A.C. Arquin - Thrilling Urban Fantasy Mystery
A.C. Arquin lives in his own worlds. At least, that’s what his teachers always told him when they caught him secretly reading a book instead doing his schoolwork. He never did stop living in those worlds, and nowadays he dutifully writes them down and shares them. When not writing, he is also a very busy audiobook narrator (under the name J.S. Arquin), a lover of all things Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a general weirdo. He is mostly harmless. Join his reader group for news and free books at www.arquinworlds.com. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Dead Wrong.
Please give us a short introduction to what Dead Wrong is about.
When Valora Keri was six years old, she was tired of being bullied. So she did what any kid in her shoes would do: She freed a cat demon in exchange for the power to fight back.
She might have accidentally killed her mother in the process.
Since then, she’s tried to balance the scales by living a good life in post- collapse San Francisco, tending bar in a seedy club and acting as protector for the girls who work there.
But when someone brutally murders one of her girls, all bets are off. Val will stop at nothing to avenge her death and bring the guilty to justice. Her search for the killer takes her deep into San Francisco’s underground, uncovering vampires, shifters, mobsters, monsters, and ancient cabals — and something she never expected — a race to recover a magical artifact of terrifying power.
Now, Val must fight to avenge her friend and also save the city she calls home from the forces that want to tear it apart. All while trying to keep her own demon in check.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I’ve always loved urban fantasy - The idea that fantastic creatures and worlds live right beside us in this world. Weaving fantastic elements together with familiar real-world places and people brings me great joy. I also love gritty crime fiction, so bringing those two things together was very appealing to me. Balancing the darkness of crime with the lightness of fantasy, and vice-versa.
Tell us more about Valora Keri. What makes her tick?
Val has had a very troubled life. She’s never quite fit in. As a child, she was picked on by other children. When she first came into her magic, she was unprepared for the power, and people she cared about were caught in the backlash. The way Val sees it, the only way she can try to atone for these incidents is to use her powers for good whenever she can. She knows she’ll never balance the scales, but she’s trying her best, which is really all any of us can do in this world, right?
Why did you pick San Francisco as the setting for this story?
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities on earth. It’s so beautiful and magical. It can also be quite haunting. I lived there for half a dozen years when I was younger, and although I doubt I’ll ever live there again at this point, I still miss it and think of it very fondly. It felt like the perfect setting for the balance of light and dark I wanted in Val’s story. Also, setting Dead Wrong there lets me spend a lot of time in San Francisco in my mind, which is the next best thing to living there.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this story?
I’m very character-focused, so creating the characters and writing the banter between them is the most fun for me. Some pages are nothing more than two characters talking, and those pages are probably the most fun for me as an author. Also, Val has a built-in banter partner living inside her head, which makes for a very fun point of view to explore.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Believe it or not, my “day job” is narrating audiobooks. I narrate under the name J.S. Arquin (and also under a not-so-secret romance pseudonym, which I will leave your readers to ferret out for themselves, should they choose). As J.S, I narrate mostly the types of books I love as a reader - Fantasy & Science Fiction. I feel incredible to be able to have a life that is filled with books I love all hours of the day. As you can deduce, between my writing and narrating, I spend very little time in the real world.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot out your stories before you start writing, or does a lot of it just "happen" along the way?
A bit of both. I usually have a vague plan of where the story is going and what the end target is, but I never write an outline or a hard plot down. Rather, I jot down certain “milestone” scenes and beats that will happen along the way, and discover all the things that come between these points as I write the story. This keeps the act of writing fresh and interesting for me. I think if I plotted everything in advance it would suck the life from the story. Discovering what happens next keeps me engaged and excited as an author.
Val is a flawed hero with a lot of baggage. Why did you create her this way?
I think that all of us humans are flawed & carry a lot of baggage. For dramatic purposes Val’s may be a bit more flagrant than most, but I don’t think this makes them any less relatable. We all have things we regret doing or not doing, and we’re all beset by doubts and fears. I don’t think it’s possible to write an authentic character that does not have flaws and baggage. We’re all simply trying to do the best we can with the tools we have. I think one of the most basic and universal aspects of being human is picking yourself up off the ground and moving forward after you fall down.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Lol. Yes, and sometimes these tangents take the story to a much more interesting place than I had originally planned.
This is book 1 of the Keri Chronicles series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Yes, I try to make each book in the series stand on its own. There are obviously continuing characters and life situations that carry over from book to book, but the central story or mystery of each book is wrapped up within each individual volume.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I write for a couple of hours each day, first thing in the morning. If I put it off until later, the day intrudes and other priorities pop up and interfere with my writing time. I often do writing sprints with a group of authors over Zoom. We’ll write for 25 minutes, then check in for 5, then repeat. Having peer support is very motivating and sustaining.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently polishing up Book 4 of The Keri Chronicles! The final version is going to my editor the first week of July and will be released August 10th!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I post a lot of fun fantasy and writing-related memes on both Facebook and Instagram under @arquinworlds. They can also sign up for my reader's group newsletter on my website: https://www.arquinworlds.com/
Everyone's got their own demons... When Valora Keri was six years old, she was tired of being bullied. So she did what any kid in her shoes would do: She freed a cat-demon in exchange for the power to fight back. She might have accidentally killed her mother in the process.