Jill Archer is the author of Dark Light of Day, an urban fantasy about a law student who is training to represent demons. I think the premise is brilliant! I don’t know what’s scarier – lawyers or demons! (Just kidding!) Jill dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and to chat about her new book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jill Archer] Eclectic night owl who loves Sour Patch kids, Twizzlers, organic salads, Vitamix smoothies, my Keurig coffee brewer, wine, books and movies.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Dark Light of Day?
[Jill Archer] In a nutshell, Dark Light of Day is about Noon Onyx, a first year law student who is being trained to represent demons. But the story’s as much about Noon’s magical and romantic struggles as it is about her academic ones. I should also mention that, even though the book is considered "urban fantasy," the setting is not contemporary. The story mostly takes place in New Babylon, a city with a circa 1900’s technology level that was built on top of the ancient battlefield of Armageddon in a country called Halja.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jill Archer] Noon Onyx is very loosely inspired by the librarian Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan from the movie, The Mummy.
I used to be a lawyer. A few years ago, I was at a writer’s group event and sat next to a librarian during one of the lunches. We each commiserated with the other about how dull we felt our day jobs were, a feeling each of us couldn’t believe the other had. It led to a discussion about Evie’s character and I got the idea to see if I could somehow create a similarly bookish lawyer character who lived in some sort of "otherworld."
Around the same time, I came across my old copy of Scott Turow’s ONE L ("the turbulent true story of a first year at Harvard Law School") and thought, "Hey, how cool would it be to write a story about a first year law student who is being trained to represent demons?"
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
[Jill Archer] Weaving together the sub-plots. Dark Light of Day has fantasy, romance, and mystery elements. I tried to tie the sub-plots together with common themes, motifs, and/or plot nexuses.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Noon?
[Jill Archer] Strong, smart, and kind
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Ari would never have in his pocket?
[Jill Archer] A cell phone, a match, and a flower. (No boutonnieres for Ari either!)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Noon’s single most prized possession?
[Jill Archer] Despite her privileged background, Noon’s not that into material possessions. She does love her collection of high necked sweaters, cloaks, and wraps though because they allow her to hide the telltale "demon mark" of a waning magic user.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jill Archer] My love of nature, forests, and flowers helped me to create two of the main types of magic in the book: waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery magic that’s used to control demons, and waxing magic, the soft, creative, nurturing magic that’s used to grow gardens and heal people. The idea evolved from my fascination with the duality of nature’s forces (forest fires versus summer blooms, tsunamis versus spring rains).
Other creative influences: demons and deities from around the world, Christian mythology, pagan holidays, even legal concepts. I played fast and loose with all of them. I tried to be respectful of my sources, while at the same time staying true to my primary goal, which was to write an entertaining story. I thought it would be interesting to create a world within which the traditional sides of bad and good were more muddied than they are in our world.
I’ve also been influenced by other authors. I admire writers such as Lois McMaster Bujold, S.M. Stirling, Colleen McCullough, Naomi Novik, and Elizabeth Peters. I would never, and could never, emulate their style, but just reading their work and knowing there are writers out there writing such fantastic novels influences me to put out the best work that I can. When I read the work of someone I admire, it’s an invigorating feeling!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jill Archer] An idea, a computer, and coffee.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jill Archer] The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. Last summer, I attended a writer’s workshop presented by him and Simone Elkeles. It was tearfully funny, but the point is the moment David described that book, I knew I would like it. I left the session and went straight to the temporary bookstore that had been set up in the hotel for the conference and bought it. When I finally read it, I didn’t just like it — I loved it.
I love that the story is told out of order. I love that it’s not told in chapters but in dictionary entries like "kerfuffle" and "cocksure." I love its ending, its humor, and its honesty. But most of all, I love how the reader has to work a little to get it. It’s not a story that’s spoon fed to you. And yet, it’s very light and easy to digest. You can read it in a night if you want or easily before bed over the course of a few. It was in my TBR pile for a year, but it was worth the wait.
If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. My fourth grade teacher read it aloud to the class that year and I was hooked from that point on. What a story! I just read it to my kids this past year and then we all watched the movie. So fun!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jill Archer] I like to hike and bike, although I don’t have as much time to do those things as I would like. Of course, I love to read. I also love to watch movies and, occasionally, TV (I’ve been known to go on a streaming binge if I find a series I particularly like). I love to hang out with friends and family. We take a lot of day trips. My husband is a recreational pilot and we have a small Cessna that we fly around in on the weekends.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jill Archer] I have a website and blog through WordPress, which people can find at www.jillarcher.com. I blog about books, movies, interesting people I’ve met, day tripping in our little Cessna, and miscellaneous things I find interesting. Although it’s time consuming, I enjoy blogging. I like to write shorter pieces on a variety of topics just to keep things fresh and I love connecting with other people who have blogs on subjects that interest me. Recently, I experimented with a summer romance guest blog series and that’s been tons of fun! I’m also on Twitter (@archer_jill) and Facebook.
I appreciate your interest in Noon Onyx and Dark Light of Day. Thank you, Julie, for interviewing me for Manga Maniac Cafe. Best wishes and happy reading to you and your readers!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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