Please welcome Delilah S. Dawson back to the blog! Her brand new book, SERVANTS OF THE STORM, just came out this month, and I was thrilled to catch up with her about it, and more!
I’m very excited about Servants of the Storm! Will you tell us more about the book and what inspired you to write it?
Sure! Servants of the Storm is a Southern Gothic Horror YA set in Savannah, Georgia and focusing on Dovey Greenwood, whose best friend Carly died a year ago in a freak hurricane. When she sees Carly at their favorite coffee shop, she impulsively flushes her antipsychotics to find out what really happened to her friend. As it turns out, her meds were actually part of the demon magic devouring Savannah, a dark world gradually revealed as she chases clues with the help of her childhood friend Baker and a new, dangerous guy named Isaac.
The idea came from a photoset of Six Flags New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. I wanted to write a story about it, but I’d never been to New Orleans at the time and didn’t want to do a disservice to those who lived through Katrina. So I moved the story to my husband’s home town, Savannah, invented a hurricane to wreck it, and built Dovey’s world on the places we visit there.
I’ve never seen an albino alligator in the wild, though. Yet. 😉
Why do you think readers will connect with Dovey? What did you enjoy the most about writing her character?
Dovey starts out normal, a good friend and a respectful daughter and a Drama Club junkie. But underneath that, she’s a fighter, fiercely loyal to her dead best friend and willing to push against any obstacle to save Carly. I think we can all relate to grief and depression, to losing someone we love and wishing above all else to have them back. As the story transitions to the supernatural, I hope readers will make the jump with her into a dark, creepy world where it would be all too easy to give in and ignore the monsters.
My favorite thing about writing Dovey is her defiance. When I was a teen, I was big on rules and being good. But Dovey doesn’t do what she’s told; plenty of times, she doesn’t even do what I want her to and takes off running in the opposite direction. It’s fun to write a character who can push back in ways I instinctively don’t.
Speaking of characters…what supporting characters were among your faves, and why?
I love the boys, of course, especially Isaac. I have a thing for dangerous, reckless guys with secrets. But I probably enjoyed Kitty the most. A flat-out evil girl with fox ears and pointy heels who owns a club downtown? SOLD. Gigi was also fun, as I dig writing folks who live outside of society.
Why Southern Gothic, and why young adult? What made you decide to write a book for a younger audience?
Although my traditionally published books thus far are for adults, the book that hooked my agent was a Middle Grade, and I’ve written several other YA stories that are currently in the pipeline. I really dig the fast pace, high emotions, first kisses, and lack of boring things like mortgages and taxes. The Southern Gothic just happened, as I’m from the South and have always had a gothy bent. The dark side of Savannah appeals to me, from Bonaventure Cemetery to haunted houses. It was really fun to make the creepy places even creepier. 🙂
What kind of research did you do for the book?
It was super challenging and dreadfully painful—we went to Savannah and took several horse-drawn carriage tours with my brother-in-law, the Dread Pirate Robert. He and my niece Becca were invaluable in answering questions about Savannah’s history and present, and the book is dedicated to them. We also had to go to The Pirates House to eat a ton of fried shrimp, all in the name of research.
Servants of the Storm has a definite “horror” vibe. That said, what’s something that you find truly scary?
Whatever The Strain is, I can’t deal with that eyeball worm. Eyeball worms are TOTALLY OUT.
It’s been a while since we caught up…have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?
I’m super excited to finally be reading ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins, as I adore everything she writes. This year also brought fresh reads from two of my other favorite authors, City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare and Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. And I was devastated by We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.
You’ve given quite a lot of advice on writing on your website, but what’s something that you’ve learned since being published that you wish you’d known way-back-when?
That 99% of publishing is totally out of your hands; you can only control the books you write. Whenever I feel crushed by the avalanche of social media and marketing and reviews, I know to go back to writing and refill my well.
What’s next for you?
April 2014 brings my next YA, a pre-dystopian called HIT about teen assassins in a bank-owned America, the first in a series. And I recently sold Blud 4, WICKED EVER AFTER, so readers can finally find out what happens to Criminy and Tish. And, sometime, I need to write my third Geekrotica e-novella as Ava Lovelace, but THE DAPPERFOX has to wait until the contracted work is done. 😉
Thanks so much for having me!
About SERVANTS OF THE STORM:
Dovey learns that demons lurk in places other than the dark corners of her mind in this southern gothic fantasy from the author of the Blud series.
A year ago, Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction—and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.
But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real…including Carly at their favorite café. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.
As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah—where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk—she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.