One of the most frequent comments I hear about my recent release, THE FALLEN QUEEN, is “I was leery of reading another book about angels and demons, but this surprised me.” I cringe when I hear people are coming to my book with trepidation and preconceived notions that it isn’t going to be their cup of tea, but I’m gratified to find readers are enjoying it despite themselves.
The funny thing is that I somehow missed that angels and demons were becoming a trend in urban fantasy and paranormal romance when I began the House of Arkhangel’sk series. I guess I had my head too deeply buried in researching this world that had taken me over to notice what was going on around me in the world of publishing. It also wasn’t meant to be an urban fantasy; in epic fantasy, the “Elysian field” seemed wide open. It was only after I started writing my demon hero that I realized he had ideas of his own. I had no choice but to follow him when he fell to the world of Man.
One of the things that makes my demons and angels different is that they have no religious origins. Heaven is simply a fantasy realm inspired by Imperial Russia. My angels are the nobility of this celestial empire and the demons are those without pedigree—a peasant class ripe for revolt. I also thought it would be interesting to have a Heaven in which the demons also lived, instead of relegating them to Hell. This was partly inspired by reading about the classical “Seven Heavens” (and their corresponding Earths). Many of these Heavens contain elements you wouldn’t expect, such as the ever-circling river of fire and the realm of uninhabitable ice I chose to use as part of mine, but some also include areas of Heaven where the damned dwell, and I found the concept intriguing. The demon slum in my story, called Raqia, is based on one of these.
There are other things that make my fallen angels unique. The stereotypical fallen angel is either uptight and full of angst over his conflicted feelings about the angelic hierarchy to which he once belonged, or full of malice and driven by a desire to overthrow all that he deems unjust about the divisions between angels and demons, or between men and angels. My demons are just trying to get by, playing the hands they’ve been dealt. They couldn’t care less about angelic hierarchy or celestial war, but they get dragged into it through circumstance and make the best of it. Finding themselves “babysitters” of an orphaned angelic grand duchess, they figure they can turn the situation to their advantage, but soon find out they’ve gotten in far over their heads, and will have to take sides.
Despite the departure my series takes from the usual fallen angel story, I have to confess to having a soft spot for the classic tropes. I’ve seen more movies than read books in this tradition, and I find an angelic or demonic storyline, even when it’s everything you’d expect, rarely disappoints. The movie The Prophecy is one of my favorite fallen angel stories, with Christopher Walken’s delightful take on an out-of-control Gabriel, and Viggo Mortensen’s seductive and pragmatic Lucifer. I also absolutely adore Tilda Swinton’s scene-stealing, androgynous Gabriel in Constantine. And Supernatural‘s Misha Collins as the worldly-naïve, unintentionally deadpan funny skin-walker Castiel is one of my all-time favorites.
Are you a fan of the standard fallen angel mythos? Tell me about your favorite fallen angel or demon for a chance to win an ebook copy of THE FALLEN QUEEN.
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