Original photo is 9 of 365 Frustration taken by Tanya Little.
Have just completed the second line edit of The Nephilim and thought I'd take a little time out to talk a little about the book. Or not so much the book, as a couple of aspects about it. Specifically angels and how I've represented them in this work.
Now those of you who've read some of my other works touching on angels, will know that I've used a couple of different conceptions of the Choir.
In Thief my angel Sherial was a creature completely in keeping with the modern interpretation of angels - basically a creature of love. This is of course in line with modern Christian doctrine (well some of it) and essentially New Testament. And in writing Sherial's character I was trying to answer some of the obvious questions that arise from having angels like this. Things like if angels are purely creatures of love how do they battle darkness in whatever form it might exist? Are they accessible to people in the way that people are to one another? Or are they completely beyond human understanding?
When it came to Guinea Pig I decided on using a more human variation of angels. Essentially angels being a lot like us with the ability to choose good and evil. This is in keeping to an extent with the Old Testament, given that in it angels did fall, suggesting that they had some form of free will, and it had the advantage of making them far more accessible to people.
Now in The Nephilim I have taken the conception of angels even further into the territory of the Old Testament. I've taken away the modern concept of creatures of love and replaced it with one of obedience. Note that I'm not saying that they don't have these sorts of emotions, just that their overriding character is that of obedience to God. Now for those of you familiar with your Bible you'll know that angels knocked down the walls of Jericho, locked Adam and Eve out of the Garden and carried the plagues of Egypt. In short they did what they were told regardless of whether it was carrying the word of God or destroying civilisations.
This of course gave me a whole new world of angels for my characters to interact with, which was sort of the point. It is this tension between the characters who have human needs and wants and the Choir who have only rigid obedience to the rules given to them that drives much of the emotion and plot of the story. It's what creates the frustration of my characters in dealing with the Choir. (I think anyone who's ever had to work his or her way painfully through complex tax returns will understand a little of what it's like to deal with rules that seem both somewhat arbitrary and at the same time unduly harsh.)
As for my characters, I chose the nephilim because they have always struck me as being in a strange no mans land between humans and angels. Given some of the power of angels - in the Old Testament they were described as giants and mighty warriors - while at the same time having the free will of humans. In the best of all possible worlds (for them) they would have become kings. But of course I chose the other option - the worst of all possible worlds where their powers are limited and they may have free will but aren't allowed to use it. In this world of course instead of being able to make themselves kings they instead have a basic struggle to survive, worrying always about being discovered by the humans or breaking a divine rule and being punished for it.
I think in the end that's one of the things I love about writing angels. They can come in such diverse forms that it's often hard for them to be pigeon holed. Whereas when I write about elves in my high fantasy works, I often find my creations tied far more to the established tropes. It's easier to be creative with the Choir.