Paranormal author Jennifer Rainey is my guest today. Jennifer has written a paranormal comedy called These Hellish Happenings and is here today to give us her interpretation of hell. Who would have thought that hell had so much opportunity for funny material?
You can visit Jennifer at her website and find her book at CreateSpace, B&N and Amazon.
More About Jennifer Rainey:Jennifer has a couple of questions for readers at the end of the post. Check them pout and leave your thoughts.
Jennifer Rainey was raised by wolves who later sold her to gypsies. She then joined the circus at the age of ten. There, she was the flower girl in the famed Bearded Bride of Beverly Hills show until the act was discontinued (it was discovered that the bearded lady was actually a man). From there, she wandered around the country selling novelty trucker hats with vaguely amusing sayings printed on front. Somehow, she made enough money to go to The Ohio State University for a major in English.
In real life, she is just as ridiculous as this biography.
In 1707, hapless vampire Jack Bentley made a pact with the Devil in order to escape a vampire hunt. Dealing with Satan seemed better than your standard angry mob at the time. But three centuries later, Satan is ready to collect His dues, whether the vampire likes it or not. He's taking Jack to Hell, and He's even got a job picked out for him down below: an eternal position at the Registration Office of the Damned.
Jack attempts to adjust to life on the Administrative Level of Hell, where fire and brimstone have been replaced by board meetings and the occasional broken copier. But the whiny complaints of the recently deceased and the legions of suited, cookie-cutter demons are the least of his problems. Try adding to the equation a dead ex-lover, a dangerous attraction to his high-ranking demon companion, Alexander Ridner, and the sticky and distorted anti-vampire politics of a Hell that is surprisingly like our own world.
Thanks, Doug, for the opportunity to speak today!
Over the three years I spent writing These Hellish Happenings, I would've liked a penny--nay, a dollar!-- for every time someone I knew approached me and said, "I hear you're writing a book! What's it about?" How some of these people heard I was writing a book was beyond me, but I learned not to question it and simply say, "It's about the guy who works at the registration desk of Hell."
There was a variety of responses I'd get. One was a far-too-excited, "Aww, that's frickin' sweet!" One was, "I see... Ahem. Very interesting." A handful of people actually gave pleasant positive responses, and a few more proceeded to stare and blink at me for a while.
A couple haven't spoken to me since, but really, I suppose it's better that way.
What I never thought of until recently was what exactly the people asking me pictured in their mind's eye when I answered them. The guy... working at the registration desk... of Hell. Understandably, most probably saw a man surrounded by flames, pitchforks and pits of bubbling lava as he scribbled the names of the damned into an unnervingly large leather-bound book before kicking them through the not-so-pearly gates towards eternal torment.
While the general idea is the same, I suppose, the Hell where my protagonist works is, as I like to say, a little less Dante and a little more Office Space. Jack Bentley, the aforementioned guy at the registration desk, types the names of the deceased into a computer and listens to the hum of fluorescent lights as he works, while the legions of the damned take a number and wait their turn.
Indeed, all of the Administrative Level of Hell where Jack works is very much like Earth, though a rather distorted Earth. Jack, a vampire who was forced into his job after making a deal with the Devil, lives with his demon guide, Alex Ridner, in a two-story house that's surrounded by dozens of others that look the same. There are employee picnics, there are political rallies, there is Hellfire News Network, and there are very human prejudices perpetuated by high-and-mighty demon workers who find Jack and other vampires unworthy to serve Satan, Their Lord.
I used this kind of Hell rather than the typical Hell so that I could comment on a few things, the most general merely being the state of our world and many of our society's problems. I mean, come on. A distorted vision of Earth that is supposed to be Hell is a veritable playground if you're looking to satirize!
But to be a little more specific, I wanted to perpetuate the idea that is prominent throughout the novel: things are not always what they seem. Hell is not what we assume it is. In the novel, Jack is certainly not the barbaric and worthless bloodsucker that many demons assume he is based on his species, and their trusted Lord, Satan, certainly isn't as trustworthy as demons like to think. It's about getting past the assumptions and the surface and getting down into the layers of something.
Not only that, setting is a valuable tool to writers that I feel many overlook. The most effective books use their setting almost as another character. It has its own quirks, its own moods and personality. After all, the characters interact with their setting just as much as they interact with each other. The setting should be its own entity, and I hope that is what I've achieved here as Jack and the other characters are forced to contend with the Hell that Satan has crafted.
Beyond that, well... who doesn't think office life is Hell?
And so, readers, I have to ask: