a nice night.”
As she crossed over into the park, twin headlamps from an oncoming car forced her into the shadows.
What a fun steam punk/dystopian story. It's actually a little urban fantasy too, so can we just say it's a little mash up of genres and it's very cool, and leave it up to you to read it and like it :) LOL I did. I've never been to New York, I'm a southern Louisiana girl, who lives in the country, so I dunno if I'd really wanna do big cities. But I love the feel of this apocalyptic left overs in New York. I enjoyed the world building for this world. And I dunno if I'll ever be able to think of hot springs in a clean way again. LOL You see, when the big hellish earthquake almost destroyed it all, the survivors we just trying to survive. In this survival, they found hot springs, which happen to have demon "things" in them, which then lead to lovely little demon hybrid babies, whom are called "hellspawn". I know it sounds complicated but I am trying to keep things from being spoiled, don't let my simplicity run you away LOL.
So we have some major players here. Henry, whom is a hellspawn, hasn't been with his family for a long time. He finally finds them years later, where he meets Wanda. Wanda is an exorcist, she wants all demons gone. And Jasper wants to take over the world, so he's getting hellspawn to kill humans. Now, not only does Wanda and Henry have to stop Jasper, but help heal those hellspawns as well from Jaspers taint.
I would have liked maybe a few more explanations on a few things, but that's just me and my curiosity, and need for those type of things LOL But I really enjoyed the story, and I look forward to seeing where this will go, since this is the first story of the series. I know the first books of a series are sometimes the hardest, trying to world build, and get characters into their flow without serious amounts of info dumps. So with that, I liked the writing style, and I want more!! 4.5 DEMON PAWS!!
First, tell me a little about your book :)….
Demon Fare, the first book in my Spawnstertown Chronicles, is an urban fantasy set in an alternate history New York City. A hundred and fifty years ago, a powerful earthquake trampled the entire planet, destroying almost everything in its wake. Millions died, cities crumbled, and progress came to a screeching halt. It’s now the twenty-first century and civilization still relies on steam-powered energy, but there’s help from a magical species unearthed by the quake. The people have named them demons because of where they came from, but these amorphous creatures of energy are gentle and want only to serve humans by possessing their machines to make them run.
Though global resurgence is slow, the new world has enjoyed a century and a half of peace. That is until one greedy man—part human and part demon—forces the city’s demons to turn against their human masters. The city is blessed with two unlikely saviors: A Hellspawn taxi driver and an exorcist. Can these two sparring partners work together to take down the menace biting the Big Apple before it spreads worldwide?
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
I loved hearing stories when I was little. I enjoyed it so much I would make up my own and drew pictures to tell those stories before I learned how to write. There’s something special about the way words work together to form concepts and pictures that translate into a story. It’s magical and I still get butterflies every time I write a new one. There’s nothing else like it.
What inspired you to write your first book and what was it?
My first manuscript was semi-autobiographical and I’d call it womens fiction. It was about a young pregnant woman who was adopted and in search of her biological mother for health reasons that could affect her unborn child. It was good enough to get me an agent, but not good enough to get published. It’s just as well because I’ve grown as a writer since then.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Other than that first manuscript, I never use real life events in my stories. I wrote a fantasy romance that uses a lot of references to Alice in Wonderland, and it utilizes many Hawaiian myths and legends in the plot, but there’s nothing in the story that’s associated with my own life.
How do you choose when/which characters die in your books?
When it’s organic to the plot. So I’ll kill off a character if circumstances require a character to die, and only if it’s a natural progression of the story.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m currently reading a steampunk fantasy called All The Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle and it’s pretty good so far.
Who do you look up to as a writer?
It’s probably cliché, but I really look up to J.K. Rowling for both her creative spirit and her steadfast determination in the face of adversity. Now that’s an author to hold in high regard. She’s done a lot for the fantasy genre not to mention her influence on young people to put down their video games and pick up a book instead.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Not really. I might make it a bit longer, but to be honest it’s the length it needs to be to tell the story I wanted to tell. I’ll have more to say in the next book in the series.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time is a constant challenge in my writing because I never seem to have enough. Also, my other job as a graphic designer is creative as well, so it’s not always easy to automatically switch gears from visual art to the written form when I start a writing session.
What book are you reading now? Or what genre?
See my above answer about a new author who has grasped my interest.
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
I designed my own cover by myself since it’s what I do for a living. http://www.duvalldesign.wordpress.com
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I always learn something new with each book I write. Sometimes it’s a nuance of craft, sometimes it’s a fact I had to research for the plot. For Demon Fare I learned a lot about steam powered engines and the first New York City subway system.
If you could be one of your characters, who would you choose?
I would definitely choose to be Wanda Snow. She’s confident and authentic, and she never minces words. She always speaks her mind.
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
I’m an eclectic reader and have no preference for genre. I read based on my mood and the quality of writing. So if you want to read a book with prose that will take your breath away, try anything by Alice Hoffman. For great imagination and stunning prose, read Clive Barker’s Imagica. For authentic characters that could easily become your best friends, read the McCauley Brothers romance series by Marie Harte.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that Demon Fare is not just an urban fantasy. It also explores diversity and tolerance in a society changed by fate. And be prepared for many light moments with a few quirky characters, not the least of which is a talking car. The demons in Demon Fare are more angelic than devilish. I hope you’ll enjoy the book.
About the Author:
Karen Duvall, who wrote Demon Fare as Cory Dale, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. Karen is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein of the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Her Knight's Curse series was published by Harlequin Luna in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna's 'Til The World Ends anthology in 2013.
Karen is also a professional graphic designer who designs book covers and book interiors for self-published authors, and creates original 3D graphics for computer gaming. Demon Fare is the first book in her Spawnstertown Chronicles.
3 ebook copies Demon Fare
2 print copies Demon Fare