Laurence MacNaughton entered the urban fantasy universe with his DRU JASPER series, It Happened One Doomsday and A Kiss Before Doomsday. The adventures of crystal witch Dru Jasper and her magical friends as they race to stop Doomsday has a neat twist; demons and heroes who drive muscle machines, particularly a demonic car named Hellbringer.
We asked Laurence to tell us how the unholy 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona came to be, and he wrote us this guest column explaining the car’s origins. He also shares a scene from the newest book, A Kiss Before Doomsday.
Three random commenters will receive a copy of A Kiss Before Doomsday.
Demonic Muscle Cars and Undead Motorcycle Gangs
Before I became a writer, I was a professional test driver. I drove prototype vehicles and wrote engineering reports about vehicle failures, crashes and the occasional “thermal event” – code for “You’re going to need a fire extinguisher.”
Like many car guys, I have a mean old classic car that we take out when the weather is nice. One time, after I cleaned out the carburetor and turned the key, the big old engine growled to life and the stereo started playing “I’m Evil” by Danzig.
As I drove, I wondered: what if there was a car that was literally evil? As in, possessed by a demon?
That’s where I got the idea for Greyson’s car, the speed demon called Hellbringer. In the book, it’s a long black 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, with a pointed nose cone in front and a two-foot-tall spoiler wing out back. And it’s possessed.
The look of the car was inspired by a real-life muscle car that was hand-built by a guy who calls himself Mr. Angry. (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.)
Some reviewers have compared Hellbringer to Stephen King’s Christine. Obviously, I’m no Stephen King, but like Christine, Hellbringer was created to be evil. The difference is that in my story, the characters have a chance to redeem the evil car and seek its help to save the world.
The way I see it, fast muscle cars with supernatural powers are just plain cool. But so many people have called out Hellbringer as their favorite character, I have to wonder if they’re responding to something deeper.
Not so much the fact that Hellbringer is a super-powerful car, but the journey the demon-car takes from being a pawn of ultimate evil to becoming one of the heroes.
That’s what I like about the story, anyway. The idea of redemption. And, of course, all the car chases.
In the first Dru Jasper book, (It Happened One Doomsday), the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse drive demon-possessed muscle cars. In the second book, the heroes are up against a motorcycle gang of undead creatures. As you can imagine, things quickly become dangerous.
Here’s one of my favorite scenes from A Kiss Before Doomsday. Enjoy!
Excerpt from A Kiss Before Doomsday:
(Greyson and Hellbringer have escaped from the netherworld, and Greyson has decided to stay away from Dru, to keep her safe. As they drive the city street toward home, Greyson’s demonic senses are itching, warning him of trouble, but he isn’t expecting an undead motorcycle gang.)
Hellbringer slid diagonally on the narrow rain-slick street before Greyson straightened the wheel and hit the gas again. The pavement briefly disappeared under the mirrored surface of standing water, lit to a golden glow as the late-afternoon sun briefly emerged from the clouds. The shadows alongside the warehouses grew darker and deeper. Greyson steered into the narrow band of sunlight between them.
Hellbringer shot across the standing water, throwing it back in curtains. The undead motorcycle gang closed in behind like a pack of hunting animals, spreading out into the shadows on either side, their headlights glowing.
The creature on the driver’s side was closest. Greyson decided to take it out first. He watched it in the side mirror for one second, then another, letting the thing get closer until he could see the goggles stretched across its yellowed skull.
“Come on,” Greyson murmured. Behind these warehouses, he would run out of pavement at any moment. If the creatures ran him into a fence or a dead end, they would have him cornered.
Keeping to the shadows, the goggled creature stretched out one lanky arm toward Hellbringer’s flank. Its bony fingers pointed at the car’s tall spoiler wing. Greyson didn’t know what this thing was planning to do, but he wasn’t about to give it a chance.
“Get ready, buddy,” he said to Hellbringer. “This isn’t gonna be easy.”
He deliberately drifted close to the shadows on his left, until the creature was inches away, bony fingers spread wide. Gauzy webbing swirled into existence, filling the space between its clawed fingers.
Greyson dropped Hellbringer into second gear, ignoring the engine’s howl of protest, and flicked the steering wheel a touch to the right, just enough to make the long car lean to the side. As Hellbringer’s weight shifted, Greyson spun the wheel hard left.
The tires broke their grip on the waterlogged pavement, and Hellbringer slid sideways with a demonic hiss. Its long nose swung around, and the creature that had been reaching for them hit the car’s fender at breakneck speed.
The creature catapulted across the hood, tumbling high into the air and out into the direct sunlight. The web-wrapped motorcycle and its skeletal rider separated in midair, torn apart by the laws of physics.
Greyson finished the turn wide, swinging out Hellbringer’s rear end like a baseball bat, striking a second oncoming creature with bone-crushing impact. Both of the creatures shattered when they hit the ground, hurling up sprays of water that glowed in the sunlight.
Greyson accelerated head-on toward the remaining creatures…
Readers, three random commenters will receive a copy of A Kiss Before Doomsday.