I would like to welcome Ginn Hale to Literary Escapism today. Ginn is the author of the novel, Wicked Gentlemen, which is available by Blind Eye Books now.
And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders.
But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai’s company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation.
From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.
His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well. Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked.
Wicked Gentlemen got its start when I was contemplating how strongly many religions rely on having a bad guy to take the blame for anything that goes wrong or seems unfair about life. I’d just read the bible through and I realized that “the Devil made me do it” pops up all the way from Genesis to Revelations, and not just on the part of various “weak” women. Even God has to torment Job, because the devil dared him to.
And then I wondered what would happen if all these demons and devils quit. Who would people blame for their moments of bad behavior and foul weather?
With that in the back of my mind, I began writing about an alternative Victorian city, called Kingscross, where three hundred years before all the demons of Hell had come up and repented. Their descendants, called Prodigals, now lived in a literal underworld—a ghetto beneath the city called Hells Below and their struggles were those of any misunderstood minority, but with strange powers and magic thrown in, because I wanted to write something fast, fun, and exciting, not a religious thesis!
The romantic aspect of the story wasn’t something I really planned, but Belimai and Harper played off each other so nicely, as Inquisitor and Prodigal, idealist and cynic, and as hero and anti-hero, that I soon realized that their relationship was at the core of my story. The abduction of Harper’s sister and the violent murders of a number of Prodigals were the mysteries that I built the plot around, but the confusion, desire, anger and compassion between Harper and Belimai gave that plot its meaning.
And more importantly—at least to me—their difficult relationship, with its history of mistrust, longing and hope, helped me answer the question I first pondered. What do people do when faced with their own failings? What becomes of us when we can’t blame our “devils” for the wrong we do?
It’s my hope—and the unspoken theme of my novel– that we find beauty in each other’s flaws and the grace within ourselves to redeem each other…
And of course, because it’s a fantasy novel, there are also explosions, prison breaks and the promise of happy ever after!