Hello, nocturnal librarians!
I'm honored to welcome Naomi Clark, author of the fabulous new urban fantasy, Undertow. By now, you all know that urban fantasy is my favorite genre, so I'm always thrilled to support authors like Naomi.
Series: Ethan Banning, #1
Published: August 25th 2014
Private Investigator Ethan Banning is a desperate man.
He’s desperate to rid himself of the demon possessing him. He’s desperate to stop the nightmares and the evil urges that fill him. He’s so desperate, he’s agreed to quit smoking and drinking in exchange for help.
Professor Benedict Walters thinks he can exorcise Ethan with clean living and ancient history, but he won’t do it for free. Ethan’s got to track down Heather, a missing colleague of Walters in the quaint and creepy seaside town of Beacon’s Point. It should be simple...but Heather may not want to be found.
Even if Ethan can crack the case, he’s still got to deal with a trainee necromancer, his own fading self-control, and an ancient entity that terrifies Ethan’s own demonic denizen.
Crack the case? Hells, P.I. Ethan Banning may not even survive it.
When I first started writing stories set in Ethan Banning’s world, I was fairly sure they would never see the light of day. That meant I felt free to throw in all kinds of crazy elements that made me happy, rather than trying to write to match what was on the market at the time. That’s why you’ve got a private detective, his pet dog, and his own personal demon in the first place. Ethan’s world, and particularly Undertow, is full of themes and motifs that fascinate and enchant me, as well as things to just give Ethan a hard time.
One of the pivotal themes in Undertow is the ocean, its power over mankind and the danger it poses. Ethan’s journey to the rundown town of Beacon’s Point brings him right to the edge of the ocean, and questioning whether humanity has any business there. For Ethan, the sea is full of horrors and mysteries, and since he has plenty of both in his life already, he’s happy to stay as far from the sea as possible.
But me, I love the ocean! Even knowing it’s full of riptides and creatures that could swallow me whole, I still love the ocean. And part of that love definitely stems from the sense of mystery the sea has. There’s so much we don’t know about the animals and plant life down there. So much mythology and folklore connected to it, from mermaids to giant squid to sunken cities. Pirates, sea dragons, the Bloop…There’s so much to love! And of course there’s that primal connection we humans all have to the sea; it’s where we came from, after all. Is it any wonder it still exerts such a hold on our imaginations?
But still, there is that dark side to the ocean (which lends itself so well to Undertow!). You only have to hear the first few bars of the Jaws theme tune to feel shivery. Down in the abyss there are alien fish that look like they’ve sprung straight from HR Giger’s nightmares. The unwary drown. Even the strongest of ships can sink at the whim of the waves. And yet we go back there, again and again, take our holidays there, swim around like it’s as safe as a swimming pool, and play with dolphins like we belong there just as much as we do on the land.
Why? Are we crazy? I like to think it’s that primal connection again, pulling us back to where we started, even though it’s not our world anymore. So the ocean creates these contradictions in us, fascinating us, thrilling us, inspiring us, but ultimately, it’s not for us. That’s the feeling Ethan has and that’s the feeling I tried to create in Undertow. Because whilst I love nothing better than a day at the seaside, Undertow isn’t supposed to be a happy story and it’s the dark side of the ocean I wanted to invoke.
I had a lot of fun researching old religions and rituals that centred on the ocean, and a lot more fun putting Ethan through the wringer as he comes face-to-face with the terrors beneath the water. More than that – it was fun to work those mythological aspects into the real world, and I hope I’ve done it in a way that shows both my love of the sea and Ethan’s fear of it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Naomi Clark lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she's not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching '80s cartoon shows—sometimes she manages to do all three at once.
As always, thank you for stopping by and thanks to Naomi for sharing her thoughts with us. Like Ethan, I'm more than a little affraid of the sea and the ocean. I guess it's fear of the unknown, and it's perfectly understandable, but not at all pleasant. I can't wait to join Ethan on this adventure.