Two years after he kicked off eSpec Book’s Systema Paradoxa series — in which different writers pen novellas about different cryptids — writer John L. French is bringing his time with this series to a close with Daylight Comes (paperback, Kindle), his third and final contribution.
In the following email interview, he discusses how he picked the last cryptid to write about, as well as why it’s the final time he’ll be writing about these mysterious monsters.
To start, what cryptid are you writing about in Daylight Comes?
The dwayyo. Like snallygasters, dwayyo are also from Frederick County. They first showed up in When the Moon Shines.
Did you start out wanting to writing about the dwayyo, and Daylight Comes is what you came up with, or did you start with the plot and then figure out what cryptid would pair with it best?
I wasn’t planning on writing any more cryptid novellas after writing When The Moon Shines. But then Danielle [Ackley-McPhail, eSpec’s co-founder, publisher, and editor] was named Guest Of Honor for the Chessie Con and asked me to write a novella about Chessie, the sea serpent who hangs out in the Chesapeake Bay. So, I wrote my second one, Chessie At Bay. Between finishing the first and starting the second I got my hands on Cryptozoology A To Z. When I read the entry on the Beast Of Gevaudan, I knew an updated version would make a great cryptid novella. And having already written two cryptid novellas, I decided to go for the hat trick. Hell, most everyone loves a trilogy and fortunately Danielle is one of them.
Why did you want to write a story about the dwayyo?
I really like the dwayyo, and after the ending of When The Moon Shines and their very brief appearance in Chessie At Bay I wanted to write an ending to their story.
So, where did you get the idea for the plot of Daylight Comes?
As I said, it was inspired by the story of the Beast Of Gevaudan, which is said to have terrorized parts of France in the 1760s. Part of this story inspired the action in Daylight Comes. I’d tell you more, but it might give part of Daylight Comes away. As for the story title, the word dwayyo suggests the opening of Harry Bellefonte’s Banana Boat Song, dwayyo instead of “Day-O” so I knew right away I had to call the story “Daylight Comes.”
The Systema Paradoxa novellas have all been horror stories, but a lot have incorporated other genres as well. It sounds like Daylight Comes is doing that; that it has elements of noir and urban fantasy…
It’s more of a serial killer story mixed with horror. There’s has been a series of horrific murders in Harbor City. Are the newly returned dwayyo responsible or is the result of something darker?
You’ve written several books, including, as you mentioned, two previous Systema Paradoxa novellas, When The Moon Shines and Chessie At Bay. Are there any writers who had a big influence on Daylight Comes but not on anything else you’ve written, and especially not Moon or Chessie?
No one particular writer. Daylight Comes stems from the horror and police procedurals I’ve written in the past as well my experiences as a CSI in the Baltimore Police in working serial killer cases.
How about non-literary influences; was Daylight Comes influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
Now, along with Daylight Comes you also recently released The Wages Of Syn, the first book in the Jericho Syn Casebook series. Who is Jericho Syn, what is this series about, and what specifically is Wages about and when and where does it take place?
Jericho Syn is the nephew of Theodore Syn, who appears in all three of my cryptid novellas. Uncle and nephew share a similar appearance, and both have the nickname “Scarecrow.” Like his uncle, Jericho was a Baltimore City police officer who winds up working in Harbor City.
The Wages Of Syn is a collection of crime stories, nothing supernatural, no monsters that aren’t human. Jericho is the main character. He’s not a cop. He’s not a part of the Outfit. He’s somewhere in between and he’s the one you go to when you’re in trouble and no one else can or will help you. If you’re in trouble, stop in The Shadows and ask for the Scarecrow.
And is there a reason you didn’t make Theodore the main character of The Wages Of Syn?
The Wages Of Syn is a different kind of book. It’s straight crime. Theodore has too much of a history with the weird. Besides, his story comes to an end with Daylight Comes. But, like his uncle, Jericho was a member of the Baltimore Police Department before arriving in Harbor City. And he physically resembles Theodore and so he also wound up being called by his uncle’s nickname: Scarecrow.
You also recently published what seems like a very different novel: In The Ruins Of Caerleon: The Chronicles Of Conor, Knight Of The Circle. What is that book about, and what kind of a world is it set in?
It’s set in a fantasy medieval Europe, sometime during what is generally called the Dark Ages. It’s a collection of stories that show the journey of Conor of Scotia (an old, old name for Ireland) from being a sell-sword to becoming a hero. Along the way, Conor runs into a host of problems and characters. Among the characters is one Seejay son of Hendor, based on the late great storyteller C. J. Henderson. I wrote the first Seejay story for eSpec’s The Society For The Preservation Of C. J. Henderson. When I was putting together the stories for Caerleon, Seejay somehow insisted on a story all his own.
Going back to Daylight Comes, earlier I asked if it had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. To flip things around, do you think Daylight could work as the basis for a movie, show, or game?
I think it would make a great, limited police procedural / horror series like the kind streaming services like Netflix puts on.
And, Netflix, Max, Prime, and the rest, if you’re reading this, once you’re done with my cryptid stories, you might as well produce the rest.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Daylight Comes?
I went all out on this one, going places in its writing I never thought to visit. I think the ending will surprise the reader. For those who’ve read the first two, I think this is the best of the three.
Finally, if someone enjoys Daylight Comes, and they’ve read the other Systema Paradoxa novellas, what horror novella of someone else’s would you suggest they check out?
Well, once they’ve read all the Systema Paradoxa novellas, I suggest they try Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series and Anthony Ryan’s Seven Swords saga. And for a longer work that wonderfully mixes crime, noir, pulp, and horror, there’s Ty Drago’s Rags. Think The Shadow meets Landsdale’s God Of The Razor.