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Sometimes, writing a novel is an exhilarating thrill ride, with crazy ups and downs that make me breathless. Other times, it’s Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, and I never know what I’ll get as each page unfolds. Then there is The Mephisto Covenant, which came from a very dark place but brought unexpected gifts.
Several years ago, someone very close to me was sexually assaulted. I was filled with rage and imagined vengeance of the kind that would have gotten me arrested. For the first time in my life, I was touched by pure evil, and my reaction to it was almost as disturbing to me as the reason for my violent thoughts. Because so much time had passed since the assault, the victim wouldn’t go to the police, so her attacker was never arrested or charged with a crime. He got away with it, and that only made me more angry.
Of course I didn’t act on any of my revenge fantasies. Instead, I brooded and thought about evil and wondered why it exists. Is everyone capable of evil? Do we all harbor a dark side that could tempt us to unspeakable things in the right situation? What I imagined for this guy had to come from a dark place, something I never considered to be a part of me.
When something unfamiliar and frightening arrives on my doorstep, I want to learn all about it, because knowledge is power. In addition to reading about sexual assault, particularly date rape, I read the Bible, as much to learn more about evil, Lucifer, and Hell as for spiritual solace. I reread Dante’s Inferno and Goethe’s Faust. I revisited Milton’s Paradise Lost. Then I found a book called The History of Hell by Alice K. Turner, and my fascination with the concept of evil grew exponentially. Is there such a thing as original sin? Are we all born with a dark side?
Eventually, my thoughts began to coalesce into a story, because writing is how I deal with something that will never go away. In the beginning, I imagined a group of angels who visited the world to mete out justice to those who got away with it, but I couldn’t get behind angels. They were too good to deliver the justice I wanted. I reinvented them as demons, but demons are sent by Lucifer, and as the devil is all about evil, demons carrying the scales of justice didn’t make sense. While I searched for the right protagonists, my subconscious gave me a gift, a dream of a band of brothers who weren’t angels, weren’t demons, but flesh-and-blood humans with extraordinary powers and an unorthodox background: The Mephisto, sons of the dark angel, Mephistopheles, minion of Lucifer, and a human woman without original sin, a descendant of Eve’s daughter who was born before the fall.
Building the world of the Mephisto was cathartic, and getting to know Jax, the hero of The Mephisto Covenant, was intriguing, but the day I met Sasha was liberating. Born without original sin, she doesn’t own the dark emotions that hold back ordinary humans. She’s not jealous, vengeful, or capable of hate, which gives her the clarity to see evil, even when it disguises itself as good. Even better, she sees past the darkest side of Jax to what lies beneath. Her story is ultimately one of triumph, not of good over evil, but the pursuit of joy in a ruthless world. For me, Sasha redefines righteous, and through her, I finally found acceptance, if not forgiveness.
- Trinity Faegen
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