To celebrate the up-coming release of The Demons Beneath, publishing June 1st 2019, we are hosting The Demons Beneath week here on Panther! Yesterday, we got to know the writing process of WD Jackson-Smart. Today, we get to know the character himself, Daniel Graves.
Tell us about Daniel Graves.
Daniel Graves is a homicide detective new to London, transferred from the much quieter Derbyshire area. He’s a good detective and is passionate about what he does, but thanks to a fairly traumatic incident in his teens he has an above-average aversion to dead bodies, something which causes him to struggle on occasion.
He is also fairly insecure when it comes to his appearance, and is learning slowly to build his own confidence, something made all the more difficult thanks to his work partner Detective Inspector Charlie Palmer, an attractive, intelligent and charming man. Someone who Daniel regularly compares himself to.
What is The Demons Beneath about?
Plot wise, there are two strands to The Demons Beneath. The reader follows Daniel Graves as he tries to solve two cases. The first case revolves around a family who believe they are being targeted by a demonic entity. The second focuses on Daniel hunting for someone who is showing serial killer tendencies, and he is struggling to connect the dots to prevent more murders.
It is also very much about dealing with demons of different kinds though too. The Morris family believe they are dealing with a real, supernatural demon, but their experiences mean that hidden feelings and pressures rear their ugly heads to make things worse.
Then of course Daniel is trying to work through his own demons, his doubts and insecurities, which at times can threaten to overwhelm him.
What inspired The Demons Beneath?
I think my love of supernatural films was my inspiration actually, such as The Conjuring and Insidious. However I wanted to come at the concept of a family being haunted or targeted by a demon from another angle. I felt there were a lot of stories centred around the family unit but what about outside of that? What does the outside world think of these types of incident? And how would the police deal with a death that supposedly happened at the hands of a demonic entity?
What inspired the character of DI Daniel Graves?
He’s a little bit of me in some ways but I think really he came from my desire to want to see a new type of detective. I’ve grown tired of the stereotypical macho detective whose wife left him and who has a drinking problem but is also genius maverick who plays by his own rules. It’s so done in my opinion and yet crime novel after crime novel, crime tv show after crime tv show, the same blueprint for the lead detective can be seen being used. Even when the lead is female.
I wanted a lead who differed from that. Daniel has insecurities but they come from a very different place. He’s a great detective but he isn’t some weirdly untouchable genius. He’s not a power fantasy either. I think I wanted him to be more relatable than I often find in other books and tv shows.
You write horror, and that reflects in your writing, but why did you choose a crime genre to fit horror into?
I love both genres – horror and crime – but in my life hungrily absorbing both, I’ve only seen them properly crossover a few times. Scream 3 did this fairly well, and earlier The Bone Collector and Se7en, but for the most part crime stories, while containing horror elements, don’t often go near horror outside of serial killers.
I want this series to be a bit different, with each book touching on a different horror genre. This one is obviously about demonic entities, the sequel about home invasions, and the third book which I’m writing at the moment revolves around witchcraft and rituals.
What was your favourite scene in The Demons Beneath?
This is a bit of a spoiler so I’ll keep it vague. One of the characters is in a hospital at night and something supernatural happens, and I love it because I’ve really tried to toy with the reader as to what is really happening up to that point and I think it’s a really tense little scene. It really leans into the horror elements of the book while at the same time forcing the reader to question what is and isn’t real.
Did you enjoy writing The Demons Beneath, and were their challenges along the way?
I did enjoy writing it but I have to admit it was tough sometimes too. Knowing going in that it was book 1 of a series meant I had to quickly establish characters that could carry through numerous books, and make readers actually want to follow them.
I also found it tricky to manage both of the case storylines, to keep a good balance and not let one overrun the other. I hope I achieved that!
The Demons Beneath publishing June 1st 2019. Pre-order here!