06 December 2010

Interview: Christina Henry

Today Christina Henry is here with us to talk about her debut novel Black Wings, that was released last week.

As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.

Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell...

How long did it take you to write the book?

I spent about six months in early 2008 picking at the first 60 pages of Black Wings, writing a little bit at a time when I felt like it. Then I decided to really buckle down and get the manuscript done. Once I decided that it took about 5 ½ weeks to write the rest.

How would you define Black Wings?

I would define it as an urban fantasy with a little bit of humor, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance and a lot of action. I think (I hope!) it’s different from most UF’s in that it doesn’t prominently feature vampires or werewolves.

Maddy Black is an Agent of death. It’s an inherited job with no pay. She’s broke, she’s stressed and she’s got to rent the apartment in her building if she wants to have some income. She takes on a new tenant who winds up bringing a whole host of new supernatural problems with him. She’s also got a very mouthy gargoyle with a bad popcorn habit who loves to express his opinion on everything.

Maddy is an Agent of death. What exactly does that mean?

Being an Agent of Death means you’re responsible for the transition a soul makes from life to death. It is basically a crummy, unpaid job that you inherit from your parent or your closest blood relative when they die. Maddy’s mom died when she was 14 and she’s been doing this ever since. She escorts souls after they’re dead to a place called the Door, where they get some kind of choice, but don’t ask what the choice is – Maddy’s not allowed to know!

Why did you decided to make the job of Agent of death permanent?

I didn’t want it to be something Maddy could wriggle out of. I don’t think it’s a job that anyone would volunteer for so I wanted her to be locked in to a set of responsibilities. Then when all the monsters start showing up she’s got to do her job and deal with this new set of stressors – just like everyone else who has to juggle their work life and home life and so on. Even though she has a supernatural job I wanted her to be relatable.

The agents get an envelope every week with the souls they have to escort. Has anyone ever tried to save the person's life instead of letting him die? What would be the consequences if something like that did happen?

Agents can’t mess with the order of the universe. If someone is supposed to die an Agent can’t stop it, no matter how tragic or horrible that death might be. Their job is to help the soul pass over from life to death. An Agent can, however, intervene in a death that is NOT meant to be – but there aren’t too many of those, and usually they don’t find out until it’s too late.

Can you explain a little how the Agents hierarchy works?

It’s a lot like a big faceless corporate insurance agency. There are cubicles and paperwork and layers upon layers of supervisors. I thought it would be funny if death were a giant bureaucracy.

Gabriel is a very mysterious character at the beginning. What can you tell us about him?

When he shows up at Maddy’s house he’s definitely got an agenda of his own and that agenda involves Maddy. There’s a lot she doesn’t know about herself and her family history and Gabriel knows more than she does.

Why did you pick a gargoyle as Maddy's best friend?

Since Beezle is a home guardian he’s pretty much always around, unlike a roommate or relative who might possibly have a life of one’s own. Beezle’s life is Maddy’s life – he delights in sticking his beak in her business – and everyone else’s business for that matter. This keeps him readily on hand for whatever I might need – a quick bit of dialogue or a little comic relief.

What kind of creatures can we expect in Black Wings?

Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but there are definitely angels and demons – and no vampires or werewolves to speak of!

What are you working on right now? Have you finished the second book?

I have finished writing the second book of the Madeline Black series, Black Night and am starting work on the third. It’s been so much fun exploring this character further and opening up the world more. I’m pretty excited to see what happens next for Maddy!

Thanks so much for being here today!

Thank you for having me here!

You can check out my review of Black Wings here.
You can also find more info about the author on her site.


Blodeuedd said...

I guess every girl needs a gargoyle as a friend :)