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Rewriting Angels

Happy New Year! January 1st is such a day of hopes and dreams, and I hope that some of yours come into reality this year. Of course, they might need a little helping along – I don’t think you ought to wait for them, I think you should chase after… with a club if necessary!

Personally, I’m starting 2014 as I mean to go on – celebrating an imminent release. After nearly two years in drafts and endless edits, ARCHANGEL comes out Monday 6th January.

archangel-smI didn’t set out to write a story about angels. It was March 31st, 2012 and the Twitterverse was buzzing about ScriptFrenzy, a month-long challenge hosted by the same people that bring the world NaNoWriMo every November (ScriptFrenzy no longer runs, but has been replaced by Camp NaNo). I’d no idea. None. Okay, well the vaguest inclination to write an urban fantasy with a “different” kind of supernatural element, but nothing concrete.

Vampires? Done that. Wolves? Done to death. Ghosts? Meh. Angels? Hmm, wait.

There’s an NCIS: LA episode called “Archangel”. It’s not about angels. At all. It does, however, feature my TV crush, so I’d seen it. Fairly recently, in fact. He played a mercenary and my brain started down the “what if” rabbit hole. I didn’t want a hero. Heroes are dull. But an antihero? With an attitude and a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later? That I wanted. And so Gabriel Kemp was born.

Gabe is probably the least angelic angel you can imagine. A tough upbringing made him into a tough human being, and getting divine powers doesn’t change that. He’s a crook skimming through life with little interest in it. Responsibilities are something to avoid, problems are things to be shot. He’s no belief in heaven or hell, or even himself.

Most of that came from my own determination to write something other. Angels are usually pure and powerful, messengers of love and peace. Tidings of great joy and all that. Of the words I found to apply to angels, only one stuck for Gabe – protective. That realisation amused me so much, I used it to create the logline.

Patient. Merciful. Protective… One out of three ain’t bad.

That’s not just descriptive of Gabe, but of his attitude. Although he has no faith, he’s not without hope. He’s not quite as carefree as he pretends, but there is something transient about his soul. He’s looking for a place to be, and someone who’ll accept him as he is.

I think, to a large degree, that can be said of a lot of us.

It took me just twenty days to write the rough draft of ARCHANGEL and it was a wild ride. Most of the time I’d literally no idea what my next sentence was going to be. I wrote in first person and simply surrendered the reins to Gabe. He became very, very real and is still a character I love to death.

That’s probably down to the person I wrote the script for. I’d a very definite idea of who should play Gabe, and the story is largely a love letter to him. I even approached him for the cover, but costs proved to be prohibitive. Instead he gets the dedication.


Cliff Simon, as Jans Christian Kemp in NCIS: LA “Archangel”

Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.

Dark Heroine of Lover Mine: Xhex

As is my norm, I’m beginning this post with a little MAN candy for all you MANhandlers out there. Someday I’m going to write a post that simply takes all my delicious photos, posts them in one entry and takes a poll to find out who you all like most. Until then, feast your lovely eyes to the left.

This blog post was remarkably hard to write. The dark heroine I wanted to write is one I can’t discuss because her story line was truly just revealed in a recent release. If you read what I wanted to talk about, it would have ruined it. So who to write about? I tossed characters around in my head until BAM! This particular woman knocked me to my knees for my stupidity. Who is she? Xhex from JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB). Now, yes, I did actually write about another BDB character earlier, but this is different, I assure you. And yes, I am slightly obsessed with the BDB. Moving along…

Xhex is a kick-ass heroine who features in the books from almost the beginning of the series. An empath, she experiences others’ emotions and essentially feeds off of/gets her thrills from them. Suppressing her nature is something she struggles with, not unlike a drug addict might struggle with managing the craving for his next hit. To complicate things, Xhex works in a bar where emotions (particularly violence and lust) run rampant. Her job essentially provides her a nightly smorgasbord of emotions to feast on. It would be like putting a diabetic with a sweet tooth in front of a dessert buffet with all his favorites night after night. Eventually, something’s going to give.

Xhex is a complex character who has a variety of layers. This is the most appealing thing about dark heroes and heroines for me. They aren’t born to lead or save the damsel (or knight) in distress, and they are chock full of prickly characteristics–some hard to take and some flat out impossible to accept. But in there, inside that hard character, is a person waiting for redemption.

I often find it easier to relate to darker heroes and heroines because of their flaws. The perfect character is, to me, difficult to buy in to. She feels false, poorly fabricated even, and it makes it very difficult for me to slip into her shoes and walk that proverbial mile. But give me a heroine who can’t change the fact she has commitment issues due to a dark past or is unable to accept affection because she doesn’t feel worthy and you’ve usually grabbed my brain and dragged it into your story.

How do writers create characters like these? It’s not easy. These characters can, and often do, require a more complex, layered back story that gives the author both breadth and depth of flaws and emotions to draw from. It takes a plausible back story for the reader to accept the character as presented. The character has to have flaws and emotions delivered in a way that leaves the reader not only rooting for redemption, but also believing it’s possible. I know my anti-heroes and heroines have been the most challenging, and most fun, to write. Time will tell if I’ve done them justice.

So what about you? Who’s your ultimate anti-heroine? I could use some suggestions that can be used for character studies. She can be from literature, movies, television–your choice. I can’t wait to get your recommendations!

Give me the Anti-Hero any Day…

I’ve been thinking about good guys, bad guys, and my favorite, dark heroes.  Years ago, the vampire/shifter/demon was the clear bad guy in the book.  Now, well, they’re the heroes.  Why?

I think it’s the attraction of the anti-hero.  I mean, a vampire is a clear anti-hero.  He lives by his own rules, he kills when necessary (and his idea of ‘necessary’ might be different from ours,) and he often has little interest in humanity.  But there is something in us, in our deep down romantic selves that wants to save the bad guy from himself.  To be the one who sees the good and somehow makes the hero see the good in himself. 

Don’t believe me?

Well now.  Let me ask you this.  Have you seen Phantom of the Opera?  If so…didn’t you root for the Phantom?  Just a little?  Yeah, he was murderous and probably insane.  But there was something so dangerous and sexy about him.  Could the right woman save him? 

Or, who was sexier—good Angel or bad Angel?  (Yes, we’re going back to Buffy and Angel times here).  But really.  Good Angel was sad, brooding, and even full of self-hatred.  Bad Angel was, well, funny.  Sarcastic, dangerous, and sexy as hell.  He knew what he wanted and he went out to get it.  Yeah, he had to go.  But while he was around, the show was at its best.

If you were living in Star Wars times…who would you choose?  Hans Solo or Luke Skywalker?  Luke was a good guy—honorable—selfless—sacrificing.  Hans wasn’t.  Yet when it comes to sexiness, there’s no comparison.  Why is that?  It’s because an anti-hero is the ultimate bad boy.  And we romantics sure like the bad boys, don’t we? 

How about a bad boy with a gun?  If you haven’t seen Timothy Olyphant in Justified yet, you really must.  He’s a U.S. Marshal who shoots a lot of people in ‘justified’ situations.  Yeah, he makes his own situations.

Rick Blain in Casablanca is often hailed as an anti-hero.  Sure, he’s selfish, sarcastic and rude.  But he’s revealed as a classic bad boy with a heart of gold.  Who makes the ultimate sacrifice for good.

So what is it about the bad boy?  He breaks the law, he makes his own laws, he even disregards the law.  But…when he loves…he does so completely.  The bad guy, the anti-hero, when he falls in love, his incredible power is focused completely and absolutely on that one woman.  Her safety, her happiness, becomes his goal.

Now that’s sexy.

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