Truth and The Serpent explores an alternate creation story that follows the serpent from the Garden of Eden. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
Once I decided to write this story, I immediately determined that I wanted it to be different in some way. If it’s the same old thing then why write it at all. Honestly, I didn’t know if that was even possible, as these stories have been overdone so many times.
The major theme of the story is true versus untrue or consistent versus inconsistent, unlike every other story you hear of about religion. Where God/ religion is all fake and the explanation is aliens, monkeys, and sun worship. Or its all real, and Jesus is coming back tomorrow at 4:30 pm, pack a bag!
The issue with stories dealing with religion is that they are usually examined through the scope of morality. But morality is not a constant, which changes with culture and time. So, as I was developing the Serpent character I searched to find something to argue other than morality, which is based on perception, and not facts. I decided that even though there were may inconsistencies in these stories there was information within them, that was consistent or true for everyone.
Then I realized that that was a good discussion to have, and one that I had never heard of with these stories. Thus the Serpent would argue consistent information, and the Man of the Present, would represent our everyday biased understanding of these stories. The discussion and theme soon changed from morality, to the impact that these stories have had on culture and society. This is why the Serpent does not debate the existence of God, or Heaven or Hell, because it’s irrelevant. As culture and society deem which acts are “wrong” and which acts are “forgivable.” Once I removed that from the narrative, I could then be honest with the Serpent Character.
I felt that there were a lot of great twists and turns throughout the novel. Did you plan this before writing the novel, or did the twists present themselves to you as you writing?
No, there was no way I could have planned that the story would unfold and then end the way it did. I had an idea for each chapter, but once I got in there they became something more. The original story was a page and a half, and was literally just rewriting the Garden of Eden story form the Serpent’s point of view. It came out well, and then I thought to myself, what would it look like if I continued…
To me most of it was not a twist, but merely a change of perspective. One thing to note, is that every time we are told these stories, we subconsciously put ourselves on the side of the “good narrative” or the “victim/ saved narrative.” By doing so we only see certain things. For example, while writing the chapter “The Earth” which covers Noah/ the flood. Once the flood came I instantly put the Serpent inside the Ark, because that’s just what our minds do. I came up with a scenario that the Serpent was camouflaged hiding in the haystacks, which I’m glad I didn’t go with. But then it hit me, why does the serpent have to be inside? The Serpent is a reptile, there are sea snakes, Sea Serpents of legend even… what would happen if I put the Serpent outside.
I did, and then everything opened up. My mind began to explore this world in a way I had never done before. I soon found that the Serpent was the perfect vehicle to do this with, as putting him outside would not affect our opinion of him, while the same couldn’t be done with the human characters. It was difficult to navigate these stories from this perspective, but once I separated my ego from the subject, I was able to write the story.
I felt that the biblical aspects in this novel were expertly used. What kind of research did you do for this story?
One I read the bible for myself. Second, I removed my ego from the equation. Writing this book was not about me, it is at its core a talking animal story that takes place in the what if universe. That is, in itself, about as fictitiously fantastical fake as you can get. However, once I started reading for myself, I quickly saw how inconsistent the biblical stories were. Then on top of that, there is the commercial understanding that we have been taught and sold.
One thing to note, is that Christianity does not own these stories, and they exist in many other cultures and beliefs. For that matter this could very well be Muslim Fiction, Jewish Fiction, or Zoroastrian fiction. We live in a western world, so that is our first thought, but these stories have existed long before there ever was a Christian church. Additionally, this story is not about religion, it is a story of humanity as seen through the eyes of the Serpent character.
Then, once I got started I didn’t limit myself to the bible. As you will note I make references to spirituality, mythology, history, science, and math. I researched and looked up everything, not just say Noah’s Ark the tale, but what Noah’s name meant. I looked up what causes a flood, what happens to flood waters, how does it impact species and topsoil and later plant growth. I viewed the events not as only divine wrath, but in natural real terms. i.e. the animals going to the Ark, is explained as animals changing their migrations. Then I asked, what could cause a change in animal migrations and so on. I then added these definitions to the biblical story, which then added new depth and meaning. I would say that I had about 100 pages of printed notes for each chapter. I looked up everything trying to find something tangible and meaningful beyond the everyday wrath, salvation, and lightshow.
Once I did that, the stories came alive and were now three dimensional, taking on new meanings that I didn’t see coming. But none of that would have been possible if I didn’t research meticulously. Most of all, I didn’t just ask questions, I sought out rational answers as if, I was actually having this epic discussion. So, in a way, it was me asking the questions that I never got an answer to, and using the “absurd Serpent in the what if universe” as a platform to have this discussion, which somehow worked.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Next is Serpent book 2. It will be the Serpent and another human character who live during the time of Jesus. The Serpent will be his obnoxiously colorful self, adding sarcastic commentary to the events as they unfold. It has a title, but I’m not releasing it until I finish writing it. I have notes started and have started planning out the chapters, but I have not begun writing the dialogue and narrative. Hopefully, I will start officially on it January 2018.
What do we really know of creation, myth, and belief? There was a Man, a Woman, a Garden, and of course… a Serpent. Yet, what we have come to know as temptation, and mortal sin are only one side of the story. You see, three sinned, and three were punished, but only two were expelled from the Garden, but afterwards…what happened to the Serpent?
A present day man finds himself eye to eye with the infamous Serpent of curse and ruin. The Serpent who characteristically makes the man an offer to learn not just what happened, but why.
A tale unlike any other, where the fall of man is not weighed on a scale of good or evil, but in truth and lies. The Serpent whose intellect, sarcasm, and wit cultivates over time as he appraises the history of man and religious lore. The Serpent who is also on a journey of self-discovery to learn the meaning of that ill-fated encounter and the purpose of his own life.
Come to know the unsung story of one who lived through creation, survived the great deluge, witnessed a mass exodus, and the rise and fall of exalted kings of men. Could such a tale, as told by a forked tongue, be the end of lies, and the beginning… of the truth.
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In Susan-Alia Terry’s novel Coming Darkness myths and legends become real. Known as the Other-kin, angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and other fabled creatures live among one another. When Archangel Michael appears to seek Lucifer’s help, Lucifer’s comfortable life starts to unravel. The Father and the rest of Heaven are missing, there’s a mysterious black ooze that burns the skin of angels, and an unknown race reveals itself seeking to destroy. As Lucifer struggles with this conflict, his lover Kai sets out to prove himself worthy of respect. But with Lucifer gone, Kai realizes how dependent on the fallen archangel he has become.
I love the world Terry has built in Coming Darkness. She wove together characters from myths and folklore, as well as creatures from different religious sects, to create a seamless and fascinating story. Her characters have distinct personalities, which make the reader want to know more about them and who they are. Terry provides glimpses into interesting backstories – glimpses that explain why Lucifer was exiled from heaven and the relationship he holds with Michael.
There was a lot going on in this novel. Terry uses various sub plots to help us get to know the characters and to move the story along. This is a great technique to use – it adds interest and excitement. It also keeps the reader from becoming complacent since so many things are happening at once.
However, there are so many things going on that I sometimes felt lost, every time I felt I had a direction, the story would change or add a different sub plot. Ultimately, I felt there was too much happening.
The world and characters the author has created are fantastic. Angles on Earth have been written about so many times, but Terry is able to imbue her characters with original personalities that sets this apart from most books in this same genre. The ideas presented were interesting, and I couldn’t wait to read more. There are some steamy sex scenes in Coming Darkness as well. Although I felt that they could have been handled more subtly, they do add another emotional layer to this already thrilling story. Terry’s skills as a storyteller are superb which is why I wish that one or two ideas were really fleshed out so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating story.
If you enjoy reading about werewolves or vampires, or find Lucifer and his fallen angels intriguing, this book would be a good fit for you. Honestly, everything about this book pulls me in and makes me want to like it. As I do with any author with great writing talent, I beg for more focus, detail and character development. Coming Darkness showcases Susan-Alia Terry’s talent and I cant’t wait to read more of her work.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B01D7MM5IM
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The Seventh Sentinel takes readers on an incredible modern day journey where the purpose of angels is still alive and well as they commune between man and God. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this entertaining story?
I’ve always been intensely fascinated by angels. According to the Bible and other ancient manuscripts angels are powerful, highly intelligent beings commanded by God to serve man. Being an avid reader, I grabbed up any books featuring angels but they were always portrayed as the bad guys and demons as the good guys, which rattled me. So I decided to write a novel where the opposite is true and based on as many historical facts as I could find about them. I wanted to show angels interacting with humans in a good way, in the age old fight between good and evil with epic fantastical battles, great tragedies and moments of joy.
Cristiano is raised in an orphanage and has no apparent past. I felt that his character was well developed. What was the ideals that drove character development in this story?
I felt that the world the characters live in is very intricate yet subtly built. What was your approach to world building in The Seventh Sentinel?
I researched how many levels of Heavens there are from a variety of sources. Some say there are nine, some say five and some seven. Who really knows? I settled on seven because it fit the title of my book. Seven archangels, seven sentinels, seven continents and seven Heavens. Most of the descriptions of the Heavens are inspired from the Bible and The Book of Enoch. Then I had to figure out a way for my hero to fight in the spirit realm, and every hero has to have a weakness or several weaknesses, right? That’s where transmutation came in, which left Cristiano’s body open for attack in the physical realm, and hence the need for paladins.
Everything and everyone has a history, known or unknown and I love stories that include orders like the Templars, St Johns, The Golden Fleece and many others. There are so many stories with the Templars, so I went instead with the once famous Order of Calatrava, in Spain, which turns out, had links with the Knights Templars, and threw in the ancient Celts for added mystery.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on the third book in the series (no title yet) and hope to have it out by the end of the year. Due to serious illness last year I’m way behind schedule and trying hard to catch up. I’ve just finished my short story, titled the Igigi Chronicles, which is going through a round of beta reading as we speak. This tale is a spin-off from False Gods, the second book in the Sentinel Series, featuring the Eljo and all manner of mythical beings set in ancient Sumer and modern times.
“Moments before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the seven Archangels remove powerful, ancient artefacts from the Jewish temple. These are given into the safekeeping of seven men. Throughout the ages, these men and their descendants become known as the Seven Sentinels.
In medieval times, the Seven Sentinels formed various military Orders as a cover for their activities. Today, of the Seven Sentinels, two are dead and two have turned rogue, which means only three remain to carry out their roles.
A war rages between Heaven and Earth. It is up to the newly empowered Seventh Sentinel to stop the rogues and Fallen Ones, from using these artefacts to gain control of the souls of mankind. Can the Seventh Sentinel endure?”
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In the world created by Marko Pandza, Death is not one hulking figure haunting our last moments of life, but rather a whole society of different Reapers. One Reaper, Grim, though at the top of his game and the ranking of the Elites, despises his job and what it stands for. He longs for a time long gone, of his mortal life as John Grim and his wife, Dora. On a chance encounter with an Engraver, those beings tasked with creating and intertwining souls, he discovers his love is back in the living realm and is informed of a way to return to his beloved. He must fight Heaven, Hell, and everything in-between to be with his true destiny.
This book spares little in ways of imagery and wit, though both are steeped in valleys of dust, it is so dry. The intriguing and original concept of the book helps the reader get through the slow beginning. The author can conjure up a rich and enticing vision through his words. However, this works to both his advantage and disadvantage. It is easy to envision the characters and scenery he creates, but when the creations become grotesque, the reader can feel ripped from the moment, hindering the story.
The overall story and world was fully fleshed out. The setting of Limbo itself was a solid induction into the story, and the home of the Reapers had much to offer, along with the mortal realm, personal paradises, and even rooms from the Maker of Limbo Itself – the audience experienced plenty, and again, this is where the author showed his expressive talents. The reader could easily see the home that Grim shared with his wife, or the performance hall of the Reaper awards. The characters were never floating in a gray area without much detail.
The characters the reader is introduced to throughout the story each have a different motivation, and is it laid out for everyone to see. Grim is the main focus, but by no means the only view point explored. Friends, strangers, and even deities have their stories told. Because of the switching between voices, the reader can live through many stories. However, when the author chooses to pursue narrow avenues for these characters that leave a lot to be desired, it detracts from the quality of the story.
Limbo, much like death, is not a story that everyone is ready for, but it is not without value. This story is by no means badly written, nor does it fall into many typical tropes, but where the concept and the fluidity of descriptions are absolutely high points, the choices to include the depressing overtones and the highly unpleasant imagery of many deaths – they are Reapers, after all – cause the story to fall a couple of notches away from higher ratings. The morbidity and grim tone for the entire book causes the reader to walk away shaken and more than a bit prone to contemplation on their own existence. This may not deter every reader, however, and its commitment to tone and atmosphere is to be applauded. This book won’t appeal to the vast majority, but those who enjoy it will praise its value for a long time to come.
Pages: 278 | ISBN: 1367857368
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Black Inked Pearl is a romance story following a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man and then must search for him through Heaven and Hell. I found Kate to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil through the story?
My reading: above all (as you’ll see from the similes) Homer and the mystic love poetry of Shakespeare, Blake and Rumi. Music – the dreams in which the book was given to me (from where?), one dream / one chapter a night for about two months, were interlaced with my hearing classical music through the night, most poignantly Bach, slow Mozart piano and John Rutter’s ‘Blessing’. But most of all my life, living through it:, I think no serious novelist can write of love or emotion of searching unless she has experienced it herself, at least in imagination (what else?): as the agreed poet Aeschylus rightly summed it up ‘learning through suffering … ‘
Within this book you flawlessly blend poetry with prose that brings beauty and intrigue to the story. It takes exceptional talent to blend the two genres together. How did you go about blending the two genres without disrupting the story?
I don’t think they’re essentially so very different, in fact some of the ‘poetry’ could equally well be set as rhythmic prose (my publisher – lovely Garn Press – had quite a discussion about which should be which, we changed our minds several times), and ‘prose passages’ could equally appear as poetry (actually, some of the ‘prose’ similes are now set as verse in my Poems from Black Inked Pearl: after all many of them came directly from, or were inspired, by Homer, the great arch poet). Also as I learned when I was writing my book Oral Poetry it’s really only a fairly recent typographical western convention that makes prose ‘look’ different from poetry. Ultimately it’s the SOUND and the INTENSITY OF EMOTION – or so I think -that are fundamental to poetry, and that, for me anyway, runs all through the book. So in a way it’s all poetry and I couldn’t feel any break between them. That said, interestingly, the poems came separately, also in dreams (each one already made, complete, perfect – well as perfect as it was ever going to get anyway) over the months BEFORE the novel started, mysteriously, to arrive. I thought they were independent poems. But when the novel chapters were written I saw that, all the time, they were part of the story and needed to be there. So now, there they are.
I felt that Black Inked Pearl is about love, romance, and life experiences that shape the person we become. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
I think – as in The Alchemist (a kind of soulmate book with mine) follow your dream, whatever anyone else says – and maybe at the end of that rainbow what you will find will be the pearl, yourself. Love is all, even if unrequited – that has its deep treasures too. The ‘new’ words (the Garn Press copy editor said there were hundreds!!) just came to me; they were just standing there already in my mind (like the poems were), complete, ready to be written. When I looked back (having forgotten…) I saw that they were (almost) all because they made the line SOUND better, more rhythmic. Roll on the audio, oral, version for its full realization, much influenced by my experience of African (and Irish) oral story telling. Oh and often it turned out to be sense too – some subtle change from the meaning conveyed by the ‘ordinary’ form – didn’t James Joyce and Homer and even Shakespeare sometimes find they had to do the same? (sorry, what a comparison….)
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected. Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
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Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan is a romance story following a young Irish woman, Kate who falls in love with a mysterious man. However, in a fit of panic and fear she quickly rejects him. She spends time reflecting on her upbringing, educational background and her successes in life. While doing so, she has a life changing epiphany that she had deeply loved the man she rejected years ago. Her search for this man takes her on a wild journey through the kingdom of Beast, Eden, and Hell where she struggles to rescue the man she unconditionally loves. After saving him from the depths of Hell, the two lovers walk toward Heaven, but as he walks past her through the gates they close behind him, leaving her. Now it is his turn to search for her, upon their way back to Heaven, the two find themselves in situations where Kate must again save her love. Once they reach the gates of Heaven, Kate finally comes to realize that her quest was not for the man she loved, but to find who she truly was.
Within this book Ruth Finnegan flawlessly blends poetry with prose that brings beauty and intrigue to the story. It takes rare and exceptional talent to blend the two genres together in a way that doesn’t disrupt the story and Finnegan found that perfect balance. Finnegan expertly brings forth all of Kate’s emotions throughout the story, it is almost unbelievable that this is her first novel. She has a writing style that is truly unique and cannot be compared to anything else I have read. Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest does have a few Christian elements to its story although it didn’t come across as overwhelming.
The novel is about love and romance, but it is also about life experiences that shape and mold the person we become. Finnegan presents this in a way that expands the mind; it makes the reader ponder their own life experiences and how those experiences affected their lives. One major theme is finding how to define yourself through yourself and not in terms of other people. While Kate may be rescuing her love throughout the novel, in reality she is actually beginning to save herself.
There are a few moments when Finnegan creates new words for her story, but they are easy to understand and read because she roots them in traditional Greek and Latin, much like actual words. Others have described the book as dream-like, and I would have to agree, she creates a story that has the atmosphere and tone of a dream-like state. In fact I was almost waiting for Kate to wake up and realize her journey was a dream. This novel is like no other novel in theme or writing style. Finnegan has successfully created something that is truly unique and a real treasure to read.
Pages: 322 | ISBN: 1942146175
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