Dorian Graves is an urban fantasy author hailing from the mountains of Oregon, occasionally escaping to the Pacific Ocean to praise our squidly overlords—er, we mean to enjoy the surf and marine life, of course. Currently, Dorian is hard at work on the Deadly Drinks novel series; the first book, Bones and Bourbon, is set to be released April 2, 2018 by NineStar Press.
Your books and stories often take place in the Pacific Northwest. What is it about this setting that inspires you?
As someone who grew up deep in the mountains of Oregon, let me tell you: the woods are a weird, almost mythic place to live. They came with adventures such as boldly marching down the river like a Pacific Tom Sawyer, and also terrors like finding a half-eaten deer during such a trip and hoping whatever ate it isn’t too close by. You’ve got the wonders of nature, but the apple tree might be hollow under all those flowers, and the river you fished in during the summer may swell large enough to carry houses downstream come winter. Beauty and isolation grow hand-in-hand, and it’s a feeling I like to share with both my protagonists and I reader. No one will hear you scream if you fall in the woods—but if you don’t miss a step, there are such wonders to be found.
Urban Fantasy is a genre that often combines ancient myths with modern gritty settings. Why do you think these two factors combine so well?
As humans, there’s a thrill that comes with being scared, and often with conquering (or at least surviving) the source of that fear. Most of those myths are cultural touchstones about our world and how to survive it; Gods teach us the rules of nature and society, and monsters show the consequences for ignoring those rules.
Bringing such myths into the present has two effects. One is that we get the visceral thrill from the monsters no longer being “out there” in the woods just out of sight and mind, but right here, lurking in the alleyways or watching us as we stumble out of the bar. Yet this also takes these powerful myths, things we once thought were unavoidable, and puts them on the same level as us. The vampire might be trying to catch a bite to eat, but he still has to avoid fighting his prey if he doesn’t want to meet the sun through the bars of a jail cell. The clerk at the cornerstore might be a god in disguise, but she still has to ring up your 3 AM snack run if she wants to pay her bills.
The terrors we were told to avoid are here. But now, the playing field is even. Do we run, fight, or try to move past the fear? Those possibilities are what gives urban fantasy its power.
The first novel in your Deadly Drinks series is entitled Bones and Bourbon. Can you give us an idea what we are in for when the book arrives in April 2018?
Ever read an urban fantasy book and think, “this needs more weird creatures in it?” You’re in luck; the Gallows brothers are half-human and half-huldra, and there’s a whole mythical menagerie locked away in the woods. Wonder how villains in an urban fantasy make their evil schemes? Alright then, we put the story’s main antagonist in the same body as one of our protagonists, alternating between sharing control and fighting over it. Bored with shoe-horned, often-hetero romances? Then hold onto this, it’s a pre-established romance between a transgender bounty-hunter and his boyfriend who may or may not be from another world.
All this plus carnivorous unicorns, meddling supernatural parents, and some thinly-veiled Blue Öyster Cult references. It was a fun ride to write, and I hope you all have just as much fun reading it come April.
What other ideas are you hoping to explore in this series?
On one hand, the Deadly Drinks series asks a lot of tough questions. What are the downsides to immortality, what happens if one’s purpose in life violently changes, and how far should one fight for love if the source grows corrupt? But there’s no fun in contemplating philosophical quandaries in a void, so on the other hand, the Gallows brothers take on some weird adventures as they figure out where their morals lie. Without spoiling what’s in store, I can say that they’ll face strange creatures—some familiar, some never seen before—discover hidden societies, and maybe even uncover secrets about reality as they know it.
What is your personal Holy Grail for writing?
I want to make a world readers can explore beyond the pages of the story. A place like Hogwarts or a Galaxy Far Far Away where there are stories told with inspiring characters and sweeping plots, but with hints of more just waiting to be uncovered. To make a story that people connect to on such a deep level that they think about it long after the book’s been closed, maybe even discover something about their place in our world as they imagine adventures in mine…
A world that gives them something even after I am gone. That would be the ultimate dream come true.
Dorian’s story, “A Taste of Empty” is available in Mad Scientist Journal: February 2015 or listen to the audio version read by the cast of Sage & Savant
Find out more about Dorian Graves
Author web pages: pictureofdoriangraves.blogspot.com/
Follow her on Twitter