Most of Zoë Pendergraft’s friends are dead, but she doesn’t mind because they died long before she met them. Then one Tuesday night an angel takes her salsa dancing and turns her world upside down. Grim reality closes in when she discovers a body in her company’s boiler room and Higher Angels accuse her best ghost friend of murder. Knowing she’s the only one who can stand against them, Zoë resorts to lying, stealing and summoning.
In the end, getting blood on her hands forces Zoë to question herself.
There’s a clue in the title of your novel but a thousand thanks from me and the squirrels that you haven’t written about vampires, but angels instead. Why angels? and are you hoping to give the vamps a run for their money and bring angels to prominence in fantasy fiction?
LOL! I have to admit, I’m not that into vampires either. I just can’t get into dead guys. (I should probably be running from the legions of vampire fans now!) The angels in my story aren’t typical fluffy-goose-wing types, and they aren’t even entirely good. I would love to see more angel fiction. I do love angels, demons, faeries, ghosts, witches…just about anything outside the range of the usual.
I’ve read the opening chapter of Ordinary Angels (which is available here) and it has the heroine talking to ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts, have you ever seen one or do you have a favourite ghost story to tell us?
I’m honestly not sure if I believe in ghosts. Once I had a dream in which my grandmother was being taken away and she was scared. It was so upsetting, that I had to tell someone about it, and I called my mom. She said, “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. Grandmother died last night.” It could have been a coincidence, sure, but it did make me wonder!
Place is really important to me and you’ve chosen to set Ordinary Angels in one of my favourite cities, San Francisco. Do you know the city or have you done what writers are increasingly doing and written about a place that you’ve never been to but have researched on the internet?
I love San Francisco. I chose it because it has a wonderful vibe to it—so beautiful and lively. I haven’t been able to visit in a few years, which is disappointing. I do have friends there, and used them to help make sure I got the areas right and used the terms a local would. I don’t think I’d have the nerve to write about a place I’d never seen in person before, because every city has its own personality. I don’t think I could capture that from photos alone.
You live in a small village at the base of the Scottish Highlands. Does it help to write urban fantasy in an environment about as far removed and different to the one where you’ve set your novel? Will you be setting future books in Scotland?
My next book is called Blood Faerie, and it’s set in Perth, Scotland, very near where I live. So yes, do expect some Scottish settings in future. But for me, the city is part of the story, so I have to choose a locale that suits the characters and path of the plot. The sequel to Ordinary Angels is titled Familiar Demons. It will start out in San Francisco, but the action quickly moves to Amsterdam, anther city I love to visit.
The squirrels would like me to ask if there are any squirrels – angelic, ghostly or furry – in Ordinary Angels? Perhaps as sidekicks or familiars? Or any other animals (as long as they’re not bears)?
Oh dear. No. Unless you count the ‘exalted’ form the angels can take. It’s… well, let’s just say there’s an animalistic side to these beings. No spoilers though! However, there is a rat in my next book (Blood Faerie) though. I hope that will fulfil the squirrels’ furry story desires. – They’re more than happy with ‘exalted’ form. *Sigh*
Ordinary Angels is published by Lyrical Press but you’ve decided to self-publish your subsequent books. What’s behind your decision to do this?
I could probably write a dozen posts on all the reasons behind my decision, but the short version is: control over the product/price, higher royalties, and a speedier process. Readers don’t care who the publisher is, and I’m confident I can put out a quality product. I’ll be using expert editors and other professionals to help make sure readers get their money’s worth.
You’re going to have three books out this year, including Ordinary Angels. You had little control over the release date of Ordinary Angels but why are you choosing to release so many in one year and how are you going to juggle writing/editing them with promotion work?
Ordinary Angels was written in 2009 and edited in 2010. Blood Faerie was written in 2010, and I got the edits back from my editor this month. So, I had a head start. I doubt there’s any way I could put out three books every year if I had to write, edit, AND promote them all at once.
Describe your ideal writing day and place.
I’d love to have a cabin up in the woods with nothing but a fireplace, a bed, and a computer. I’d have squirrels bring me food every few hours in little picnic baskets. – LOL!
Now tell us what a ‘real’ or ‘typical’ writing day is like for you.
I like to wake up early and write while the house is quiet. I usually am wrapped in a quilt on the sofa with my laptop and I write for two to three hours at a stretch. It takes so much creative energy, that I can’t really compose much longer than that every day, but I can manage a first draft in 6 weeks doing that.
When you’re writing, do you start with a character, a place or a plot idea or does it vary? Which of these was your starting point for Ordinary Angels?
With Ordinary Angels, it started with an idea of what angels are like. From there I came up with characters. Then I plot out the major turning points in the story.
Does Ordinary Angels have its own soundtrack that you listened to while writing it?
I wish I could listen to music while I write, but I can’t. I find it drags my attention away. I can focus enough to ignore it, but that takes extra energy.
Can you read other fiction while you’re writing your own or not?
I tend not to, no. I don’t want the other author’s style creeping into my work.
What books are on your bedside table at the moment OR what book have you read recently that you’d recommend?
I just read Passions of the Dead by L.J. Sellers, a detective story/thriller. I do love a good murder.
Finally, which would you rather be – an angel, a ghost or someone who could see them and talk to them like your heroine, Zoë Pendergraft, and why?
Zoë, I think. Ghosts can’t hold or own anything. They’re very limited and don’t have a lot of free will. On the other hand, angels are very static. Yes, they might seem like they have super powers, but they don’t have the capacity for growth and change. They don’t evolve and learn the way people do. So, I’m afraid I’d stick with a very human life. But it would be fun to be aware of the paranormal / supernatural like Zoë is.
Thanks very much for visiting today and answering our questions, India. We’re just off to download our copy of Ordinary Angels – all the best of luck with the book!
Thank you so much for having me and celebrating this exciting day with me!
India knew from age nine that writing would be her passion. Since then she’s discovered many more, but none quite so fulfilling as creating a world, a character, or a moment and watching them evolve into something complex and compelling. She has lived in three countries and four American states, is a dual British and American citizen, and currently lives at the base of the Scottish Highlands in a village so small its main attraction is a red phone box. In other words: paradise. The supernatural and paranormal have always fascinated India. In addition to being an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, she also enjoys mysteries, thrillers, and romance. This probably explains why her novels have elements of adventure, ghosts (or elves, fairies, angels, aliens, and whatever else she can dream up), and spicy love stories. For more information on India, check out her Author Website, Facebook Fan Page or Follow India on Twitter.