Monday, 20 January 2014

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

... R. A McCandless

1. Tell me about your book Tears of Heaven and where you got your inspiration for it?

In the distant past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors. They caused war and strife. Then the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die. Many died. Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination. But she is still forced to live under the Throne’s interdiction. Tears of Heaven explores both Del’s ancient past and her present in the modern world.

The inspiration came when I was re-reading some Lovecraft, and became interested in demons. I didn’t want to raise any or sit down and have a chat about my soul. I was curious what lore existed about them, if there were classifications and what the mythos really said. I started doing some research into the topic, and stumbled across the Biblical passage about Nephilim, the half-divine and half-human offspring of angels. I’d wanted to write about a strong, female character in a supernatural setting, and the pieces all fell together.

2. Do you admire your own work?

Sometimes I get an idea for a single scene, or an emotional description, or maybe dialogue that I consider clever and witty. That’s when I enjoy my own work. I like almost all of my characters, the heroes and the villains, but I never know how they will translate to an audience. It’s always exciting when a beta reader comes back and says, “I love Del!” or “Orion is such a badass!” That’s when I feel like I’ve done my job well.

3. Do you enjoy giving interviews?

Absolutely. My favorite thing in the world to talk about is writing, and most especially my writing. If I ever get the standard Rich & Famous contract, interviews might start being tedious. For now, anyone interested in writing or me is someone I want to talk to.

4. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

Tall, gawky, somewhat uncoordinated geek-guy? My archetype doesn’t come up too often, but when my wife and I watched Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”, she couldn’t stop pointing out the similarities between Allen’s character, Alvy, and I. Clearly, not the auteur film-making genuis, but some of the neurotic, movie-loving, talking nerd. That’s me.

5. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

“That’s an excellent suggestion. Thank you.”

6. While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?

Not always, but you should, right? That’s where the best writing comes from, when you’re so inside the character that no matter what outrageous thing happens, you know what the response is. “Del wouldn’t smile here, she would be angry.” Or “Tomoe would let this enemy live no matter the danger.” That’s when the character stops being just words on a page, and takes on that realism that readers really enjoy. That’s the goal.

7. Have you ever hated something you wrote?

There have been some darker-than-dark scenes that I didn’t want to write, but I knew they were part of the narrative. They were necessary for the character to either be who they currently were, or to become who they were meant to. I don’t think I’ve ever hated those scenes, but I do hate the necessity of them. Our world is not all rainbows and light. Bad guys don’t all wear black hats, and good guys aren’t always clever and right (or even guys). Good writing should at least be plausible, if not real, and that means bad things happen to good people.

8. Do you prefer blue or black inked pens?

Black Pentel RSVP medium point. When the RSVP first came out, they were only fine point. I loved the size and feel, but I always ripped the paper. I even called Pentel and asked them to make a medium point RSVP. I like to think that my input helped them come out with the medium points. Before that, I customized the pens by exchanging the ink cartridges. I ended up with a lot of fine point ink cartridges, so if you know anyone who’d like to buy them, I’ll take any offers.

9. Is there a message in your novels you want the readers to grasp?

Other than the on-going need to address women as equals , rather than inferiors, my main characters almost always rely on a deep friendship. In addition to my family, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some wonderful people who have helped me throughout my life. You don’t get to pick your family, but I think you don’t pick your friends either. It’s like leaves on a tree, you tend to grow together, and if you do it right, you’re all stronger for knowing each other.

10. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I like different authors for different things. David Gemmell did some amazing hack-n-slash, I miss him. Patrick Rothfuss is doing some incredible work, and it’s deeper than most readers suspect. Bernard Cornwell probably strikes me the most. He is the king of historical fiction, but what I love about him most is the three or five pages of author’s notes at the conclusion. He does his research, states the facts and admits his liberties. His stories are always engrossing.

11. What’s next for you?

Now that Tears of Heaven has been released, I’m working on two projects. A historic fiction called The Second Cut based on the early samurai period of Japan and featuring one of the only known female samurai warriors, Tomoe Gozen. I’m also working on a heroic fantasy series that starts with The Blood of Heroes. I’m very excited about both projects.

12. Which book do you wish you’d written?

Elizabeth K. Lynn’s “A Different Light”. It’s a scifi novella with strong characters and story, but the prose is amazing. It’s like reading a narrative in poetry. I can’t say enough good things about Lynn’s work on this title, except that everyone should read it. It’s one of the few books that I crack open every year or two and just drink in. It’s soothing to a reader’s soul.

In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed.  But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good.  They became warlords, conquerors and emperors.  They caused battle, death and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die.

Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination.  In the ancient past, prior to the Throne’s interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader.  Together, they faced down pirates and storms and tried create a future together. In the present, two-thousand years later, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel.  She helps keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons.  At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne’s good graces.  Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it.


“Throne be damned,” the rogue hissed.

The fight was not going well.  Del should have brought Marrin.  Ahadiel had told her to bring Marrin, but that only made certain that she wouldn’t.

Del gasped as the rogue landed a solid punch into her stomach and ribs, the air whooshed from her lungs.  He followed with a stab of his fingers into her right arm.  Cold-filled pain suffused her shoulder and caused it to spasm painfully.  She spun away, awkwardly.  Her right arm felt like it had been shattered, pulverized into pudding, useless as gelatin.  The cold-forged iron spike she’d been holding, dropped from useless fingers and clattered to the floor.  The rogue looked at her with brutal menace in his eyes and flame licking around the lids.

It would have been a good trick.

If only it was a trick.

The flames were all too real.

Fortunately, Del didn’t suffer from the same fears that mortals contended with.  A rogue divinity hissing heresy and spouting fire, literal fire, around his eyes would have left a mortal quivering in terror until the Last Judgment.

She’d seen it happen.

“Leave now, little half-breed,” the rogue said. His voice had a sibilance that surrounded her, whispering in both of her ears intimately. “Leave, and I will not kill you.  Stay, and I will make your pain a torture.  I will see you last for days upon days, and I promise you abuses you could not dream.”

Del said nothing.

People think they want to meet an angel, but they really don’t.  The awful truth is that meeting an angel is the scariest, most life altering moment of any mortal’s short existence.  Angels have always had their voices raised in songs of praise and their wings dipped in rivers of blood.  When the Throne needs a mortal slain, or an army felled, an angel is sent.  When a city or nation needs to be levelled, and the ground sown with salt for a thousand years, an angel is the destroyer.


About R. A McCandless

R.A. McCandless has been a writer both professionally and personally for nearly two decades.  He was born under a wandering star that led him to a degree in Communication and English with a focus on creative writing.  He is the author of “Tears of Heaven” (due this Fall) and many unpublished words (anthropomorphic is a good one) and continues to research and write historical and genre fiction.


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