“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Tomorrow, we are thrilled to be publishing the fifth and final story in our superhero season: The Life and Times of Angel Evans by Meredith Debonnaire. Today, we have Meredith as our guest, talking about the Inspirations & Influences behind her story.
Please give a warm welcome to Meredith, folks!
In truth one of the largest inspirations for The Life and Times of Angel Evans was my own, messy grieving process. A close family member died in 2008, and the confusion of emotions was overwhelming in more ways than I can name.
I did not set out to write a story about a grieving heroine. In fact, I never planned to write this story at all. It just happened. And like all things that just happen, there is quite the tangle of influences and inspirations behind it.
One of those points of inspiration was a question that had been floating about in my head for some time; ’What do you do after saving the world?’ It didn’t seem as though many authors really knew, or at least they weren’t writing about it. I was very interested, but couldn’t find any answers. There were hints: Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series often re-introduces earlier main characters as minor characters at later stages, and I have always loved getting glimpses of what they went on to do. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld features a lot of people who carry on with their day-to-day life after saving the world, although none of his characters are quite the kind of hero/ines that I had in mind when I was thinking of this question.
Another point of inspiration was the infamous Harry Potter epilogue. Most of my friends are Potterheads, and we can (and do) argue about the epilogue for hours: Do we love it? Hate it? Wish we could rip it out of the book? Think it’s brilliant? Why do we find it so divisive? Why can none of our favourite characters give their children sensible names? What happened in all those years before the epilogue (someone had to repeal all the laws that the DeathEaters passed while they were in power, and rebuild the economy, sort out the justice system, track down missing people, do massive amounts of community building…)? Etcetera…
Angel Evans the character already existed at this point—she was meant to be a background character in a larger story that I was planning but couldn’t quite get off the ground. Mainly because Angel Evans kept running away with the plot, and the protagonist looked like a cardboard cut-out compared to her. I knew something of Angel’s backstory, a lot about her personality, and had begun to realise that I couldn’t put her in anything unless she was centre stage. But I didn’t know how to make what I knew of her into a story.
In the wake of a particularly heated what-do-we-think-of-the-epilogue discussion, and still pondering this question “What do you do after saving the world?”, I made some attempts at writing a story about a hero who had already done his bit. All of these attempts were binned, because they were unrelentingly miserable and boring.
And then I re-read some Terry Pratchett. I really love his Discworld series—I think it’s a stunning piece of worldbuilding and I love the humour. Suddenly, I realised that what this story needed was humour. And Angel Evans. I somehow absolutely knew that this was Angel Evans’ story, and that it had to be funny. Everything clicked, and I found myself staring down at several pages that seemed to have written themselves.
Terry Pratchett continued to be an influence on the tone of the piece, as did Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones (specifically, A Sudden Wild Magic) and Marie Phillips. Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt also had an influence, in that it really changed the way I thought about end-of-the-world fiction. I also discovered Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients and Alice Oswald’s Memorial while I was working on this story, both of which are stunning pieces of poetry that continue to be an inspiration to me.
What I really wasn’t thinking about while I wrote this was grief. I was caught up in the world and the story, and the grief was just there. It wasn’t until I had finished the story, put it away and then dusted it off a few months later that I really saw it staring back at me. It wasn’t until I started trying to write this essay that I realised how intrinsic my grief had been to the creative process behind The Life and Times of Angel Evans. And although there have been many other influences on the story, I think that without my journey through grieving it would never have happened.
How to Get the Book
The Life and Times of Angel Evans will be published officially on September 13, 2016, when it will be available for free in full on this here blog. You can buy the ebook (EPUB & MOBI) from all major retailers online and directly from us right now! The ebook contains the short story, as well as a Q&A and essay with the author.
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