If you haven’t read Delilah S. Dawson’s YA debut SERVANTS OF THE STORM, get yourself to the bookstore and grab a copy now. It’s okay. We’ll wait … Got it? Good. It’s a deliciously, dark tale set in a post-hurricane Savannah, Georgia with a heroine struggling to decide if the horror is inside her mind or loose in the world. An accomplished author of adult fiction, Dawson masterfully weaves together Southern Gothic eerieness and an engaging YA voice.
About SERVANTS OF THE STORM:
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 cafe. 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.
Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.
Sounds simply sinister and spooky, yes? Recently, Delilah stopped by YASQ for a chat about all things horror and dished on SERVANTS OF THE STORM!
YASQ: SERVANTS OF THE STORM is a fantastic Southern Gothic horror novel. There’s darkness, madness, not knowing who to trust–including the MC herself, as well as a richness in the writing that is a hallmark of Southern Gothic fiction. What made you decide to delve into this horror sub-genre?
Delilah: The story actually happened very organically, and I didn’t realize it would fall into Horror or Southern Gothic until the reviews started to creep in. It started with a photo set of Six Flags New Orleans after Katrina and the feeling that I *had* to write a story equal to those creepy, haunting images. But I’d never been to New Orleans and didn’t want to do dishonor to the people who suffered Katrina, so I made up my own storm and moved the story to Savannah, my husband’s home town. I’m from Georgia and love the lush, dark imagery here, the combination of languor and decay and sweetness that hides dark secrets. I have a tendency to just add all the things I love into my stories, which is why Servants of the Storm includes graveyards, Southern food, an opossum, a drama club presenting Shakespeare, a bad boy, a good boy, and, of course, a scene set in a ruined amusement park.
One of my favorite aspects of SERVANTS OF THE STORM is the characterization. They are strange, creepy, and well-developed. They don’t feel like “canon fodder,” which is sometimes a complaint in horror. What came first for you in developing SERVANTS OF THE STORM: the plot, the setting, or the characters? They are all such an intrinsic part of the book.
The setting came first, then the storm. The original opening scene was Dovey crushing her pills, this strong girl in a drugged haze trying to claw her way back to reality. Then came Dovey’s best friend and sassy sidekick Carly, and with her, Baker, this super white boy who loves video games but is still the perfect third wheel. I’ll admit that I knew a couple of characters were going to end up… wrong. But I wanted emotional punch, so they were people first. Plot came last, stringing it all together. If Simon Pulse wants a second book, I expect things to get a bit messier…
In your adult fiction as well as your YA, you tackle darker subjects with plenty of thrills and chills. What draws you to writing to writing horror and thrillers?
My life now is pretty much perfect, but I’ve lived through some scary stuff, and I’ve got a painfully vivid imagination. I started borrowing my mom’s Stephen King books when I was 10 or so, and I went through a period of tween insomnia where I couldn’t decide if Pennywise was in my closet or the Tommyknockers were hovering outside. So my brain just automatically goes for whatever seems the most fun or interesting, which is usually pretty horrific. I’ve actually had to tone it down, at my agent’s request. You don’t want to know what originally happened to Grendel the Basset hound.
Can you tell us a bit about your next YA novel, HIT, a near-future thriller?
HIT is out April 14 next year and was inspired by the Human Cent-iPad episode of South Park. I watched it one night, and the next morning received a message on my iPod that if I didn’t agree to the TOS, I could no longer use my device or access my music. I clicked AGREE, of course, because what choice do we have? But then I thought about South Park and how easy it would be for a company to hide things in their TOS. Maybe not sewing our bodies to other iPod users, but “This agreement may be terminated at any time” could easily become “This user may be terminated at any time,” and we’d never even notice it. And that became the basis of HIT: if banks hid a clause in a credit card agreement that debtors could be legally killed, how would the dead weight be expunged? The protagonist, Patsy, either has to watch her mother get shot or take on her debt and work as a bounty hunter for the bank. She’d rather be yarn bombing and making pizzas, but suddenly, there’s a gun in her jeans. And then Wyatt shows up…
Finally, who would you name as your literary godfathers and godmothers, and how have they influenced the writing of SERVANTS OF THE STORM?
Stephen King and Anne Rice, with maybe a little Cassandra Clare thrown in. Pet Sematary probably has the closest ties and was the first horror story I ever read–you’ll notice a main character with an unreliable memory, creatures back from the dead, dream helpers, and messed up animals. And Charnel House was influenced by The Dark Tower. Now that I have little kids and need as much sleep as possible just to function, I definitely don’t read as much horror as I used to. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
And thanks so much for having me, y’all! ❤
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Delilah and her radiant smile
Delilah S. Dawson writes whimsical and dark Fantasy for adults and teens. Her Blud series for Pocket includes Wicked as They Come, Wicked After Midnight, and Wicked as She Wants, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. Her YA debut, Servants of the Storm, is out in August 2014, with another YA from Simon Pulse in April 2015, a pre-dystopian called HIT. Her Geekrotica series under pseudonym Ava Lovelace includes The Lumberfox and The Superfox with The Dapperfox on the way.
Delilah, our own Cat Scully, Jonathan Maberry and Christopher Golden rocking it at DragonCon 2014
She is also an Associate Editor at www.CoolMomPicks.com and www.CoolMomTech.com, where she is given the more eccentric and geeky products to cover. Delilah lives with her husband, two small children, a horse, a dog, and two cats in Atlanta. Find out more at www.delilahsdawson.com. She is on Twitter.
And because Delilah is all things awesome, she is giving away a copy of SERVANTS OF THE STORM. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link below!
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Categories: Writing, YA