So, the second Royal Occultist novel, The Jade Suit of Death, has been out for a few months now, so I thought I’d talk a little about the inspiration behind it, and how it developed as it did. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, by all means read on.
If I’m being honest, the kernel of the idea that would become The Jade Suit of Death originated with this Atlas Obscura article. I had never even heard of jade burial suits until I ran across the article in question, and, upon further investigation, a whole slew of ideas began to percolate in my devious little brain. The one with the most staying power involved something nasty (a sorcerer, a vampire, etc.) being imprisoned in such a suit, and the consequences should someone be so foolish as to open it up.
In retrospect, it’s not exactly a new idea–‘things better left buried’ is a standard trope of horror fiction, and has been for a long time. The question I had was what sort of thing it ought to be. The suit’s prisoner went through a number of permutations as I tried to figure out what would best serve the story I wanted to tell, as well as provide for potential future stories, should I wish to go back to that particular well.
Which, being a thrifty sort, I do.
Once I had that figured out, I needed to come up with a reason for it to be dug up in the first place. Initially, I went with another trope–‘greedy treasure hunters unleash evil’, i.e. every mummy movie ever–but after some thought, I decided to put a more complex spin on things. After all, what if the greedy treasure hunter in question knew what was sealed in that jade suit, and wanted it for that very reason? And then, what if someone stole the thing in question, and for the same reason?
After that, it was just a matter of coming up with a group of lunatics who’d think that stealing a [SPOILER] in order to use it as a biological weapon was a good idea. Luckily, such a group already existed in the Royal Occultist-verse.
Too, if you’ve read the book, you might have noticed that it’s a bit heavier on the subplots than The Whitechapel Demon. That’s because it’s part of the myth-arc, rather than a monster-of-the-week episode. What that means, if you’re not in the mood to click those links and go down the TVtropes rabbit hole, is that there’s an ongoing narrative in the Royal Occultist novels, and this book is where it takes the spotlight for the first time.
If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry–you won’t need to have read the first book to understand this one. I’m endeavoring to make each book stand on its own, even the ones that are a part of the myth-arc. Whether that’ll still be the case three or four books down the road is anybody’s guess, but I’m giving it the old college try.
The Jade Suit of Death is now available from Emby Press. It is available both in trade paperback and electronic format from Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers. For an overview of the Royal Occultist series, visit HERE. If you’ve read the book, and are interested in discussing it, or the world of the Royal Occultist, there’s a dedicated Facebook fanpage. Feel free to stop by.