Are you thinking about changing your career? Maybe consider looking into becoming a professional monster hunter. Well, maybe not: according to Fiya Pratt Diaz, you’re basically just a glorified exterminator. If exterminating the extreme isn’t on your radar, maybe you’d prefer to just read about those monsters instead. In that case, you’re in luck, because we’ve got Graveslinger for you and we’ve got the author, Darren Lee Compton, to tell you all about it. 

Darren’s book is about Fiya, this monster-hunter extraordinaire, as she navigates a horror-fantasy version of our reality that requires her to fight to save lives from all sorts of dangers, be it plagues or predators. Fiya’s up against a lot, but still has a lot to learn about her trade from her mentor Rutger Bronson. Meanwhile, she has to play the role of confident, capable protectress to beleaguered dad Thomas Bradley and his daughter Liama. As I said, it’s kind of a lot. Let’s get some answers, or at least clues, from the author. To read the review, check out the BookTrib post

Q: Your original concept for this book was to format it as a graphic novel. Can you tell us a little more about that and why you made the decision to format it as a book? 

 A: As I began doing the linework for the first few pages, I calculated how long it took per page, and I realized it could take me over 10 years to finish the entire project. That’s a long time. Too long for my patience. I’m very slow and overly critical when it comes to my art, and I didn’t want it to be inconsistent. I have a day job that doesn’t make it convenient to produce. Since I enjoyed the story I made, I decided to turn it into a novel. I could flesh out the story and characters more, and I figured I could still illustrate the cover art. I feel I made the right choice.

Q: What are your literary and artistic influences? How do they reflect in your work?

A: Stephen King is by far the biggest influence. His pairing with artist Bernie Wrightson on Cycle of the Werewolf is ground zero for my path; capturing the imagination of a small boy. Thomas Harris’s handling of Clarice Starling has been indirectly influential in Fiya. Comic books have kept a heavy influence as I’ve grown up, especially ones that are tilted more toward the horror crowd like Spawn or The Crow. Batman is a favorite too. In addition to Wrightson, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira and Todd McFarlane are among my artistic idols. Their visual grittiness and the dark and dynamic imagery helped shape my inner camera lens. Movies, especially horror and action thrillers from the ’80s, have also left a heavy imprint. 

Q: How did you determine the similarities and differences you wanted between your fictional world and the real one?

A: I didn’t want to deal with too much world-building and info-dumping, so I felt it best to stick with the world I know while sprinkling in supernatural monsters and the undead to liven things up, so to speak. With how easy it is to disbelieve any footage of cryptid, I feel it’s believable the general public would be blissfully unaware of what lurks beneath. I use just enough of the real world to make whatever asinine thing that comes to mind work for the story. 

Q: How did you craft the character of Fiya and the inner conflict that is so impactful for her arc? 

 A: There’s been a lot of practice creating female characters in tabletop RPGs. Since there were already so many tough-guy heroes in film and comics, I felt the urge to contribute a female character that could fit in. “If John McClane bleeds, so does Fiya,” became my mantra. I also didn’t want to do a typical Hero’s Journey, so I decided she’s already been a hero, she just didn’t see it yet. Probably still doesn’t. Once I decided to let her have an inner voice constantly doubting and even at times abusive, it became easy because I have this issue.

Q: Can you give us some glimpses into your next project, which I believe you are already hard at work on?

A: Wrath of the Worm Wraith is next. I wanted to take Fiya into an Indiana Jones or James Bond direction where each book would be a new adventure, and while the plot forges its own path, I get to play with some loose ends left behind in Graveslinger. Fiya investigates and hunts an enemy that simply won’t go away by being shot, and deals with new allies who don’t take Fiya seriously. While Graveslinger has more of an action-oriented intensity, there’s more of an atmospheric creep factor in Wrath of the Worm Wraith. Expect even more ghouls, in addition to slithering, skulking worms and wraiths.

Graveslinger is available for purchase here.

Darren Lee Compton is a writer & illustrator who grew up absorbing 80’s Action and Horror, a lover of monsters and the heroes who hunt them. He grew up in a military family, moving from place to place, surviving a number of bullies, and graduated art school in Washington State. The spark of writing started as far back as middle school, and simmered on the back burner as he focused on art for many years. He now resides in Southern California. When not writing, he can be found illustrating, chugging Dr. Pepper, noodling on guitar, playing tabletop RPG’s, or binging on horror movies.