Interview with Demelza Carlton, author of The Devil’s Work
28 Jan 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, The Devil’s Work?
It’s a book where the devil gets to win for once. Lucifer decides he’s done just being the Lord of Hell, and sets his sights on Earth. Only he’s trying a new angle – instead of taking over the world the ways he’s traditionally tried in the past, this time he’s going to do it legally, by starting his own multinational corporation. He figures by starting in Australia, no one will notice what he’s doing until it’s too late, but the angels find out anyway and…ah, I’d better not spoil it for you. This is only the first book in the series – there are four more after this, and more to come. Oh, but you do learn Lucifer’s favorite party joke.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
Hell, I wrote my first book when I was 12. I didn’t publish it for another 20 years – when it was actually ready – but that’s a whole ‘nother story. The first book I ever published…well, that’s Ocean’s Gift, and that was based on a shipwreck I investigated for my Masters thesis. There was this guy who survived at sea for three weeks, though he couldn’t swim, didn’t have a boat or anything…yet his body washed up after three weeks, still recognizable like he’d only just drowned, and he’d done first aid on his own broken leg. It made no sense, so in my notes, I just wrote, “Mermaids did it,” and left it at that. The night I submitted my thesis, I found that on a final proofread, quickly changed it to say something a bit more academic about the uncertainty, and submitted. After a celebratory glass of wine, I decided to investigate mermaid sightings in the Indian Ocean, where it all happened. I found mermaid legends, sightings…even an engineering project that was halted due to mermaids. No fiction required. So I sat down and tried to work out how this mermaid had kept the guy alive for three weeks…and, more importantly, why.
By the time I was done, I had over 50,000 words, and the first draft of what would be my first USA Today Bestseller.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
That changes from week to week, but right now, I’d say Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (incredible detail, so well layered), Arabian Nights (I’m still angry at losing my first copy of it, even though that was 20 years ago), Colleen McCullough’s Master of Rome series, Jane Austen’s Persuasion and…and…anything by Terry Pratchett.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Oh, I would never be the host of a talk show. I’m no journalist. For one, I’d probably end up talking more than any guest, and most of the literary guests I’d want to invite first…are all dead. And I’d be too scared to invite Margaret Atwood, because I know I’d make a fool of myself, fangirling or something. So I’d probably need the services of Lucifer or his angelic nemesis, Raphael, and everyone knows necromancy doesn’t end well.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The crazy things I learn along the way. Like…for The Devil’s Work, I had to learn a style of NSFW origami.
For my thrillers, I went to a shooting range to pick a weapon for my heroine, and discovered I’m not a bad shot. How to make spirits the way people did in medieval times. I even got to visit a dragon’s cave and see what are reputedly its bones in Poland. Or that time in Scotland where I was the designated driver on a whisky tasting tour and my passengers found me the perfect castle to set my Three Little Pigs romance.
What is a typical day like for you?
No day is ever exactly the same. Sure, I’m a full-time author, so most days involve writing, but it’s a job like any other, so sometimes I spend all day dealing with email, which may or may not include drooling over the new book cover one of the awesome designers I work with has sent me. Other days, I may spend entirely on research – with field trips. I did a fair bit of cave research for the Mel Goes to Hell series, as Hell is in a cave, and in the Holiday From Hell, Lucifer decides to go skinny dipping in a very popular tourist cave…I even have pictures.
Of the caves, of course. Not some random guy getting naked.
What scene in The Devil’s Work was your favorite to write?
Argh, you ask all the hard questions. It would have to be…either the brothel scene, or the scene where Luce met Mel. Mel’s not in this book until right near the end, so I can’t tell you any more than that, without giving spoilers, while the brothel scene…that was fun because it surprised me. It wasn’t meant to be there, but Lucifer was frustrated and wanted to let off some steam, but the devil doesn’t have any friends to go to the pub with. So…having run a few brothels in his time (he will tell you he can absolutely rock a corset), he heads to the nearest one and…does something surprising. But I can’t say more without spoilers.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Of course, though I’ve never tried to put it into words – or steal someone else’s. I’m more inclined to dive in, do things, learn stuff, because life is meant to be lived. I’m one of those people who don’t have a bucket list, because if I want it, I plan for it…and do it. From sky diving to scuba diving, swimming with sharks to slurping snails on the Champs Elysees…like many of my characters, I like looking for the next adventure. And I’m pretty sure my daughter will, too.
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