Friday, March 28, 2014

"Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War" by Sidney Stone

Jennifer Ainsley:
The Final Demon War
by Sidney Stone

Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” - Matthew 10:34
Jonathon Tait, whose demon-enhanced 170 year old life has helped make him the richest man in the world, secretly renounces his alliance with demons in order to save his twins and redeem himself in the eyes of the two women he loved and lost. Jonathon has visions that his beautiful college-aged adopted daughter, Jennifer Ainsley, may be the key to humanity's survival and works with an underground movement to fight back against both the demons and the human leadership that is guiding our civilization towards total annihilation.
Can Jennifer fulfill her destiny even as the planet hurtles towards its destruction? Is she mankind's only hope and can Jennifer save everyone that she loves or, after enduring the loss of her own family as a child, is she destined for even greater sorrow?

Chapter One
Heather couldn’t believe she was going to die in front of her peacefully sleeping twins, who were oblivious to the unspeakable acts occurring in their nursery. These infants, this life, were all she had wanted, and in those lonely nights before sleep overtook her, she admitted to herself that she had been groomed for this since birth. She had been groomed to be a beautiful, nurturing wife to a wealthy and powerful man and she had been groomed to care for his children and teach them to take their rightful place in the world while she also maintained this lovely home—with a slew of maids, servants, and other staff of course. She threw the best dinner parties and had a special banquet hall included in the new Napa Valley estate just for that purpose. She knew all the right people to invite, and they raised all the right money for all the right charities.
Yet here she was in midair, swaying back and forth, seeing herself reflected in the rectangular Craftsman-style floor mirror she personally had picked out for the nursery. The demon Palvakia held Heather by her strawberry-blonde hair, a mane her husband Jonathon Tait called “gorgeously luxurious,” while her lithe and toned, almost split-in-two body, spilled her blood and guts onto the new Berber carpet (a lovely light blue she also had personally picked out for the nursery). How important Heather had thought every design detail of this room was. She had placed so much importance on the mundane materials that now meant nothing. She was escaping into the blackness now, the dark abyss whose passage she hoped ended with a consummating light. Was there light beyond death and beyond this horror?
It was insane, Heather thought, that her husband, the man she loved and admired, was watching this scene unfold with an expressionless face as Mordock, a repulsive and despised demon, stood next to him. Mordock was in human form right now, unlike the demon who had torn her in half, but Heather still felt the evil lurking underneath. She had tried to banish Mordock from their lives and had pleaded with her husband to stand up to him. Yet Jonathon had done nothing to remove him from their lives or to stop Mordock from carrying out her murder. If there was a light at the end, how could the Keeper of Light cause this to happen or not prevent it in the first place?
And what of the twins? Alexander and Sophia were so beautiful and full of life, with old-soul eyes, even as infants. My lovely babies, Heather thought with her last bit of consciousness. Who will keep you from harm? Can your father somehow be your guardian angel? Will he succeed with you where he failed with me? The darkness with the light behind it is approaching. Will I see you in heaven? How long will I have to wait? Hopefully a long, long time…
Heather took her last breaths just as Palvakia began to devour her. To her horror, though, death did not come instantaneously. A morbid trick of the demons is to keep their victims on the cusp of dying so they can witness themselves being eaten. Heather couldn’t even scream as the pain ripped through the ever-decreasing parts of her body.
When Palvakia was finished, not one ounce of the physical being that once had been Heather Tait was left in the room. Even the carpet was clean…and the twins continued to sleep peacefully.

I must confess, I am typically not a fan of fantasy genre books. I do like horror novels (King, Koontz, etc.) so I figured why not give it a whirl? As a voracious reader, I want books to be well written and entertaining. This book delivered. Upon reflection, what got me hooked was that the author presented a premise that required me to rethink my preconceived notions about evil, demons and the nature of heaven and hell. That was a daring approach for the author. He pulled it off. For example, Satan came off as a rather pathetic character! It was interesting to me that the demon characters were complex and had unique personalities. They were far more developed than the typical “demons are bad” that have become so familiar in this genre.
As to the human characters, they also were well developed and very interesting. It made me contemplate about how we “humans” rationalize out behavior to others and ourselves. Can one do “evil” things but be worthy of redemption? Can our pursuit of love corrupt our souls? How would you define a hero?
Bottom line is not only was I entertained while reading the book, but I find myself thinking about it weeks after I have put it down. Bravo!

Interview With the Author
Hi Sidney, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Due to the violence and a really great six-page sex scene ;) I recommend it be placed in the New Adult category, 18 and up.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I thought of it first as a campfire story. The story of a billionaire trying to discover his humanity, his adopted daughter overcoming tragic loss only to find out the truth of her place in this war, and the overriding theme of love and loss; it just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it out. My favorite authors growing up were Stephen King and Dean Koontz so this novel was heavily influenced by those two writers along with Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
For this book, definitely the idea first and then the characters. I thought of several scenes, essentially the beginning, middle and ending; then wrote an outline before embarking on the first draft journey. My lead characters Jennifer Ainsley, Jonathon Tait, her lover Andrew Walker, Mike Davis, Mordock; all were formed during the writing process as well as the major and minor supporting characters.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Actually the sex scene was the hardest! I was writing a 22 year old’s first time and my three female friends reading the book during the various draft iterations, were adamant that I did not get it right at any of my initial drafts. It was too much a scene written by someone with experience, not a young woman making love for the first time. I think though, by the 7th or 8th rewrite of this scene, that I got it right. At least for my character and story.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
The main theme, beyond the fantastical elements, is love and loss. I hope readers are thrilled by this book but also moved by the emotionalism and spiritualism of this novel.
How long did it take you to write this book?
With seven rewrites, two editors as well as friends reading with comments (My Gorgeous and Intelligent Readers, I call them – three beautiful and smart females), it took me almost two years from conception to end. This book is not something that was knocked out in a month. It has been professionally edited and formatted with a striking cover. This is a book to be entertained by and readers will get their money’s worth.
Fantastic! What is your writing routine?
I have a “real” job that pays the bill so I mostly write on nights and weekends. I’m not bothered by distractions so I can write anywhere and I love to have music playing when I do.
How did you get your book published?
I’m self-published at the start through Amazon’s service CreateSpace Publishing. With great reviews and good sales, my next step is to approach agents and publishers who specialize in this genre. The sequel to the book is even more of a roller coaster ride and will be even better than the first one.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Take it seriously. Write like a professional and you will become a professional. Make sure your work is edited, vetted, formatted and invest in yourself and your work.
Great advice. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I live in two areas in California: Orange County and Silicon Valley. Up North, I hike constantly and explore the outdoors. So beautiful up here with fun downtowns, wineries and restaurants. I write many reviews on Yelp and the hiking offsets the dining out and wine drinking! Down South I hang out with my beautiful boy and unsuccessfully try and convince him to go hiking J We usually bike or play tennis together. He has also gotten me hooked on his favorite app game, Clash of Clans. Very addicting J
What does your family think of your writing?
My son is too young to read my book J but my friends and family have all enjoyed it. I think they were very surprised at how well it turned out. Everyone says they are a writer, or working on a novel (or screenplay in Southern California) but very few actually finish what they are working on.  
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in Southern California, but my mother was a bit of a vagabond so we lived in about a dozen different towns. I wrote for all of my school newspapers but was kicked off the 7th grade paper for including in my humor column the quote, "Love Doesn’t Make The World Go Around, It Makes It Go Up and Down." J  I guess the Principal did not care for the sexual innuendo ;)
We were born poor, milk was a luxury, but it never really occurred to me that we were poor until I was an adult. Nowadays, I think with so much media and comparison, people know there economic status far more than I did. I love telling my son stories about growing up with no video games, no Internet, no screen distractions except reruns of TV shows like I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, etc. Plus, no iTunes. We played our music on these ancient relics called turntables and I bought these discs with grooves on them called 45’s instead of downloading singles. My son always asks, "What did you do with all that free time? You must have been so bored??!!" "No, we played outside and we read, did board games," I say. He just shakes his head ...
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Reading was always a favorite escape for me. As a child it was sports biographies and then that morphed into Stephen King, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Dean Koontz during the challenging teen years. The Koontz classic Watchers, with Einstein the Dog, just blew me away with how he combined the unbelievable with the emotional. Einstein was such a great creation (although my first Koontz book was Demon Seed which I stole out of my mom’s room; my first "grown-up" novel).
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always loved to write. As I stated previously, as a child I was on the school newspaper and even had my own column in 7th grade. In my 20’s I wrote four screenplays since in Southern California they issue Final Draft software to any writer at birth. I pursued actual money-making endeavors, though, and got away from writing, although I still wrote down story ideas. In 2012 one of those story ideas just wouldn’t go away and, given that quitting your job suddenly adds more time to your life, I pursued that idea and fleshed it out to a novel. 
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes. My heroine Jennifer Ainsley grew up poor, and like my day job creating affordable housing, she wants to make a difference in other people’s lives because she understands what it is like growing up less fortunate. Of course she is a billionaire’s daughter now so that part was NOT from my childhood ;) 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
As a self-published writer we are very close to what our readers feel and say about the book. So far I have almost a 5-star review average on Amazon and 4.25 on Goodreads. I am very pleased with the critical reaction I just need to get more people to read it!
My readers love the characters, the humor and the emotion that is very much woven throughout this book. It really is a story about love and loss and you feel that build until the very end.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
The sequel to this book which takes place immediately after the end of the first one. It is even more ambitious and far-reaching than the first novel and takes these characters on an amazing spiritual journey. It has the same deep emotion and feeling but with far more richness and melancholy too. They have lost so much but their love and devotion to each other keeps them going. 
Sounds great, Sidney. Thank you for taking the time to stop by today.

About the Author
Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur. An addicted reviewer on Yelp, he is also creator of affordable housing (although technically he is homeless part-time), thinks The Replacements are the best band of the Eighties and loves to boost his LinkedIn count with people he doesn't know.
He lives in both Northern and Southern California while constantly traveling to Orange County to visit his son, who can now beat his father at ping pong and chess rather easily (and is charmingly arrogant while doing it). A graduate of UC Irvine and Pepperdine University, Sidney wishes he chose at least one university to attend that had a college football team to root for.
The first scene Sidney thought of for Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War included a rather large massacre (take that for what it is worth). However, inspired by the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker; the book's violence is offset by dark humor and deep human emotion just like in real life where Sidney's darkness is offset by creatively placed sarcasm and an overwrought romanticism. For example, while Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a Fantasy-Horror novel, Sidney also still tears up at the end of both Field of Dreams and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Starbucks gift card, or a signed print copy of the book (US only) or one of 2 ebook copies.