Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Psyche's Gate: A Slice of Angel Food Cake

"When the paths of a penniless artist and a warrior of Heaven cross, the result will be passion, beauty, horror... and possibly redemption."

The E-Book Edition of my debut novel, Psyche's Gate, was released by Liquid Silver Books on March 15th. What a whirlwind!

And now, looking back, it’s funny to think that I actually began to write Psyche’s Gate on a whim. Around late 2008 I was facing a very stressful time in my life: my husband was entering law school and could no longer work, which left me handling all of the finances. I was suddenly faced with the immense job of paying all the bills and keeping house while my husband hit the books day and night. I began working two jobs and struggled at the same time to maintain my creative drive; all of this put enormous stress on me, which I was having trouble relieving. I had enjoyed writing as a teenager, publishing poetry and short fiction in student arts journals and newspapers, and began to ponder attacking that activity again simply for fun and stress relief. I spoke to my husband about it and he encouraged me strongly, so I sat down and began to write out the first skeletal “bones” of Psyche’s Gate. The basic concept was simple at best: I wanted to write a story about an artist who gets a commission. Initially, that was all there was to it. After a while I began layering my love of mythology and folklore onto that skeleton and gradually the story was fleshed out. The romance between Alexius and Psyche became a major part of the story, but I sought the entire time while writing to make the characters individually rich and believeable, despite their extraordinary histories and circumstances. Psyche’s struggle represents the struggle of all creative types trying to make their way doing what they love; I was able to express a lot of my frustration through her.

A lot of people ask: why angels? The concept of angels, both mythologically and anthropologically, has intrigued me since my adolescence. I grew up with grandmothers and a mother who believe firmly in angels; to this day my mother always “asks her angels” to keep an eye on her loved ones and their affairs. Images of winged beings–male, female, or beast–can be found in many ancient cultures. From Mesopotamia to the Greco-Roman empire to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, images and beliefs in angels and “proto-angels” have been strongly embraced and depicted in cultural and religious art and folklore. When I began to work on Psyche’s Gate I was pondering society’s concept of an “angel” and, in comparison, what my own concept would be. It seems that angels have become almost innocuous–fluffy, Xmas card-esque figures that seem more like poufy, androgynous cliches than the formidable supernatural hitmen that do God’s work by any means necessary. I am not into this “vision” of the angel: I want to see the supernatural badass back on the battlefield.

I wanted to return to the concept of the angel as warrior: the immensely powerful celestial mega-soldier who would cast down Evil (in whatever form you view it) and instill fear and awe in the hearts of those who invoked the wrath of the Universal Presence. My soldier angels are like Spartans: powerful, physically imposing beings who have a taste for the fight hard-wired into their very being. I wanted to make them immensely strong and achingly beautiful, just as I would picture them to be in fleshly form. Psyche is drawn to Alexius because he is a balance of strength and tenderness, beauty and fierceness. My angels are both alluring and frightening, which makes them more complex and, I feel, therefore more interesting.

Care for a slice?

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