The Hook: The Maids of Wrath by Josh Vogt

April 15, 2016

Maids of Wrath

The Hook:

Dani yelped and stumbled backward as the squeegee bounced off her forehead. A knee knocked the mop out of her hands, followed by a rubber boot which connected with her stomach. This racked up her butt’s twentieth rendezvous with the floor of the supernatural sanitation company’s training room.

The impact jolted her spine and forearms as she tried to catch herself. It also prompted a plastic crunch. She groaned and eyed a pants leg pocket, where a wet splotch started leaking through the material.

She undid the zipper and pulled out the cracked remains of a small bottle of sanitation gel . Barely a handful remained inside, and she dribbled this into her palm in the hopes of salvaging something from the mess.

Then she stilled as another squeegee whipped into the floor beside her—except this one sliced through the concrete like an axe splitting a particularly unlucky watermelon. She glowered at this as her attacker spoke.

“Your opponent is not about to pause and let you tidy up after every hit, Miss Hashelheim.”

She grabbed the squeegee handle, thinking she could snap it back in a surprise attack. But her gel-slicked fingers didn’t give her a solid grip on the embedded Cleaner weapon.

Between tugs and grunts, she tried to formulate a decent excuse. “I was … trying to … coat my hands … with a substance that’d keep … any Scum back.”

Huffing and admitting defeat via squeegee, she lay back and tried to let her exasperation ebb away. Sweat trickled down her neck as she took inventory of her latest bruises.

Josh Vogt writes:

Sequels are tough to write, especially when you’re trying to keep the series accessible to new readers, whether they’ve read the first book or not. With The Cleaners, now that we’ve moved beyond the events of Enter the Janitor, the opening to The Maids of Wrath had to pull a bit of extra weight.

I wanted it to do quite a few things at once. I needed to establish the central context of the story—that being people working for a supernatural sanitation company. I also needed to introduce a main character—Dani—and give a sense of her character from the get-go.

At the same time, I wanted this opening to raise a lot of questions in the minds of new and returning readers alike so they’d continue on to discover the answers. Why does this sparring match involve cleaning equipment? What are Scum? How did that squeegee slice into the floor? Will Dani ever find a fresh bottle of sani-gel again? (Okay, maybe that last question isn’t so important.)

Plus, since The Cleaners is an urban fantasy series with more humorous elements than most, I wanted to introduce that comedic tone as early as possible so expectations could be set as to what the rest of the story will be like.

In the midst of everything else, the immediate setting quickly becomes ground zero for the major crisis of the book, catapulting Dani and friends into a race against time to save the whole company. In Enter the Janitor, she underwent a rough-n-tumble initiation into this weird world of magical janitors, maids, plumbers, and more. Now she has the chance to be more proactive, take even more control of her powers, and discover just how much of a mop-wielding badass she can be.

Assuming she survives her first official job in the field, of course.

Buy The Maids of Wrath on Amazon

About the Author:

Author and editor Josh Vogt’s work covers fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes, published alongside his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor and The Maids of Wrath. He’s an editor at Paizo, a Scribe Award finalist, and a member of both SFWA and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.

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The Hook: Enter the Janitor by Josh Vogt

May 25, 2015

Enter the Janitor - Cover

The Hook:

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.

Buy Enter the Janitor on Amazon

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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#SFWAPro
If you’re an author with a book coming out soon and you wish to participate on The Hook, please read this.