The Devil's Cohort by Stephen Mills
I had the privilege of beta reading The Devil’s Cohort. This book reads like a George R.R. Martin novel and hooked me right from the start. Mills has written an adventurous and intelligent story involving the creation of the first vampire. Character building is strong, the dialogue witty. I found the plot line refreshing and full of magic. This book spans across a variety of genres, touching on horror, fantasy, thriller and vampire fiction. There is so much to love, but it is not for the faint of heart. This is a real kick ass story!
Before we talk to Steven, let’s read the synopsis for The Devil’s Cohort:
Charles’s soul is damned to Hell, an unavoidable fate unless he destroys the source of his curse. Elena has been chosen by God to scour evil from the land, to protect humanity and right an ancient wrong. Cosmin the Wicked lies at the center of it all, and he will destroy anyone and anything that threatens his power. The girl sand the half-breed learn that an ancient evil has risen and a struggle for world supremacy is imminent. If they succeed in destroying the origin of evil, millions will live…but if they fail?
J.C. - Hi Stephen! I am so glad we met on Instagram and that I was able to beta read The Devil’s Cohort. Before we start the interview can you take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers.
S.M. - I come from the Seattle area and escaped the Northwest’s rain by joining the Navy out of high school, where I spent six years in Florida. That’s where I met my wife and we had our daughter. For some reason, after getting out of the service, we moved back to Seattle. Why would we do that? Temporary insanity, surely. After four years of miserable gray weather we relocated to Colorado, and finally Arizona. Pretty much anything to do with the outdoors, I’m interested in. My wife? Not so much. While I’m camping, her and my daughter are probably shopping or going to movies.
It’s hard to say exactly why I decided to start writing. Reading has always been a central part of my life, and writing was always something that I had, I don’t know, maybe fantasized about? Several stories had popped into my head over the years, but it wasn’t until my first trip to Scotland that I actually felt inspiration to tell a story. That inspiration eventually became Isleman – but, more on that later on.
J.C. - You mentioned on Instagram that you completely re-wrote this book? What prompted that and how do you feel about the new version now?
S.M. - When I finished the initial version of The Devil’s Cohort something was bugging me about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. It had pretty good reviews and the feedback was positive, but in the end perfectionism won out so I made the bank-breaking decision to hire an editor. Parisa did an absolutely amazing job - not simply a line edit or proofread, but a full developmental edit, and she just completely shredded the manuscript (in a good way). Now The Devil’s Cohort can live its best life.
J.C. - Where did you come up with the idea to write The Devil’s Cohort?
S.M. - The initial meeting between Cosmin and Charles and their dialogue was the first bit that I wrote, but truth be told I don’t really know where it came from. The idea was “wouldn’t it be funny if a half-vampire spent his life hunting his own father (who, in his mind, was the embodiment of evil), only to find that his prey is insufferably immature yet engaging?” After writing the dialogue, I bounced the idea off of my dad and then it all kind of snowballed.
J.C. - Cosmin the Wicked was one of my favorite characters. Wicked yet extremely funny, I felt he was perfectly written. He’s the antagonist that you hate to love and love to hate. Who is your favorite character?
S.M - Cosmin, without a doubt. I actually began to despise Charles’s incessant whining. These characters take on a life of their own! Anyway, my favorite flavor of humor is dark (the darker the better), and so Cosmin totally fit the bill. Then again, I really enjoyed Elena’s growth into a girl who stands up to Cosmin. No spoilers! But she is amazing.
J.C. - The character, Charles, is quite salty and for good reason! Do any of the characters share traits with you?
S.M. - I really hope not! Charles carries a massive chip on his shoulder, doesn’t he? And his sense of right and wrong is really twisted. Maybe I share Cosmin’s immature sense of humor…but I promise that is the extent of our shared traits. I think that Stepan’s iron-clad resolve is something I can relate to. In the end, I just hope that readers can connect with Charles and Elena, because their stories are central to the series.
J.C. - We are taken back to the year 1938. The plot is inter-twined with the events of World War II and rich in history. What drew you to write about this particular era?
S.M. - Originally, the story arc was consumed with Charles’s quest to hunt down his father and spanned several centuries. I just felt that story had already been told in multiple ways, so decided to focus on “how” and “why” Charles needed to destroy Cosmin. Let’s not forget the heroine of the story, Elena. She plays a huge part, not just in The Devil’s Cohort, but in the subsequent books I’m working on. Elena doesn’t know it, but she’s a huge badass with a dark streak to boot!
Why World War II? I think that it’s a fascinating part of history, not just the war but the cults of personality that threw the entire world into this terrible meat-grinder of a war – I mean, come on! Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt: they were people that were virtually worshipped in one way or another, either contemporarily or, at least, eventually. It’s just an amazing backdrop to the overall story that has yet to be told.
J.C. - Who has been your biggest support system while on this writing adventure?
S.M. - My dad, without a doubt. He’s not even a big reader (that would be my mom), but everything I send his way, he reads, critiques, offers feedback, and just generally is in my corner. I’m sure Mom would be just as big of a supporter (if not bigger), but she has -no- interest in the genres I write about. Now, while my dad has been my biggest supporter, I think the entire writer and reader community on Instagram really offers an amazing amount of motivation and help. There are days and weeks where I feel like doing nothing, then I’ll see a story or read a post and feel that spark of motivation, that eventually grows into an inferno (cheesy metaphor).
Some may ask: why not my wife? She has been very supportive and I love that, but she is not into reading at all…maybe if one of them becomes a movie one day, then she’ll understand. Who knows?
J.C. - Finish the sentence. In ten years I’d like to…
S.M. - Split my time between Scotland and El Salvador, writing books and volunteering in communities. I guess I’d better get to work.
J.C. - The Devil’s Cohort is your debut novel but you have other projects in the works. What can you tell us about those books?
S.M. - Actually, little known fact: The Devil’s Cohort is my second novel! Isleman: A Novel of Scotland, was my first novel, but I also pulled that one for a professional edit. Isleman is a historical fiction title (not horror) and is set in the mid-1500s in the Scottish Highlands. It also has received good reviews, but I just feel it has so much potential and I’d be doing the story a disfavor by not making it as good as it can be.
Hopefully, Isleman will be available again in 2022 – after I’ve released the sequel to The Devil’s Cohort.
S.C. - Lastly, where can readers find you and your work?
S.M. - Amazon carries my titles, however The Devil’s Cohort is also available at pursuitofmayhem.square.site (temporary website) in both signed paperback and ebook formats. I’m currently developing a permanent website with exclusive content, as well as other projects that will eventually all tie in together. After all, this is a marathon and not a sprint.