Interview: Christine Hughes, Author of TORN
Christine Hughes is the author of TORN – a Biblical FanFic young adult novel about Samantha, the teenage girl who must take her father’s place in the fight between two groups of fallen angels: the Faithful and the Exiled. TORN received a 2012 Hollywood Book Festival Honorable Mention and is available on Amazon, published by Black Opal Books, and Christine is one of many authors on the Literary Powerhouse group who appreciates writing of the highest quality and fiction from unique perspectives.
In addition to dealing with a devastating betrayal—and having feelings for someone she’s forbidden to love—Sam must also fight the growing darkness within her as she struggles to make a choice between fighting alongside the Faithful or succumbing to the temptation of the Exiled.
Nola: As an author, I know my stories often become something much broader than I intended. When you were in the process of writing TORN, did you know the story would be Biblical FanFic, or did the religious connections evolve later?
Christine: I had no idea such a thing ever existed. It started out as kind of a possible re-write of the death of Edgar Allan Poe, believe it or not. Then I added some allusions to Pandora’s box so that took me into the mythological and finally I made the hope that was trapped in the box an angel and it kinda flew from there.
Nola: This “growing darkness” inside Sam is a concept I love. Can you elaborate a bit on what, specifically, that darkness is?
Christine: The answer, to me is two-fold. (I sound like a snooty librarian)
1. Specifically, for Samantha and TORN as a whole, there are two kinds of fallen angels – those who revel in the sins of others (the Exiled) and those who fight to regain God’s favor (the Faithful) – represented by darkness and light, respectively. Samantha, being the foretold balance between the two factions, is having difficulty tamping down the ease in which the Exiled live. She is torn by the fact that she enjoys inflicting pain and she has such a propensity toward destruction. In short, it’s easier to be a sinner than a saint.
2. For Samantha and other Exiled, darkness, pain and despair give them strength – a different kind of strength than hope. It’s easier to achieve, more readily available. Darkness nourishes them, much like those who are true Faithful, truly sorry for the sins of the past, are fed more readily with hope.
Nola: LOL @ “snooty librarian” – quite the contrary, that answered my next question. 🙂 The story sounds like a darker take on angels because they are the fallen angels, but I think the contrast between light and dark is a Biblical theme with which anyone can identify. Did you have any specific influences – either in pop culture, literature or scripture – that inspired your perspective on the story?
Christine: Inspiration comes from everywhere, I guess. There is always some dark thread interwoven with light. There is always darkness after the sun has finished shining on the day. The full on inspiration for TORN came when I was watching The Vampire Diaries. How Elena has always been torn between Stefan (light) and Damon (dark) – but it’s all perception. Stefan was the Ripper – not the most hopeful of creatures. Damon came back to Mystic Falls because of what? Love. Perception is reality. Just ask Anakin Skywalker. Why did he ultimately embrace the dark side? Because he wanted to save the woman he loved from an untimely death. What about Romeo and Juliet? The darkest of tragedies – two kids run off and kill themselves because they love each other and they could never really be together because of their parents’ feud. Or so they thought. What if the Montagues and the Capulets were able to see the love they shared? Or, what if they never committed suicide – would Romeo have moved on much like he did with his first love, Rosaline? I mean, light/dark, good/evil, love/hate, hope/despair, Republicans/Democrats….it’s all intertwined.
Nola: Perception is an important point within Biblical FanFic, and the intertwining of darkness and light – though opposing forces – has been critical in literature and life because of the necessity for balance. Both sides think they’re fighting against each other, when in truth their opposition is important for sustaining balance and each has reasons for doing so that are valid (as in your example of Star Wars). Some people who encounter Biblical FanFic might find the fictional twist – whether for Dark Side or Light Side – offensive to their personal religion, but I think most people realize we don’t mean it that way. Do you find readers have an expectation of Biblical FanFic to preach one lesson or another?
Christine: I am sure people look to us (and by us I mean authors or anyone on the internet) to provide them with the final word on everything from how to discipline your kids, potty training, fashion, zit cream and religion. Believe me, I love interacting with people, talking about my work, the work of others. I truly enjoy this new “life” that’s opened up for me since I’ve become a writer. But I also think it’s a tricky path. With the whole idea of perception being the center of someone’s reality, I think it’s important to remember we are writers, not preachers. And that’s important not only for the public but for the writer’s as well. As soon as you begin to think you’re infallible, the mighty will fall. If you want to write a book that preaches your beliefs and what-not, go ahead. That wouldn’t necessarily fall under the entertainment category of fiction or of what we, as writers of Biblical FanFic, are trying to do.
Ultimately, we are trying to entertain, write good stories and hopefully impact people with our words. There are some people so grounded in literal definitions that fictional writers will never win. I mean, look at Harry Potter. Those books are banned because they incorporate witchcraft. Not to toot my own horn, but I am grounded enough in reality to know that my kids are not going to turn into witches and wizards because they read Harry Potter. I also know that I, as a child, never called Acme to buy a bomb to blow up a bird.
Honestly? I’ll say it again. It’s fiction, people. It’s made up. And if you ask me I am quite certain there was a little game of telephone going on when the bible stories were being passed down from generation to generation – embellish much? Stray from the facts a bit? Who am I to say. But as for those who get their panties twisted in a bunch because of some fictional (can I say it enough?) story or character – re-freaking-lax. There are way more important things to worry about. Like getting thee to a church to confess your sins for bad mouthing the novels and stories of those of us who write for pure entertainment.
I would never in a million years belittle anyone’s beliefs – I know religion can be a powerful and healing entity. I just want it to be clear that what I write – what many of us write – isn’t meant to disparage what someone believes in. It is purely for entertainment purposes.
Nola: Do your angels in TORN have literal wings or figurative wings?
Christine: They have literal wings. But only when they “earn” them. Samantha gets them when she stands up to Sebastian. Lucas got them when his dad died. Ethan still hasn’t gotten them. Also, and I don’t know if this is off topic – to kill an angel with wings in TORN, you have to strip them of their wings and pierce their hearts. To kill an angel without wings, you must behead them.
And everyone’s wings are different. Like a fingerprint. Lucas’ wings look like the rainbow in an oil spill on asphalt. Sebastian’s wings are raven colored and Samantha’s are silver and black – and her colors swirl as if they can’t make a decision where to fall.
Nola: That gave me excellent, visual-inspired goosebumps. I saw on your website that the sequel to TORN, with a working title of BETRAYED, is in progress. What new twists and elements can we anticipate for the sequel?
Christine: The titled has changed to DARKNESS BETRAYED (thank you Michelle!). I should update that… As for the sequel, Sebastian kind of takes a back seat and we deal more with the inner turmoil Samantha feels and the fact that Ethan has begun to distance himself from her (sorry for those who were cheering them on). Lucas comes back in a big way. I also introduce Damien: the devil. She accepts his help in ridding the world of Sebastian – apparently Damien and Sebastian have a past that goes way back to the original fall (major plot reveal?). But, we all know, the devil doesn’t do something for nothing. Is she going to be okay with the price that has to be paid to avenge her father’s death and finally set her on the right course?
Nola: Will you honor us with a sneak-peek excerpt from DARKNESS BETRAYED?
Christine: Sure, how about this…
As we glared at each other he regained his composure and he continued, “As I was saying. I am sure you know the story of Creation? How God created the world in seven days, blah, blah, blah?”
When I nodded in agreement, he smiled. “Ok, so I don’t have to go through all that mess. What isn’t taught is how and why God created me. He knew with all of his perfection, with the perfection of the Garden, of his humans” – my eyebrows raised as he said the word, as if there was something nasty in his mouth – “that there needed to be a counterbalance. And that is where I came in. I was created to house despair. A vessel, if you will, to hold onto all the sadness that He knew was inevitable.”
He looked lost in thought, almost sad but he waved it all away. “It wasn’t a bad, well, job you might call it. I wasn’t treated poorly and I had a purpose. He made sure I was shown appreciation and all that nonsense. But you must remember, because I was created for this purpose, I am unlike any of the other Fallen. I cannot choose. I have remained and will remain an Exiled for as long as the earth rotates through space. I create chaos. I inflict pain, physical and mental. Emotional. And I take it away. If I did not, I would not exist. You understand that? That I do not have a choice? That I was never afforded free will? That all I do is everything I can to survive?”
He was pleading with me, I realized immediately. The look on his face wasn’t hard to read. He was telling the truth and he wanted for me to believe him. “I understand.”
Leaning back in his chair, examining his fingernails, he continued quietly. “And I became angry. He gave free will to them, to the humans he’d created and yet he allowed me none of it. It was unfair, I see that now, but there I was, blindly taking the pain away from every hangnail and stubbed toe. Of course there was no disappointment in the Garden. Oh no – He made sure of that.”
“Yes, Samantha. With me. And even though I was becoming angry, I couldn’t place the origin of my distaste. Until Sebastian came calling.
“Sebastian wanted more. He wanted the free will God handed humans. But only very few of us were allowed to interact with them, myself included. You know, stubbed toe and all.” A haunted smile ghosted across his face.
DARKNESS BETRAYED sounds awesome. Powerful and unique. Christine, thank you so much for your time and honest answers to these questions. It has been my absolute pleasure interviewing you, and I hope you’ll allow us to share your continued success with TORN and DARKNESS BETRAYED here on New Stories, Old Book.
You’re welcome. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m so happy I was asked to be a part of this blog with such an amazing group of people.
Christine Hughes can be reached VIA her website at http://christine-hughes.com/.
Also, please Like her on FB HERE
And stalk her on Twitter @HughesWriter
She also has another book, because she’s awesome: THREE DAYS OF RAIN will be released by Black Opal Books in early 2013.