Sabrina Benulis is the author of Archon, the first book in her new series The Books of Raziel. In this guest essay she talks about how her religious upbringing influenced her fiction.
Archon is a novel that takes chances.
The initial seeds for this story that would come to be the first installment in The Books of Raziel trilogy were planted when I was a senior in college. At the time, I had recently become aware that I both liked to write and would love to share what I wrote with the world. Angels weren’t a hot item in the publishing industry like they are now–in fact there were hardly any angel fantasy novels to be found at all. But I set out to write a story about them anyway–a quick-to-evolve sweeping epic that became dark, intricate, and both complimentary to and radically different than anything I had read before–for the sheer joy of doing so.
Since my childhood I have loved fantasy, and I really enjoyed mythology and reading about religions of the world. Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I also had a rich background to pull from when it came to the fascinating world of angels and demons. When it came time to write my novel I did intensive research on angels and demons as they are portrayed in various cultures, and then I finally combined what I loved and learned with a perspective on fantasy influenced by books, movies, television, and my favorite hobby of Japanese anime.
The end result was Archon and its following two novels, all three of which were conceived in their entirety rather quickly.
I say Archon takes chances partly because it combines all of the elements I mentioned above, and partly because its perspective on the supernatural is somewhat unique. Unlike the majority of paranormal fantasy novels out there, it very firmly accentuates the paradox that is the dangerous beauty of the supernatural, and most especially the idea that angels and demons are creatures that can be very human and yet terrifyingly superior to us. It is epic in the sense that it begins in an urban fantasy setting and over the course of the trilogy takes us to fantastical places where intrigue and ambiguous alliances define relationships between a large cast of characters. It’s also written to be suspenseful, and the over-arching plot hinges on a great mystery that could define existence itself.
I really enjoyed writing this series because I felt it took me to a very different place in the fantasy genre. Archon is for readers who like to think and be challenged, who like detail and depth and dark stories that are sexy, creepy, and thrilling all at the same time.
And I hope those who choose to read it can agree with me that, above all–it’s definitely different.