The first time I realized how deeply invested I was in the world of fallen angels, I was at the public library in a small rural town in California. I’d gone to check out as many books as I could find about angels and demons. Turns out, there are a whole lot more books at the library about demons and Hell than there are about angels and Heaven. I didn’t think too much about this as I was gathering my stack; I figured there had to be something useful in each of the books.
It wasn’t until I was at the check out counter and the librarian scanned my selections—The Origin of Satan; A History of Hell; Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, and Lucifer; and Satan, volumes 1, 2, and 3—that I noticed the effect it had on her. She shifted uncomfortably, inched slightly away behind the counter, then finally gave me (a very innocent-looking brunette in a sundress, mind you) a nervous shifty-eyed squint.
I think she was just relieved when I left the library without trying to convert her to worshipping the devil, but her reaction made me realize that the task I was taking on with this research was going to plunge me into some fraught and ominous places.
I read the books. I had lots of devilish dreams. I finally balanced out the hellish texts with A Dictionary of Angels, some apocryphal angel-laden texts like the books of Enoch, and a wonderful book by Harold Bloom called Omens of Millennium. I found a biblical scholar at the University of California at Davis who know a lot about angelology and led me to some wonderful sources. I was enjoying the researching so much, that I almost didn’t know when to stop reading and when to start writing. What I needed to do next was bring all of this history and theology into the real modern world.
I knew that a cemetery was going to play a big role at Sword and Cross. I wanted it to be strange and unique, but also culled from real experiences I’d had. The Sword and Cross cemetery became an amalgamation of every cemetery I’ve ever been to. The tilted tombstones I borrowed from the Jewish Cemetery in Prague; the Spanish moss and weeping willows come from the Bonaventure in Savannah, Georgia; and the mausoleum descriptions come from the Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans, which I visited while writing the book.
So I had the research, and I had the setting. I had vague ideas about who Luce and Daniel were, and this was good enough to get me started writing them (my characters always develop in ways that surprise me as I’m writing, so I like to leave a lot about them open before I begin). But the last character I knew I needed to have somewhat formed in my mind before I started was, of course, the villain.
Please don’t think I’m crazy when I admit that Cam, the “evil” character in Fallen, is actually based on my husband! First off, “evil” as we’ll see over the course of these books can be a very relative term. And—for most of the book, anyway, Cam plays such a charming bad boy, doesn’t he? Because Daniel is so distant with Luce for much of the book, I wanted his opponent to really court her. So the punk rock, the searing green eyes, the intimidating-yet-friendly vibe that unnerves and attracts Luce…all of that came courtesy of Jason. And the devil qualities of Cam’s? Well, those came from all those devil books!
I’ve done more research, plotting, and preparation for the books in the Fallen series that for anything else I’ve ever worked on. And as much as I enjoyed being holed up in the library reading Satan books, it was wonderful to balance out my research with some visits to gorgeous, haunting old cemeteries, and gazing into the green eyes (for descriptive purposes! I swear!) of my true love.