If A Picture Paints (80) Thousand Words…
by Sadie Rose Bermingham
A couple of years ago, in between novels, while we were both obsessed with tales of urban fae, ruined buildings and faded industrial environments, Bellora sent me a photograph of a run down looking building that could have existed in any post-industrial city in the western world. The building had been an auto-parts store and the sign out front had been dismantled and graffiti-ed over so that instead of AutoParts, it read Utopia. A less likely utopia, neither of us could imagine.
It sowed the seed of an idea though. Bellora is originally from the Detroit area of Michigan, and it was Detroit that began our fascination with the wrecked and the run-down, the echoes of fading splendour in the magnificent civic buildings of that city, now gone to rack and ruin. Out of that seed grew the story of Demon Familiar. The idea was to create a kind of dystopian, post-fossil fuel Detroit, but given our track record it was never going to be a faithful recreation of a normal human city. We’d both been interested in writing a kind of warped fairytale. The fae in Or d’Roit are living on the edges of society, in a world shared with humans and demons. Magic is a form of currency in our fictional city and our central characters’ lives have both been colored by it.
Malachai is the son of of an English alchemist and an Irish leprechaun baron, the disinherited scion of a very long line of powerful fairy folk. A former racing driver, he finds himself stuck in Or d’Roit once the gas and oil dried up. Mal is employed by Mercurio Geiger, a grouchy gremlin mechanic with a heart of gold, to use his alchemical ability to make valuable and elusive petroleum,
Neil’s father is a notorious demonic sorcerer, who has made his fortune killing other people with magic. When a group of assassins called Bone Men show up at Neil’s home and murder his mother in front of his eyes, Neil is forced to go on the run. With no idea whether the killers were looking for his father or sent for some other reason, he literally has nowhere to turn.
They both wind up in an unlikely Utopia, which just happens to be the name of Mercurio’s chopshop in the decaying downtown area of the city, inspired by that initial photograph. Together with the aid of some unlikely allies, also scraping together their livelihoods in the shells of some of downtown’s formerly magnificent theatres, hotels and stately homes, they make a stand against whoever is hunting for Neil.
As we began to assemble their story, the city itself became a pivotal character for us. We wanted to explore its depths and celebrate its past glories. The ruined buildings become virtual fortresses for those who inhabit them, a protection against the violent, unpredictable world outside. The streets and buildings in Demon Familiar became as important to us as the people. So much so that the city gets its own dedication in this first volume of the Wanted series. We hope that you enjoy exploring Or d’Roit as much as we enjoyed creating it.