THE HOLLOW GODS
Published: July 28, 2020
Publisher: The Parliament House
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
When I knew I wanted to do a three-day celebration for the launch of 'The Hollow Gods,' I asked author -- A.J. Vrana if she thought she could pin down Kai and coerce him into answering some questions for her.
I love watching interactions between writers and their creations. I find them fascinating, as the characters can be so stubborn at times, yet you get a chance to see a bit more of them than you might otherwise within the story itself. Turns out Kai is exactly as we'd think he'd be...
Be sure to keep reading for the interview with Kai and the poster giveaway below!
CHARACTER ARTIST: VALENTINA REMENAR
The Hollow Gods
Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.
For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.
When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.
Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?
And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.
A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?
Kai, why don’t you clean your damn cabin?
Are you fucking kidding me? Have you tried keeping a deserted cabin in the ass-crack of the woods clean? It doesn’t even have all its windows! I’ve got raccoons raiding the pantry for peanut butter and squirrels shitting on the kitchen table. Besides, have you looked at any cleaning supplies lately? That chemical shit’s expensive, and I’m going to need some high-grade bleach to get the bloodstains out.
Do you feel remorse for literally murdering people, because frankly in your shoes, I would not. And do you ever feel remorse for literally murdering BUNNIES, because frankly in your shoes, I STILL WOULD.
I couldn’t give less of a diarrheic shit about killing bunnies. Have you seen those fuckers reproduce? They will literally destroy ecosystems. Consider me nature’s equalizer. As for the humans…come to think of it—same rules apply.
On the subject of busses—I’ve been told that the reason I hate them so much has to do with the cleaning solution used on the fabric bits of bus seats. I think this is BS and busses are actually just evil. What’s your take?
If you think my cabin’s dirty, what do you think they’re trying to cover up on buses with those cleaning solutions? Those tubular monstrosities with their satanic flatulence and bug-eyed faces (what the fuck are those headlights?!) can die in a goddamn fire. There’s no such thing as a smooth bus ride. Every bump in the road feels like a two-by-four paddling my ass, and my brain feels like a scrambled egg on a hot skillet from the rumbling and chattering. Being trapped on a moving, closed-off hellscape with no air circulation and a dozen other mouth-breathers is hard no, thanks. Definitely evil.
What would your DREAM Starbucks order be, if you could have unlimited modifiers and it was free?
Listen, I’ve never been to a Starbucks. That’s where busy people with money go when they don’t have the brain cells to function, so they can guzzle black bean juice and pretend to be sentient again. Do they have whisky? Wait—you said unlimited modifiers, right? Can I get black bean juice with whisky? Ah, fuck it, just give me the whisky.
…Also, what the fuck is a S’mores Frappuccino? Asking for a friend…
If you were going to get a tattoo, what would it be?
My hunting knife, on the inside of my forearm. That way, every time I punch someone, I can feel like I’m hitting them with my favourite pointy object.
Who does your haircut, Kai?
Half the assholes in America can’t deal with quarantine hair, but I’ve been in “cabin quarantine” since I was sixteen. After giving yourself a few bald spots with an electric shaver (stolen, of course), you get the hang of it. That, or you find a drunk barber at your nearest dive bar and dare them to give you a haircut after seven shots of tequila. Results may vary.
Kai, what did trees ever do to you? There’s no need for bodily violence against them. And please, leave the squirrels alone.
I am literally being stalked by a tree. STALKED. It’s almost like you’re blaming the victim here. Are you going to ask what I was wearing next? Tell me the trees can’t help themselves? And fuck the squirrels. Bastards shit on my table all the time.
Workout routine, because damn.
Tip one: Don’t have any money. Anything you want, you gotta fight someone for it.
Tip two: Don’t live in town. That way you gotta walk a long way to get to everyone you beat up every day.
Tip three: Get really drunk on an empty stomach, then try to find your way home. If any trees get in your way, crush ‘em with your abs.
Tip four: Get possessed by a malicious spirit. Keeps you on your toes. Nothing firms up the glutes like a bus barreling at your hallucinating ass at 40 miles an hour.
What’s a physical scar you have with the funniest backstory?
Clipped my ass on a bent nail during a back-alley hookup. 2/10. Would not recommend.
What’s your favourite band?
Something loud and screamy. Think Deftones or Chevelle.
What did you do to get that nasty cut on his hand?
Refer to workout question. I think his name was Fred. Or Jake. No—Clint? Some dumbass with unimaginative parents.
If my Kai (from Marrow Charm) and you got into a battle royale arena match, what random item would you turn into an unconventional weapon.
A raccoon. Fuckers know how to scrap, especially when there’s bologna on the line.
Boxers or briefs?
If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?
Sir, do you think you are more dummy or thicc?
Hey—I’m a complex individual, thanks. I can be equal parts both.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Like, what would you never tell anyone about that brings you true joy?
Wait—if I wouldn’t tell anyone about it, then by definition I can’t answer this question. I promise my guilty pleasure is not being covered in hamsters, though. I’m a man of simple tastes.
What’s your spirit animal?
*squints* Did Cosmopolitan send you?
What’s your ideal date?
Split a bottle of whisky. Use the empty bottle to start a bar brawl. Make out atop the comatose bodies. Grabs some ice cream after.
What do you hate most about yourself?
You mean besides the demonic possession? I don’t know, I’m a little emotionally constipated, but I can’t really afford a therapist. Maybe that’s why I keep waking up next to all those—wait, what are we talking about? Yeah, demonic possession. Next question.
What is something you appreciate about yourself?
What’s there not to appreciate?
What’s your take on the following examples of Cosmo’s weirdest sex tips?
You’ve got to be careful, or that door’s going to hit you when I open it. Also, haven’t we already established my cabin is filthy? You really shouldn’t be on your knees.
Bits? What happened to the whole package? Did the “goddess” smite it?
I know I said we’d get ice cream after the bar brawl, but my face has five orifices and only one is suitable for tongues and ice cream, thanks.
For…digestion…right? Look, if the goal is to make me think you’re food, just rub on some steak juice.
Easy there, Hannibal Lector.
A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence.
When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world.