Risingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Rachel Hobbs.

Rachel Hobbs is the author of Shadow-Stained.

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About Shadow-Stained:

For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.

When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.

Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.

GUEST POST: Beyond Darkness: A Shadow-Stained Journey by Rachel Hobbs

Every Demon Has Its Day

Last year, I published my debut novel, Shadow-Stained. Rewind fifteen years, hundreds of thousands of words, four laptops and a whole lot of screaming into the void, and you’ll find me writing its very first words.

I’ve always loved stories; but I never set out with the intention to write a book. It was the book that found me. And where it found me was curled up in the dark in a self-imposed cage, cut off from the world and everyone who wished to help me. I may be the one with the key now, but back then, my demons kept me.

Let me tell you a story of a girl who was plagued by monsters, and then saved by them.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Crazy

When I was a little girl, I used to see the devil in the walls. He would come out at night when I was tucked up in bed, and put the fear of God in me. I never questioned it. Seeing is believing when you’re five years old.

I’ve always known I was a little different. But my different reached wild new levels when I hit my teens. Looking back, everything happened just the way it was supposed to. Ask me back then, though, and I’d have told you that I was losing my mind.

You may have heard of narcolepsy. It’s a neurological disorder that causes overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sleep attacks. For me, it was the nameless demon that plagued me almost every waking hour, and I spent most of my school days in a fog that never lifted. I would fall asleep at random points throughout the day; while in lessons, on the school bus. I always fought it and I always lost.

It’s easy to look at the mopey child at the back of the class who never looks engaged and think, lazy. I get it. We were all in the dark back then. I probably would have had similar thoughts about myself had the shoe been on the other foot. But I will forever be grateful to this one teacher who would shuffle over mid lesson and give me a subtle nudge. Early night, she would say. It made all the difference to my day.

If narcolepsy was my daytime demon, then parasomnia hunted me at night. Night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep paralysis and hallucinations were what waited for me at the end of a long day of fighting sleep. It was a vicious cycle that seemed impossible to break. If I’d known half of what I know now about these monsters, it would have made them easier to slay. After all, to exorcise a demon, first you must know its name. But life is rarely that simple. And as such, they continued to make my life a living Hell throughout my entire teenage years; conspiring with each other like the best of friends.

It was easier, I think, to turn my problems into physical monsters. You can’t deal with what you can’t even grasp, and seeing them this way made them tangible things that I could try to fight.

A Shadow-Stained Saviour

By the time I was visited by demon number three, I was all but ready to give up on everything. But demon number three was not ready to give up on me. He started life as a voice in my head, a presence that was so clear and detached from my own self it was terrifying.

The voice would not be ignored. It would not be willed away. This demon wanted to be heard and by damn, he was going to be seen. Tired of fighting a losing battle, I gave him a voice, a name – and I wrote him into existence.

His name was Drayvex, and I had every intention of purging him after a paragraph. But the more I got to know him, the more hooked I became on this character and his world. The deeper I dug, the more I wanted to know. I’m sure that was his plan all along.

Writing from Drayvex’s point of view felt good. He was ruthless and cold. He was the Demon Lord that did exactly what he wanted, when he wanted. He became the thing I clung to, the demon that led me through my own personal Hell. He was the place where I would pour all of my darkness and pain and over time, I started to heal. Fiction became the therapy I so desperately needed. My problems were still my problems, but I was better equipped to deal with them. In other words, I was no longer hauling years of mental and emotional baggage around with me on a daily basis.

It was never meant to be a story. But on the day I felt able to read back through the disarray of pages, I saw it there. I caught a glimpse of it, and felt that spark ignite in my mind. And so, I created Ruby, the girl who would throw my demon’s perfect life into chaos. If Drayvex was the amalgamation of all my worst moments combined, Ruby was the light at the end of the tunnel. The light to his darkness. They needed each other in ways they would never understand. And I needed them.

These Things Are Sent To Test Us

If I had the chance to go back and change things, I wouldn’t. Without these challenging experiences, I would never have written the book of my heart. I’m now a published author and writing a further three books based in Ruby and Drayvex’s world. Shadow-Stained is just the beginning.

Rachel Hobbs’ debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She's since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.

Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night.

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