Ben shuffled into the college library, tugging his squeaky janitorial cart along like a coffin-on-wheels. The moment he entered the place, his right arm started aching, adding a small, but significant voice to the chorus of twinges, knotted muscles, and scars that composed his aging body.
Ignoring this as best he could, he took a big whiff of the place. He snorted and shook his head, gray ponytail flapping.
At the noise, heads popped up from textbooks and tablets as students stared his way. Ben gave them his best grumpy grandpa look until they turned back to their books.
Resisting the urge to massage his arm, he made eye contact with the young man behind the main desk. Jason, the work-study for the evening, flashed a relieved smile as he lurched out of his chair and headed the janitor’s way.
Ben tugged at his blue jumpsuit so his name, threaded in red on the left breast, displayed prominently. The spray bottle hanging on his belt quivered as the water sloshed within. Ben scowled and slapped it.
“Shaddup,” he whispered. “I can handle this.”
Josh Vogt says:
Enter the Janitor is the first in my humorous urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, which reveals the inner workings of the supernatural sanitation company that secretly keeps our world clean and safe. In it, Ben, the janitor in question, must discover the source of an imbalance between Purity and Corruption before it wipes out whole cities—while also keeping his new (and germaphobic) apprentice alive.
The opening of the novel intentionally mirrors the title, immediately bringing in the titular janitor as he strolls (or trudges, actually) onto the scene. With it being a bit of an oddball urban fantasy, I aimed for the beginning to accomplish several things at once. First off, I wanted readers to go, “Enter the Janitor? Really?” and then open to the first page and go, “Oh, well, that certainly delivers. I wonder if the rest of it does.” I also wanted to establish Ben’s character as quickly as possible, conveying his attitude and voice right off to indicate he’s far from your typical fantasy hero.
Alongside all that, the opening is meant to hint at a few elements out of the ordinary, suggesting at things lurking behind-the-scenes and tugging the reader to read on and find out what happens next. On the surface, you get what could be interpreted as an everyday event—a janitor on the job. But there are some clues in these first lines that this isn’t your average sanitation situation.
So, the hook gives readers what the title has them expecting…but then twists it slightly to get them questioning precisely what Ben is there to “handle” and how he intends to do so.
And everything just gets messier from there.
About the author:
Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
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