I'm very excited to be the 3rd stop on Bryony Pearce's blog tour for Angel's Fury. Her amazing debut novel which features two of my favourite things - reincarnation and fallen angels - has just been released. Check out my review, read her interview below and then run out and grab yourself a copy!
Hi Brodie, thanks so much for having me on your blog. You did such a lovely review of Angel’s Fury – one of my very first - so it’s particularly nice to be interviewed here. Thank you! I'm incredibly honoured to have you here :)
Angel's Fury includes two of my favourite elements - reincarnation and fallen angels. Where did you inspiration come from for this incredible story?
I imagine my brain as a bit of a melting pot – ideas for stories simmer away in the background and suddenly I spot the right thing, or the right idea or piece of research falls into place and a full story is born. I tend to come up with a character first. Normally I have a fairly detailed image of the protagonist for ages before their story comes to me. It’s almost as if someone takes a snapshot for me, uploads it to my brain and I have to work out the rest for myself. So I’ve actually been living with Cassie, the girl who has the nightmares, for a long time. I suffer from terrible nightmares myself, so she comes from a very personal place. I knew what she looked like and a lot about her, but I didn’t have any idea why she had the dreams and I didn’t have a story to put her into. Finally I flew to Bali in 2002 (told you it had been a while) and the in-flight magazine had an article on the local belief in reincarnation. During the holiday I made a point of visiting a number of temples and religious places including Tanah Lot and Pura Tirta and spoke to locals about their beliefs. I was fascinated and suddenly I had a reason for Cassie’s visions. But I had no real story until, in 2007, I was doing some research for another idea (on Lucifer and fallen angels) and came across the story of Shemhazai and Azael. Almost immediately I had Cassie’s full story.
How did you react when you received THE phone call that Angel's Fury was going to be published?
I screamed my head off. Which terrified poor Riley (less than five months old at the time), so I had to spend five or ten minutes calming him down and proving that I wasn’t hurt before I could tell my husband the details.
Although I’m a writer, I find it hard to convey how incredible it is to finally get that call. Years of striving, rejections, rewrites, more rejections and more rewrites can take their toll on your confidence, so to be told “you’re talented and we want you.” … to be told your lifelong dream is about to come true … it’s definitely among the best moments of my life.
Who was your favourite character to write?
That’s tough - as I feel that all my characters come from somewhere inside me, it’s a bit like asking which organ I prefer! Cassie is the most complex and fully realised character. She’s been with me for years and I loved seeing her develop through each round of edits. I lived with her through her torment and it was such a pleasure to bring her out the other side (is that a spoiler?). She was my favourite character because she contains so much of me and was so much hard work to get right. But she wasn’t the most fun.
Easily the most fun character to write was Pandra. She’s more of the person I’d like to be. She’s charismatic, ‘sassy’, damaged and frankly more than a little psychotic. From her glittering eyebrow piercing to her peroxide crop to her huge boots and her penchant for reading horror despite her own nightmares, everything about her says ‘I don’t care what you think.’ She kind of rocks.
Did you do a lot of research for the character's past lives, settings, etc?
I did a ton of research. I wanted to novel to have a really authentic feel and be as grounded in real life as possible (I think that makes the paranormal element much creepier). So aside from the obvious paranormal / mythological elements and fictional locations (Hopfingen and the Manor), literally everything else can be fact-checked. For example there really was a rare extended performance of Lohengrin in Bayreuth in 1936, the K98 was the rifle Kurt would have used (I downloaded the user manual for that), David Curtiss Stevenson did exist, rolfing is a genuine psychological technique, the experiment Cassie takes part in is based on the Milgram experiment (Yale) and so on. Sometimes I found facts while I was researching other things that took the story in new and fascinating directions. I absolutely love to do research, you never know what you’ll learn and where it might take you!
If you could be reincarnated as any type of person in your next life, who would you like to be?
I’d like to be someone who knows my family. I want to know who they turn out to be, what my great-great-grandchildren are destined to become. But I don’t see why that should stop me from being someone who also changes the world for the better - invents a cure for cancer, or perfects cold fusion.
Do you have any behind-the-scenes facts to share? (like a scene/character that didn't make the cut, funny story about something that happened while writing, inspiration for a particular scene, etc).
As you know, each of the reincarnated characters in the book has a ‘special talent’ something they’ve honed over lifetimes. I sent an early draft of Angel’s Fury to my writer friend Sarwat Chadda (The Devils Kiss and Dark Goddess) for his feedback and he rang me in fits. Sarwat is a particular fan of kick-ass heroines and in my original draft Cassie was not the weapons expert she is now. She was, in fact … a poet. Needless to say Sarwat was horrified and quickly issued Cassie with a gun!
One character who didn’t make the cut was Freddie ‘the Frog’ Feldstein (a Jewish boy with a huge mouth). In fact he was the original incarnation of Lenny and I loved the circularity of Cassie rescuing the Jewish Freddie in the end of the story. However, my publisher was concerned that I would come across as anti-semetic if I allowed Freddie to be bullied and tortured, so he had to morph into the endlessly irritating ginger-haired Lenny.
Can you give us a hint on what you're working on now?
With pleasure – I tend to write one book a year, and I got my contract for Angel’s Fury two years ago, so I’m actually two books on right now. The book I wrote straight after Angel’s Fury is called The Society. It is about a girl (Taylor Oh) who is compelled to avenge the death of any murdered soul who touches her. She is forced to solve the murder of a classmate she cannot stand and gets tangled up in a plot by the Egyptian God Anubis, who originally gave her family their powers.
I’ve also finished a complete rewrite of Windrunner’s Daughter the novel that won me Undiscovered Voices 2008. Windrunner is set in a world devastated by the eruption of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone and is about a girl who sets out to save her mother’s life and prove herself worthy of becoming a ‘Windrunner’.
My next project will either be Aviators, kind of a prequel to Windrunner about the eruption and actual end of civilisation, based loosely on Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur. Or I have an idea I’m quite excited about, which has a main character who slips between dimensions (a little like Henry in The Time Travellers Wife).I hasten to add that at present I have no further book deals – but I’m ever hopeful. [Someone please give her a new book deal, stat!]
You're too pretty for Hell (why thank you), but Heaven is suffering overpopulation - so your choice is to spend eternity trapped inside the book of your choice. Which is it?
Malory’s Tales of King Arthur. Nuff said.
Tell us who your favourite fictional boyfriend is from any book. (this is a safe-zone, so please do not fear attacks by rabid fangirls. Well, except for me!).
I’m a bit old for Jacob Black / Taylor Lautner, although he’s very pretty indeed! So I’ll be honest. My favourite fictional boyfriend would be Sir Gawayne from Tales of King Arthur. (In case you’re wondering about my apparent Malory obsession, I’ve loved the King Arthur stories since I was little and in university I did my final dissertation on Malory’s Tales of King Arthur and read The Pearl Poet’s Sir Gawayne and Green Knight in the original middle English so, OK, I’m a bit of a fan).
Gawayne was flawed and human, he was Arthur’s favourite (after Lancelot) and his real best friend. He was intensely loyal and often getting in trouble because of his huge emotions. He is fiercely against the battle between Lancelot and Arthur and the voice of reason, right up until Lancelot accidentally kills his brother during the famous rescue. Then Gawayne, torn up with grief, talks Arthur into the final battle. His story is a tragedy, partly because he is the most human character in a court of perfect knights. I imagine him to look like an older Taylor Lautner of course. Or perhaps Christian Slater, or maybe Johnny Depp hmmmmm.
Johnny Depp? Now you're talking my language :) Thank you so much for the fascinating interview, Bryony!