Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Hourglass! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the story’s premise?
Dan James: Hourglass is the story of a struggling Brooklyn comic-book artist, Clyde Williams, who has been living for several months in a state of shock after his best friend Kev Carpenter returned to him as a ghost after being killed in a convenience store hold-up. Both friends have been trying to hold it together, going through the motions of their old routines where possible, until they are approached by Hourglass, the paranormal paramilitary organisation which guards the world of the living from Erebus (or the Null), the mysterious and largely uncharted kingdoms of the dead.
However, the two friends are conflicted about a possible career with Hourglass: Kev is thrilled at the chance to discover more about the great unknowns of the universe, and for an opportunity to do something other than haunt their apartment, but Clyde’s tragic family life has left him distrustful of any and all military and/or covert intelligence departments. Alas, Clyde agrees to go through basic training for Kev’s sake, but what the two friends don’t realise is that elsewhere, big things are afoot: The Cairnwood Society, long-standing enemies of Hourglass, have formed a tenuous agreement with an ex-KGB Russian necromancer to lead a private military convoy into a little-known region of Erebus for the unscrupulous purpose of siphoning souls for profit.
So Clyde and Kev have to resolve their own complicated place in the world, decide on what they want to do with their new unorthodox existence, and become competent with their abilities before being thrust into a war with Cairnwood.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
DJ: All my ideas are variously influenced by the horror novels, comics, and horror/action films I loved as a kid. But my creative process is also largely fueled by a playlist because it helps set the tone in my head, playing along to the action.
The germ of Hourglass was an unexpected one. I was in work at the time, thinking about James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy when “Limelight” by Rush came on the radio, and I just got this great vibe and a sudden urge to dive into this world of action and spectacle, horrible, almost Clive Barker-esque monsters, and all blended together with a paranormal take on S.H.I.E.L.D., or better yet, Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D.
So, after work I made a playlist of KISS, Rush, and a bunch of other vibe-appropriate tunes and started to mine the idea. However, Clyde and Kev were old characters from my first few books which I eventually scrapped, but I still liked the pair and wanted to use them. And so I took the plucky duo and built the world/s and the rest of the cast around them.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the story into additional novels (or other entertainment mediums), if given the opportunity?
DJ: Absolutely! In fact, I completed the second book in the Hourglass series, The Ferryman’s Toll, in August of this year (2021), which I’m very happy with, and looking forward to publishing next year, hopefully in the first half. It builds on the events of the first book, delves a little deeper into the lore of Erebus, and introduces some interesting new enemies and allies.
I don’t want to run the series into the ground, or churn them out for the sake of it, and I have an idea of how I want to end it, but it’ll probably be around six or seven books in total to tell the whole story.
I haven’t given too much thought about expanding into other mediums to be honest. I recently wrote the first draft of my first ever screenplay which was a fun diversion from novels. But I’d hate to try and adapt Hourglass into a screenplay for budgetary reasons.
Maybe a comic book would be cool, and fitting, considering Clyde’s humble ambitions.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
DJ: I have just released my horror novel, Heathens. It’s the first book I have written which is set not only in England, but my home town of Liverpool.
It’s about a young woman raised by foster parents, who learns some dark and unexpected things about her bloodline, before some horrifying events force her into the custody of a decimated group of guerilla Druids busy battling an aristocratic family of subterranean mutants.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Hourglass and your other work?
DJ: I would say that my work can be a little tricky to narrow down from book to book. Whether you want a violent, bullet-flying criminal/revenge story (Pigs), or a dark-fantasy high-school bully survival romp with outcast stoners, hallucinogenic drugs, small-town gangsters, and a murderous otherworldly frog-man (Fable), there should be something there for you.
But if your tastes run towards the urban fantasy genre, and you want a pair of fish-out-of-water protagonists cast into a dense, colourful world of ghosts, monsters, lore, covert agencies, paranormal superpowers and big action scenes, then hopefully Hourglass will scratch that itch.
And if anybody would like to ask a question or drop me a line, I (and a link to my blog) can be found on Goodreads [Daniel James (Author of Pigs) | Goodreads].
And, of course, Amazon.