This month bestselling author Anne Stuart takes on a new pseudonym to conquer the paranormal romance genre. Stuart, writing as Kristina Douglas, has created a series full of fallen angels, dead girls and an evil that just won't quit. Go behind the scenes of Raziel in this exclusive interview with the author.
RT BOOK REVIEWS: What do you find most intriguing about fallen angels?
Kristina Douglas: I love the paradox of perfect beauty and the cruelties of life. Of golden creatures brought low by human needs and struggling to make peace with their sacred and profane desires.
RT: How many times did you need to read the Bible in order to work out the events in your story?
KD: I read the Bible from cover to cover years ago, but for this I simply reread pertinent parts, plus lot of other books on angels and fallen angels. In fact, there's not a whole lot in the mainstream Protestant Bible about specific angels -- only three of them are called by name. All the rest come from apocryphal works, stuff that never made it into the Bible. I based a lot of my mythology on those books.
RT: What things did you take directly from the Bible to use in your story?
KD: I took all the nasty things that were supposedly ordained by the Old Testament God and made them the responsibility of Uriel (who's never mentioned in the Bible). In fact, only Raphael, Gabriel and Michael are named as angels. From the Book of Enoch I took the fall of the angels (the second fall --- the first was the angel Lucifer, God's favorite, also known as the bringer of light. Don't ask me how he turned into Satan and all things evil. The ancient historians were a bunch of grumpy old men who rearranged things as they saw fit. I'm a good-natured not-as-old woman who took their words and rearranged them as I saw fit. I figured turnabout's fair play).
RT: Your fallen angel heroes are very strong, but they have a few weaknesses including fire and beheading and they become weak when they do not drink blood. They may sound to readers (and your heroine) more like vampires then angels. How did you decide these were their vulnerabilities?
KD: Well, some mythologies have vampires as Judas, as humans cursed by god for some reason or another. Since fallen angels were definitely cursed by God it seemed a logical curse, and there's a lot in the Bible cautioning against the eating of blood, saying it's an abomination. It seemed only natural to make that abomination a curse for the angels. Just as the eating of flesh was the curse for the next wave, the Nephilim.
RT: Your fallen angels are very human-like in their ability to feel lust, anger, joy, etc. How does having human-like emotions affect the way that they interact with humans or think about their existence?
KD: They are very human in their emotions. They fell to earth (according to ancient tomes) because they fell in love with human women. Falling in love, and choosing to act on it, made them prey to every human emotion, another part of their curse.
RT: Your heroine is strong in a way that is unusual for paranormal/urban fantasy heroines, she fights with words rather than weapons. Do you think that Allie's verbal skills will speak to readers in a different way than these more traditional paranormal heroines?
KD: Who can say? I read romance because I want to feel like I'm living the heroine's adventure, and personally I've never gotten into a sword fight and managed hand to hand combat. We all can fight with words, and she proved herself Raziel's equal.
RT: When Raziel tells Allie that she is dead, her response is a succinct "crap". What do you think your reaction would be in her situation?
KD: "Crap." I'd know something was wrong but I certainly wouldn't want to believe it. I doubt I'd weep and wail at that point -- like Allie I'd still be in fight or flight mode. Later, when I was alone, I'd get upset.
RT: Raziel is told in first person from both the heroine and hero's points of views. Why did you decide to dedicate alternate chapters to Raziel and Allie?
KD: I started the book in third person, alternating points of view, but when I was about a third through I realized it really needed to be in first. It gave me (and hopefully the readers) a much stronger connection to the characters. And if Allie could be in first person it seemed only fair that Raziel was first person as well.
RT: When writing, how did you switch between the characters' (extremely different) voices?
KD: Damn, it was hard! Allie was relatively unsentimental -- she went at things straight on, in a typically masculine way. Fortunately Raziel was very much the alpha male. When things got dicey I read it out loud to make sure it sounded right.
RT: The Nephilim are the enemy of the fallen angels, they are angels that are cursed by God to feel nothing. They eat flesh to survive and are supernaturally strong. Has there ever been a scarier enemy?
KD: To me they're pretty horrifying. They're maggot-ridden and rotting, they like their flesh still breathing ... yuck! In the Book of Enoch the Nephilim were the children of the fallen angels, but I thought they'd be much more interesting as the next group to fall. God figured, okay, eating blood wasn't a strong enough curse, we'll make this bunch eat flesh.
RT BOOK REVIEWS: Raziel ends on a cliffhanger (which I won’t give away), but it is obvious that there is going to be a second in the Fallen series. Is there anything you want to share about the next story?
Kristina Douglas: The next story is about Azazel, the leader of the fallen angels, and his search for the first female, Lilith (again, mostly in Apocrypha but you can deduce her existence in the Old Testament since they have two different descriptions about the creation of the first female). Lilith has always gotten a bad rap from male historians, and she's become somewhat of a poster girl for women's empowerment (think the Lilith tours with Sarah McLachlan and others). Azazel assumes she's a demon to be destroyed, but our heroine, now called Rachel, has forgotten who she is. In the meantime the Archangel Uriel is plotting and scheming and making things worse, there's sex and violence (and Rachel even kicks a little butt when she gets in touch with her demon self).
You can find your own copy of Kristina Douglas' series starter Raziel in stores now!