Today, I am thrilled to welcome Carrie Salo, author of The Sounding. Over to you, Carrie
The making of a creature – a “behind the scenes” look at creating
When I set out to write The Sounding, I, of course, knew the story would have a villain. But unlike many novels – whose villains are at the very least, human – my villain had no known or assumed form. He was supernatural. But beyond that, I didn’t know much about him until I sat down to write his first scene. I knew I wanted him to be terrifying. I knew I wanted him to be powerful and almost invincible. I wanted him to make those around him feel hunted and lost. But what would he look like? As a supernatural character, he could be anything. What would his powers be? Where would I place the chink in the armor?
The Other (as I came to call him) could be anything I dared to conceive.
The unlimited possibilities fueled my imagination for quite some time. But as I began to write for the Other, I found he needed to belong to the story and be confined by it even more than he needed to be an exercise in my darkest thoughts. The Sounding is a supernatural thriller about an early Armageddon. But, unlike a lot of Armageddon stories out there right now – which feature zombies, vampires or natural disaster – The Sounding is grounded in real history and real prophecy. Based in both Catholic and Jewish theology, The Sounding gets its plot from the final prophecy in the book of Revelation. And what would happen if events today could make that prophecy come to pass – early. The Sounding has its group of good characters, possibly sent by God to protect the prophecy. And so I began to envision the Other as their opposite, sent by the devil himself to thwart God’s final plan.
So, what would such a demon look like? When the main character, Elise, first catches a glimpse of the thing stalking her in the dark, I wanted the Other to represent hell itself. This idea led me to what its massive body would look like, its face, its limbs. Without giving away too much (hey – you have to read the book to get a good look!), the Other is mostly monster, but partly human. It is a cold, twisted creature meant to cause pain, but whose very being is pain itself. I envision hell as a place of torment for all things – even the things that belong there most. The Other’s anatomy is painful even to itself, with teeth too large to fit into its gaping jaws and sores and infections all over its body. It smells like the death it brings, and its eyes have no pupils. There is nothing to even look into for mercy. Running is pretty useless given its agility. Whether it eats you or rips you apart is entirely up to its whim.
While its physical description alone is pretty terrifying and (hopefully!) will keep you awake at night on its own, I found quickly that there was more to the Other than its gore. It’s darkest scene stealers always involve my good characters’ weaknesses. Besides the promised pain of hell, I have always found the tempting side of the devil to be the most frightening. Eve in the garden, for example. The snake doesn’t come and bite her. Instead, it offers her something worse – a choice she can’t resist. And so, in moments of shape shifting (and plot shifting), the Other sometimes appears in The Sounding as a horrifying solution. It offers things my characters want (but should not take). It finds the demons they are fighting within and offers surrender.
Think of the thing you want the most. What is it? Perhaps it’s something everyone knows about you. Or perhaps it is something you won’t even say out loud. Now imagine that very thing is right in front of you, ready to be your reality. Could you shake hands with such a beast in order to have it?
In one of the later lines in the novel, the Other reminds the main character, Elise, that she could never get where she is without it. That all her lessons of righteousness and honest character and working for a higher power are only important because she has also learned anger, fear, distrust and ruthlessness, sometimes even in the name of what is good. And I think that line more than any other represents where I finally discovered what my inhuman villain would look like. Through the fangs and the hideous snarl, the Other looks just a little bit like Elise.
Or any one of us.
Author of The Sounding
In the Book of Revelation, a man named John has a prophetic dream. He dreams of the final prophecies that will come to pass - and the seven archangels that guard them. Each angel waits to sound their trumpet at God's appointed time, preparing humanity to fight and win the final battle.
2,000 years later, Father Chris Mognahan is a member of the Hetairia Melchizedek, a secret society within the Catholic Church that studies Biblical omens. The society asks Chris to investigate an unusually grotesque crime - a murder on a college campus where the killer's hand literally burned off the victim's face. While the killing seems isolated at first, the society ties the murder to the final Biblical prophecy and a terrifying omen that the order of the prophecies is about to be disrupted. The final battle is coming too soon - long before humanity is prepared to win it.
Suddenly, Chris finds himself fighting against time and hell to keep the prophecies in order and stop an early Armageddon. He is joined by a band of unlikely allies, and together they find themselves in Rome above the Vatican Necropolis - the city of the dead - where the future is revealed to them in ancient texts.
They are not alone, however; an evil as old as time itself hunts them. As they travel across continents on their mission, the demonic force follows relentlessly, waiting in every shadowed corner, and every dark place.
As Armageddon descends, Father Chris finds that his only hope lies in a young woman within the group who has a secret gift - and their belief that God Himself may have sent her to keep the final angelic trumpet from sounding out the early end of the Earth.