First of all, a huge thank you to Vampire Book Club for hosting me here today. And thank you so much to all the readers stopping by. My publisher has offered a copy of my upcoming release, Fire Kissed, to a reader who answers this question: Can angels have a dark side as shadowy as a vampire’s, and if so, does it make them… bad?
Let me explain. I’ve yet to write a hero that doesn’t have a dark side. Most of my heroes are in fact well into the grey area between hero and villain—or I (gleefully) take them there. Vampire heroes are a good example of this tension that exists in the grey space (though my books don’t feature vampires). Vampires have an inherent darkness that they fight… or revel in… or both. The struggle is delicious, especially if it involves a heroine similarly inclined.
But angels? Can they go that dark? I say… darker!
Meet Jack Bastian, the hero of Fire Kissed. He’s been an angel for a long time—eleven tours on Earth, all fighting magekind, a race of dangerous people with Shadow magic in their blood. Jack is a soldier, stoic about personal needs, exacting in his work. He prizes self-control, loyalty, and order. He’s world weary, but dedicated to his job, which in this case is hiring fire mage Kaye Brand to infiltrate and inform on her kind.
Here’s an excerpt of when Jack first sees Kaye, the woman that will lead him deep, deep into the dark side. Good thing she wields fire to light the way.
Jack Bastian regarded the wanton collapse of Kaye Brand. How the mighty Fire bloodline had fallen. The family had changed their names to start afresh in the New World—Brand—but the centuries had been hard on them. The old mages would be glad they were dead, if she was their legacy.
Her skirt was hitched up around her thighs, high enough that he could see a patch of a pink undergarment. He grabbed the edge of the skirt’s hem and gave it a hard tug down. The blouse he could do little about, tangled as it was around her midriff and skewed at her shoulder and lace-covered breast. A flash of pink told him the skirt had crept up again. The woman had curves as irresponsible as her nature.
His gaze narrowed on her face. A lock of her dark red hair concealed most of her cheek, some of the strands caught in her mouth. He wanted to see the scars, so he stroked the strands of hair away.
Her skin was satin until his fingertips came to fine lines gone white with time. They ran from her temple to her jaw, a cruel trophy from a vicious attack. She’d have scars on the other side of her face to match. Her survival proved she had the necessary mettle for his task. Well, maybe—she was now drooling on her pillow.
Jack checked the pulse at her throat—sure and steady—then grabbed the edge of the bedsheet, flung it over her exposed body, and strode from the room to let her sleep it off.
Can a man so dedicated to light succumb to darkness and passion and still be a hero? What if Shadow enters his soul? What if he invites Shadow inside? What if his honor clashes with his desires, and the latter… wins? Is he still good?
These are decadent and fun questions to me, ones to savor and explore. A reader might ask… how do you find that grey place? From a writer’s perspective, I begin my story with a simple question about my hero: What would he never do? And then I go there, all the way there, where not only is he faced with that situation, but he has very good reason to veer from his customary course and take the dark path.
(Credit for the question goes to Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. It’s a great resource.)
It’s in that journey into darkness that the story takes place, because the story is not about what happens, it’s about the struggle and transformation of the character. Dark to light; light to dark. All the grey in between. An angel, just like a vampire, has to go there, see the monster within, if he has any hope of coming out the other side.
What do you think? Can an angel be dark and good? Post a comment below. (The giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canadian addresses. Make sure to enter on or before July 9.)