Soldiers of the Sun; by Jana Denardo—Guest Post and Giveaway
Thanks to Andrew for letting me talk about the novel, Soldiers of the Sun with you all. Technically it’s the third in the series, but it’s a stand alone and the first full-length story. Andrew asked me to talk about why I picked the 1930s. I have two big loves. One is urban fantasy and the other is history so I decided to marry them in this series.
I had a great time writing and researching it. To me having inaccurate historical data is embarrassing and even with the best of intentions it sometimes happens. I’m thankful for the editors who caught a couple mistakes.
I chose the 1930s because it was a time period I didn’t know that much about originally and thought, well that’s a shame because that was when my grandparents were young and what shaped them into who they became. It sounded like something I should get to know better and let’s be honest, there are still scores of younger viewers who love things from the 1930s, especially the movies. I hadn’t seen too many historical urban fantasies so I decided to go for it. As an added bonus, my grandmother and her friends made a cameo appearance in the novel. She was thrilled to hear that.
Researching Pittsburgh of that era was much harder than I expected. The history books tended to skew toward the early beginnings or the steel mill days. Of course, this story takes place during the height of the steel mill days and the sulfur-stink in the book isn’t just from the devils running around. Pittsburgh was chosen because it’s where I grew up and it has an interesting, if occasionally grim, history.
Caleb, Temple and Agni live in a world of repression and depression. They are lucky the Soldiers of the Sun is fairly wealthy as far as organizations go. This has not, however, left them untouched by the Great Depression. Even their headquarters is showing signs of not having enough money for upkeep.
When it came to thinking about what the gentlemen would do for fun I realized that this was still Prohibition era. Temple especially is infuriated by Prohibition, especially coming from Paris. At least the Soldiers are savvy enough to have relaxation times for them, including Temple’s favorite: dancing. However, the biggest piece of luck they have is the generals are content to look the other way when it comes to their homosexual soldiers and tries to keep them together in teams. That said, they certainly are not living openly but what happens behind closed doors is ignored by the organization.
The Depression plays a large role in the story. Without giving away too much, it is the impetus of why the villain of the piece has been summoned from Hell. This Devil is known for granted wishes and money and keeping your fortune is something he can help you with. You can see the appeal. Caleb, Temple and Agni have their work cut out for them.
Caleb Davies and Agni Pradesh are worried about their teammate and lover, Temple Chevalier. Not only has he lost his long-time partner, Fu Li, but he nearly died fighting a demon himself. Also, Temple isn’t sure he’s ready for a new teammate after Li. Caleb and Agni are even more concerned that their three-way relationship with Temple exists less because he loves them and more because he’s hiding from the pain of Li’s loss.
1932 shapes up to be a terrible year for the Soldiers as they welcome the New Year fighting demons and then end up investigating a case that pairs them up with the Knights Templar. This would normally be a good thing, but it forces Temple to face his painful past. Worse yet, the case leads right to Astaroth, a Prince of Hell, who might prove to be an unbeatable foe.
Preparing to leave his little apartment within the walls of the Order of the Sun, Temple nearly slammed into his teammates Caleb and Agni. Caleb had his hand raised, presumably to knock. Temple eyed them sourly. “What are you two doing?”
“Taglioferro asked us along to meet your new partner,” Caleb replied, running his sword-calloused hand over his slicked-back blond hair. The gesture made Temple a little dry mouthed. Shaking the dirty thoughts out, Temple realized it made sense his teammates had joined him. Caleb was the team leader, after all. Surely he needed to be there.
“And since you’d be late to your own funeral, we’re here to hurry you up.” Agni made hurry-along motions exaggerated by the newspaper he had in hand—Temple’s paper, which he’d forgotten to pick up. Agni handed it to him. Temple set it on the door-side table, but not before he saw the headline about a couple of deaths of desperate men who’d died after drinking radiator fluid down at the Mon wharf. They had pulled out the potato they were using to detoxify the alcohol a little too soon. Under that was an article about another demon attack on a speakeasy. Hadn’t he and Caleb just cleared a speakeasy the other night?
“You’ll notice I am on time,” Temple grumbled, trying to lock his door. After a few moments of fussing with the key, a metallic clank echoed down the hall, telling him he was doomed. “Damn it, it broke again. Why do we have to live in such falling-down housing?”
“The building has been here a century. It’s bound to have problems.” Caleb shrugged. “Come on. I’m excited to meet our new teammate.”
“I’m nervous,” Temple said, walking down the old stone corridors. The Soldiers of the Sun’s complex had been built with castles in mind, well fortified but dark and cold. “How do I explain what happened to my last partner?”
Caleb shot him a look. “It’s not your fault Li died.”
Did Caleb think Temple blamed himself? Of course he did. Temple had said it more than once. Li had been the love of his life, and Temple watched him bleed to death. Caleb probably worried Temple wasn’t dealing with his guilt. His partners knew him pretty well, but he wished they were easier to hoodwink. He wasn’t well. The closeness he’d felt since all of them had become lovers was good, but it never lasted.
“We were outnumbered,” Caleb said as he opened the exterior door. The wind caught them in its maw, blasting through the open door. The sulfurous stench of the steel mills rode the frigid air.
“Then why does it feel like it is?” As Temple’s shoulders slumped, Caleb favored him with a sharp look. Agni’s face was inscrutable as always. After a brief silence broken only by the whistle of the wind through the buildings, Temple said, “Taglioferro is an understanding guy. He knows what we get up to, but it’s not always easy to find someone with our talents who wouldn’t want to beat us for being shirt lifters.”
“Mostly it means we have to be discreet,” Agni said, turning his cool gaze on Temple. After a second his nose wrinkled. “You’re right. You have a problem.”
Temple made a face. “Go to hell.”
About the Author:
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
Where to find Jana:
Website : (coming soon) http://www.janadenardo.com/