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New book series plays by the devil’s rules

Local author talks on debut novel, independent publishing

C.L. Gibson's debut novel is absolutely sinful.

As it's meant to be.

The DeKalb County author released her debut novel, "The Urge," on Aug. 20. The book is the first of seven installments in The Devil's Rules series. Each book is based on one of the seven deadly sins, beginning with lust.

"The author’s idea of basing each novel in the series around one of the seven deadly sins is morbidly creative," Publishers Weekly published in its review. "The author is careful and successful in revealing the inner workings and emotions of violent perpetrators, while still emphasizing the vileness of their deeds."

"The Urge" follows a serial pedophile, a serial killer and killer who calls himself the Good Samaritan, who seeks to rid the world of sex offenders and murderers. The story places readers in the minds of both criminals and victims.

Gibson will have a book signing from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Somonauk Village Hall, 130 S. Depot St. This week she corresponded with The Times about her recently released book, what's coming next and the writing process.

Q. Your debut novel is a psychological thriller that delves into some dark recesses of human nature. What drew you to this genre and this story in particular?

CLG: The Devil’s Rules series novels are bound together by the Devil's game, where the rules to win are to endure each of the seven deadly sins. Doesn’t matter what order you are presented with them. In the rules to win the game, you must survive them all.

I was drawn to this story in particular, because we are living in an era of ongoing sexual abuse scandals infesting churches, along with the recent shock of numerous political candidates openly attempting to normalize pedophilia. This is why I felt it was time for this series to come to light, with the first, "The Urge," directing that spotlight on lust and pedophilia.

Each of the novels in The Devil's Rules series is a standalone book that may be read in any order you wish. This is so the reader can pick up any one of the books any time. When it comes to series novels, I dislike finding I’ve purchased and started a book out of order. Which is why each book in my series has its own story and distinct characters.

Q. The first two books of The Devil's Rules series are set in northern Illinois, specifically the Chicago area. Has your experience living in Northern Illinois shaped the series in any way?

CLG: Living in Northern Illinois, I find it’s easy to draw on the beauty of this prairie state.

I’ve visited or lived in all of the locations the reader travels to in my books. I want to give my readers the taste, feel and scents of a place, so that they may stand next to the characters and feel their feet on that ground.

Q. You've announced "The Grudge," which centers around the deadly sin of envy, is the next installment of The Devil's Rules series and will be released in 2019. Which deadly sin comes after that? Do you have plans outlined for all seven books?

CLG: You’re correct that "The Grudge" exposes envy. It also sheds light on domestic violence. The next, and third in the series, currently has the working title of "Kickstand’s Up" and is centered on greed and human trafficking.

The reader will catch a glimpse of "Kickstand’s Up" law enforcement motorcycle club named The Gypsy Bandits in "The Urge." These like-minded men are the good guys that ride together for charity and brotherhood.

Their wives and girlfriends -- many of whom ride holding onto their man, though some of the women ride their own bikes -- all of these women are called The Wind Gypsies. The men of the Gypsy Bandits are intimidating, but it's the Wind Gypsies that are fueled on greed.

"Kickstand’s Up" will be released the fall of 2020.

What follows after will be four more novels, each centered on the remaining sins: wrath, pride, gluttony and sloth. Each of these upcoming novels will be released one year apart.

Q. Who is the ideal audience for this series?

CLG: The novel’s content is written for a mature audience. The Publishers Weekly review of "The Urge" interprets it best with the line, "Gibson’s novel shows restraint when it comes to gore, but chilling details abound."

A reader’s imagination will take them further, and inserts more terror, when prodded by a few key scene details. My style of writing allows this to happen.

Q. Your series is published under a personal imprint, My Blue Horse Publishing. What's the story behind the name of your imprint?

CLG: My dearest friend, editor and cover artist, Patricia Childers, who is also an award-winning artist, created My Blue Horse Publishing Co. Looking at the logo, you will see her amazing painting named "My Blue Horse."

Q. What is your writing process like?

CLG: My writing process is to sit at my desk every day. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write.

I get up for lunch, and finish at 5:30 p.m., or when my 130-pound Akita named Jag puts his man-sized foot on my arm to stop me from typing.

By the way, when you read "The Urge," you’ll meet Jag.

Q. What advice would you give to other writers who are interested in independently publishing?

CLG: Write the best book you possibly can.

Hire an editor and listen to them. Ask your local high school English teacher to be your editor, or find an English professor at a community college. They can always use the extra money. Or check the ads in newspapers or magazines. Get someone you like and trust.

Listen to them. Cut what needs to be cut. Add what needs to be added. Revise at least seven times to find and fix the mistakes. Believe me, mistakes are there. Make it as tight as you possibly can.

Please, please, please, don’t use more than five exclamation points per book – just a pet-peeve of mine, sorry.

Then publish it. Find your best fit for your indie publisher. I used IngramSpark and KDP but you will find one that works best for you.

Above all, if this is your calling, do it.

Buy the book, follow the author

Readers can meet C.L. Gibson and purchase a signed copy of "The Urge" from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Somonauk Village Hall, 130 S. Depot St., Somonauk. The book signing coincides with Somonauk Hometown Harvest.

The book also can be purchased online through Amazon or on Gibson's website, ChristiLGibson.com. Gibson's website also features excerpts from her novels, a blog and an upcoming schedule of appearances.

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