Plot Outline:"There are no happy endings ..." This is what Grubbs Grady has just found out. Life should be perfect after he and Dervish got the better of the demon master, Lord Loss. But the battle has left its marks and Dervish is a haunted man. When an offer comes along to get involved in the making of a horror movie about demons, Dervish seizes it, hoping the change of scenery and challenge will help him clear his head of all the bad memories whirling around inside. To protect Grubbs and Bill-E from the sinister Lambs, he takes them with him, figuring they're a lot safer with him than in Carcery Vale.
Grubbs enjoys life on the set of "Slawter" to begin with. But when a member of the cast vanishes after a gory death scene, Grubbs gets the feeling that the demons are real. Everyone mocks him, even Dervish, but as the bodies start to mount up, and Grubbs begins to tap into magic in the air, he becomes more convinced than ever that something foul is afoot. But even if he can persuade the others of the danger they're in, is there any way out of the demonic web of "Slawter"??????
Author Notes:"Slawter" -- book 3 of "The Demonata" -- is set a few months after the events of "Lord Loss". It started life after I'd paid a couple of visits to the "Harry Potter" film set. Several years ago, the movie rights to "Cirque Du Freak" were bought by Warner Bros. The producer who set up the deal was David Heyman, who produces the "HP" films. David very kindly invited me to pay a visit to the set. They were filming the first movie at the time. I went with two young cousins of mine, Ronan and Lorcan. We met lots of the actors (many of whom were fans of mine), and even had lunch with some of them. At one stage during lunch, Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry) did his little party trick and burped the alphabet! Lorcan responded by sticking a hand under his armpit and making farting noises!!! Daniel tried to copy him but couldn't quite get the hang of it -- though he gave it a damn fine try!!!!!
Later (when they were making the second movie), I paid another visit to the set, this time with Bas. We were escorted around the set on this occasion by Linda Lewis, mother of Matt Lewis, who plays Neville in the films. Linda was closely involved with taking care of the various children on the set, and had some amusing tales about the kids and how they were coping with the fame that had come their way since I first met them.
Around that time, I began playing with the idea of writing a book based on a film set. It was going to be a non-fantasy story, a funny, realistic tale of life in the movies, inspired by some of the stories Linda told me, mixed up with invented stories of my own. In the end this didn't come to anything and I lost interest in it. That often happens -- I'll play around with an idea, decide it's not for me, and drop it.
But I still liked the idea of doing a movie-based book, exploring the lives of a bunch of kids on a film set -- only with some sort of a fantastical twist. I'd written another couple of Grubbs Grady Books by that stage (they'll be released as Books 5 and 6 of "The Demonata"), as well as a novel set in the past (book 4), but hadn't quite figured out the structue of "The Demonata" series yet. I didn't have any big overall story arc. This was before I wrote "Demon Thief", and I couldn't quite see a way to pull all the novels together and build them up into one big, inter-connected series.
Was it possible, I wondered, to do ANOTHER Grubbs book, but set before the other two? A book to bridge the gap between "Lord Loss" and the new Grubbs books, to flesh out the universe I'd created and maybe help me find the way to the heart of the BIG story that I could sense lurking somewhere beneath the surface of the individual books I'd already written? What if ... what if ...
What if I sent Grubbs and Dervish to a movie set, and wrote a book which both spoofed over-the-top horror movies and worked as a fun bit of over-the-top schlock horror itself?!?
And that's when the idea for "Slawter" was born.
* * *
As I said, the idea for "Slawter" started with a trip to the "Harry Potter" film set. I was first invited onto the set by the movie's producer, David Heyman. He had also optioned the rights to my book back then (when Warner Bros were involved), and one of the perks of that was an invite to drop by and see the "H.P." set. I don't normally take much advantage of my position as a writer -- I don't look for tickets to advance screenings of movies, or pester people for free books or advance reading copies, or hang out with "celebrity firends" in cool, chic locations. But this was one opportunity I wasn't going to pass up!!!!
David's a really nice guy, with an interesting past. He started out in the film business working for David Lean -- one of my all-time favourite directors -- on "A Passage to India". The deal with Warner Bros didn't work out in the end, but that wasn't David's fault, and I have no hard feelings about it whatsoever -- I'd happily go through the same process again with him if he ever showed interest in any of my other books. Because I liked him so much, I decided to pay homage to him in the book that grew out of my visits to the set. But, as those who know me have learnt to their cost, I like to twist things around a bit when I put people I know into my books. Thus, my brother Declan and my best friend, Paul (Pablo) Kenny, became a pair of tramps when I worked them into "The Saga of Darren Shan"!! My cousin, Sharon Egin, became an exploding witch in "Demon Thief"!!!! Etc. etc.
So, although one of the key characters in this book is based on David Heyman, the pair aren't quite the same! For a start, this character is a woman. She's a slightly batty horror producer-cum-director, who's probably seen a few too many gruesome flicks in her time, and has got a bit too close to the work she does. She's not nasty, just a bit ... strange. She serves as the book's catalyst -- she's the one who invites Dervish to come to the set, and who says it's no problem if the boys tag along. She's also written the demon-strewn screenplay, and is personally overseeing the creation of the demonic props. Is it possible, as a rather hysterical Grubbs postulates at one stage, that she's in league with the Demonata hordes? Or is she a victim of happenstance? Or is Grubbs just imagining the whole threat?!? You'll have to read the book to find out!!!!!
But, in the meantime, sate your curiosity with this small nugget of information, and wink knowingly at your friends when you read the book and let them know the origin of the oddly named producer ... Davida Haym. (aka David A Haym -- she doesn't like horror fanboys to know she's a woman, so she hides behind a man's name!!)
* * *
The title of Slawter came to me very late in the day. I'll often have the title of the book clear in my head before I begin writing, or will have come up with it by the end of the first draft. But sometimes the title takes longer to fall into place. Slawter was the trickiest one I've yet to land!!! The working title of the book was Demon Town. In fact, that was still the title I had up to a few months ago! I wasn't overly keen on it, but at the same time it was quite punchy and accurate. I think, if there hadn't been other considerations at work, I might have stuck with it. But ... Book 2 was called Demon Thief. That title was absolutely perfect, so there was no way I was going to change it. But I felt Demon Town was too similar, especially coming so soon after Demon Thief. My agent and publishers agreed, but couldn't think of any better title for it. So I had to go searching!!!
I toyed with lots of different ideas and approaches. I wanted to something that would reflect what happens in the book, but also the fun nature of it (and, as dark as it gets in places, this is one of my more fantastical and wryly humourous books). After a while I began playing with the word slaughter. I transformed it into slawter fairly swiftly, but at first I didn't think that was enough. I wanted another word to go with it. I came up with a whole variety of names -- Slawter's Den ... Slawter's Lot ... Slawter's Edge ... etc. I was having a hard time choosing, so I sent a list of them to my agent and my publishers. My UK editor, Stella, immediately zoned in on Slawter and said that was the best name for the book. And, after much thought and deliberation, I saw that she was right. And thus Slawter was chosen!! I then had to go through the book and change all the Demon Town references (that was the name of the movie set in the book in the early drafts) to Slawter!!!!!
The only voice of dissent came from my American publisher. They wanted to go with a two name title, as I had originally planned. They liked the titles of Lord Loss and Demon Thief, and wanted to stick with two name titles for every book in the series. Well, I normally let my foreign publishers do what they like with the names of my books, but I felt they were wrong in this instance, so I resisted. The UK and American markets are very close to each other, and I've already tasted the confusion of promoting a series with a different name in one than in the other. (In America, The Saga of Darren Shan is known as The Cirque Du Freak Series.) I think it's easier to have the same name for a book or series in America as in the UK, and since I felt Slawter was the best name out of all the proposed titles, I strongly urged Little Brown to go with it. And since they're such nice people, they agreed -- hurrah!!!!!
* * *
Why do I use those strange arrows at the start of the chapters in "The Demonata"?!?
Well, originally there were two reasons. When I wrote "Lord Loss" I started to write it in the third person. After a couple of pages I realised it wasn't working, that the story needed to be quicker and more personal. So I switched to the first person and present tense, and it flew like a guided missile from there. Because I wanted it to be fast and punchy, with short sentences and chapters, I decided to do something with it stylistically, to provide an actual visual pointer to its super-fast speed. Hence the arrows -- I wanted them to draw attention to the action immediately, to point to the words as if to exclaim "LOOK!!!!" A bit obvious, perhaps, but I thought it was a nice touch.
I actually got the idea for the arrows from Kurt Vonnegut. He used the arrows in his book, "Breakfast of Champions", which was the first book of his I ever read. (I didn't think much of it the first time. When I read it a second time, having read lots of his other books, I fell in love with it.) Vonnegut is one of my favourite writers, and his short, snappy style has been a big influence on the way I've written "The Demonata". So the arrows were also my way of tipping my hat to him, of acknowledging his influence. (As an aside, when I told this to my Japanese editor, she ordered a copy of "Breakfast of Champions" -- only to discover that in more recent reprints the arrows have been removed!!!!!)
As I've explained elsewhere, "Lord Loss" was never meant to be the start of a series. It was intended to be a stand-alone book. But then I had an idea for another book about demons ... then another ... and another. As I worked my way into the series and slowly figured out what the hell was going on, I realised I wanted to tell a large-scale story that featured three main characters. The stories of those characters wouldn't connect early on in the series, but as it progressed I planned to draw their stories together and show the links that existed between the three leads. To that end, I decided to use the arrows for Bec and Kernel Fleck, who are the other two narrators. Even though they don't narrate quite as quickly and snappily as Grubbs, they do tell their stories in the present, and the arrows unite them. The arrows are a clue for readers -- they let you know that although these three teens might not seem to be connected to each other, at some level their stories are linked, and at some stage during the series they (or their stories) will bleed into one another, to reveal the larger, over-riding storyline of "The Demonata".
* * *
Here's a little taste of just a few of the very many treats that lie in store in Slawter ...
The Lambs, who were mentioned but never seen in "Lord Loss", put in their first sinister appearance of the series ...
Lord Loss returns, and those who were disappointed that we didn't see the demon master actually fighting in the first book will at last be able to follow him into battle ...
We get to meet a host of new demons, along with an all-too-familiar little monster who should be in diapers ...
There will be deaths -- many deaths ...
Bill-E Spleen becomes the focus of a possible kidnapping ...
Dervish gets sweet on a pretty new lady -- could the aging ex-punk be falling in love?!?
And Grubbs finds his magical powers developing, but he isn't sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing ...
For more details, you'll have to go read the book!! See you all soon in Slawter!!!!!!!
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Slawter (Ireland and UK Draft)
Slawter PB (Japan)