I’ve written a lot about the influences that mythology, religion, and historical lore have had on the supernatural aspect of my Sons of Darkness series books Grim and Wrage, so I thought I’d touch on the crime aspects of the novels and their influences today. There are parallel threads running in both books. There are events occurring in the supernatural realm which affect the afterlife and there are events which affect everyday life in Prairieville. The supernatural realm and the realm of men have become interconnected thanks in large part to the corruption in Prairieville caused by the influence of organized crime.
Though I’ve read a lot of crime fiction and it’s one of my favorite genres, I’ve gathered part of my inspiration for the characters which work for the Prairieville Police Department from my real life experiences. I work as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center for my full-time job, so I work alongside police officers every day. My center handles between 300 to 400 9-1-1 calls on a daily basis and even more non-emergency calls. Our job is to gather information such as location, types of crimes being committed, description of victims and suspects, description of the direction these suspects are travelling away from the scene of the crime, a medical disposition for those who are injured and any officer safety information such as weapons being used by suspects. After we’ve gathered that information, we relay it to police officers, firefighters and paramedics on the radio to respond to the scene of active and previous crimes.
The experience I’ve gained in public safety has helped to humanize these responders and given me a window into their personalities when I’m working on character development for my novels. Over the course of my five-year career, I’ve dealt with calls reporting to suicides, bridge jumpers, homicides, bank robberies, fatal fires, fatal car accidents, airplane crashes and almost any situation you can imagine. I’ve also had front-row access to see how people are first on scene at some of these tragic events handle the situation. In my experience, most of the public lauds these responders as heroes and rightfully so. But there’s more to their stories, and that’s what I try to capture when I create that sort of character. The stresses of the job are difficult to handle, and that’s resulted in some of the gallows-type humor I’ve incorporated in Grim and Wrage. That’s why some of the characters are heavy drinkers or womanizers. It’s a release from the pressures and stress of a stressful job which I’ve observed.
Another advantage to working in the public safety sector is that it allows me to become familiar with jargon and procedures used by police, fire and ambulance personnel. Did you know officers have specific radio codes to let each other know there’s a suspect armed with a gun or a business has received a bomb threat? Unlike what the movies and television shows would have you believe, you can report someone missing without waiting 24 hours. Did you know that when a fire department refers to a RIT team that it’s a specially-designated group called a Rapid Intervention Team with the sole purpose of evacuating fire personnel in case there’s some sort of accident while fighting a fire? These are all intricate details that I try to weave into my writing to add some authenticity.
Organized crime is another prominent aspect featured in Grim and Wrage. Even though most communities don’t have larger than life villains like the ones featured in my books or in movies like The Godfather, organized crime is still a pervasive problem in our society. Gangs traffic people, weapons and drugs every day, and I didn’t fully realize the severity of the problem until I worked in public safety. That’s why I chose to make gangsters such an integral part of the decay of Prairieville. I think gangs plague their surroundings wherever they are allowed to gain a foothold.
Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.
As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.
Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.
The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.
As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.
Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.
Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”
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Joseph will be awarding a $25 Starbucks gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Thunderclaps from high above jolted Jeff out of his slumber.
Something hard and cold with jagged edges pressed into his back.
When he tried to move, iron shackles strained against the skin of his arms and legs. Chained to a rock in a dry stream bed, he knew he’d become a helpless prisoner who could do nothing more than wait for his captor. Stormy skies threatened from directly above him with bright flares of lightning snaking among sooty clouds and disappearing. Out of the corner of his eye, he could detect that the sun was shining brightly on the other side of the rock.
Scant rays of brilliant sunshine peeked over the rock, reflecting bright light off a magnificent golden shrine on a bank not far from where he was chained.
This can’t be real. He’d never seen a place like this in his life.
Large wet drops crashed against his skin. The coolness of the rain streaking down his body caused steam to rise from his skin, which he noticed had turned a dark shade of crimson. The only being this red was….
“Lucifer,” a calm voice echoed from above Jeff on the shoreline.
A giant, dressed in white armor sparkling like diamonds in the spare sunlight, stepped into view. He wielded a golden-hilted silver sword in one hand and a silver shield with the Latin inscription “Quis ut Deus” (I am like God) on the front in the other hand. He loomed above Jeff. A large gold cross ran down the center of the giant’s breastplate. A second inlaid golden cross glinted at the center of his white helmet. The helmet obscured his face, save for flawless ivory skin which radiated a blinding light. There was something across his back casting a large shadow, but Jeff couldn’t see what it was.
“You were thinking of Lucifer, whose skin is often portrayed as red,” the giant said. The ivory giant stepped into full view. From his back a pair of massive wings spanned over ten feet wide and five feet long majestically fluttering in the breeze, yet didn’t cast a shadow. The rain pelting Jeff in the eyes didn’t touch this giant. He certainly was no man. The only thing Jeff could compare it to would be—
“An angel,” the giant completed Jeff’s sentence again. “You are correct.”