Fantasy author Daniel Abraham says that his new novel, Unclean Spirits—the first in his new urban fantasy series, the Black Sun's Daughter—is being published under the pseudonym M.L.N. Hanover because it's a such departure from his earlier work and has a different audience in mind.
To find out just how different this new series is, all you have to do is ask Abraham what the inspiration for it was: the comic book Hellblazer. Specifically, issue four, in which John Constantine's niece, Gemma Masters, is being raised by his religious fanatic sister and brother-in-law.
Before delving into Unclean Spirits, Abraham fantasized about taking over the Hellblazer comic, about supernatural detective Constantine. He said that in issue one, he'd kill Constantine, and issue two's cover would read Gemma Masters, Hellblazer.
"Then I could spend a year or so working out what had happened to John Constantine and looking at the world of Hellblazer through a very different point of view," Abraham said. "So when one of my editors suggested I take a swing at urban fantasy, I knew what I wanted to do."
Unclean Spirits follows 22-year-old Jayné Heller, who inherits a fortune from a dead uncle who turns out to have been a kind of supernatural fixer who was killed in the course of his work. She tries to finish the job and avenge her uncle.
The reason the world needs a supernatural fixer is because there are people who can learn a little magic, and there are spiritual entities that can take possession of a human body. Some entities evict people and just take control, while others hang out in the back of people's minds and exert influence over them.
"I draw a lot of the metaphors from parasitology," Abraham said. "Tricky thing is, in America right now, you can find a lot of people who think [those two things] are true."
This project gave Abraham the chance to revisit and mine for inspiration many of his old favorites in the horror genre, such as Hellblazer, Angel Heart, Lars von Trier's The Kingdom, David Lynch's Twin Peaks and the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
"I can reconnect with the things that made those stories rich and fun and powerful," Abraham said. "That's worth the price of admission right there."