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Not another angel book...

Oct 05,2012
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Cover graphic from Shadows

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?

Oct 17,2012
The Force. Love it.
Oct 12,2012
anonymous's picture
I think that, even though it's essentially "paranormal fiction", there still needs to be a level of reality to it. Nothing worse than the angel plot only being brought in to explain something away. Feels very much like Star Wars and "the force" sometimes.
Oct 11,2012
Thanks Polly. I appreciate that :) Quite a few people have compared Shadows to the Laini Taylor and Susan Ee books. Both are on my to-read lists, but I'll hold off now until I finish writing the Rephaim series. I've heard good things about them though, so am looking forward to them. I read the first of the Mortal Instruments series last year and liked it - just haven't gotten back to it yet. So many books to read! But yes, you're right. Stories and characters are everything. Thanks for commenting!
Oct 10,2012
Paula, I don't think it really matters what door you take as long as the story is engaging and the characters believable. I found your novel to be so refreshing - possibly because of the location as well - so nice to read something set in our own backyard. The detail that you provide in building a more complex society just adds another layer to YA fiction. I've read a number of angel books - the ones I've enjoyed most aside from your own are: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1) by Susan Ee and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the next novel takes us.
Oct 08,2012
Hi Diem and Trin. Thanks for the comments! I think the mythology in angel stories polarises readers so much more than other paranormal genres for the fact you mention Trin - that people bring their own values as a reader, which are more powerful when they relate to personal beliefs. But I agree that if a story is good enough, you can get around the fact a writer has a different set of values. And Diem - so glad you like Shadows. :) I didn't mind Fallen once I accepted the fact it was an epic love story. (Not something I read a lot of, I must confess). I definitely found Hush Hush more to my tastes too. Both writers have a distinct style, and both deal with the theology/mythology issue very differently. Thanks again for chatting. :)
Oct 06,2012
I really enjoyed your book and I liked that it was about fallen angels but not like the usual ones. I prefer the novels that stand out and are different-I really enjoyed Becca Fitzpatrick's series because her books were the first angel books I read and I know compare all angel book to the Hush, Hush series. I read the first book of Lauren Kate's series and I absolutely hated it. I had to force myself to finish the first book. I didn't like Lauren Kate's storyline because to me I've read it already or it just seemed like every other book to me. I think if it is different and stands out I will read it.
Oct 06,2012
anonymous's picture
As a Christian I never know where to stand on angel books and I think my thought process is quite similar to your three options. Either throw my hands up and say it's fiction get over it enjoy yourself (helpful if the book is good) or get grumpy. The only real times I get my grump on is the author must go out of their way to poke fun at the theological foundations. eg. atheist angel o.0 I think I know what I'm getting if I choose to read an angel book and if I must get so blah blah about then I can just go read Frank Paretti or something. - Trin
Oct 05,2012
Fair enough. What do you usually read?
Oct 05,2012
To be honest (now I hate saying this, 'cause I said this on your comic post too :/ ) I haven't read any angel stories besides City of Bones and stuff (door 2, right?).... I guess because there's so many on the shelves, I can't be bothered picking out a single one *shrug*

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