The Black Parade
The Black Parade Series
Genre: Urban fantasy/Paranormal/Supernatural
Number of pages: 346
Word Count: 103,169
Cover Artist: Gunjan Kumar
One bullet is all it took to transform eighteen-year-old New Yorker Jordan Amador into the last hope for souls of the dead. However, it also transformed her into a cantankerous asocial waitress with a drinking problem.
Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can communicate with ghosts, angels, and demons. Worse still, she did so on the eve of her own awakening, making her the last Seer on Earth with no one to guide her. As penance, God gives her two years to help one hundred souls with unfinished business cross over from Earth to the afterlife or she will go to Hell. Just as she approaches the deadline, Jordan finds her hundredth soul: a smart-mouthed poltergeist named Michael whose ability to physically touch things makes him distinct from her usual encounters with the dead. However, the deeper she delves solving his sudden death, the more she realizes something sinister is on the horizon.
With time running short, Jordan stumbles across a plot that may unravel the fragile balance among Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Her life is plunged into chaos as she is hunted by demons that want to use her valuable Seer blood to bring about the end of the world and discovers that these creatures have a frightening connection to her family bloodline. Plus, the budding romance between Jordan and Michael makes it harder for them to let go of each other so he can become part of the eternal black parade.
Crazed teeth gnashed inches away from my face. The eyes rolled back until only the whites showed. Spider-like fingers strained for my throat. I screamed and ran towards the bedroom.
I slammed the door shut and dove for the nightstand, hands shaking as I checked the chambers to make sure the gun was loaded. The door flew open with a bang. A second bang followed. Then all was silent.
The phantom was gone, but in its place stood a man in a suit beneath his dark grey duster. His hair was black and his face was growing paler by the second. He reached out his hand. My panicked eyes spotted the scarlet speckled across the palm. The room had gone silent because the gun had deafened me. The barrel was still smoking and now I could see the hole I had put through the man’s chest.
I couldn’t breathe, but somehow I could still talk, and my lips were whispering one word over and over.
“No, no, no, no…”
The man said nothing as he fell to his knees in front of me, his azure eyes locked on mine as if he were trying to tell me something, but the strength was ebbing from him in crimson rivulets. I dropped the gun and fell to my knees as well. My fingertips grazed his face as if I could bring him back to life with one touch, but we both knew it was too late. He laid a rough, scarred hand to the side of my cheek where hot tears had fallen, his lips parting to whisper in a soothing voice.
“Don’t be afraid. They’re going to come for you, but please don’t be afraid.”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please…” I managed to gasp out in between sobs.
The man merely smiled and closed his eyes. “Don’t be. I’m ready.”
He swayed forward and I caught his heavy body, feeling his blood soak my shirt. He slid down until his face rested in my lap, drawing in a few more shallow breaths before going completely still, empty, lifeless. I sat there with my coated hands stroking his hair, still whispering over and over for him to forgive me.
Golden light poured in from all angles, nearly blinding me, and I could just barely see the outline of a man with wings.
When the light dimmed, a blond man stood in front of me with white-gold wings that stretched nearly from wall to wall of my small bedroom. His tanned body was wrapped in white linen and his skin seemed to possess an ethereal quality, glowing like he had some unique source of inner radiance. Blue eyes like twin suns shone down on me with kindness and empathy. A new feeling of shock and reverence gave me enough strength to speak.
“W-Who are you?”
“My name is Gabriel. I am the archangel of the Lord God.” His voice had an echo to it that seemed to soothe and agitate me at the same time. The angel folded his wings into his back and knelt beside the dead man in my lap. His fingers hovered over the wound the bullet had left through the man’s back.
“As I thought…he is dead.”
More tears poured as I tried to explain. “I-I didn’t know it was him. There was a monster chasing me. I got scared. I’m so sorry.”
Gabriel’s face fell into that of a pitying expression. “You are human. It was only natural for you to be afraid. However, the Father cannot overlook what you have done. The man before you is a Seer—one of the few humans in this world who can see angels, demons, and spirits. He was hunting the demon you saw a moment ago.”
“Please, I don’t want to die. I’ll do anything to make this better,” I whispered, bowing to the angel.
He touched the crown of my head in comfort. “There is something you can do to make amends, my child. You must take his place.”
I looked up in shock. “What?”
“You are a Seer, Jordan. Your abilities had not awakened until just now. That is why the demon was drawn to you. Your time to serve the Lord is now. In order to pay for the crime of taking this man’s life, you must help one hundred wandering souls cross from this world to the next. If you do not finish this task two years from this day, I am afraid your soul shall be sent to hell.”
“H-How? How do I even know which people are spirits?” I stammered in protest.
“The dead have no feet to walk upon because they are no longer tied to the Earth. Your task is to discover how they died and help them fulfill their final wish. Do not fear, for I will teach you how to free their souls. After this is done, the soul will go to the next world and I will write down the name in the Book of Penance.”
He held out his hand and a red leather book materialized, spelling out my name in gold cursive across the front. It managed to be both beautiful and macabre. Gabriel placed it by my side and carefully rolled the man over onto his back. He plucked a feather from his wings and pressed it over the man’s heart.
“Rest in peace. The gates of Heaven are waiting.”
I watched with wonderment as the feather dissipated into tiny flecks of light and felt warmth as something nearly transparent rose from the body. I realized with shock that it was the man’s soul. He hung in the air between Gabriel and me for a moment before floating upward and out of sight. His body faded seconds later, leaving only the bloodstained clothes behind. My fingers closed over the grey duster, which was still salvageable in comparison to the shirt and pants.
“I shall be watching over you always, Jordan Amador…”
I like this one. It’s got some angels… you know those big names that get thrown around :), and the it’s got a psychic medium, and it’s got ghosts, and some demons, and maybe a few other goodies I won’t spill. It’s in the urban fantasy, and it’s got a nice plot with some excellent characters, and a fun ride!
The main character is Jordan, who doesn’t know she’s a Seer, which is the medium part, until some crazy stuff starts happening. She had to figure out a whole lot along the road of this adventure, especially when trying to help Michael. Yeah, that one. I like when there’s character growth, and when you get to see and learn as the character does. It makes for a very likable heroine. Plus, Michael’s pretty to look at LOL 🙂
This one is another good versus evil, angels versus demons, but it was done so well. I didn’t feel like it was repetitive, or boring. Actually, it was quite the page turner. There are all kinds of thing happening. The mystery of who Michael really is, who the bad guys are, why they took “that” thing, and what’s going to happen because of it. LOL Yes, that’s my teasing without spoilers. It can also be emotional and action packed, with a little romance on the side 😉
The writing was well done, and will keep you engaged. I recently found out that this will be a series and more will continue on, but no worries, no big cliff hanger for those who hate it. Just enough to keep you wanting more for the next book! Which I DO! LOL So, 4.5 PAWS from me!
First, tell me a little about your book 🙂….
The Black Parade is an urban fantasy novel about a girl named Jordan Amador who accidentally kills a Seer: a person who can see and hear ghosts, angels, and demons. As punishment for her crime, she must take his place as a Seer and help 100 souls with unfinished business cross over to the afterlife within two years or her soul is bound for hell.
Just as she approaches her deadline, Jordan bumps into Michael—a smart mouthed poltergeist whose ability to touch things, unlike regular ghosts, makes him an anomaly. However, as Jordan starts solving his mysterious death, she begins to uncover frightening secrets and opens the door to copious amounts of chaos. She becomes hunted by demons who want to use her Seer blood in order to take over humanity and enslave it. She has only days to figure out a way to stop them, put Michael’s soul to rest, and save herself in the process. Things would also be a lot easier if the two weren’t slowly starting to fall for each other.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
It actually started through my mother and father, who read to me every night when I was a kid. I grew up a huge bookworm and I wrote little journals as a child and all through my teenage years. I started writing fanfiction in middle school and that is where my interest in writing really grew. I wrote original fiction from then on and never thought that it was something that other people couldn’t do because I considered it to just be a hobby. I’d always loved doing it, and never imagined that someday I’d do it for a living.
What inspired you to write your first book and what was it?
The inspiration for The Black Parade came from three main sources: (1) Paradise Lost by John Milton (2) the 2005 film Constantine and (3) reading Greek mythology in college. All three of these seem like odd inspirations, but they all sort of melted together in my head when I first started writing The Black Parade. I had always enjoyed Paradise Lost, but once I took a class on it, I knew I had to write a book discussing the subject matter because it was just so interesting and yet we don’t really have any popular movies or books with influences from it these days.
I’m also a huge advocate for diversification in urban fantasy and high fantasy genres, so I really wanted to see a woman of color stumbling her way through the mythical world of angels and demons, and that’s how we ended up with Jordan Amador.
However, The Black Parade is my first professional grade novel. The first book I ever tried to write was this terrible high fantasy novel I started in middle school that was supposed to be about this alien race of cat and dog people who all had Japanese based names because I was obsessed with anime back then. Thank goodness it never saw the light of day. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not in particular. To be frank, my life is boring. Not to say I haven’t done things worthwhile because I have, but nothing that could fill an interesting book. I also don’t write people I know because it’s just not how my brain works. To be fair, though, some of my characters do look like famous actors in my head. For instance, Mr. N, who you’ll later meet if you read The Black Parade, looks a lot like an older, gruffer version of Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Michael is mentioned to bear similarities to Jared Padalecki, despite the fact that I wrote the novel a full three years before ever seeing Supernatural. Spooky, right? However, that is about as far as it goes. I sometimes picture certain actors in the roles in order to make it easier to describe them and bring them to life, but I don’t use anyone from my life in my work. The most I’ll do is borrow names, but usually just for minor characters. For example, Jordan’s ex-boyfriend is named after my first crush in fifth grade. Weird, but it fit the character so I kept it.
However, I do base character interactions on some things that I’ve encountered in real life. For instance, the belligerent sexual tension that Michael and Jordan share with each other comes from personal experiences with guys I’ve liked over the years. I’m not the traditional type of gal who makes her feelings known. I tend to flirt through teasing and arguing like Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, or Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy. I’ve found it’s a lot more fun to read about a couple with issues than the typical romance that’s love at first sight.
How do you chose when/which characters die in your books?
Does it sound pretentious to say that I don’t really choose? The narrative always leads me somewhere and I unearth a character death as it happens. My characters always have priority over simply making a plot. I take more care in their interactions than I do obsessing over how to make something happen in the story simply because it “needs” to happen. There are two major character deaths in The Black Parade, and both of them have important effects on the character’s lives for different reasons.
To me, death is important not for shock value or for making your audience cry, but for thematic and character developing reasons. Overusing death makes it feel cheap and meaningless because it dulls you to see it all the time. If a character dies in my books, it’s for a reason that has to feel organic to the story and has repercussions that span the length of the story. I refuse to bump people off just to manipulate my readers.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Certainly! I’m currently reading The Unconsciousness of an Ethiopian Princess by Talisha Harrison. It’s a book of deeply moving poetry. I’m loving what I’ve read of it so far and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.
Who do you look up to as a writer?
I’ve got tons of writers who I admire, and not just novelists. My love of writing also stems from watching Batman: The Animated Series as a child, which was written and produced by Bruce Timm, who is a magnificent writer and all around awesome dude. Same with Paul Dini and the late great Dwayne McDuffie.
I grew up reading the late great Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, and I still go back and read them because of the sheer talent of his writing. I’m constantly finding new things to love about the whimsy and depth of his characters.
Currently, though, I’m basically worshipping two writers: Andrew W. Marlowe, the creator and writer for ABC’s Castle, and Jim Butcher, author of the Harry Dresden novels. If you need to know anything about me, it’s that I’m obsessed with both Castle and the Dresden Files. I love them essentially because the writing is transcendent for both of them. Castle has definitively murdered the “Moonlighting Curse” and given us one of the best on screen romances in any show on the air, and Harry Dresden has proven that there is a way to be a long running novel series that doesn’t deteriorate over time.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Of course. What author doesn’t have things they want to change? I think I would revise the third act of the novel a bit more closely because there are some things I feel that I rushed through in order to tie up the story. It took me months to finish the last third of the book and while I’m still happy with the result, I would have taken more time exploring the climax.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Plot details and pacing are my biggest challenges, by far. I consider myself to be a character writer, as in I’m far more interested in putting my characters through hell (literally in some cases) than in making Plot A and Plot B and Plot C happen. For instance, The Black Parade is the first of a trilogy, and I am currently writing the final novel. It took me months to come up with the concept just because I was so unsure of where to go from how the second book leaves off. After I got the concept down, I started writing…a LOT. I actually wrote like 50,000 words in the span of a month. Then I went back and read it and realized I had pacing issues coming out of my ears. I then sat down with my writing sensei and we both worked on the plot details and figured out what wasn’t working and why. After that, I tossed out about 1/3rd of what I’d written, changed some characters, adjusted the plot, and kept moving forward.
What book are you reading now? Or what genre?
I mentioned Talisha Harrison’s poetry, but I’ve also got my eye on The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith, Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, Frozen Heat by Richard Castle, and Shadowland by Meg Cabot. I’m also frothing at the mouth for Skin Game by Jim Butcher, but that’s not going to be out until closer to the end of the year.
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
My cover was designed by Gunjan Kumar, a graphic artist I hired via CrowdSpring. CrowdSpring has a book cover design project section that I used to describe the kind of cover I wanted while a ton of immensely talented artists worked for a $300 reward. I didn’t work on the cover myself, though, I merely suggested a few changes here and there. It was all Gunjan, who is just awesome in every sense of the word. I love my cover. *Gollum voice* My precious!
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I learned all kinds of stuff from writing my books, but the most prominent is how to write at great length. Most authors write 1-2 books per year, which means cranking them suckers out in high quality and quickly. My first novel took me about two to three years, as I wrote it as a novella first, and then finished it a year later, and then had it professionally edited a year after that. I wrote the sequel to The Black Parade, entitled She Who Fights Monsters if you’re curious, in eight months flat. I started the final novel of the series this past May and it’s already 2/3rds of the way done. Writing these books has taught me how to pace myself, how to examine my own weaknesses and strengths, and how to overcome the most difficult parts of the process all within a time frame. I think it’ll be a helpful trait in the future if a publisher one day recognizes my work and wants to sign with me. I’ve learned to be a lot more disciplined thanks to this novel series.
If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose?
Ha! Good question. It’s a toss-up, really. I wouldn’t mind being Jordan because while her life is just horrendously unfair, she does get to hang around with Michael, who is easily one of my favorite characters that I’ve written so far. As much as Jordan and I disagree about her life choices, she’s still a good woman deep down and she loves people despite acting so defensive all the time. I like her values and what she stands for, so I certainly wouldn’t mind being her, for better or for worse.
The other person I wouldn’t mind being, oddly enough, is Belial. If you haven’t read the book yet, you may be a bit confused, but Belial is the main villain. I say I wouldn’t mind being him not because I’m evil (not that you know of anyway, mwahahahaha!) but because I absolutely love his devil-may-care attitude, no pun intended. You’ll get to see a lot more of it in the upcoming sequel, but Belial is one of my favorite characters to write simply because he has no brain-mouth filter. He doesn’t care. He will say what he wants, take what he wants, do what he wants, and damn the consequences. I’ve always been a shy, introverted person and so it would be kind of cool to have that kind of swagger in my step. Belial’s an evil bastard, but I envy the freedom he has in all his actions, as despicable as they might be.
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
Does my book count? Wait, I was just kidding, put down the tomatoes!
The Dresden Files are a must. You have no choice. Go to Amazon and download the entire series. Read it now. Thank me later. I’m serious, it’s by far the best contemporary novel series existing right now and you’ll do yourself a favor by reading it.
I’m also a huge fan of a couple of superhero novel adaptations: specifically, Helltown by Denny O’Neill, Inheritance by Devin Grayson, and The Darkest Hours by Jim Butcher. Helltown is about The Question, aka Vic Sage; Inheritance is about Nightwing, Arsenal, and Tempest working with their former mentors Batman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman; and The Darkest Hours is about Spider-Man and Black Cat fighting ancient life-sucking creatures. My lovely older brother stumbled across these titles and gave them to me long ago, and I hope to pass them on to others because those three novels are without a doubt some of the best work I’ve read about heroes in modern day. I’m a huge fan of comic book heroes, and those three books have done a lot to remind me of what true heroism means.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, first of all. You didn’t have to take a chance on me, and you did. You don’t know how much that means to me. Past that, I truly hope I was able to entertain you in any capacity, and that you took something away from my writing, no matter how small. I was a bit of a loner as a kid, and I still am in some ways, so I take solace in books. I hope to someday be a good enough author to be someone’s safe haven, someone’s comfort book on rough nights and boring days. Books saved my life. How can I do anything less than give you the same opportunity?
About the Author:
Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader.
Her debut novel, The Black Parade, made it through the first round of Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. She participated and completed the 2011 National Novel Writing Month competition. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology.
When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.