Last October, I interviewed Jonathan Fortin about his novel Requiem in Frost, about a girl in Norway who moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a murdered black metal musician. Since then, he’s had another new book come out.
First, a little about him:
Jonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (Crystal Lake Publishing), Requiem In Frost (Horror Addicts Press), and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press). An unabashed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the “Next Great Horror Writer” in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him online at www.jonathanfortin.com or on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.
England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina’s instincts compel her to action.
Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform…and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.
Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.
Did something in the real world inspire Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus?
History, mythology, and current events all played a big role in shaping Lilitu. I was interested in writing a book about succubi and incubi that took their mythology seriously — the dream-diving, the wings, the nature of how they feed, and the psychological impact of all this — rather than just being silly or pornographic.
While planning the book out, I quickly realized that I needed the right setting to get the emotional conflicts I was looking for. I eventually realized that Victorian England was the perfect fit: between its repression, strict gender norms, and elegantly Gothic aestheticism. I was curious to explore how people raised in that culture would react to becoming demons and, in so doing, was able to explore issues like Madonna/Whore complexes, internalized misogyny, body dysmorphia, and other questions of sexuality that are still relevant today. Succubi are the perfect foil many awful Victorian ideologies. Only by becoming a succubus does the protagonist, Maraina Blackwood, realize what was so wrong with the world she grew up with.
The more I researched the era, the more horrifying tidbits I uncovered about the reality of living in Victorian times. These inspired a great deal of little moments in the book.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
There’s a chapter about midway though where Maraina is stalking Salem, a sexy, sadistic incubus lord she’s secretly plotting against. She ends up following him to this creepy castle that starts mutating, warping as a result of a ritual he’s conducting — one that she quickly realizes she’s powerless to stop. I really enjoy the atmosphere of the whole sequence and the nonstop twisted imagery. This is also the part of the book where the action really kicks into gear — the “point of no return” that changes everything.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
Long. The first draft of Lilitu was written while I was studying at San Francisco State University. I completed that draft just as I graduated college in 2011. It was a mess. In the years that followed, I workshopped it with a writing group and edited it until I thought it was ready. Then I tried to get an agent. Nobody wanted it, so I put it aside and focused on other projects.
Cut to 2017. I learned about a competition called The Next Great Horror Writer Contest, the winner of which would be awarded with a book deal with award-winning horror publisher Crystal Lake Publishing. Contestants had to already have a novel ready for publication to be considered. I was found eligible and over the course of the year participated in a series of writing challenges. Long story short, I won the contest and Lilitu had a publisher at long last.
Here was the thing, though: my writing abilities had improved a lot over the years, and I could now see that it needed some serious editing. No wonder agents didn’t want it! Crystal Lake graciously allowed me to edit the book for a bit before turning it in. So I worked hard to keep my vision of the book intact while adjusting things that hadn’t aged well. In the end, the book became shorter, more streamlined, and much stronger overall.
After I turned in my draft, they had one of their own editors take a look. I responded to the editor’s edits, made some fresh changes of my own, and sent the “final” draft back. And then immediately thought of more little things I wanted to adjust! It’s true, what they say about art. It is never finished, only abandoned.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
I’ve been really excited to connect with author friends. It’s nice to feel part of a community. I’m kind of awkward, so that isn’t something I ever thought I’d have. I’m also very excited to finally do live readings/book signing events for the novel after all these years.
What do you have planned next?
I have a few other novel projects in progress, including one where the first draft is already complete. I’ve also started work on the next book in the Lilitu saga.
You can pick up a copy of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus in paperback or ebook from Amazon: https://amzn.to/358G84Q
You can check out Jonathan’s books at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QgYYmM.
His homepage on the web is www.jonathanfortin.com
Or check out what he’s reading on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jonathanfortin