Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Pop Fiction
Publisher: Peabo Productions (Self-Published)
Date of Publication: July 8th, 2014
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Sam Soto
A group of friends are reunited after twenty years to learn that their destinies are entangled with the immortal Muses and a mysterious lost jukebox.
From Vancouver to a New Orleans cemetery, roaming through Los Angeles to Las Vegas; it’s a supernatural road trip laced with rock ‘n’ roll.
It could have ended differently. But it ends like this.
Or, more accurately, this is how the ending begins.
It begins in the summer. It begins in Los Angeles.
Jonathan feels like something not good is waiting to happen. He doesn’t always feel like this, just on birthdays, holidays, and most of the days between. This is a day that holds something bad. He’s been avoiding talking to Fortuna recently, since he feels like he’s been working on these kinds of jobs long enough to be able to find the right answers on his own. But this isn’t an ordinary case. This time he’s going to need help.
He wishes that he could tell Phillip what has really been going on with Pandora, but he can’t. Not yet, perhaps not ever. Phillip has helped a lot, moving in and out of his life like an older brother, no, like a good friend. Ever since Sebastian died. Jonathan looks at his drink. He’s going to need more alcohol too.
Phillip wants him to find Pandora, but that’s something he doesn’t think he can do alone. That’s why he’s convinced himself that he should talk to Fortuna. He still isn’t sure who Fortuna is or how she knows what she knows. Kalinda introduced them one night in San Francisco, but he never learned where, exactly, she came from. He is grateful that she doesn’t mind sharing her knowledge with him. He had entertained thoughts that Fortuna might be involved with black magic, but he knows he’s wrong.
She is beyond good and evil.
Jonathan taps his fingers on the bar. He’s hanging out at Swampland, while the DJ tears up the vinyl, spinning through a mix of early ‘70s punk rock obscurities and British Invasion hits. He turns to look but the DJ booth is shrouded in shadows and dim red light. He thinks about saying thanks for the songs but decides he doesn’t need another excuse to stay. “Right, let’s just get it done.”
It took him a while to find Fortuna. She’s someone that even the dead don’t like to talk about, and the dead love to talk. It took a few visits to Hollywood Forever, a boom box, and an old Shriekback cassette. He felt like a gothic Lloyd Dobler, but he finally got his answer. The Tropicana Motel on Santa Monica Boulevard, Room 29. Now that he knows where she is, the trick is to work up the nerve to go there. Jonathan knows he shouldn’t go. He doesn’t always listen to the word “shouldn’t.” He shouldn’t be infatuated with a woman named Pandora who is the next best thing to a vampire, and not a good one. He probably shouldn’t be trying to track her down either. He knows Fortuna might be able to tell him where she is; he kind of hopes that she can’t.
Clearing away spirits is like tearing down the dusty latticework of old cobwebs accumulating in a musty attic. That he can handle, though it gets a little dirty at times. Vampires, though, they’re solid. Blood-sucking evil solid, and he isn’t looking forwards to dealing with any of them. Not that Pandora is a real vampire, but she’s close enough. He’s been running from her and searching for her at the same time, and it’s getting old.
“Damn you, Phillip,” he grumbles as he leaves Swampland, wishing reality was like it used to be. As far as he knows, Phillip’s the same as Pandora but, at least so far, not evil. Phillip did help Jonathan get settled in Los Angeles.
Jonathan can clean out a haunted dive bar in about twenty-four hours, he can exorcise a possessed drum kit in the time it takes to listen to the extended mix of “Fascination Street”, he can purify a stage from spectral remains before a band returns for an encore. He just doesn’t know if he can take out Pandora. He walks fast down the sidewalk, passing all of the faceless people, and then—
A dark-haired woman moves past him with a sidewalking glare. She struts hard in high black boots. She’s stalking the streets like a storm on the concrete, heels over heartbeat, and Jonathan’s breath catches in a suddenly broken rhythm.
She’s a whiplash girl twisting necks, and he feels the stirrings of a fever. He doesn’t even care about the weather; he just knows it’s better when it’s hot.
This heat holds, and slides out from between her steps. He watches her tight black dress, the fabric painting eyes and stirring blood. Slick lick lips, thigh-high and higher. She hits him with a flash of red, a slip of a smile, like some reptile out for a spin.
Jonathan stops, but it’s not her.
He still has time. He needs to figure out how to get away from Pandora—for good. It feels like they’ve been haunting each other for an eternity, though it’s only been a few years. He needs to know where she is and how to stop her. The only person Jonathan knows who might have answers is Fortuna. She always has answers. She always freaks him out as well.
Jonathan waits for his hands to stop shaking. He watches the sun set in the reflection of skyscrapers, pulling the half moon to rest behind a closed curtain of brilliant clouds. He connects the stars while walking between parked cars. Some quiet frenzy slips inside him, and he hides it from the outside world. He already knows what song she’s playing as he moves up the stairs. He can feel the rhythm tracing taut lines around his veins with a wire’s kiss.
I am the fly.
Jonathan walks through the cold night into Fortuna’s motel room.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always wrote, starting with poetry, and then also working within the realm of “Musical Journalism” - band interviews, music reviews, etc.— but I never thought about “being a writer” until fairly recently. I always wanted to be a musician. I’ve been in a few bands, did a couple of little tours, made it on to a few recordings… but that just never went as far as I wanted it to go. My last band, in Los Angeles, ended like a really bad break-up, and I really didn’t want to deal with that band relationship again. The need to do something creative stuck, though, so I pushed away my drum kit and picked up a story idea that I’d started a long time ago and decided that I needed to finish it. Write a real book. Now, yeah, I’m a writer—but having only this debut novel isn’t really a career as of yet. I do know that I will write more books, though I don’t know how many more—or if they’ll be good. I hope they’re going to be good. I like my first one.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
This is my first book, so I’ve only got this experience to work with, but as a sort of backwards answer: It took me a year to get my book not published. By that I mean I actually sent out the query letters, contacted literary agents, tried to pitch the synopsis wherever I could. I did this for a year, and I have a stack of rejection letters that are almost as thick as my novel. The one thing that I kept getting told by some of my writer friends was that’s not a sign to stop—it’s a sign to keep going. It’s not real until you get rejected. Still, after a year of hearing “Sorry, it’s just not right for us.” I decided that I needed to do it myself. I couldn’t move on until I felt like there was actual completion, so I went with self-publishing. That process—getting the cover art done and working out all of the formatting bugs within my manuscript—probably took about three months.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The title is The Devil’s Jukebox, and I know many writers have said this before, but summarizing it has proven to be a very difficult task. Perhaps it’s trying to see the whole story in one sentence through the author’s eye—it almost feels like taking all of the depth and meaning out of the book for a cheap tagline. I wish I was better at this, but I’m not… so what I get for a little summary is: Five high school friends reunite twenty years later in order to stop an evil immortal from destroying the Muses.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I tried to shop The Devil’s Jukebox out to various literary agents in hopes of getting a “real” publisher—but as a brand new author with only one book it’s difficult. I felt that I needed to get it out, regardless. Have a finished product behind me so I could concentrate on moving forwards. I opted for self-publishing, because now - it’s a viable option. I have a book. It feels like a book, it’s got a fantastic cover, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I really enjoyed having complete creative control. That being said, I’m not against a formal publishing deal - perhaps with book number two I’ll have better luck.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I think I’m sticking with this one genre of choice at the moment. I’m really not comfortable switching things up right now. Maybe someday I’ll be able to write a great western or a believable Science Fiction tale. I would actually love to try to write a comic book / graphic novel and play on some strange superhero ideas… but I’d need to find an artist I could work with, and the time to dedicate to that sort of project. I am currently working through book number two, but I have ideas for at least two other books after that—one of them possibly a sequel to the Devil’s Jukebox, but we’ll see. Time is always an issue.
What genre would you place your books into?
Well, in broadest terms, I’m writing fantasy. This, in my case, could be narrowed down to Urban Fantasy. I thought about pushing the Devil’s Jukebox towards a YA crowd, but I didn’t want to take out all of the smoking and drinking. Personally, I call this genre “Paranormal Pop Fiction” - I felt that the label of Urban Fantasy is now dominated by sultry vampires and naked demon hunters trying to work out their issues with seductive werewolves. I have some romance, some gothic moods, and even though my fantasy is set in modern day cities, I just don’t relate to all the sexy supernatural plotlines. So I chose Paranormal Pop Fiction to slide this into. It’s modern, other-worldly, and with some nice pop culture twists and references.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I’ve always been drawn to the reality that lives right behind our reality. I’ve never seen an alien or a ghost—well, actually, I might have seen a ghost once, but I can’t prove it—but I believe that there are forces out there that most people can’t see, or refuse to see. I might, actually, work my way into some straight up literary fiction, but right now I enjoy the freedom and twists that the supernatural world allows within my writing.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing for decades. I started out with that bad high school poetry, and actually have continued my poetic endeavors. *shameless plug alert* A recent chapbook of mine is available alongside the Devil’s Jukebox on Amazon (The Typewriter Keeps Me Awake at Night). I’ve written a ton of music reviews for various ‘zines and magazines, but I wanted to push the poetry further. Solidify and stretch some of the images I wrote into a cohesive story, with a beginning, middle, and end. As far as inspirations—music has always inspired my writing. And then when I discovered poets and writers like e.e. cummings, Jack Kerouac, Rimbaud and Baudelaire, I realized I could pretty much go anywhere.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
My routine changes, depending upon where I am—but I love writing while there are distractions. I can’t write in complete silence, though sometimes I wish I could. I love writing while I have headphones on and some favorite music is playing. I love writing while the television is on. It doesn’t have to be a specific show, just something I’ve already seen so I don’t have to concentrate. Like early episodes of Supernatural or Buffy The Vampire Slayer or something… I like having that distraction to keep my mind flowing. If I think too much, too seriously about what I’m writing I get stuck. When I get to the editing of a finished draft, then the silence works, but until the story is finished for the first time, distract me, please.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Honestly, I haven’t had that many reviews—so yes - I have read them all. I think that I would like to read them all in the future, though I haven’t had the opportunity to read any really bad reviews. I don’t know how I would take that. In stride, I hope… although if it was just a mean review I might be a little upset. Constructive criticisms are always appreciated, mean and spiteful reviews—not so much. I don’t think this book will be loved by everyone, but I don’t think there’s anything in it that’s worth hating.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I actually wrote about half of the book before settling on the final title. It changed about three times during the writing—but initially, I had a title before the story took shape. It was just the wrong title. With my next book—the title definitely came first. Not going to spoil it yet, but It was while sitting with a good friend talking over drinks, and the phrase just came out, and I thought “That’s a great title for a book…” so I’m running with it.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Names for my fictional places are often inspired by songs - like Café Komakino, after the song by Joy Division “Komakino”. For the people, It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s almost like I ask them if this name feels right… It took me a long time to decide on Phillip. Just Phillip. Seems easy, but I have to try to find names that don’t already make me think of someone else. Phillip felt perfect. Sometimes I watch all of the cast and crew credits at the end of a TV show and write down single names that jump out at me, and then try and fit a first and last name together. Martin Church was actually named after a song called “When You Are A Martian Church.”
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
For the majority of my characters, I had to have the name first. That was difficult for me. Names are hard. Charlotte was one of the first names I had, and that stuck. Annie was originally named Iris, and while I love the name, I knew it was wrong for the part. I have a list of close to a hundred names that were not useable for this story, but they might be right for the next one. Some names were just wrong. Either too obvious (Daniel Dark) or maybe a little too silly (Jack Janglin). Places (the fictional ones) were named after their creation. I had written about a bar, and that felt like it should be called the Sapphire Lounge.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I had very broad ideas of the characters before I started writing—and I found that I couldn’t start with a solid set of character traits because they would grow and develop as I wrote. I wanted to be able to allow them to tell me who they were. When I finished my first draft, I went back and made the earlier appearances of the characters relate better to how they ended up at the end.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
One favorite book? Holy libraries, bookman! There are a few I’ve read more than once… but If I had to pick the one read the most and carried with me the longest it would have to be Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. He wrote it in 1961, I probably read it for the first time in 1983 (?). He’s such a brilliant writer, and this book captured me at an early age. The dark carnival, the mystery, the forces of good and evil. I had dreams about this story, and I’ve read it at least five times—every time it still gives me shivers—and I will read it again.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I think books can transfer to movies well. I think that comic books / graphic novels are easier to adapt, and even then mistakes can be made, but yeah - if done right it can be a wonderful new way to experience something that you love. I thought Interview with the Vampire was a great film, but Queen of the Damned? Not so much. I thought they did a really good job with Harry Potter, but personally I couldn’t get into the Twilight series (I actually couldn’t get into those books, either, so maybe that’s why). As a child I fell in love with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Taking those memories to see the film in 2005 left me feeling a little depressed. That movie could have been so much better, but then again, seeing a film through adult eyes, when the book was taken into your heart through the eyes of a child, leaves a lot of room for disappointment. A movie that I love, based on a book that I love, is The Shining. Stanley Kubrick’s version. There are some changes made to the original story, but it’s a fantastic film. Blade Runner too. Does that count? And I just learned that they are making a movie out of A Wrinkle In Time. That book is a huge part of my childhood, so they had better do a good job.
Your favorite food is?
I’m going to switch this to drink. I love food, but sometimes there is absolutely nothing better in the world than a great espresso drink. Right now I swoon over the Iced Dulce Latte from Café Dulce in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Although, I do have to mention that the Ahi Burger at the Grass Skirt Grill on Oahu is almost worth killing for.
Your favorite singer/group is?
So hard to pick a favorite in music. Music is what inspires me, music is what keeps me going. Seriously, on my old beat up iPod I have 12,501 songs. I own boxes and boxes of records (lots of vinyl) and CDs. The Devil’s Jukebox is overflowing with references to music that I love. Even doing the Desert Island Discs list is tricky… but you want one? I’m going to give you Nick Cave. With the Birthday Party, the Boys Next Door, or the Bad Seeds. Nick Cave is always in my top ten.
Your favorite color is?
So is black considered a color these days? I can never tell. It’s always a favorite, regardless. I know that’s an easy answer, but I’m not going to get all “Oh, that particular shade of sunset periwinkle is definitely my favorite.” I do, however, also really like the combination of a smooth chocolate brown next to a Robin’s egg blue. That’s nice, right?
Your favorite Author is?
So many, in so many different genres. Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, J. D. Salinger, H. P. Lovecraft, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Ray Bradbury - and on and on - A favorite is so hard to pick. There are the writers that inspired me when I was younger (Madeline L’Engle and Susan Cooper), the writers that got me through those late end of high school years (Anne Rice, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Clive Barker), and then the writers that helped inspire me through those more recent times of writer’s block (Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, Richard Kadrey, Ransom Riggs). But all that being said, the one writer who has been a favorite since I was eleven years old is Susan Cooper. Her series, The Dark Is Rising sequence, inspired me for years, and still does.
Marcel Feldmar was born in Vancouver, moved to Boulder, ended up in Denver, went back to Vancouver, moved to Seattle, and ended up in Los Angeles. He is married with three dogs, and enjoys well made cocktails. He is also a coffee addict and an ex-drummer for too many bands to mention. He recently traded in his drumsticks for a couple of pens, and proceeded to complete his first novel. The Paranormal Pop Fiction tale entitled The Devil’s Jukebox.