Hey, gang. Since the book is now out (and if you haven’t picked up your copy, why haven’t you)?, I thought I’d share part of the original proposal document I sent to Ron Fortier back when he offered to publish New Roads To Hell. This section outlines our quartet of heroes, and presumed a modern day setting for the novel. As you’ll see, some of these characters went through some pretty radical changes as they made their way to the page; there’s even a reference to two who didn’t make the final version of the novel but might debut in the future.
Hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes glimpse, and don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon if you liked the book!
Isaiah Copper, The Nightbreaker
Isiah Copper begins his road to being a hero by being what he is not. As a light skinned black man, Isiah passed himself off as white to gain better access to what society could offer him. As a voice actor, Isiah pretended to be The Nightbreaker, a pulp hero who thrilled the children of Nocturne every Wednesday and Friday night on WDSK.
And his practice of wearing social masks worked; WDSK's owner, Alan Dennings, was planning on exploring the idea of syndicating the Nightbreaker show...and to publicize the move, the station threw a charity ball...
And that's where everything went to Hell.
For you see, the ball was targeted for the debut of the woman calling herself Rose Red, obstensively a robbery, but in reality a distraction for the desperate woman to test her abilties. Just as Alan Dennings was blinded attempting to save the life a family, Isaiah was murdered by the ruthless killer in the second between 11:59 pm and midnight...
And Isaiah discovered that, since he died in the literal ticks between days, he was not going to die ever. He slipped out of phase with reality, neither dead nor alive, a physical being who might as well be a ghost. People on the other side of this schism didn't even recognize he existed unless he concentrated, and even then that recognition would fade the moment he left their presence.
Most people would go insane. But Isaiah chose a different method of coping--by becoming something akin to the mask he hid behind professionally, acting to right wrongs an repel evil in a continuing crusade to prove to the world that yes, he still exist. This has been an uphill battle, although recent innovations in video technology has enabled him to be caught on camera as a smudgy, ill-defined form...so the story of man dressed as an old-time radio hero has been added to the library of weird and mystical stories that make up Noctune's heritage.
Luckily, there is another group of people who can perceive and interact with. Those people who are sensitive to mystical energies are able to perceive Isaiah's presence constantly. This is an island of relief to our friend, knowing there are people out there who do recognize he exists as more than a legend. He may become the one member of this Legion who actually thinks this is a formal Legion.
Alan Dennings,The Ferryman
Even though he was left alive after trying to prevent the death of occultist Maybelle Tremens (the grandaunt of April, and maybe one of the reasons her descendant has become the equivalent of a mystical bug zapper) at that Halloween Charity Ball, but Alan Dennings might as well have died.
Yes, he attempted to carry on with his career in spite of his blindness...but the voices started. Voices that registered in the back of his head, voices telling their stories and demanding he deliver vengeance. There were so many, and when Alan tried to ignore them, they just got louder until he couldn't hear what was going on in the real world. Alan quickly was ousted by his investors from WDSK, was evicted from his home and took to wandering the streets....
...where he was found by the retired Black Talon, Colin Palmersdale. Having struggled with the Talon's own curse, Colin was able to train Alan to master his condition, and endeavored to bring him back from the brink of insanity.
Colin Palmersdale failed. All he succeeded in doing was give Alan the means to transcend his mortal form and become something greater...something that allows him to assuage those voices. With each transgression he avenges for them, he lives a little longer, his body held in a sort of mystically sanctioned stasis until every last one of these voices are satisfied.
Alan is...well, he's not well at all...
April Tremens, Dreamcatcher
To the Narrow World, April Tremens is a mentally ill young woman who suffers from one of the most extreme forms of Disassociative Personality Disorder known to man. Psychiatrists have mapped out a staggering amount of personalities in April, almost all of them malevolent. Even with heavy medication, these personalities manifest--but they are at least managable.
The Wide World, the world that the Shadow Legion operates in, know better.
April Tremens' codename is equal parts sarcastic and ironic. Just as a dreamcatcher is supposed to catch nightmares in its web before they get to the dreamer, April Tremens is a giant paranormal scoop, catching demons and other malignant supernatural entities inside her corporeal form before they can manifest on our plane and wreck havoc. Having all these monstrosities rattling around inside her head has driven her hopelessly insane, and only a heroic effort on her part allows her to retain control of her body the majority of the time.
Oddly enough, April is a vital resource to the Legion, as she has a unique insight into the way evil works. I envision her allowing one of the myriad entities to surface so her fellows can gain knowledge that will help them in their battles. Also, I figure having mystical creatures literally dwelling inside her has given April a working practical knowledge of magic. She can do minor spells at will...and as she gains a modicum of freedom through her association with the Legion, those abilities will grow.
I also envision a sort of strange, symbiotic relationship between April, mentally disabled by the constant war she wages in her mind against these unwelcome lodgers, and Playmate, drawn to the delicate young woman due to its instinctive motivation to protect children. This might be what keeps the strange creature around, cooperating with the adults it usually shuns.
Oh, and sadly, Ron--April will most likely be the one Legionnaire who will not have a costume or unform...although I imagine Playmate might try to make one for her, and fail, down the line.
Mawbry Palmersdale, The Black Talon
For centuries, the Black Talon has been the enforcer of The Circle, the strange morphogenetic field that binds all life of earth. The Talon wears a ceremonial tribal mask that allows him to tap into the Circle's abilities, borrowing specific animal traits to give him special abilities. A Talon can briefly become as strong as an elephant, agile like a cheetah or blend into the background like a chameleon. However, accessing a single ability for too long allows the Circle's representative to leave a little of itself in the user, resulting ultimately in physiological changes in the wearer. Each Talon ultimately has to be put down when his body becomes twisted into an impossible patchwork of animal traits.
For the last two hundred years, the custodian of the Talon legacy has been the Palmersdale family, and for the last eighty of those years the Palmersdales have called The City That Lives By Night home. And the Palmersdales have had a rather unique hand in shaping the Legion through the years...
It was a Palmersdale who tried to save Alan Dennings from becoming the Ferryman. It was a Palmersdale who gave shelter to the Tremens family when they fell on hard times in the 80's. It was a Palmersdale sponsorship which allowed Tsura Boswell to go to law school, and a Palmersdale who suggested she use her pyrokine abilities to benefit others. One would almost think that the Circle wants there to be a unified force of protectors in this small Gulf Coast city....