The most powerful wishes aren’t said with words.
The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn't what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering.
With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.
Tell us a bit about From Brick & Darkness. Well, a creepy old dude shows up outside of my building one night wanting to give this ugly ring to my dad. Oh, and by the way, my dad left Mom and me when I was two. Haven’t seen him since. So like an idiot, I take the ring out of curiosity. Then, when I’m showing it to my best friend, we discover that if you rub it, a genie is unleashed. That’s when my life started spiraling out of control.
What are your plans for a future profession or career? I’m not sure. Mrs. Bronson--my school counselor--says I need to start thinking about colleges even though I’m only a sophomore. I think maybe I’ll get into video game design. Make a totally kick-ass game like Archer Annihilation.
What is your biggest fear? Speaking in front of people. I hate it. I have this thing where I pass out when I get too nervous. My mom calls it an episode. Doctors say that it may go away any day or it may never go away. Isn’t that a great diagnosis to get from your doctor?
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Superman. Who’s cooler? He has the best superpowers because he can pretty much do anything. But he still does the right thing with his powers, and people love and respect him for it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Always have a plan.” My best friend Jason always says that, and he always has one. I try, but sometimes I remember to have a plan after I’ve already jumped into the middle of something.
Thanks for taking time to speak with us, Bax. Now, we’d like to chat with your creator, J. L. Sullivan.
Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, [or both] have had an impact on your writing? While I’m drawn mostly to fantasy and horror young adult books, I always try to channel a bit of John Green when I’m writing. His books are straightforward contemporary YA, but his characters are so deep and compellingly flawed, that they make you keep reading when the plot of the book may not be something you’d typically read. So I always try to create that depth when developing characters to keep my magical storylines grounded in reality as much as possible.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? I began this journey wanting to write a fairy tale retelling. I researched Grimm tales and eventually started reading One Thousand and One Nights, which is the source of the original Aladdin story. However, when I started writing From Brick & Darkness as an Aladdin retelling set in a modern American city, the work evolved further and further from the source material. It still has djinn at its core, but eventually, my novel grew into something vastly different from Aladdin’s Lamp. So when people ask if this is a retelling, I usually say it’s a very very loose retelling.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them; what influenced you to submit to them; how is the submission process; what is the turn-around time from date of query to date of release? The Wild Rose Press attended a writers' conference in St. Louis in early 2021 where they were accepting pitches. I went to sign up, but their spots had already been filled, so I decided to submit to them through their website. I explained I wanted to pitch at the conference but had missed my opportunity. They liked my query and eventually, I signed with them in May of 2021. From signing until the release date, it was right at one year.
What are you reading right now? I just started the Witches of Vegas by Mark Rosendorf, another Wild Rose Press author. I think he’s on the third book now, but I’m just starting his series.
What's next for you? I am hard at work on a sequel to From Brick & Darkness that goes further into the djinn-verse that Bax and his friends opened. I’m excited to bring back characters from the first book, introduce some new ones, and more importantly, feature lots more magic gone wrong.
J. L. brought an excerpt for
Neck bones popped as his head rotated toward me, his face eclipsing the rays of the streetlight. His irises were dull purple, glazed over with a foggy film, and deep-set wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes like arrows drawing attention to them.
A shudder caused the keys to slip from my hand and clank on the ground. My face burned with shame that the poor man’s appearance had startled me. My rudeness would have disappointed Mom.
“I’m sorry, but really—” I snagged my keys.
His hand slithered out of the brick-colored sleeve as his arm rose, trembling as he strained to hold the weight of his own limb. Gloved in loose, veiny skin, his skeleton hand had yellowed fingernails so overgrown they grew in on themselves like curly birthday ribbons. As his fingers unfurled, he revealed a ring nestled in his palm.
It was large. Too large. The ring resembled the toy jewelry Jason’s sister played with or something from a Halloween costume. Grimy gold with a single dull purplish jewel that matched his eyes.
His hand trembled under the heaviness of the ring. “Take it.”
Shifting my backpack to my other shoulder, I took it. “What is this?”
The corners of his thin lips curled into a grin as a gust of warm, dry wind cut through the chilly October night and swirled around me.