When the show Lucifer premiered on Fox, some complained that the titular demon was too suave and good looking. As if Satan would try to seduce people to the dark side by looking like a fat slob on laundry day. But while J.P. Jackson’s dark LGBTQ+ urban fantasy novella Devil’s Due (paperback, Kindle) is also about a good looking demon, and is influenced by Lucifer, in the following email interview, Jackson say his story owes more to a different supernatural show.
To start, what is Devil’s Due about, and when and where does it take place?
Devil’s Due is about Dominic Ronove, a mid-tier demon whose job on Earth is to get humans to willingly sign their soul away. But when chance crosses paths with a young gay man, Malik Parsa, who doesn’t react to him as other humans would, this intrigues Dominic, and he decides to go out on a date with Malik.
Turns out, Malik is wanted by others within the supernatural community because of what he is, an identity Malik doesn’t know about.
The story takes place in my hometown, Edmonton, Alberta, and it could have occurred yesterday.
Where did you get the idea for Devil’s Due? What inspired it?
I dwell within the darkness, and I enjoy it and am most comfortable there. The first adult novel I read at the age of 12 was Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror, followed closely by William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. I read horror for years, then slowly morphed over to fantasy, reading Anne McCaffrey, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Piers Anthony. Then came urban fantasy. Patricia Briggs and Charlaine Harris showed me that the horror elements I love, merged with myths, legends, religion, and magic, create a whole new realm to discover.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the TV series Supernatural. I own all the seasons. All these things helped form the base of Devil’s Due, and many of my other stories.
Is a “contract demon” something you made it up, or is it something you got from somewhere, like maybe a religious text?
The concept of selling your soul to the devil has been around for a long time. Supernatural took it a step further where, if you knew how, you could summon a crossroads demon and bargain with the beast for whatever human need you required but couldn’t attain through regular means. I took it one step further. Dominic Ronove is my contract demon, whereas the actual demon Ronove is a collector of souls in demonology — though his depiction is, well, less than suave and alluring. I wanted a sexy, brutal, morally corrupt beast from the pit, but still retaining human qualities, despite his refusal to acknowledge them. Got a desperate need? Willing to sell away your soul? You can have all you ever wanted, for six years, and then it’s time to pay. I also explain why Dominic works as hard as he does.
Why do demons want souls? You’ll find out in Devil’s Due.
Riffing off something you said earlier, it sounds like Devil’s Due is an urban fantasy story, but one that’s horror adjacent.
You nailed it. I’ve always found urban fantasy to be gritty, with a little bit of blood and gore. I’ve often called my writing dark LGBTQ+ urban fantasy, or LGBTQ+ urban fantasy with a side dish of horror.
Now, Devil’s Due is not your first published work. Are there any writers or stories that had a big influence on Devil’s Due but not on any of your other books?
I would say Steven King and Anne Rice, maybe even a little Clive Barker. I read all of those authors growing up, and even though it’s been over 30 years, they still resonate.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games? You already mentioned Supernatural…
I think these things are probably the bigger influences on my writing. I love to game (PlayStation here), but I don’t get much of a chance to engage with it as much as I’d like. I’m currently playing The Last Of Us. Love it. Don’t really do board games or card games, although Magic still looks intriguing.
I love visual stimulation. TV shows like Supernatural, The Magicians, Lucifer, Grimm, True Blood, Van Helsing, Being Human, Charmed, The Strain, Buffy, Midnight Mass…the list goes on and on. I love these shows, and I get lost in them. They help me get in the groove to create, inspire ideas, and set my brain in the right mood to create glorious rotting ambiances where dastardly amoral things can occur.
But as much as I could binge watch these shows, I also put limits on how many hours a day I spend watching someone else’s creation. I need to be creating as much as I’m consuming.
And what about Canela and Jalisco, your Chihuahuas? What influence did they have on Devil’s Due?
Ha ha! The little hellhounds. Canela is from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She’s not quite 3 pounds, has no teeth, and she’s recently gone deaf. Jalisco, we got in Vimy, Alberta, and he’s a walloping 8 pounds. They are characters. They both turn 14 this fall. Canela likes to taunt the creatures that regularly stop by to visit me, and Jalisco often summons lesser beings on his own. But usually, they are fast asleep in a furry blanket on the bed next to my writing desk.
Occasionally they interrupt me for snacks.
Now, you have already said that Devil’s Due is the first book in a series called Hellfire & Damnation, and will be followed by Better The Devil You Know. What can you tell us about the Hellfire & Damnation series?
Hellfire & Damnation has been planned out to be a serial novella, so about 30-35,000 words per installment, and right now it looks like it will be anywhere between 5 to 7 sections. That would sound like I’ve plotted it out, but I really haven’t…much. I know what happens in each segment, but the gory details I leave up to the characters to figure out, and well, sometimes they take off on these wild tangents. Do you know how hard it is to wrangle and contain a demon that’s gone wild?
That’s how I put myself through college. Anyway, what will Better The Devil You Know be about, and do you know when it will be released?
Better The Devil You Know sees Dominic attempt to keep Malik safe from the other creatures that want him, specifically his brother Mammon. But we also get to see Scott (the roommate), and Amber (the new bestie) have their lives uprooted because of the burgeoning relationship between Dominic and Malik.
There’s a road trip, a magical outing (think coming out of the closet), and an unexpected trip to Hell.
I’m trying to get one written every six months or so. When will they be released? Depends on several factors. I hope they’re all good enough to be picked up by Rebel Satori [Devil’s Due publisher], but we’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Earlier I asked about the movies, TV shows, and games that may have influenced Devil’s Due. But to flip things around, do you think this story would work as a movie, show, or game?
I would love to see this produced as a Netflix series. Now that Supernatural has ended, I think there would be a legion of fans who would love this, but I’d have to stick to my guns on the fact that this is 100% M/M paranormal romance / dark LGBTQ+ urban fantasy. One of the things I loved about Lucifer is that the producers didn’t shy away from Luci being bisexual. We sometimes saw boys leaving his bed. But we’ve seen the devil, or demons “get the girl” for far too long. I want a top-notch produced, acted, and FX’d show where the gay is unapologetically on screen.
I think we’re getting there. With Neil Patrick Harris’ Uncoupled, Billy Eichner’s upcoming Bro’s, and Showcase’s newly revamped Queer As Folk, we have great examples of where we can go with quality LGBTQ content. Now I want that “gayness” in a flavor I enjoy most – the world of the supernatural.
And if Netflix did call, and said, “We want it, and we want it gay,” who do you think they should get to play Dominic, Malik, and the other main characters?
Well, a M/M paranormal romance or dark LGBTQ+ urban fantasy show should be dominated by a queer cast, so, for Dominic, [NOS4A2‘s] Zachary Quinto, but he’d have to be bearded; for Malik, Scott Evans [Grace And Frankie]; for Scott MacManus, [Fargo‘s] Ben Whishaw (though I’m not 100% sure on this one); for Amber Rhodes, Mary Wiseman [Star Trek: Discovery], who’s not queer, but then, Amber isn’t queer in the story either; for Mammon, [Fear The Walking Dead‘s] John Glover; for Sahir, Guillermo Diaz [Stonewall]; for Sung, [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s] Vincent Rodriguez; for Rodolfo, Lee Pace [Guardians Of The Galaxy]; and for Elisha, Rutina Wesley [True Blood].
But I’d also love to include Murray Bartlett [Tales Of The City], Billy Eichner, Elliott Page [The Umbrella Academy], [Orange Is The New Black‘s] Laverne Cox, Anthony Rapp [Star Trek: Discovery], Wilson Cruz [Star Trek: Discovery], and [Looking‘s] Russell Tovey, too. But hey – there are more characters that show up in the next installments, so…this could work. I already know exactly who Murray Bartlett would play. And that’s coming in Better The Devil You Know.
So, is there anything else you think people should know about Devil’s Due?
This book is definitely dark, so don’t go into it thinking it’s light and fluffy romance. Is it scary? No, I don’t think so. But it has some dark themes so be prepared. One reader described it as darkly erotic. I like that.
Finally, if someone enjoys Devil’s Due, which of your other books would you suggest they read next?
Well, each of my books are a little different, but I might suggest The Magus Malefica. Right now I have two books out in that series: Summoned and Cursed. There are some horror elements, but it’s more magical, a dash of humor, and some spice. After all, you couldn’t have an all-male coven without a little sexy witchy fun. This fall I have Possessed, the third book, slated to be written.