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I’m often asked what led me to write a novel like Angelguard, and particularly, that it features angels and demons in the supporting cast. My most common response is that an angel, called Tagan, introduced himself to me and told me to write a story. I’d suggest for many of us writers, it’s a character that pushes us to write their story.
When I set out on the first draft I knew it would be a story about angels and demons. That was about all I knew. One day I sat down at my computer and for the following nine months wrote on average 2,000 words (because that’s what Stephen King said he wrote each day) to arrive at a monster first draft of 253,211 words and 697 pages. Yes, I had the untrained writer disease of thinking everything was important. But I take comfort from that fact Tosca Lee also writes very long first drafts.
“Intercession is spiritual warfare” (Mark Batterson)
I didn’t set out with any particular theme or point of view that I wanted to promote. That came later. It was about draft three of four when the significance of prayer in spiritual warfare took root in the story.
The Power of Story
We all love the essence of story, don’t we? It could be historical, romance, suspense, speculative or other genre. It’s why we spend all those hours at the keyboard.
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I read a great guest post yesterday by a speculative fiction author, John Otte, on why he loves writing these stories. For me, I’m intrigued by the supernatural and why in many Christian circles it is rarely mentioned. As John Eldredge says we have become so familiar with the lies of the enemy that we don’t see him.
I asked a friend, Peter, whom I met in a Facebook Group set up by a favourite author of ours, why he read almost entirely Christian speculative fiction. Pete’s a voracious reader who has dived deep into the SpecFic catalogue. This was part of his response:
“Reading Christian SpecFic, I get to see the author's heart toward God, his relationship with God, and maybe how he has experienced God in his life. Through this, I find God ministers to my heart. I also learn more about His heart. I learn through the plot or what the situation the character(s) are in how to apply forgiveness, acceptance of others despite their attitude and behaviour, submission to Him, mercy in abnormal circumstances that maybe most of us would not find ourselves in. From this, you can think about how to apply this to your life and circumstance.”
Interesting how Peter’s comment reinforces how John Otte summed up his passion for the genre quoting Aslan in CS Lewis’, “The Voyage of the Dawn Trader”:
“This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
It was only in the later drafts of Angelguard that I established the firm connection between how prayer influences the warfare in the supernatural which then impacts the events in the natural. I hope readers are able to see the connection.
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As I mentioned last week, a key characteristic of SpecFic stories is the creation of an alternate setting or world. Any fantasy or scifi readers will be very well versed in such worlds. Having read enough of Tolkien and Lewis I can only sit in awe at the immensity of the challenge such authors take on. I can’t relate to writing such an alternate world, rather creating characters that are not human, that is, angels and demons.
I don’t profess to be any expert in these beings. Yes, I’ve probably read more novels that feature them and non-fiction books that explore their existence, not to mention studying the various places in the Bible they appear.
We probably all have our own picture of them. I’ve loved reading the comments many have supplied on how mine differ from their picture, whether it’s their language (mine's very human-like) or their gender. I have female angels and demons. Angels and demons are created beings. Certainly I don’t believe there is any reference to a female-looking angel in the Bible, but I believe it was Thomas Aquinas who proposed angels could assume whatever form was needed to do God’s work. So why not, a female?
What’s the best alternate world or character you’ve read or watched?
And we’d love to hear from the authors amongst us who’ve created alternative worlds. How did you go about it? Did you start with the new world, theme or character?