*Imagine only blackness. You can hear murmurs from the audience around you. A spotlight shines on the stage, revealing two women at a table draped with a velvet tablecloth. In between them sits a crystal ball and a deck of playing cards with the ace of spades on top. The audience cheers.*
Noree: Welcome everyone. It’s time to “Trip the Eclipse” again. Today I have the vivacious Jessica Fortunato here to tell us about herself and her book “The Sin Collector.” It’s good to have you here, Jessica.
Thank you for having me Noree! Pardon me while I take off my crushed-velvet Capelet.
Noree: So, I know you get asked this, would you mind telling us more about “The Sin Collector?”
Of course! The Sin Collector follows main character Liliana. She is a Sin-Eater (referred to as a Collector) and when the book begins, she has left that world behind. She is trying to live a boring normal life, with a normal job, a cat, an apartment, the whole deal. Soon however two men from her past suck her back into her calling as a Collector. She hasn’t seen either in at least 100 years and is suspicious of both their motives for seeking her out. She learns that an ancient organization known as the Castus has resurfaced and their only objective is killing off her kind. Facing genocide, she joins a group of fellow Collectors in hopes to stop a war and find out where she belongs.
Noree: Is “The Sin Collector” your first book?
It is the first book I have ever published. I had previously written (most of) another book, but I find reality can be a whiny and boring genre when written poorly (which mine was). Therefore, I scrapped it and it will probably never see the light of day.
Noree: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, it was mostly poems and very short stories. I always had stacks of notebooks growing up. I would write about pretty much everything. I think writing is the most therapeutic thing in this world, and that includes actual therapy. I finished The Sin Collector in November of last year. I had no idea how to go about finding a publisher, and in this economy, I knew that being unknown was going to make me seem like a financial risk to most companies. I received a Kindle for Christmas and then found out about their publishing program. I think it’s an excellent way to get feedback on your book and put yourself out there.
Noree: Is there anything in “The Sin Collector” written from real life experiences or is it pure imagination?
I worked in a library for four years. The character of my boss Jimmy is strongly based on the real life boss I had there. (I hope he never sees this book) I think a lot of the elements of my book are based in real life experiences, even though the book itself is fantasy. Things such as Liliana’s devotion to her family, as well as her loneliness and trust issues, those are experiences I’ve had and I think others can relate to.
Noree: I notice several themes in “The Sin Collector.” Did these come naturally with writing the book or did you plan them?
I knew I wanted to write a story about Sin-Eaters. I knew from the beginning what Supernatural abilities I wanted to give them. However, it was the human aspect of their legends that drew me to them, their social isolation for instance was important to me. I also wanted the theme of finding a home to take center stage. Liliana’s impression of home changes drastically throughout the novel. I believe she moves from a fairytale version of the word to the actual reality of it. That people can be your home, not a place. I also wanted to spend time on the meaning of family as well. Family is very important to me. Therefore, it seemed only natural to make it a driving element for my characters.
Noree: So, you’re currently working on the sequel. Will we learn more about the origins of Sin-Eaters in the next book?
Absolutely! I am the type of reader who loves instant gratification. I wanted to reveal everything in the first book, and it killed me not to. However, the main characters of The Sin Collector are just as blinded to their history as the reader. We will all learn about their origins together, as well as more detail of rituals. I solemnly swear that by the end of the series you won’t have any lingering questions!
Noree: I read in Rebecca Hamilton’s interview that you read about Sin-Eaters from a book of funeral customs. Do you have any other bits of interesting lore that you have found?
Some of the lore contradicts itself, and they aren’t a well known myth. I wish there were more accounts of them because I find then so fascinating.
In some stories, the Sin-Eaters are penniless humans who are called upon to take sins and given a sixpence for their troubles. In another story, Sin-Eaters are recognized as being different at birth and are treated as lepers to the community, until they are needed of course. One story described them as a sort of underworld Fae. In addition, a Twitter follower of mine told me there is a Heath Ledger movie that touches on Sin-Eaters. I caught part of it a few weeks ago. It seemed that in that movie Sin-Eaters were the “bad guys” so to speak, easily bought with little moral standing.
Noree: What’s your favorite type of supernatural creature?
That is a hard one! I’m a complete supernatural nut. I probably could have a PhD. In the Loch Ness Monster alone. I love dragons. I always have. I wanted a pet Phoenix when I was little (before I realized they weren’t just a bird you could buy at the pet store) I love theology so I’ve spent loads of time reading about Demons and Angels. I’ve also been known to ghost hunt. Ok, I’m not really answering this question, I don’t think I can pick just one!
Noree: Who is your favorite character on the show “Supernatural?”
Again, I don’t know how to answer! Of course the guys are just…can you say yummy! If Jared Padalecki gets any bigger, he’s going to crush buildings! I loved watching the evolution of Castiel finding his humanity. Sadly, I’d have to say my favorite character was Bobby (may he rest in peace) He served as a touchstone for every other character. He was the wise sage, the Dad, the rock. He always helped but never sugarcoated things. I truly miss his character. I think you need to have a realistic and relatable person on a show about monsters. He served as that ONE character who was 100% human. I don’t know what those writers were thinking in killing him off!
Noree: You mentioned your tattoos on Twitter. How many do you have and what are they?
I’m blaming Rob for this question! I have six total. I got my first one at sixteen it’s a red rose. I have a stitched heart, a spiral, 7 stars on my left hand, a Celtic knot on my ankle and The Little Prince on my left forearm. All of my tattoos are very important to me and I got them for specific reasons. A few are memorial tattoos. If they didn’t cost so much I’d certainly have many more. I would love to expand on The Little Prince, adding his planet and other aspects from the book and making that a full sleeve. The next tattoo I hope to get soon is going to be two bats, one small and the other a bit bigger to represent my little sister and I and our love for all things horror and Halloween.
Noree: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t let criticism destroy your universe. If you were a cement mixer or a gravedigger, someone would eventually have something crappy to say to you. If you want to be an author then this is your job and some people suck. Some people will love you. Others will hate you, C'est La Vie, C’est La Mort. You have a story inside of you meant for the telling, so tell it to the best of your ability and then be proud that you have, because that is something to be proud of.
Noree: Where can readers buy “The Sin Collector?”
Currently The Sin Collector can be found on Amazon in e-book format. I’m hoping to offer it in paperback by the end of this year for those of you who want to know what the fuss is all about but don’t have Kindles!
Noree: Jessica, Thanks for taking the time to visit. Everyone, thanks for taking this journey with us. I’ll see you again next week.
Thank you for having me Noree. I had an awesome time, and will continue to stalk you and your fantastic tweets!
Noree: Let's end this with the trailer for "The Sin Collector."
*Noree raises her glass and the lights fade back to the black.*
*Noree raises her glass and the lights fade back to the black.*