Author: Dave Ewans
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Science Fiction Dystopia
Length: 475 pages
Release Date: June 10, 2015
SYNOPSIS: Retro-cognition is the ability to see events that took place in the past, but in his seventy years of life, Erick Rider has never heard that term applied to what he can do; he doesn’t simply see the past, he reads memories, and along with his adoptive mother—a woman possessed of her own unique gifts—Erick finds himself drawn into a convoluted murder mystery that revolves around the corrupting combinations of power and fear, vengeance and sorrow, hope and resigned despair.
Hello. My name is Dave Ewans, and I’m the author of Wages of Sin. Despite its pointedly religious title, Wages of Sin is, in reality, an Urban Fantasy, Murder Mystery. I like to think of the novel as a disturbingly realistic play on the people-with-super-powers comic book trope; where violence, murder, prejudice, and greed are not just implied, but vividly depicted.
Wages of Sin is the story of Erick Rider, a man inexplicably gifted with post cognitive abilities. He can read people’s memories, see into their pasts, and review their entire life-stories in a matter of minutes, but that gives him no insight into his own past, into his own heritage. The first nine years of his life are a total blank; he can’t remember his family; he has no notion of where home is, even his name is a fabrication, something he came up with to fill in the gaps in his identity.
As a child his life is nearly ended and then miraculously restored by a beautiful woman named Celine, a woman whose abilities are even more remarkable than Erick’s own; her blood can heal any injury, cure any illness, and it seems to have imbued her with preternatural longevity. As either the result of his own unique physiology, or as a side-effect of frequent doses of Celine’s blood, Erick also takes on an unusual resistance to aging; though he and Celine travel cross country together for over sixty years, Erick appears to be only in his mid-thirties, and Celine’s appearance as a fit, attractive forty-year-old, completely belies her two-and-half centuries of life.
The crux of the story begins when Erick finds himself tentatively linked to two mysterious murders: that of his good friend, David, and of a young woman named Sarah.
What follows is a dark and convoluted interaction with super-powered individuals and clandestine organizations. It’s a story about the corrupting influence of power, and the inescapable frailties and fears of modern-day human life.
WHAT INSPIRED THE STORY?
The idea for Wages of Sin came to me in a moment of silly serendipity. Early in my Freshman year of college—eager to be well organized and academically efficient—I purchased an outrageously overpriced date-planner from my college bookstore. On every other page of the planner was an “inspirational” or “motivational” quote, and a few days in, I encountered this Longfellow quote: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” Something about Longfellow’s observation piqued my interest; I wondered if it was true. I began toying with the idea of being able to “read the secret histories” of other people—what would that look like? How would that feel? And ultimately, would such an ability really “disarm hostility”? In that moment, the germ of Erick Rider’s character was planted.
Throughout college and graduate school, I could never find the time to write an entire novel, even though I’d held that ambition since I was a child, but my lack of time didn’t stop the narrative from slowly piecing itself together in my mind. Erick’s character grew and lived in the back of mind for seven years before I began committing his story to paper. I thought about what kind of person he would be, how his ability would shape his behavior. I considered what kind of people he would surround himself with, and what kind of relationships he would form. I nurtured and developed Erick Rider until he was three-dimensional enough to begin living on his own, romping around, having adventures in my dreams and day-dreams.
After earning a Master’s Degree in English Literature, I decided to broaden my horizons, going from earnestly studying books to maybe writing one of my own. When I sat down to write, Erick’s character sprang to life, ready to manifest on paper and have a fully formed adventure.
HOW DID I GO ABOUT WRITING THE BOOK?
Wages of Sin is a very character-driven novel. The plot is almost secondary; it’s just what happens when my characters come together in one world; it’s what has to happen when these elements collide. Writing, then, was about building realistic people, believable human beings living with unbelievable abilities. It is important to me that my characters be fully fledged, complete beings, even if they’re only minor aspects of the narrative. In order to make realistic characters, I have to imagine them in realistic terms; that means that each character has a complete backstory even if it doesn’t appear in the novel. In the real world every person is an amalgam of complicated factors and events. Human beings are made up of our experiences and our internal world of thoughts and emotions, so to convincingly construct characters, I have to know them inside and out, backwards and forwards, from tip to tail.
Writing Wages of Sin was mainly a process of creating interesting characters, filling in the blanks in terms of how they became so interesting, and then connecting them all in such a way that it would make sense for them to appear in the same book. It’s like I planted a grove of Family Trees and then linked them with intricate spider webs of circumstance and conflict.
Logistically, my writing methods and tactics were pretty mundane. I pieced the novel together in between long hours of job-hunting and resume building (the job market is horrible for young humanities academics). Ironically, my frustrations in the job market motivated my writing, not because I hoped that writing would bring relief from financial woes, but because meeting daily writing goals was much more consistently satisfying than ending each day despairing about the abysmal job-market. Each evening I could go to bed thinking, “well, I haven’t heard back from any potential employers today, but at least I got those last two chapters of my novel edited.”
One aspect of my writing process that might differ from that of others writers is that I don’t believe in having a strict, hour-to-hour writing schedule. I discipline myself to write each and every day, but I don’t set a minute-by-minute schedule. Sometimes I write early in the morning, sometimes late at night. I write when I’m tired and when I’m invigorated, when I feel inspired and when I’m running on nothing but habit, work ethic, and caffeine. I think allowing myself to write while in a variety of circumstances and states-of-mind affords me the opportunity to construct more nuanced and believable stories and characters. Life doesn’t happen precisely as we plan it; it doesn’t abide by our schedule or move to the beat of our own drums, and I think art should flow as spontaneously and haphazardly as life itself.
Dave Ewans is an unabashed sci-fi geek and fantasy nerd. Having once walked the path of a literary scholar—earning both a BA and MA in English Literature as well as teaching at the University level—he has redirected his love of books from studying them to writing them. He enjoys presenting and re-presenting sci-fi and fantasy generic mainstays through the eyes and experiences of diverse characters with unorthodox perspectives. Dave is never without at least two canine companions and he is perfectly at home wherever he and his pups are welcomed.