Today I am pleased to introduce to my audience the author of the Christian Fiction novel, Angel War. I was pleased to meet him on Goodreads, and as his work deals with the same subject matter as my own I wanted to get to know him and appreciate his own take on the fall of Lucifer story. Phillip has a degree in English literature from Newcastle University, and has been writing songs, stories and poems since he was twelve. Angel War is his first published novel. He was thirty four when he first began to write it in 1986 and sixty when he completed the final version of it in September, 2012. It took him twenty six years to write.
So lets get started shall we?
Tell us about your book Phillip. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?
My book, Angel War, was inspired by Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, which speaks of the war in heaven, fought between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The Bible only says that the war happened, but not why, so I decided to write my own version of the events of the war and its aftermath. My story is essentially the biography of Azel, the Prince of the White Castle of the Angels of Light, the one who begins the war in heaven and who later becomes known on Earth as Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. When I first read Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, when I was a fifteen year old schoolboy, I was astounded by the idea of there being a war in heaven, which led me to an interest in angels in The Bible, literature, painting and sculpture, and finally to begin to write, in 1986, when I was thirty four, what became Angel War. My book could be called a work of fantasy fiction, rooted in The Bible. I think it would appeal to Bible readers and those who like to read fantasy fiction.
What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?
Though my book is a work of fantasy fiction, it is presented as a history, the history of the angels of the angel lands and how it came to affect human history on Earth. So the biggest challenge I had in the writing of my story was to make that history consistent and convincing. It was also a great task for me to create on the page my own versions of such people from The Bible as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Judas, Peter, John, Mary and Joseph, Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
What advice would you give other novelists?
When you have finally finished your story, understand that it is only the first draft, a base to build upon. When you have finished your final draft, you will know, for you will feel satisfied that there is nothing else you can do to improve what you have written. Study The Writers and Artists Yearbook and as many sites about publishing on the internet that you think will be helpful to you. Do not read narrowly. You may feel safe with your favorite authors and kind of book, but there are worlds elsewhere in other kinds of books. Learn from the masters. Classic novels have lasted for a reason, mostly because they are good tales, well written.
Tell us about your journey of faith. How did you become a Christian?
Looking back, I have happy memories of singing hymns and carols at junior school. I thought most about Jesus and The Bible at Christmas and Easter time, and when I went to Sunday school. Through my love of literature, I came to know more about Jesus from many different angles through the works of different writers. What truly drew me to Christianity is the story at its heart, the life of Jesus on Earth, which could not be more moving. That story has always been there in my life, so I have always been a Christian. It means more to me now, of course, now that I am sixty two, and I understand it more.
Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?
My favourite novelists are Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Mervyn Peake, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse. Mythology is one of my interests, so I like The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, Gilgamesh, The Elder Edda and Beowulf. Poetry is another one of my interests. My favourite poets are William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Now that you’ve written your book, what other projects if any are you working on?
Recently, I completed the final version of my light-hearted science fiction story for older children and adults, called Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle. I hope to publish it in 2015. One day, I would like to publish a collection of my poems. At the moment, I am only writing verses, but I hope to write another story sometime in the future.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The basic theme of my novel is the battle between good and evil. If it has a message it is that whereas good is natural, evil is not natural and that it will be utterly defeated one day, as The Bible promises
When did you start writing?
When I was twelve, in 1964, I wrote on a scrap of paper the lyrics of my first song. It was the first thing I had written that was not for school. From then on, I have never stopped writing songs, poems and stories.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write simple, straightforward prose. I try to make it flow with no snag in its path and to sound close to poetry when I can.
How did you come up with the title?
I wanted the word angel in the title, as my book is concerned mostly with angels and their history, and I wanted the word war, too, so I reduced it down to those two words, put together, to form Angel War.
How much of the book is realistic?
In the final chapters of the book, there are references to events in human history, like the sinking of the Titanic, and the tension between America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980’s, but seen in a new way, as events happening because of the war between the Dragon on his Citadel throne and the Father in Heaven, so the events are described realistically, but not as they are written of in human history books.
What books have influenced your life most?
The King James Version of the Holy Bible was the main inspiration for my book and it is the one that has influenced my life most. Since it was first published, it has had a greater influence on the history of English literature than some might think.
What books are you reading now?
At the moment, I am reading quite a few poetry books, some of them written by fellow members of the Poetry group on Goodreads, such as The Tenderness of Mountains by Lisa Marie Gabriel and A Rough Deliverance by Nancy Bevilaqua. After enjoying reading his collection of poems about his life working on river boats in America, called The Candle On The Reef, I will soon be reading a book of religious poems by Robert R. Whitford, called The Word, The Breath, The Saving Grace. Recently, I enjoyed reading the final, unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, called The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
For the front cover of my book, I chose a print, called The Woman and the Dragon by Gustave Dore, one of his Bible illustrations, and for the back cover I chose another one of his prints, called The Fall of Babylon.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having to discard chapters that I was proud of in order to make my story as short as possible was the hardest part of writing my book.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
When I was writing my book, I learned that characters truly do have a life of their own. Often a character would say or do something that I did not plan or predict. That is one of the great mysteries and pleasures of writing fiction. When you are actually inside your story, while you are writing it, things happen that can seem magical.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Because my book is rooted in The Bible, I found myself rereading parts of The Bible and looking at books about The Bible, to get certain facts right in my story. That was a challenge, but an interesting, worthwhile and enjoyable one. The most challenging character to create in my story was its main one, Prince Azel, who later becomes known as the Dragon, Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. It was psychologically hard to get him right, even disturbing at times, to make him believable as a character, particularly when he speaks and writes his true thoughts, but I was pleased in the end with what I managed to get down on paper. I did my best. My book took me twenty six years to write. Often the writing of it was a struggle, but it was well worth the strain.
I want to thank Phillip for taking the time to be with us today and you can find Phillip’s book Angel War on Amazon