Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Pull up a chair in front of the fire… oh wait that’s every chair.
Today my guests are Black Annis and her writer Andrew Weston
Character Spotlight – Black Annis
Who are/were you?
I am figment of English folklore and your fears made manifest. I am the personification of things that go bump in the night. The wraith seen in the corner of your eye. The tingling sensation on the back of your neck. I am the monster under the bed and the fiend, lurking at the back of the cupboard who snatches children from their cots and the unwary, too brave for their own good. I am Black Annis. Hag, bogeyman, witch, beauteous pagan legend and mystic rolled into one.
What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?
I am one of only six of His Infernal Majesty’s vassals who serve within his secret inner circle. Only we possess the knowledge and skill to manipulate the Third Way – or as adepts call it, the Tether – an exceedingly potent celestial residue left behind from the Time of Sundering, when Holy Spirit polarized into its two current forms: God’s Grace and the Bãlefire. When you consider that two of my five associates are none other than Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim and the polymath, Heinrich von Nettesheim, you begin to appreciate the caliber of our tiny, very select cadre.
Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?
I know why I’m here: because I wanted to be. As mankind, topside, progressed and drew together in greater numbers in towns and cities, the woodlands and caverns in which I prefer to reside grew evermore Spartan. My reputation also grew, and it became harder to remain concealed from the world of man. Satan – curse his black heart – saw my plight and my potency, and made an offer I couldn’t refuse. So here I am, free to hunt my prey and consume all I desire, in return for a purity of debased service few can match. Yes, this is my home now, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?
I can only eat necrotic pseudo-flesh. Preferably taken from those recently, or about to be reassigned. And I keep their skins too, the only material from which I am allowed to fashion my extensive wardrobe.
Describe your home environment in Hell.
In my downtime, I am the proprietor of the Come Right Inn, a small establishment situated deep within the Greshwin Weald. Or as it’s better known by those inhabiting New Hell, the Sable Swathe. The Weald is a dark, near impenetrable expanse filled with flora and fauna, and hideous miscreations shunned by weak-willed humans. We like to keep to ourselves, though when anyone is foolish enough to stray into my domain, they are given a most special welcome.
Name and bio.
Andrew P. Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
As creator of the critically acclaimed IX Series, along with Hell Bound, Hell Hounds, and Hell Gate, (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe), Andrew has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
When not working, he also devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Tell us about your story for this edition.
One of my stories in this edition is called, The Come Right Inn, a tongue-in-cheek play on words, detailing what can happen to the most cautious of damned souls when they stray into places they shouldn’t go.
Here’s a short blurb to give you a taste of what’s in store:
“In The Come Right Inn, we meet one of Satan’s most secretive agents. A charming woman with a finger – and most other body parts – in every pie. It’s a simply delicious, snack-sized tale you’ll enjoy devouring in one sitting.”
What inspired you to use the character you’ve chosen?
Believe it or not, Black Annis was inspired by Daemon Grim himself. Wherever you go, people have heard of the Grim Reaper. He’s the stuff of myth and legend. A character who, since his introduction to the Heroes in Hell universe, has carved out a niche following. As fans of the series will have seen, he’s a potent dark protagonist with strong traits who needs a stimulating cast to keep him on his toes and bring out the best – and worst – of what he has to offer. I’m constantly searching for fresh ideas, and this new character helps me do just that. Though different, Black Annis is just as close to His Infernal Majesty as Daemon is. Even better, she is a more proficient wielder of a power Daemon Grim has only recently discovered: The Tether, or Third Way. We’ve met her before, in passing, in Hell Hounds. But here, in The Come Right Inn, we get a proper introduction to someone who will be a worthy addition to Heroes in Hell, and Daemon Grim’s ever evolving adventures.
For those of you who would like to find out more about the legends surrounding this blue skinned, raven-haired hag, then delve into some of the pseudonyms she goes by: Black Annis; Black Anny; Black Agnes; the Celtic goddess, Anu; and the English hermit, Agnes Scott.
It makes interesting reading, and she provides a wealth of potential to add to an already volatile mix.
Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?
As I mentioned, I’d already used this character – as an unnamed and extremely secretive associate of Heinrich von Nettesheim – in a previous Heroes in Hell novel, Hell Hounds. What was interesting is the fact that her contribution gained a life of its own, and she ended up continuing to grow in substance the further the overall story arc surrounding Daemon Grim evolved. So I thought I’d better give her a history, and a proper means by which to officially introduce her to the Heroes in Hell fan base. As readers will see, we learn much more about Black Annis in The Come Right Inn, which sets the scene for her later appearance in the Reaper’s own contribution; The Sorcerous Apprentice.
And true to form, you’ll meet her again at a later date in a much more ‘up close and personal’ recurring role. (Be patient). . .
What are you currently working on?
I’m completing the preparations for the final novel of a new “Ascension Trials” trilogy. (Which I hope to start writing within the next few weeks). I’ve been developing the series during the time we’ve been on lockdown so that the storyline is polished and tight before I submit the first book for consideration. And I’ve also been tinkering with a fresh story arc for Daemon Grim himself. Being who he is, it’ll never be a good time for him to hang up his scythe, eh?
Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.
The last two books I’ve read are part of the Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson: The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self. In a nutshell, (And so I don’t give anything away), they are part of an epic story line set on the world of Scadrial, a place where gifted individuals can access magical powers through ingestion of certain metals. (The powers manifested being dependent upon what metal is burned and their reaction with that person’s own physiology).
I’ve found it a rather innovative series, as the magical system is unique, the narrative down-to-earth and engaging, and the sweep grandiose indeed. (You get to cover thousands of years of history at an easy pace). Even better, Sanderson’s world isn’t stagnant. It moves with the passage of time, developing technology and industry as it goes along, allowing its characters to evolve along with it.
If that sounds like something you might enjoy, be sure to start with the original trilogy: The Final Empire; The Well of Ascension; The Hero of Ages. It’s great stuff, and you won’t regret it.