Sparks: Welcome to the Madhouse
By Dan Cummings
Genre: Supernatural/Action & Adventure
Dave Reynolds has grown jaded with his life, locked in a dead end janitorial job at the Ravenswood Institute for Mental Health, he quietly yearns for some excitement to stir up his mundane existence.
That is until he learns that far below the hospital's grounds lies the Madhouse, the regional headquarters of the Frontline Unified Battalion of Arcane Resistance (FUBAR), a clandestine government agency tasked with combating supernatural evil. If that wasn't enough of a surprise, he also learns that he is a Spark, an individual with latent gifts, carrying the residual energy of a nigh extinct race of universal protectors.
Drafted into service, he is accidentally afflicted with a curse, casting the sensible, rational aspects of his personality into a subconscious prison, unleashing a clownish psychotic who is as deadly as he is irritating.
A wild card personified, Dave must now lead Whiskey Team, a motley crew of fellow Sparks and freaks including a punk rock witch, a werewolf, a medium and his ghostly best friend, and a female Japanese ninja, against the Alliance of Nyx, an ancient demonic organisation with designs on global conquest.
Now, if Dave's reckless antics don't get his team killed, they may just stand a chance in this war.
Talking with Dan
Tell us about your genre. How did you come to choose it? Why does it appeal to you?
Sparks: Welcome to the Madhouse is very much in the urban fantasy niche, but in all honesty I think it’s like a comic book in prose form due to the bright and brash characters and the world they inhabit. I chose to write in this genre for those aforementioned reasons because whilst horror was my first love - and the honeymoon period isn’t over yet, I write horror too – I am a gigantic comic book fan (primarily Marvel) and I am striving to create my own universe full of unforgettable heroes, villains and action. I mean come on, does anybody really enjoy being trapped in this dull world?
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
I have always been my own worst enemy, since I was a little kid. If somebody tells me they like something I’ve done, my first response is to focus on the negative. This goes double for my writing. Even those kind souls who get what I’m aiming for with the Sparks series and say nice things about Welcome to the Madhouse, I remain a cynic and doubt their compliments…maybe I’m beyond help or maybe just a dick, ha-ha (sigh). I have yet to find a way to quash such a pessimistic (realistic?) perspective so all I can do is keep writing and writing and hopefully do a good service to the characters I love.
When and where do you do your writing?
Motivational bursts can strike at any time or place, but for the most part I tend to write in the evenings/nights/early mornings, hunched over at the dining room table in the dark with my headphones in like some type of music loving, laptop savvy C.H.U.D. In fact that is where I will most likely spend the remainder of this evening, working on the sequel to Sparks, Hell for Leather.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I have learned that promotion is hard! But when did feeling sorry for yourself ever help? But yes, it is difficult, but if you want to get your work out there then it is a necessary evil. You have to hammer social media, enter your book for free giveaways and reduced price deals, scour the sites for ebook reviewers and ask bloggers if they’re willing to help a brother (or sister) out by allowing you to write a guest blog or engage in an interview. If you believe in your work then you need to approach the promotional aspect with a stiff upper lip and get your hands dirty.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
Naturally, I am most proud of Sparks because of the scale of the series. Welcome to the Madhouse is just the jumping off point, the second instalment which I am currently working on just builds on the foundation of the first novel, growing the characters and the world. Then I’ve got huge chunks of the third novel mapped out, then there’s the fourth, fifth etc. So I’d say I’m most proud of building this quirky, crazy universe where a bunch of supernatural, dysfunctional misfits find family, purpose and go through the wringer against some suitably dramatic villains. But not wanting to play favouritism, I am also very proud of my debut horror novel, Heartbreaker (also available on Amazon and Kindle), which is self-contained thankfully.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
This is one of those dreaded questions which always causes a temporary mind wipe for reasons unknown, but I suppose I would say Robert McCammon. Since childhood, his works have always made an enormous impact on me, more so than any other novelist I’d say. Everything I have read by him just plays in my head like a projector screen, from They Thirst, Stinger, Swan Song, Gone South, they all just stuck with me. I suppose I’d ask him if he ever doubted his abilities when he was starting out, just to gauge my own insecurities. I’d also like to ask him which of his protagonists and antagonists were his favourite? After that I’d probably be too drunk to ask any follow-up questions and would quickly take my leave before I made a scene.
About the Author
Dan Cummings is a self-published author from Liverpool, England. He is also a lowly nerd with a short attention span and shorter fuse (depending on poor sleep), but when he is able to stop ranting with his own internal monologue and focus for a few minutes he enjoys putting the noise in his head on to paper. A lifetime fan of monsters, comic books, sarcasm and casual violence, it is inevitable that these constituents regularly crop up in his books. Heartbreaker is his first foray into horror, whilst Sparks: Welcome to the Madhouse, is the first instalment of an on-going supernatural, action/adventure series.
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/dancummings85
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2oFYUL2