Find out all you wanted to know about Jonathan Whitelaw’s creation and character of the Prince of Darkness in this fabulous guest post: the spotlight is on… the Devil – the protagonist of ‘HellCorp’. I love it!
Who would not escape from Hell if they got the chance? The Devil does and he decides to take a – well-earned – break from his satanic duties to visit planet Earth. Little does he know that everything has a way of getting complicated… HellCorp’ is Jonathan Whitelaw’s brilliant, humorous, fascinating and quirky novel! Read on to find out all about the Devil himself in this intriguing and awesome Character Spotlight!
Hellcorp sparkles like a blood-black diamond. Satan’s got his work cut out in this darkly comic crime tale. A cracking read!
– Mark Leggatt
Life is hard for the Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.
But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…
What readers say:
“Hellcorp is a sharply witty, insightful book that examines our perceptions of good and evil, and how perhaps nobody is quite what they seem. The relationship between the Devil and Gideon fizzles with energy and the wisecracking exchanges between the Devil and Him (or Her!) are also a highlight. There are some surprisingly touching moments too as our characters learn to open up, take chances and trust others. I really enjoyed this quirky, irreverent and fresh crime novel and I have my fingers crossed that this isn’t the last will see of the Devil as a sleuth. I’ll certainly be looking out for more of Jonathan Whitelaw’s books in the future.”
– Hair Past a Freckle
“Would I recommend it? Yes, yes, yes, 100% yes, it’s a brilliantly funny and clever piece of writing. The concept is great and it’s a very easy and engaging read, which I devoured over the space of three evenings (a record for me!). The exchanges between The Devil and Him/Her (God) are hilarious and the interplay between The Devil and Jill is by turns funny and touching. If you’re looking for a comic novel with a touch of supernatural and some crime thrown in, HellCorp is the book for you.”
– Lisa’s Notebook
“Whitelaw’s style of writing makes this such an enjoyable read, it’s clever and funny with just the right amount of dry wit added in for good measure. Both Dr Gideon and The Devil are brilliant created characters, they work well together and remind me a little of the main characters in the TV show Lucifer. And even though he’s the bad guy, you can’t help but like him, there’s just something relatable there.”
– The Quiet Knitter
HellCorp is available at Amazon
|Publisher||Urbane Publications (5 July 2018)|
| Who is your protagonist?
HellCorp’s protagonist is the Devil.
He’s the lord and master of Hell – the original prince of darkness, chaos, treachery, sin, and everything villainous.
The cosmic bad guy – he’s the person everybody loves to hate.
Only now he wants to go on holiday because he’s become a bit sick of that image hanging around him like a bad smell.
The Devil in HellCorp is an imagined version of that well-known figure. He’s somebody who’s supremely confident in his own ability, smug in his infinite knowledge and sarcastic with a capital S.
And when all of his bravado, cheek, and supremacy are stripped away from him, he’s left battling emotionally and physically like never before. All to get what he wants.
| The inspiration for your protagonist
The Devil is inspired by a lot of things. I grew up on a healthy diet of Stephen Spielberg movies, action films, buddie comedies – Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and James Bond films. I always loved the larger-than-life bad guys in those kinds of films.
But I also loved the anti-heroes. Not being stuck with the rigid rules that the traditional romantic and fabled protagonists always gave Bond, Han Solo, Ian Malcolm that little bit of an edge. I loved their maverick attitude and I know a lot of that went into creating The Devil.
He’s also inspired out of my love for mythology. I love legends and the stuff of legends. The Devil in HellCorp is an amalgam of lots of fables from human history and society. And there are even some tongue-in-cheek references to this throughout the novel.
When I created The Devil in HellCorp – I wanted all the brash, showiness of the big, bombastic villains in over-the-top action romps. But I also wanted to give him a bit of life, a bit of character that made him more than just a big baddie that can easily be defeated. He’s cleverer than that. And he knows it!
| The creation of your protagonist
I always had an idea in my head how I wanted The Devil in HellCorp to be. I wanted to have a character that you could warm to as the novel went on. But at the same time, I also wanted to maintain a mystique about him, an untrustworthiness that makes you think “do I really want this guy to win?”
That ambiguity is a strong theme in the character’s development. The relationships he has in the novel with other characters hopefully will have the reader thinking about how they would be in these scenarios. Sometimes it’s for the good, other times less so.
I also knew I wanted his character to be somebody that loved attention, loved being at the heart of things, loved being able to say, do and believe anything he wanted, no matter what the reaction. Creating a character like that gives a writer an amazing amount of freedom and it was a genuine joy to write his parts, his scenes and come up with ways of getting him and out of trouble.
And there’s always trouble when The Devil is involved.
| About your protagonist’s character
He’s a character who has quite literally seen and done it all. And that lends itself nicely to the smug overconfidence that he projects. What I love about writing the character is when all of that is totally tripped up. And in HellCorp that happens frequently.
Maybe I’m just a sadist at heart but I take great joy in putting my characters in situations I know they’ll hate. The Devil is no exception. And I found by doing that more and more as the plot and story unfolds in HellCorp, you get to see more of the character and see him grow.
The Devil in HellCorp is flashy, witty, sarcastic, highly intelligent, pessimistic, cruel, quick to anger and a sceptic. But he’s also capable of changing his mind. He’s logical and smart and knows when to go off on one and when to keep his mouth shut. He can adapt, think quickly and use everything at his disposal to get what he wants. And he always, always holds a grudge.
The Devil is ultimately a character who longs for change. He just knows that it’s never that simple – especially when you’re in the position he’s in. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. After all – God loves a tryer.
| Does he have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!
No matter what you believe in, religious or not, there are always moments where you have the choice to be good or to be naughty. While nobody could ever be as bad as The Devil I think he has a lot of similarities with all of us. The difference is he doesn’t care, and sometimes goes out of his way, to be bad. I guess he has to, it’s his job. Or his job he wants to take a holiday from at least.
I think we all know somebody that always tempts us down the wrong path. There’s always that one friend or loved one who offers another slice of cake. Or one more drink in the pub. The Devil is just that friend or loved one who ALWAYS does it.
| What do you like most of your protagonist?
I like his cockiness, his larger-than-life attitude. And I like the way he keeps battling on.
It was a real challenge as a writer to come up with ways to push the buttons of a character of the Devil. This is, after all, a character who has lived for eternity, knows everything there is to know and has come up with all the cheats and ways around every single one of those things.
I like how he’s grown on me. I like that I was able to create a character that ultimate I actually liked. That might sound odd, an author talking about perhaps not liking his character. But with somebody as decisive a hero and anti-hero as The Devil, it’s quite an achievement on his part.
He’s a tough cookie and he hates getting beat. And that never-say-die attitude, even if sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons, is one of the most endearing and proudest elements I have of the Devil as a character in HellCorp.
| What do you dislike about your protagonist?
I don’t like that he lies, cheats, steals, tempts, swears and is a nasty piece of work. But hey – it’s The Devil we’re talking about here.
One thing I always try to do in my writing is to keep challenging myself. I know that if I was writing a character like the Devil and I always liked EVERYTHING he did then it wouldn’t be right, it wouldn’t fit the character at all. HellCorp is a novel about a lot of things and one of those is change. So, while I accept there are parts of the Devil’s character that I don’t like, I know they have to exist for him. And hopefully, that knowledge and that dislike make for a much richer, fuller character that leaps off the page for readers.
| Would you and your protagonist be friends in ‘real’ life?
This is a really, really tough question! I guess I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t think that.
If I was pressed into an answer I think we probably would be. I don’t think we’d be in the kind of friendship that gets on all of the time. You can’t trust the Devil after-all – he’s always out to look after number one first and foremost. He’s the kind of stinker who wouldn’t leave a tip in a restaurant or hold the door open for you – even if your arms were full of shopping and you had no free hands. He doesn’t move for old ladies on the bus and he farts in lifts then gets out. He’s a real piece of work.
But he’s also really good company. And above all else, he tells the truth a remarkable amount of time. He’ll tell you if you look bad, he’ll use logic relentlessly if you’re planning a bad idea. And he’ll be there to tell you he told you so when you’ve really messed up. What you see is what you get with the Devil in HellCorp. And I think that means I would be friends with him. Despite how much it costs me.
| What’s next?
Another tricky question. These are hard!
I don’t want to give too much away, you just have to read HellCorp to find out what happens to the Devil.
He’s a character I love dearly, one that I’m immensely proud of and grateful to Urbane for letting me share with the world. And while he’s millions of years old, there’s still a lot of fight left in that old warhorse.
I’m working on some new material which is with the publishers. I realised while writing HellCorp that there are so many great scenarios and situations that I’d love to put him into, just to see how he reacts. When a character does that for you as a writer you know you’re onto something very special.
And thankfully I’ve got a list as long as my arm of how I can anger, antagonise, appease and annoy The Devil. You’ll just have to wait and see if he can weasel his way in and out of them.
About the Author
Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.
Social Media links:
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanWhitelawAuthor/