Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Angels!

  My mother also loves angels so I am always
  on the lookout for new angel paraphernalia 
       that she doesn't own yet.  This is one of my 
mothers fave angel pics.
I believe in angels, do you?  Whether it's the literal kind, with feathery wings, or the more human kind,(like the ones that stop when your stuck in the middle of no where to help you change your tire cause your 7 months pregnant and its midnight and then they just drive away not asking for anything in return)   angels are all around you just have to open your eyes and look.  (at least that's my opinion)

I think that's why I like Darby Karchut's Griffin Series so much. (her newest one comes out this month, plus get a chance to win a copy of Griffin Rising, check at the end to find out how!!)   Her angels are angels, they have powers and can fly, but they definitely have a very human side to them.  And they have a tendency to just walk into peoples lives when they need it the most and then walk away. Not asking for any sort of compensation or even acknowledgement.

Darby was even nice enough to volunteer, despite her crazy schedule this month, to do a post about how she was inspired by different angelic writings to create her angels in her series. So with out further ado let me let her tell you about the angels and their involvement in her life:

Thanks so much for having me here today, AimeeKay.

Now, I want to make a confession: I never wanted to be a writer. It never, ever crossed my
mind to write a book.
However, one day, out of the blue, the idea of writing my own story, with my own characters, ambushed me while I was running in the foothills near my house. A story about a young hero rising above a brutal past with the help of others along the way, with whiffs of fantasy and history and philosophy and even a love story. Maybe something with ... with ... with angels.
Man, I really should have run faster.
For I already had a career. I taught, and still teach, social studies at a junior high school, and during the summers, my husband and I have been building a modest cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. A full life. A happy life. A life with some bloody down time!
But the idea of writing my own story would not die. I kept thinking about writing a book. Which is all good and well, except for one problem.
I had never written anything like a book.
I had never written a short story.
I had never written creative fiction (except a few pieces of fan fiction)
I had never written a song or an epitaph or a poem.
Nothing. Nada. Zippo.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Now don’t misunderstand me. All my life, I have consumed books. I have read hundreds of books, thousands of books. Mostly fantasy, but also historical fiction, chick lit, biographies, world history, philosophy, science fiction, and young adult books. A metric ton of young adult books. If my home library was a continent, it would be Asia.
It was similar to having an eating disorder. There’s an old saying among writers: you read and you read, and then one day you throw up a book. So to purge myself, I decided to write one, too. About a troubled teen angel named Griffin, and his steadfast father-mentor, Basil.
Because my life was getting just too easy and laid back.
Damn Calvinistic streak.
As I wrote my first book, I did everything wrong. I had two characters, but no plot. No plot as no beginning, no middle and certainly no ending. It was like building a house on an empty lot and starting out by purchasing a coffee table and an ice cream scooper.
But I took advantage of the Internet, my local Borders Bookstore, and other writers, and I learned and practiced the noble craft as I wrote. And rewrote. And rewrote. And rewrote. Then I broke the rules to make the story better. Everything is about the Story.
As well known author, Toni Morrison, once said, “Write the book you want to read.”
Best advice ever for any author.
I think I toyed with the idea of writing a book for years, but only on a subconscious level. I was a child of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, and many other classics, so I knew if I ever did write one, it would be a fantasy.
As I said at the beginning, I had never written a story before. Oh, I’ve written one master thesis, various reports, and a bazillion lesson plans, but I never created a tale, populated with good guys and bad guys having adventures. I did not like or dislike writing. To me, it was simply a means to other ends.
The Screwtape Letters
Then, one day in late June 2009, I happened to re-read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. It is a curious little text in which he explains the basic tenets of Christianity through a series of letters between a senior devil and his apprentice. In the Introduction, Lewis briefly mentions that the opposite of devils are, of course, angels. Warrior angels. Butt-kicking angels. Not the poufy little cherubs that make me believe childhood obesity began during the Victorian era, but real soldiers
of Heaven.
I liked the idea. Of celestial warriors. In fact, I found myself wishing Lewis or someone had written such a book. About an angel teaching and training his young apprentice while fulfilling their roles as guardians of humankind, but with an urban twist.
So, off to Poor Richard’s, my favorite local used bookstore, for such a book. Searching, searching, searching. Rats. Nothing. 
While digging around, careful not to get splinters from the plywood shelves, I came across a battered paperback on angelic lore from various cultures. And there it was. From the High Middle Ages in Europe came a description of a lower caste of angels said to control the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and water. Sounded like Jedi knights with halos.
I was hooked. Fate decided that I needed to write the book I was searching for.

Stupid Fate

But I didn’t want goody-goody angels. I even wrote, in huge letters across the top of my first page: “No Touched by An Angel allowed.” I wanted a down-to-earth type of angels who did the mundane, day-to-day guardianship stuff the other angels were too busy to take care of, with a strong emphasis on the delightful friction that occurs when the everyday rubs up against the supernatural.
Sorry Darby, I picture Sean Connery when I read
about Basil. This is the best pic I could find,
just minus the beard and mustache.
And I knew the story must incorporate a master and apprentice, knight and squire, father and son type of relationship. The archetypical champion and his wise sage had intrigued me even before Joseph Campbell made me aware of the hero’s journey.
So I began writing what was to become my first book, Griffin Rising, that weekend; a tale about a young apprentice angel with serious self esteem issues and his coming of age under the tutelage of a larger-then-life mentor, interwoven with a charming love story between Griffin and the mortal girl next door.
And thus angst-ridden Griffin and noble Basil and sweet Katie and everyone else in the book started talking.
To me. 
In my head.
All the time.
This is how I picture Griffin, except with darker hair.
Like children when you are trying to make a phone call.

Since my angels (or as I sometimes referred to them after a long writing session, the boys) had both their feet on the ground (so to speak), I decided they should belong to sub-caste of angels, the very lowest of the lows. Terra Angeli: Latin for Earth Angels. Now the belief in angelic beings can be found in many of the world’s religions and I borrowed freely from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. My Prologue gave a nod to the early Christian writing The Celestial Hierarchy and with my background in anthropology, any and all world cultures were grist for my mill, to be sure.
For example, the Terra Angeli were inspired by classical Sparta, the Irish myths of Cuchulainne, Finn and the Red Branch, the European feudal system, the Plains Indians of North America, and Great Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War Two.
Now fast forward three years: The second book in the series, Griffin’s Fire, will be released this month. The third book, Griffin’s Storm, is about ready to be sent to the editor. And I am already drafting the fourth and final book of Griffin’s adventures (no title yet). All in all, it has been a glorious ride!


Thank you sooo much for joining us today Darby, and thank you to all my readers too! I want to offer you all a chance to win an e-copy of Griffin Rising.  All you need to do is leave me a link to your favorite angel pic in the comments below.  At the end of the month I will use to pick someone to win an e-copy from Amazon.  Also please leave your email address so I have a way to contact you if you win.  Following is not required this time, but it is always appreciated!  So lets see those links so I can share the pics with everyone! (make sure you leave your comment with a link before 4/30)

Want to find out more about Darby? Go to my  interview  with her!


  1. Wow, your pics blew me away! Yes to the one of Griffin. Who is that - he's perfect! Best of luck with your the rest of your awesome A-Z Challenge!

    1. I don't know I stole the pic from my friend Melissa's Man Harem on her blog Books and Things. I will try to find out for you though. Thanks again for the post! Glad you like the pics. :)

  2. Hey, just stopped by to say hi from the challenge. I also like and believe in angels - in both shapes. :-)

  3. Jedi knights with halos--great phrase!
    Having fun with A-Z!

  4. I've always loved that picture! New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


  5. My mother has multiple prints of this pic, as well as figurines of it. I'm always looking for new versions of it for her. :)