Angels and the Heaven That Could Be
I was raised in a traditional family, or as traditional as a family could be in Northern California during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. And yes, we had our fair share of quirky characters, as all families do. Laced in there were some serious hours doing service at our local church, mostly because that’s what my parents had done, how they had met, in the shadow of my grandfather, who was an evangelist.
Let me set you straight here, this blog isn’t about religion or much of anything in the way of values, other than as it relates to my characters. I’ve always said I’m a Christian with a bent antennae. I’ll explain.
I was given a unique view behind the curtain, to see what went on behind the production number that was the stage. And that’s where I think the real story is. I got to see the women, kids in tow, coming to my grandfather’s house in the middle of the night, after being beaten by a raging husband. Those things really do happen in the real world. I’d see them at breakfast the next day, and watch as my grandfather would hand out a free meal or a little money to people out of luck. He told me the “hobos”, as we used to call them, marked his fence so one that followed would know there was a kind person living there who might share a scrap of food. I once gave my favorite teddy bear to a little girl who was about 4 and clearly was afraid. I was afraid too. Afraid for her future. I often think of her little face, standing in my grandfather’s kitchen, barefoot, with syrup running down her chin.
What has always interested me is what makes people do the things they do. And what choices they make in life. I didn’t want to go into religious studies. I wanted to know what motivated them. So, in college I majored in Psychology.
Years later, after raising a family of my own and now beginning to see them have children, I still don’t really know what makes people do what they do. But I know how to write it down.
Heavenly Lover is my first book, and it was the book that seized me one cold December day when I was visiting my daughter for her college graduation in Portland. We were snowed in that day, and the graduation (mid-year, smaller) was cancelled. And like the famous story of Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, we started talking about stories as we went around the room. I had been dreaming about angels, but not anything close to the angels I’d learned about in Sunday School. These were fully fleshed out beings with personalities, in a beautiful place with gardens and classrooms so they could learn about human life.
My blonde angel character was innocent, but drawn to the human world like a moth is drawn to a light fixture. The story developed that her attraction to all things human was what made her such an effective Guardian Angel. And she had a 100% track record, unlike anyone else.
I constructed a world around her and the possibility that she might fall in love so hard, that she wanted to give up her wings and become human. And so I explored what that would look like, how she would feel, and what the consequences would be.
The premise became: Heaven isn’t 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn’t 100% evil by accident.
I began thinking that she would test the premise that all beings had free will, human as well as angelic. And I wanted her to push the boundaries. And not just push them, I wanted her to fall off the edge and watch her recover, if she could.
Thirty days later, in mid January, I had that first draft done. It was 92,000 words. I asked other writers I was becoming friends with if that was normal, and realized I am a prolific writer. Now that version has been re-written over 50 times now, vetted and critiqued on the contest circuit, where it did very well. It took a lot of people to help me wrestle with this behemoth first novel. But the end result is something that is near and dear to my heart. The premise and the ending remained the same.
I’m now on my 4th book in the angel series.
You might ask me if I believe in the presence of a higher power. And I have to say, when I shut my eyes and tune out everything else, that someone else is there.
I hope you enjoy the journey I’ve taken. No, it probably won’t send you back to church. But it might make you believe in perfect love. For life doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to be fully enjoyed. We don’t have to be 100% perfect to love or be loved.