Not another angel book...
So, you may ask, why write an angel book when there are already so many on the shelves?
The short answer: I didn’t set out to write a book about angels. I actually just started with an idea about a girl and guy. There was stuff I knew about them, and lot’s of stuff I didn’t.
I knew they had a complicated history that only he remembers. I knew that if he took advantage of the fact she didn’t remember why there was tension between them, there would be hell to pay if and when her memories returned. (‘They’ of course became Gaby and Rafa and the story became ‘Shadows: book 1 of the Rephaim’.)
I knew there were paranormal elements in how she’d lost her memory, and that the two of them were part of a conflict in a much bigger context. But beyond that, I didn’t know much else about them.
As I started writing these characters, I needed to understand their world. I briefly flirted with ideas involving vampires, werewolves and faeries but nothing sparked.
I purposefully tried to avoid fallen angels for a couple of reasons: firstly, I’d read the first books in the Lauren Kate and Becca Fitzpatrick series and thought angels were already covered (as, of course, were vampires). Secondly, I knew if I was going to write about angels, I’d want to do it within a reasonably sound theological framework and that wouldn’t necessarily make for exciting reading.
Then I read a story in the Book of Enoch (a non-biblical historical text) about a fallen angel called Semyaza and his two hundred libidinous buddies. Regardless of whether or not the story was true, it set up some interesting possibilities and the ideas for plot came thick and fast.
Plus, I knew from the start I’d have to build a fairly complex society to achieve what I wanted to with the story, which would involve a lot of work for readers. With angels and demons, the foundation for conflict already exists – so it makes it easy to mess with perceptions.
With angel stories there are really only three ways you go: the first is to ignore the theological foundations of angel lore (whether it be Jewish, Islamic or Christian); the second is to acknowledge it but not dwell on it; the third is to make it an essential part of the story.
The first can sometimes mean a plot lacks substance; the second can seem like a cop-out; the third can feel heavy-handed. (For those who haven’t read Shadows, I opted for door two and hope I’ve been even-handed enough to avoid the ‘cop-out’ tag. Of course, the level of swearing and violence has raised other issues with some readers.).
So my question today is for those of you read angel stories: how do you prefer to see angel mythology handled in paranormal novels? What works for you and what doesn’t?