Hi guys! We have Anthony Dobranski stopping by with the tour for his release The Demon In Business Class, we have an excellent character interview, a great excerpt and a brilliant $ Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
The Demon In Business Class
She can speak all languages. He can smell evil intent.
They’re enemies. They crave each other.
With secret magic, international settings, a conspiracy plot, and star-crossed lovers, The Demon in Business Class is a stylish modern fantasy spanning continents and genres.
A shady executive hires Zarabeth Battrie to help start the next global war, giving her a demon that speaks all languages. But other people know more about her job than she does…
A resolute investigator recruits Gabriel Archer to use his emerging psychic powers, for a visionary leader who turns others from evil. As his senses develop, his doubts grow…
When the two meet by chance in Scotland, passion becomes fragile love, until the demon’s betrayal drives Gabriel away. Before Zarabeth’s revenge destroys the visionary’s plan, Gabriel must stop her — for both to survive, neither can win.
Warnings: FOR ADULTS! Drugs, fistfights, vigorous sex, murder, an orgy (witnessed), a cult, and a (told not shown) history of child sexual abuse.
Fans of Jeff VanderMeer, David Mitchell and Michel Faber will love this cross-genre novel with crisp literary style. The Demon in Business Class is an international story of fantasy, intrigue, and love, on the uneasy ground where the human meets the divine.
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“If William Gibson wrote paranormal …. weaves the dark worlds of the occult and big business into an intoxicating tale.” – D. J. Butler, author of Witchy Eye
“Creative spark? Anthony Dobranski ignites a creative bonfire …A masterwork of invention.” – Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of Man Alive!
“A swank cocktail of international intrigue, steeped in the supernatural, mixed with literary flair …. so sleek it flies off the page.” – Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity
AD: Hi! I’m Anthony Dobranski, author of the modern fantasy novel The Demon in Business Class. Today we’re talking to Zarabeth Battrie, the main character, about her life and her story. Zarabeth, welcome!
ZB: Hi. Thanks for having me. Also, writing me. For the most part. You could have left a few things out.
AD: I wanted the audience to share the whole experience. Before we get into the novel, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not the main character of a novel? Any interests, any hobbies?
ZB: Causing trouble.
ZB: Seriously! I don’t read, I don’t watch movies. Some TV if I’m bored, but that gets boring fast. A few drinks out, a little clubbing. More weed than I probably should.
I like to work. I like to make things happen. I don’t socialize but I love to collaborate, if that makes sense. I love travel but hate vacations. If there’s nothing to do, I get into trouble. I cause trouble. I’m a trouble magnet.
AD: Which is good in a main character! Did you like being the main character?
ZB: Hmm. Sort of. I’m more a behind-the-scenes person, honestly. Also, it was intense! I’m not complaining. Given that I start out the book pretty sure I’m going to be fired from my job —
ZB: Not a lot of difference, in the job market of 2008.
AD: 2020’s worse, actually.
ZB: Not my problem. Anyway. Given where I start the book, international travel and shady conspiracies was a good outcome. As was, I have to say, being taken seriously again. That mattered a lot to me.
AD: Even if it was by a villain using you to start a war?
ZB: At least I flew business class! OK, fine, I’m being flippant. As people will learn, I didn’t have a lot growing up. My dad died when I was young, and my mom … well, people can read about that. In the book I learn a few new things about my past, as it turns out —
AD: No spoilers!
ZB: Sorry. As I was saying, respect for my abilities isn’t something I’m used to. So it’s compelling when someone finally appreciates me. I think we all want that, and the chance to earn it. Not a free ride, not a participation trophy. Just, a shot. A chance to shine.
ZB: As it happened, my shining time came with a demon that let me speak all languages.
AD: I am jealous of that.
ZB: It’s not all upside. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s amazing! To go all around this big world, and be… well, not at home exactly, but enabled, connected, able to take part. I can speak Italian. Chinese. Russian. Arabic. I can speak sign language. It’s incredible. Especially in your time, with everyone stuck at home — you have to read it. It’s a wild journey. And with me, you’re in the front seat.
AD: Your perspective starts and ends the novel, but you share your story with Gabriel Archer. What can you tell me about him?
ZB: What can I — after all we go through… Wow. I’m not sure. Which is why it works, maybe. If Gabriel were easy, if I could have gamed how it would play out… it would be a very different book, wouldn’t it? On the surface it seems straightforward. Girl meets boy, in a hotel bar. Of course I have a pet demon, but, I don’t need that to interest a guy.
Except Gabriel’s not at all what I expect. He has a story as strange as mine. Repressed psychic powers? Recruited to work for a guy who dreams future events? That’s original. No surprise, he’s got issues.
AD: Is that all right?
ZB: It’s not boring! The trick of it is, neither one of us is perfect. Way far from that. People talk about feeling connected, about completion, about matching. Gabriel and I connect … like Velcro. It shouldn’t work. But it does, stronger than either of us are prepared for. Sometimes it’s enough to be with another person who is also way far from perfect, and knows it. So long as we both respect what we are and what we have. Which is hard for me, and hard for him. When it works … Like I said about my demon: to feel connected, to share, to take part.
AD: The three of you must have been happy together.
ZB: Gabriel and the demon? No. Ha. Sigh. No. That’s the second half of the book, when it gets really complicated. A lot of that was hard to go through. I know people reading and listening will find it one heck of a ride.
AD: Along with Gabriel and your demon, you also have a friend, Missy Devereaux —
ZB: I’m not supposed to talk about her being a witch.
AD: I was going to ask about your friendship.
ZB: Oh! Oops. Yes, we’re friends. She’s very different from me. Wealthy, educated, and she got plenty of that respect thing. She has every advantage. Turns out, despite all that, she still has to prove herself. Or maybe because of it. That’s why Missy and I get along. We’re very different but we both want more. Neither one of us is a sidekick. Maybe you should write a book about her.
AD: Not a bad idea!
ZB: Are you writing a book about her?
ZB: You sure?
AD: You sound jealous.
ZB: I do not.
AD: Moving on. One last question. In the novel, you often take a look ahead, as it were, with a special Tarot deck.
ZB: My deck is really cool! It’s called Business Class Tarot. It’s focused on work and professional issues, and it looks like modern life, with representation for all people. Of course it’s still a Tarot, and totally woo-woo. But it works for me.
So, we done?
AD: Um… yeah, I guess.
ZB: Good. I have problems to cause. Nice chatting. Bye!
AD: Wait! I — OK. Well. I probably should have expected that. Even though she ditched me, you can enjoy more of Zarabeth’s intense adventures in my novel, The Demon in Business Class!
Chapter 1 — Washington, DC
In the fake-oak-paneled conference room, Zarabeth Battrie found a dozen others standing. All looked wilted and worn, with bunched shirts and bowing ankles. The plastic tables were gone, the plastic chairs stacked in the corner. More people arrived but no one unstacked the chairs. A herd instinct, Zarabeth decided, to keep a clear path for fleeing.
A natty beige man in a crisp blue plaid suit came in, pushing a low gray plastic cart with stacks of documents. If the standing people surprised him, he didn’t show it. With practiced ease he lowered the room’s screen, plugged in his powerstrip. Someone passed the documents around but no one spoke. In the silence, Zarabeth felt anxieties around her, about money, status, children, groping her like fevered predictable hands. Too intimate, these people’s worries in her skin when she didn’t know their names, or want to. She shook them off, pushed through to the front so as not to stare at men’s backs all meeting.
Projector light bleached the natty man while he talked through slides of sunsets and bullet points, with the real news a seeming afterthought. Her office and two others were merging with Optimized Deployments, in Boston. A great move. Efficiency for all. The animated org-chart realigned over and over, three squares gone and Optimized’s no bigger. Reorganized like a stomach does food.
People asked tired questions, their hot worry now clammy hope. The natty man smiled no matter what he said. Yes, redundancies. Jobs would move, details to work out. All would be well and better.
He left to spread his joy. The room lights rose.
Zarabeth’s boss, Aleksei Medev, slouched in the corner like someone had whacked his head with lumber. His unshaven olive skin hung gray and limp. With all eyes on him, he straightened.
“A very challenging time,” he said. “We’re sending reports to justify — to guide the transition. Client work is secondary.”
Zarabeth was in no hurry to fill out Aleksei’s useless reports. Nothing she had done in the last two months justified keeping her employed, she knew that. She went out the broken fire exit to a stand of pine trees behind the parking lot. She lit a cigarette, paced in the shade.
Once, Zarabeth Battrie had traveled the country as an Inspiration Manager, connecting the best people at Straightforward Consulting to an in-house knowledge network. She had good instincts which managers to flatter, which to cow, which to sneak past. It surprised her how much she understood when she finally got her quarry to talk their special arcana, over morning jogs, lobster lunches, steak dinners, midnight hookahs with shots of tequila. Later, on airplanes, she’d think of those and other conversations, watching the pieces fit together in this strange unity and balloon, her world growing with a drug-like jolt. To let her do that, week in week out — taking off, landing, on the move, on her feet — had been the greatest praise.
On Valentine’s Day, it had evaporated without explanation. Zarabeth had been reassigned to Reston, in the Virginia suburbs, to do public-relations grunt-work for industry trade groups. Aleksei Medev, still shiny then, had put his feet on her new desk and spun a great tale, core knowledge toward a turnkey marketing solution, select team deep study. At least she got an office with a door.
Zarabeth had visited Boston twice in her old job. Optimized had smart people and kept them by being greedy. They would suck the money from her division like marrow from bone. Everyone fired, no matter how they danced.
Doubt ate through her like some parasite come to lay its eggs. She pinched the cigarette’s cherry to burn it off with pain. Six years at this firm would not end this week.
Zarabeth sublet a furnished apartment in Foggy Bottom, facing west and the Potomac River. She had chosen it for the balcony view and the location near the highway, but she didn’t like the place much. The heavy dark furniture and metallic abstract art looked good at night, but menacing in morning shadow and grim in afternoon sun. Some days Zarabeth fantasized trashing it, taking a sledgehammer to the whole gloomy aquarium. This was a good day for that.
But Missy Devereaux was there, watching TV, in new red hair, her dirty bare feet on the coffee table.
“Hey, sugar,” Missy said, in her perky Kentucky accent. “Want some wine?”
“Get your bow legs off my table,” Zarabeth said. “When did you go ginger?”
“Do you love it?” Missy muted the sound. “I love it. Gramma hates it. Do you love it?”
A year ago, Missy Devereaux had been a Straightforward legislative liaison, frost-blonde hair and pricey suits, working her congressman daddy’s contact list. Now on the ground floor of Missy’s Georgetown mansion, her grandmother died slowly of bone cancer. Missy came to Zarabeth’s place as a retreat, a chance to smoke without blowing up the oxygen tanks. In return Missy watered the plants and filled the wine rack. It was a good arrangement, most days.
“It’s great.” Zarabeth went to her bedroom. She wiped off her makeup, washed her face with cold water. Her copper skin looked flushed. Small zits on her forehead. Twenty-seven, and she still broke out. She turned from the mirror so as not to smash it.
Missy came with a glass of white. “Three hours ’til the nurse leaves. You want dinner?”
Zarabeth shook with fury. “I so don’t deserve this.”
“I know, sugar-pea. I know.”
“The fuck you know, witch?”
Missy’s eyes flashed, from blue to bright green. Like the unlocking of a cage.
Zarabeth backed down. She checked herself by punching her palm repeatedly. “Fuck me! Fucking fuck.”
“You just relax,” Missy said. Maybe to herself too. Her eyes blue again, at least. She pulled a joint from behind her ear. “Drink and smoke. I’m ordering food. Lamb kebab with fries, right?” She closed the door.
Anthony Dobranski is a native of Washington DC. He studied English Literature at Yale and made his first career working internationally for AOL. His first novel is the cross-genre modern fantasy The Demon in Business Class. He also created Business Class Tarot, a modern Tarot deck inspired by his novel. He is a member of SFWA, and serves on the board of The Inner Loop, a Washington DC live-reading series. He lives in Washington now with his family. He loves to ski.