1. Tell me about your book “Tears of Heaven” and where you got your inspiration for it?
While living in Michigan, I experienced first-hand Devil’s Night, literally. Satan hisownself appeared in a cloud of brimstone and green-tinged fire while I was walking in downtown Detroit around midnight. No horns, no tail, no red skin or a mouth of fire. It was Gabriel Macht. Literally, Harvey Specter straight out of “Suits”. He had a proposition for me. I’d seen enough movies to know that you don’t deal with the devil, certainly not on his night in his town. But the term “once in a lifetime” kept whispering to me, so there I was. He wanted me to tell the “real story” of angels and demons. He gave me unfettered access to his library and some minor demons for research assistants, pointed out a few forbidden grimoires that had turned some Arabians half-mad, and turned me loose to compose a fictional account, but based on actual events.
What I came across was the story of the Nephilim. These are half-human, half-angels who live and dwell among us, but don’t draw attention to themselves. At one point, they were allowed to lead their own lives. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors, causing war and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die. Now, they work for the Throne, defeating rogue demons whenever they appear. 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, helping to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. But what has been the cost of all those years?
2. Do you enjoy giving interviews?
The free alcohol is really nice. I appreciate the Scotch that comes along with them. I’m surprised you provide it to all your authors.
3. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?
Every time I watch a James Bond film, it’s like looking in a mirror. Granted, I’m far more capable, handsome and witty, but for once Hollywood has hit most of the major highlights without any exaggeration. Well, except that I’m not blonde.
4. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?
“That is excellent feedback. Thank you for providing it.”
5. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Does it really make it go faster?
There’s a secret Masonic/Templar code that can be tapped into any elevator anywhere in the world and it will do exactly what you want. No retinal scan, no passkey, no secret handle hidden beneath the emergency phone. You tap it in, and BAM you’re on your way to anywhere within the building. It’s a riff from an Old Testament codex, but that required all the Mason/Templars to know ancient Aramaic, so they updated it to Esperanto. William Shatner taught it to me.
6. If you were the ruler of the world, what laws would you make?
I’d start with the Laws of Physics. They’re too random and there seem to be too many of them. Evolution takes a really long time and has this nasty habit of being generally practical. For me it would be Day One: Laser Eyes!
7. If you had to do it all over again, would you changed anything in your latest book?
More. Most authors would like to add just a little more to the story, a few more details here, some deeper internal dialogue there. That nine-thousand word research document you did on ancient coin denominations. That funny bit with the dog you took out because it slowed down the plot and could have been taken the wrong way. It’s all out there, somewhere, and every author has dreamed of being “true to the art”.
8. If you could ask your future self, one question, what would it be?
Would you mind providing me a thumb drive with the finished, five-star, international best-selling manuscript of our novels? Please and thank you!
9. Do you prefer blue or black inked pens?
Unfortunately, after years of winning world championships in archery and kendo, my wrists are completely shot. I’m forced to write almost all my manuscripts and research via an ergonomic keyboard. I don’t have a favourite one of those. They tend to only come in black.
10. Is there a message in your novels you want the readers to grasp?
Yes, I’d like all my readers to understand that hatred and bigotry have to be taught, they are not innate. That children are the future of our world and we should try to damage them as little as possible. Finally, that a good shield wall, manned by stout hearts and strong spears is a match for any screaming horde and makes for exciting reading.
11. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Patrick Rothfuss should be the king of the hill, if only he would release his third novel (and then keep writing). I would love to strike up a hate-hate relationship with him that had him gnashing his teeth and pulled his hair about my superior talent.
12. Would you rather be the good guy or the bad guy in a movie?
No one is the villain of their own story. But I could see myself going to the Dark Side if I had the choice. I’d make bad look smooth, smart and sexy. Day One: Laser Eyes. Never slaughter the village/family/people the prophesied child is from. Win their hearts and minds and make the kid look silly for asking questions about Evil Tyrant Rob. Air ducts should never accommodate anything larger than air. Ceilings tiles are for aesthetic purposes only and will fall when crawled upon. All locked doors will remain locked and open doors will swing wide when their locking mechanism is shot. Finally, I will never, ever scorn my right-hand henchwoman, especially if she looks good in tight, black leather has a flair for knives. And she will.
13. If you could change places with any of your favourite fictional characters and change one of their choices, who, what and why?
You know they always say be yourself, so long as you can be true . . . unless you can be Batman. Then, be Batman. Rich, famous, devilishly handsome, pursued by both bad girls and good girls with equal gusto. Have a massive secret lair, and defy the laws of physics. Yeah, be Batman.
14. What was your favourite subject at school?
Alchemy and transmutation. I scored very highly on the conversion of base metals into gold and silver. Unfortunately, due to a freak cosmic nexus, our supplier of a key ingredient was transported to another dimension. This cleverly explains why I’m not rich and have had to rely on my writing skills to survive in the cruel, cruel world.
15. If you could learn one random skill, what would you learn?
Ninjitsu. Ninjas are pretty much the pinnacle of awesome and my butt looks good in tight black.
16. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I’m going to misquote Ann Womack here, “And if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you write.” That’s really the key to being a writer: writing. If you’re a writer, and you’re doing something else, like badminton or formula one racing, you’re doing it wrong. Writing is right there in the title.
The best thing to do is sit down, write the story, then go back and start editing. If you writing the story, and you three chapters in, then you go back and start editing, you’re not writing. You’re going to end up with three well-polished chapters and no book. It’s so hard to be an author without a book.
17. What’s next for you?
I can’t decide between Mt. Everest of K2. So, instead, I’m going to finish up and get ready to release “The Second Cut” my samurai story based on Tomoe Gozen, the only recorded female warrior samurai. She’s utterly amazing, carries a big spear-like sword, and will cut you in two if you disrespect her. I understand she likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.
18. Why did you feel you had to tell this story?
I find myself drawn to strong female characters and I enjoy telling their stories. This wasn’t a conscious choice, but I think they’re far more interesting than their male counterparts in the fantasy settings. The choices they make are based on a different perspective, even if the goal is the same. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy writing my male characters as well, but really delving into Tomoe Gozen, her mind set and how she would go about her duty is simply irresistible.
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 face down pirates and storms and try to create a future together.
In the present, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps to 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.
R.A. McCandless has been a writer both professionally and creatively 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 the urban fantasy Tears of Heaven, short stories Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke and He Who Tells the Tale and the historic fantasy The Second Cut (due 2014). He continues to research and write historical and genre fiction, battle sprinklers, and play with his three boys.