The Devil Makes Three
by Tori Bovalino
Published by Page Street Kids
Releasing on August 10, 2021
YA FICTION-Horror, Fantasy
Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.
Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.
The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Self-harm, child abuse, parental illness, blood/gore, explicit violence, possession leading to degradation of mental state
Tori Bovalino is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and now lives in the UK with her very loud cat. Tori is obsessed with scary stories, obscure academic book facts, and chai. She is active on Twitter as @toribov and Instagram as @toribovalino.
Congratulations on your debut book! What inspired you to write The Devil Makes Three?
Thank you so much! It’s still a bit surreal. The inspiration for Devil came when I was working in a library during my junior year of college. Like Jessop, it operated on a closed stacks system, which meant that patrons couldn’t just get their own books – aka I spent a lot of time in the stacks by myself! You can’t see much other than the aisle you’re in and I was constantly creeping myself out by imagining what could be around the corner. The horror elements came before anything else, then the plot just fell into place around them.
What was your favorite part of writing The Devil Makes Three?
I really loved focusing on character development. It’s a character driven book, and Tess and Eliot’s internal struggles are just as important and aligned with the external struggles with the demon. I also loved writing in second person for the demon parts – second person is my JAM and the fact that I got to keep it in gives me so much joy. I wanted the reader to feel connected to the devil, too, so that element was really fun for me.
What can readers expect from your main characters, Tess and Eliot?
A lot of angst and yearning! Both of them are facing challenges outside the main forces of the devil. Tess is struggling with a situation she’s not mentally or emotionally ready for and trying to be a good older sister while still balancing her own aspirations in life. Eliot is eternally homesick and coming to terms with his mother’s illness. I can’t say either of them are happy people, but both are searching for contentment in a place where neither of them want to be.
How did the idea and shape of the book-bound demon come to you?
So the book-bound demon is actually based on Faustian legends of the devil contained within a book. I was super into Indo-European folktales in college (and still am!) so I wanted to integrate that. Actually, the original folktales have a spoiler for the book itself, so perhaps hold off on those if you don’t want spoiled 😉
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write something that matters to you. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the market or what’s selling and yeah, maybe that’s something to work toward later in your career. But when it comes to developing craft, you’re going to care way more about improving a story you genuinely care about than one you’ve written for the market.
Secondly, get used to editing yourself. Not in the sense of word correction, but really get into the threads of how the novel is held together. Editing is not just going to be correcting grammar and switching a few scenes around. Generally, developmental edits require tearing the entire novel apart. If you have an idea of how that works for you before you have a literal deadline and money on the line, it makes the whole thing less stressful.
And one more thing – keep writing ahead. When you’re querying, when you’re on submission, when you’re waiting for edits or exchanging with CPs. I know this gets regurgitated over and over but I’m just coming out of the haze of my second book and I just want to firmly say, it’s so much easier if most of the work is already done by the time it’s needed!
What do you hope readers take away from The Devil Makes Three?
Honestly, I hope everyone has a good, spooky time! But I hope that my readers see that it’s okay to have Big, Scary feelings and not know how to process them. I think we’re expected to grow up very fast and not a lot of us know what we’re doing. Tess and Eliot are thrown into situations that they’re not prepared for and they kind of have to roll with it. Of course, not all of us are battling devils, but there is a lot of inherent stress in growing up. I hope this book is an escape from those feelings while also being a reminder to my readers that you are enough, you will get through it, and there is always someone out there looking out for you.
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