Cynthia Hand: “Unique Angel Mythology”

Posted January 18, 2012 by Sara | Novel Novice 4 Comments

Today, we are delighted to be part of the official blog tour for Hallowed by Cynthia Hand, in stores now. Thanks Cynthia for stopping by to guest blog! Plus, keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Hallowed, the sequel to Unearthly.

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How do you keep your angel mythology unique is a genre that is overly saturated?

There are a lot of angel books out there. Yeah, trust me, I know. Unearthly was on the crest of the wave of angel books that hit the market last year. Here’s what I had to say about that last year, when there were a few new articles on the angel-mania.  At first I made sure to read all the other angel books that came out, not out of competitiveness, although I felt a bit of that, surely, but mostly out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to see how different authors handled similar material, my material. After a while, though, I stopped seeking out angel books because there were just too many of them. I wanted to read about other things, too, and I was busy writing my own books. Now I only read an angel novel if I hear through the grapevine that the book is particularly awesome or unique. This is why I’m currently reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

There was a time in the early days where my editor and I pondered whether or not we should change Clara’s name, since there was already an angel-related Clary. Also, Clara sounded a bit like Bella. Did I want people to make the comparison? But I said no to changing her name, ultimately, because Clara in my head was so firmly herself: CLARA. Not Clary. Not Bella. Not based on anybody I knew from any other book. Herself.

I’m glad I stuck to my guns on that.

But there was also a moment when I was reading the sequel to Lauren Kate’s Fallen (Torment) when I realized that she had a female-mentor character named Frances, nicknamed Frank. Well crapzol, I thought. I had a female-mentor character named Frances Fairweather, who everybody called Frank. I dashed off a distressed email to my editor. Yes, she replied, probably better change this. We wouldn’t want anybody to think I copied Lauren Kate. And that is how Frank became Billy, who you will meet in all her awesomeness in Hallowed. I think the name Billy fits her too; in fact, it’s almost hard for me to remember her as Frank, way back when my novel was first forming.

So yes, I am generally aware of what’s out there. Sometimes it changes the way I approach things. And sometimes it doesn’t.  But in truth, I don’t worry much about keeping my mythology unique. It was more than two years ago when I first started scribbling down notes about my angel-populated universe at a frantic pace because the ideas were pouring out of my brain like a faucet on full-blast. That was a grand time, when this entirely new world was forming in my head, with new creatures and new rules and new stories to tell about these people. It was wonderful to create that world, and the core angel mythology hasn’t changed much since then, honestly. My job now is to fill in the holes, which is fun too.

That’s the trick, I think, if you’re writing anything that’s already saturated. Have fun. Don’t worry too much. Be aware of what other people are doing, but don’t obsess about it. Be yourself. Because, at the end of the day, what will make your mythology stand out from the rest is you. I am confident that nobody else but me could have come up with Unearthly. It is a unique mix of influences, from books I’ve read and loved, like Anne of Green Gables, to philosophy, like Eckhart Tolle, religion, like C.S. Lewis, my memories and past experiences and writing style and sense of humor. Sure, it’s going to share characteristics with the other angel novels. We’re basing our stories on the same ground material. There’s going to be wings, probably, and the use of light, and stuff with languages, a flaming sword or two, a fight of good versus evil in some form. But Unearthly is my baby, grown from my brain.

And oh, how my baby has grown!

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Want to win your own copy of Hallowed? Here’s how:

  • Fill out the Novel Novice Hallowed Entry Form
  • Enter by midnight (PT) on Wednesday, January 25th
  • And follow these rules:
    • U.S. only
    • One entry per person
    • Use the entry form
  • One winner will receive a finished copy of Hallowed!

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Here’s more about Hallowed, in stores now:

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Sara | Novel Novice
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