Paula Weston has created one of my favorite books with Shadows. I was impressed with the level of research I could tell she did to give her book a wonderful atmosphere and history regarding angels, their fall from grace and the affects it would have over time. This topic really grabbed me and I had the chance to ask Paula about her this, character development and upcoming plans.
I have always been interested in Nephilim and the lack of details the Bible provides regarding them. What drew you to creating a story including them and their children (Rephaim)?
I found the story of Semyaza and the two hundred fallen angels when researching mythology for what would become the Rephaim series. I already had the idea of a guy and girl with a complicated history that only he remembers (including the fact they had been on opposite sides of a broader conflict) and was trying to work out their story. I wasn’t originally planning on making it about fallen angels or their offspring, but when I read the Semyaza story, it sparked a rush of ideas.
For me, the real fascination wasn’t in why Semyaza and the others fell in the first place, but what the consequences would be for their offspring – particularly if something happened to the Fallen to take them out of the picture.
I wanted to put these half-angels in a very modern setting, having already been alive for almost a century and a half, still dealing with the consequences of their father’s actions. So, on one level, the Rephaim series is about Gaby and Rafa’s complicated relationship and the mystery of what Gaby and her brother, Jude, did a year ago. And on a broader level, it’s about how the Rephaim see themselves in the world – and the tension created when they disagree on what their role should be.
You quote the Book of Enoch and share a very comprehensive history. You must have done extensive research in theology and mythology. What was the most interesting thing you encountered while researching?
Once I’d made the decision to write a story about angels, demons and fallen angels, I read everything from biblical texts, medieval teachings, and apocrypha (including the Book of Enoch, which was a major influence) to Dante’s Inferno and New Age websites. I found it fascinating how much of our contemporary imagining of angels and demons comes from sources other than the bible.
The story of Semyaza comes from the Book of Enoch, which is a text written more than 2,000 years ago. It’s not accepted as doctrine by the church, but it has an important place as an apocryphal writing – and at some point in history, a group of people believed it was true.
(The term ‘Nephilim’ appears in the Old Testament, but not all translations agree on the context. Because the term has been used in other books about fallen angels, I thought I’d give it a twist and use ‘Rephaim’, a name that also has conflicting translations in the Old Testament. In researching theories/mythology about the offspring of fallen angels, I came across other ideas and concepts that helped me build a unique world of the Rephaim. But a fair chunk of their world is straight from my imagination.)
There a couple of things I found particularly interesting in my research. The first was the diversity of ancient Jewish and Christian texts that were rejected for inclusion in the Old and New Testaments in the Christian bible (and it’s in these apocryphal texts that most references to fallen angels and their offspring occur). I was also surprised at the level of information available from New Age sources, where belief in angels has nothing to do with traditional religion.
Beyond the interesting paranormal aspects included in Shadows the real driving force revolves around the characters: Gaby and Rafa. You’ve created such a tangible chemistry between these two and I love their dialog with each other. Did either of them surprise you in regards to where their stories and personalities went as the story progressed?
I actually had a good feel for both these characters from the moment I started writing them. Gaby’s voice particularly flowed well and I think it was because – after many years of writing in third person – I wrote in first person/present tense for the first time. It helped me channel my 19-year-old self to capture some of Gaby’s attitude (I was a tad quick-tempered and easily frustrated at that age). Rafa, too, came fully formed. I think it was because I’d spent a lot of time thinking about these characters, imagining scenes in my head long before I started writing Shadows (even when I didn’t know their story or history).
I think the nicest surprise with them as the series is progressing is the complexity and layers of their relationship: there’s the relationship they had back when all the Rephaim were still together, the relationship they had after the big split at the Sanctuary, and the relationship they have now – which of course is the only one Gaby remembers. I’ve particularly enjoyed Rafa’s journey, which gets even more interesting in Haze.
Shadows is book one of a four part series. Sadly for us in the US and Canada we will have later release dates than those in the UK. Can you tell us when Haze (book 2) will be released in the US/Canada? Can you give us any teasers?
Tundra Books has scheduled Haze for release in Fall 2014. As for teasers…readers will learn more about the Outcasts (including Mya, who we only hear about in Shadows), more about Jude, and more about the world of the Rephaim. There will be a new threat to both the Sanctuary Rephaim and the Outcasts, more clashes with demons, and, of course, more of Gaby and Rafa sorting themselves out.
What’s up next for you?
I’ll be working on revisions for Shimmer (book 3) over the next few months and have made a start on book 4 (very early days!). Beyond that, I’ve had another idea bubbling way in the back of my mind for a while now (still YA with a paranormal/urban fantasy twist, but not involving angels), so once the Rephaim series is finished, I’ll be exploring that some more.
I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thanks for having me.
Be sure to check back Monday for my review of Shadows.
The Shadows Blog Tour
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