Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Justin D. Herd, about his fiction book entitled, Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful. Check out the giveaway at the end and enjoy!
Where did the idea for Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful come from?
It originally started as a story about a man that has migraines but his pills keep him from slipping into another world. Then it became a story about a religious society that worshiped all these gods in the streets, not realizing that they still lived amongst them. The problem came in that my detective character wasn’t able to connect the dots when he was interacting with these gods. So, it became an atheistic society where the mob family is the only one that believes.
How did the title of this book come about?
For the longest time, the book was simply titled The Faithful, named after the mob family in the novel. A big issue throughout the story was that the gods were slowly introduced, filling in the fantasy as the story progressed, but now with Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful, you know exactly what you’re getting into.
What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?
This is one that blends a lot of genres, taking what fits and getting rid of the bits that don’t. On a top level, it’s Fantasy. But it’s got a crime element in an urban environment, so it’s Urban Fantasy. But, you hear of that and you think devils and deep magic systems and it’s not quite that. So, long and short of it, I consider it Fantasy Noir. This is a genre that focuses more on the setting, the feel of the prose, and stoic heroes. Overall, it doesn’t even quite fit that, but it’s the closest I’ve found.
What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?
Honestly, I’m not one much to talk about theme or any underlying messages. A lot of the imagery might string together to give some unintended context, but it’s always fun to hear what people read into it.
Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.
The book took roughly nine months. I honestly don’t remember when I started it, but I finished it in 2008. I started with an idea for three books, opened a world building document, and wrote 22 pages (almost 12,000 words) describing the society, its gods, the characters and their history, as well as a six page treatment of the story. It ended nothing like it. I got caught up for about six months, trying to avoid using any of the ideas for the last two books, but ultimately gave in and finished the book in two weeks.
Tell me about the main storyline within this book.
A mobster becomes a god, only to discover they die too.
That’s the elevator pitch. The longer one involves mobsters, artists, cops, multiple gods, divine civil war, and coups. But hey, at least I’ve got it distilled down to eleven words!
Who is the protagonist of this story?
The main character is Raine Morgan, the right hand of the dominant mob family. He’s the mobster with a heart of gold, paying off his marks debts rather than have the family kill them. He’s not necessarily a believer, but it’s been ingrained into his past. When he accidentally kills someone, much less someone he was trying to protect, he spirals out of control in an effort to get revenge and, ultimately, redemption.
Who is the antagonist of this story?
For the humans, it’s Carrick Uren. He’s a greedy middleman in Na Creidmhigh and hates Raine for not killing people, for being able to surpass him. He takes his opportunity once Raine is caught out after his first murder. As a result, Na Creidmhigh is divided and ultimately becomes a slaughter house.
Then, there’s Theon the Trickster for the gods. As you might expect, he’s always up to no good.
What is the major conflict in this story?
The initial conflict is that Raine is set out to hunt down a couple miscreants, only to come on them assaulting a woman. He charges in, but ends up killing their victim and letting them escape. So he sets out to hunt them and perhaps gain some redemption. Little does he realize that the incident triggers godhood and he catches the attention of the gods. They come together to try to deal with another immortal joining them, only to discover they can die too. That sets off a divine civil war where no one is safe.
Where and when is this story taking place?
I took the amalgamation approach to writing this. It’s a near future technology, but with the clothing and music of the 1920s. It’s a grimy, gritty harbor town where the mob family rules the town. In general, the genre is Film Noir.
As for location, I took old maps of 1800s Boston and used the general locations of things. There are no cars in the world. Instead of trains, they use water trams.
Who is your favorite character in this book?
I’d have to say it’s probably the Shade. But I think people will really latch onto Theon. One of the things I like so much about him is that he pushes the envelope at every chance. Hell, even when he finds out he could actually die, he still screws gods over and toys with humans. He’s out to have a good time, damned the consequences.
Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?
I’ve made sure to weed out anything that would be too much like me. At the end of the day, there’s some allusions to migraines, but not anything that’s explicitly stated. I have chronic migraines, almost every one of them starting with an ocular migraine where I lose my vision for about thirty minutes, then the pain starts.
The only other thing is that Raine is supremely clumsy. I have fallen up stairs, I have tripped over nothing, and would regularly drive my ex-wife crazy with how I would find anything and everything to trip over.
What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?
I absolutely love Oki’s Veins. They are this architectural feature, essentially glass channels of backlit water. They run up and down the streets, up walls, connecting the city in a giant art display. It’s impractical and impossible, but it would just be amazing to see that, to have every structure just commit wholly to this feature.
What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?
I think the limited immortality would be a huge bummer. I mean, it’s one of those things you grow into that you realize immortality isn’t all it’s meant to be. But then to have it and suddenly be told, “Just kidding . . .” I try to explore that in the book, where the disparate gods react to it differently, but I just think that would be the worst.
Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.
Raine Morgan – Michael Pitt
Theon – Christoph Waltz
Theme Song: End of the Line by Murder by Death
Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?
Nothing too spectacular. I am already looking at its sequels. My plans are to split the story into two different storylines: one that follows the gods, the other the mob and see where that takes us. It would be a different take for those that love the mortal stuff, but not the gods, they have their series, or those that adored the god stuff, but not so much the mortals . . . well, they can be satisfied too.
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful, please visit the links provided.
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