Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon.
One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father’s demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city’s become a time bomb, and Luke’s demon itches to escape.
With the UCIS closing in on Zack’s underground operation and Luke’s demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.
When I was little, my aunt bought me a hardback copy of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. They aren’t the cute, clean ones we see in Disney movies. They’re dark…twisted…sometimes even a little perverse. I remember being very surprised to read the sadistic punishment that Cinderella and her new hubby had in mind for the evil stepmother. Then there were other stories that I hadn’t seen watered-down versions of in movies and TV shows. “The Little Brother and Sister” was one of my favorites. In this story, a brother and sister escape their abusive stepmother, who is also a witch. The brother ends up being turned into a faun by a magical spring, and a man hunting him turns out to be a prince. The prince meets the sister, they marry, and they all live happily ever after, right? Wrong. The sister marries the prince and has a baby, but the stepmother murders her and has her other, disfigured daughter pose as the queen.
As a kid, that blew my mind. It was insane and unlike the sorts of fairy tales I’d previously been exposed to. But another story fascinated me even more. It was called “The Handless Maiden.” In this story, a demon talks a miller into cutting off his daughter’s hands. She ends up alone and wandering through the wilderness, where she runs into her Prince Charming. Again, this is not a happily ever after moment. Rather, after she gives birth to their child, her husband goes off to war. Meanwhile, the demon intercepts letters between the husband and his mother, trying to convince the mother to kill the queen and the baby. Ah! They end up having to flee the castle, and the king has to set out into the wilderness to find them. Of all the fairy tales, this one fascinated me the most, because it was one of the few that represented a physically flawed princess.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to do a modernized retelling of “The Handless Maiden.” I liked the idea of a physically imperfect character—one that had to survive despite their handicap. I created the character of Luke in Hideous, who only has one eye and one hand, injuries he sustained when his father was possessed by a demon. I also wanted demons to exist in this story the way they exist in fairy tales. In “The Handless Maiden,” demons aren’t discussed as some bizarre anomaly, but rather something that is a known and common threat in the world. In Hideous, demons are a rampant problem in the world. They’re almost viewed as an epidemic. Those who are possessed are even referred to as “infected.”
Hideous tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy trying to survive this sort of world. Not only does he have his physical handicap, but he also was scarred with a mark from his demon. Those who bear this mark are referred to as “cursed,” and they are more likely to be possessed than most. However, monitoring curseds discourages demons from possessing them, so the government enslaves curseds and forces them to work in low paying jobs. Luke has worked for the state since he was eight, and now he works at an all-boys high school, where he has to watch all the other kids enjoying life, going about as if there isn’t this global demonic threat. Luke just wants to blend in. He plays by the rules, because he doesn’t want to end up in jail, which is where noncompliant curseds are likely to end up. His desperate attempt to follow the rules falls apart when the demon that possessed his father returns to possess him...
This is the story behind my new young adult novel, available through Harmony Ink Press. If you get a chance, head over to Amazon or my publisher’s site and pick up your copy today.
About the author:
Devon McCormack spends most of his time hiding in his lair, adventuring in paranormal worlds with his island of misfit characters. A good ole Southern boy, McCormack grew up in the Georgian suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting whole worlds where he can live out whatever fantasy he chooses.
A gay man himself, McCormack focuses on gay male characters, adding to the immense body of literature that chooses to represent and advocate gay men's presence in media. His body of work ranges from erotica to young adult, so readers should check the synopses of his books before purchasing so that they know what they're getting into.