Inside Demonslayer: Character Joshua Thompson, AKA Demonslayer

On the baseball diamond behind the high school, a middle schooler wields a knife in front of the older bully who’s tormented him for weeks. He’s no longer alone in his thoughts - a stranger’s voice tries to talk him out of it, picking through the boy’s personal memories. He still won’t drop the knife.

“Are you going to back off or what?” the stranger asks.
“What happens if I don’t?”
“I dig deeper. All the way to birth if I have to. I’m not letting you stab this kid.”

Joshua Thompson, AKA Demonslayer, is one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever created. He has to be a strong, capable hero but also carry a lot of his own heavy past along with him. Even though he’s likeable and sturdy enough to support the Demonslayer series as its main character, he still gives the sense he could become an antihero at any moment.

Sam Witwer would make a great Joshua. (Image by Art Streiber/Syfy)

Joshua has a lot riding on him in serial #1, Every Hero Has Demons. He works as a middle school counselor by day. The students look up to him. His boss depends on him. His coworkers like him - in some cases, a little too much for comfort.

But on nights and weekends, Joshua hardens up a little and dons his calm, confident alter ego, Demonslayer.

I’ve been fascinated with psychic abilities since I was a kid. The library had this incredibly thick, heavy book for kids about all kinds of interesting stuff. It had quizzes to answer like what 2 super powers you’d choose, and what those choices said about you. I read a lot about different kinds of abilities, and for a while, I even wished I had ESP. I thought it’d be cool. (It never happened.)

For the Demonslayer series, though, I didn’t choose conventional psychic powers. I made up new ones particular to each character who has one. Why they have the powers they do will get answered in a future serial coming out later this spring.

Demonslayer’s power connects him with someone else’s mind and lets him talk to them. He can also, as in the case of the middle schooler, search their memories himself if he’s not getting the responses he wants.

It’s this sense of purpose beyond helping people in a wholly gentle, selfless way that makes Joshua such an intriguing character. We’re not meeting him in his prime, at his most patient or forgiving. He’s tired and jaded. But a conflicted character makes a great place to start a series.

If you still need to check out serial #1, visit the Demonslayer page and grab it for FREE where you most like to download books. (To join the effort to make it free on Amazon, click here with my gratitude.) Already acquainted with the series? Tell me what you like or don't like about how Joshua handles life.


Demonslayer Serial 1 Ebook Goes Free for Kindle

Free books come to those who wait!

After 2 months of nudging Amazon to price match Every Hero Has Demons and make it free, we've gotten our wish!

Readers are already snatching up their copies, and Every Hero Has Demons is sitting pretty on the charts right now:

If you've been waiting to download it for your Kindle - or haven't heard of the Demonslayer series yet - grab your free copy here. Links to download it free on other sites like Barnes & Noble and Kobo are available here.

Thanks for your support in making this possible and supporting my work!


How Losing Someone is Like a Book Character Dying

I had other plans for last week. But that's why they say life is what happens when you're making those plans.

My grandmother passed away, and it seems too callous for me to simply jump into my scheduled posts about Demonslayer without acknowledging her. At the same time, because of Demonslayer's nature, I couldn't ignore the project completely.

My work often carries with it a death of some kind - in the past or present, natural or caused.  Demonslayer breaks the mold for me, pushing more into George RR Martin territory.  In its 9 serials (the combined length of 3 full books), I kill off 7 characters.  Not nameless, faceless bad guys or innocent side-standing witnesses.  7 characters we get to know, good and bad, some of them major players whose deaths cause tremendous shock waves for everyone else.

That kept tumbling through my mind as grief took its course. There's a fine line for those of us who usually hold personal matters like this close to our chests. And I thought for a few days I'd rather grieve at home in private than face the rest of my family.

But like in books I've read and Demonslayer itself, I found more comfort and commonality at my grandmother's funeral than I could've imagined. We came together from different cities and states to honor her. We shared memories and the hope that her life would be celebrated, not just her passing mourned. It was a healing experience of community and represented a deeper meaning of family.

My grandma had a special way of supporting my long-standing obsession with writing. If I was staying at her condo, she'd give me a beautiful sunny space by the back patio door and some quiet time to write. If I was visiting, she'd ask me what I was working on and listen with enjoyment to my explanations. Then she'd add, casually and honestly, that she didn't read books. And I'd just smile and say with acceptance, "I know, Grandma." These were the meetings of two people who could connect with each other and still be ourselves. We could share in each other's lives as writer and non-reader with appreciation and respect. Although, I admit when my grandma discovered a love of old, thick novels later in life, it pleased me. It still does that we had one more hobby in common on top of everything else.

So how is grieving in real life like what book characters go through? Before last week, I probably would've argued they're nothing alike. Book characters aren't physically real. They're struck down by words alone while the rest of life goes on.

But when you look at the basics of what's happening, it's all the same. Someone - real or imagined - who used to be here isn't anymore. They're missed, they're longed for, they're remembered, and they're celebrated by those left behind. And just like in books when the surviving characters gather together for strength and to pay tribute to the one they loved, I think real people should remember the importance of being around others. There's a time to grieve in private and a time to realize you're not the only one holding onto memories of the person you lost. Get caught up with work or cooking or watching TV, but allow yourself to be in the moment sometimes, too. Lean on someone. Talk about it. And as my aunt said, be part of their legacy.

One of my favorite pictures of my grandma when she was younger.

My grandmother, Virginia Dunn, was a rare gem of a person. She was the only human being whose whistling made me happy instead of irritating me. She rode horses and took tap dancing lessons as a girl growing up in Pennsylvania. She lived most of her life with one kneecap because she fell on the ice and broke the other one, so it had to be removed. We both loved music and played the violin, although she was much more natural at the piano than I am. She'd watch any show on TV I wanted to watch when I stayed with her, including "Jackass" and "Unsolved Mysteries." She taught me how to shop sales and clearance racks, and I never looked back. When I see my grey hairs now, I picture how beautiful and classy her silver hair was, and I relax about how I'll look when the grey takes over. We both looked fantastic in red, and we both read old, thick books.