by Sheila M. Merritt
After her recent review of Eyes To See (catch it here), our own Sheila M. Merritt had a chance to interview its author, Joseph Nassise, about the book. Here’s how it went…
SM: Jeremiah Hunt, the protagonist of Eyes To See is a man obsessed with finding out what happened to his daughter who disappeared five years earlier. As a father of four, was it easy to access his extreme sacrifice and myopic focus?
JN: Far too easy, actually. One of the biggest fears I have, that any parent has for that matter, is that something horrible will happen to my kids. I have three daughters and one son – and I know it would be absolutely devastating to me if anything were to happen to any of them. Hunt’s slide into desperation was very easy for me to imagine and channel as I worked on the “Then” portions of the manuscript. The book is, incidentally, dedicated to my kids, so they were clearly on my mind throughout the process.
SM: The ghosts who aid Jeremiah, Whisper and Scream, are fascinating characters. How did their creation come about?
JN: Thanks for the compliment! I’ll be sure to pass it along to Whisper and Scream. Whisper came about through an image that occurred to me one day while daydreaming about the book. I had a glimpse of Hunt staring out at a ghostly landscape while holding the hand of a little girl. At first I assumed it was Elizabeth, his missing daughter, but my subconscious kept telling me that wasn’t right. No, this little girl was someone else. So the questions started – Who is she? Why are they holding hands? What are they looking at?
That’s when the idea that not only can Hunt see the ghosts that surround him, but that he can also borrow some of their abilities for a short time popped up. What if this little girl was helping Hunt search for his daughter? What if they were holding hands in order to form a connection in order to allow Hunt to borrow her sight? To gain “eyes to see” but in a totally unexpected way?
Scream was a natural extension of this line of thought. I wanted to explore other things that Hunt could borrow, in Scream’s case his strength. Using a character that was the opposite of Whisper made sense.
SM: The novel discusses occult entities and psychological phenomena in great detail. How much was research and how much was your own invention?
JN: About half and half. I did a fair amount of research into ghost-hunting and banishing to get some of the traditional details down and then just improvised as I went.
SM: Do you see Hunt and witch Denise Clearwater as the Nick and Nora Charles of the supernatural?
JN: That’s an interesting comparison. I hadn’t thought of Dashiell Hammett’s characters when coming up with the duo, especially since Denise Clearwater is a character that first appeared without Hunt in Tear In The Sky, the third of my Templar Chronicles novels. I liked her so much that I wanted to let readers get to know her a bit better, so when I was searching for a companion for Hunt and his friend Dmitri, Clearwater seemed like a good fit. In hindsight I can certainly see the similarities, particularly since it is often in the interaction between Hunt and Clearwater that some of the novel’s humor comes out, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.
SM: What can you tell us about King of the Dead, Book 2 of The Jeremiah Hunt Chronicle?
JN: King Of The Dead literally picks up where Eyes To See leaves off. Our heroes are on the run and flee to New Orleans in order to help a friend of Clearwater’s deal with a mysterious plague that is impacting the city’s Gifted. As is typical of Hunt’s adventures, the deeper they dig into the mystery the more entangled they become. We’ll see the reappearance of some old friends and foes, as well as meet a few new ones, including the book’s titular character. I hope that’s enough to whet your appetite to check it out!
SM: “It is, and I most certainly will. Thank you for the interview.”