Thank you for the warm welcome, Jan!
I love cities. The bigger, the better. A city creates adventure around every corner. I’ve traveled to New York City several times and never experienced the same trip twice. For my wife’s birthday, we took a train to Chicago for a long weekend. We did all the tourist requirements, but the best part was when we accidentally stumbled into a tiki bar we found around the back of a building that served insanely indulgent—and often aflame—cocktails. That “accident” became the most memorable part of the trip.
So when I wrote From Brick & Darkness, it was important to me to set it in the right city, with all of the excitement—and uncertainty—that accompanies an urban setting. Where else could you find a hundred-year-old apartment building with an abandoned cellar down the street from a comic book store owned by an eccentric storyteller?
I’ve lived most of my adult life in St. Louis, and have always appreciated its nooks and crannies. It has vibrant neighborhoods clustered beneath luxury high rises that sit next to abandoned buildings. The juxtaposition was the perfect setting for a dark novel about djinn.
And like my protagonist Bax, St. Louis has more to offer than it appears, has made some questionable decisions, and in the end, will need to rely on friends to surmount some of its greatest challenges. Telling Bax’s story in my hometown made perfect sense.
I hope you enjoy going on Bax’s journey in St. Louis as he learns you may not always want what you wish for.
Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts.
The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn’t what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.
Neck bones popped as his head rotated toward me, his face eclipsing the rays of the streetlight. His irises were dull purple, glazed over with a foggy film, and deep-set wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes like arrows drawing attention to them.
A shudder caused the keys to slip from my hand and clank on the ground. My face burned with shame that the poor man’s appearance had startled me. My rudeness would have disappointed Mom.
“I’m sorry, but really—” I snagged my keys.
His hand slithered out of the brick-colored sleeve as his arm rose, trembling as he strained to hold the weight of his own limb. Gloved in loose, veiny skin, his skeleton hand had yellowed fingernails so overgrown they grew in on themselves like curly birthday ribbons. As his fingers unfurled, he revealed a ring nestled in his palm.
It was large. Too large. The ring resembled the toy jewelry Jason’s sister played with or something from a Halloween costume. Grimy gold with a single dull purplish jewel that matched his eyes.
His hand trembled under the heaviness of the ring. “Take it.”
Shifting my backpack to my other shoulder, I took it. “What is this?”
The corners of his thin lips curled into a grin as a gust of warm, dry wind cut through the chilly October night and swirled around me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J. L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.
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