YA author, Phillip W Simpson, talks about demons, conflicted characters and can we choose between good and evil.
Demons are the ultimate bad boy.
This may sound a bit odd, but I love demons.
Humans have always been fascinated by them. They feature heavily in religious texts by many different cultures, sometimes in forms we wouldn’t immediately recognize, but trust me – they’re there. Their form and nature have been used to scare us, warn us, threaten us and tempt us for thousands of years.
I’ve always been drawn to them. My first encounter with them was probably in the Lord of the Rings when I was eight years old. If a Balrog isn’t a demon, then I don’t know what is.
After that, I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved the variety of them, how they were often depicted in books, movies and comics in completely different ways. The suave, suited demon always intrigued me. Think of the demons in Constantine. Then there was the full-blown demon that most people picture when they think of a demon. You know what I’m talking about – the horns, flaming red skin and crimson eyes. Possibly but not always with dark, bat-like wings arching over their shoulders. The demon (devil) in the 1985 movie Legend, starring a very young Tom Cruise embodies this look.
The Book of Swords series by Fred Saberhagen, did a different take on demons which I absolutely loved. If you haven’t read this series and you love fantasy, you should. There is a scene in the first book where a demon is chasing the heroes through dark, underground tunnels. It’s so tense and scary that I can picture it vividly even now (it must have been at least 10 years since I’ve read it). I’m smiling nervously and casting the occasional glance over my shoulder as I write this.
Don’t get me wrong though. I still love zombies, vampires and werewolves but I just love demons more. Besides, even I was getting a bit sick of the glut of vampire novels on the market.
I wanted to write about them because demons have always intrigued me due to the dichotomy that surrounds them. They are fallen angels after all, so doesn’t that mean that they were once good? They may be evil now, but I’m sure that somewhere in their past (they are immortal after all), back in the good old days when they were angels, they embraced their good side. Surely this good side has a danger of emerging now and again.
These days, demons are becoming more common in literature, particularly YA. They are often the fallen angel variety. Often they look human except for some minor demonic feature that can be overlooked. Women find them intriguing (and basically almost impossible to resist) because they can sense the duality of their nature. Demons are the ultimate bad boy. Every part of them screams dangerous.
Usually, the women the demon associates with know nothing of his dangerous past except for the fact that he has got one and there was some danger involved (of course). It’s not until later that his demonic features - whether physical or some character defect - emerge, and usually, by then it’s too late for the woman. She’s already in love.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that they are often gorgeous to look upon by mortal woman, often physically perfect with dark, brooding looks. Not that I’m jealous or anything. Who me? No, of course not.
Anywho, when I was in the planning stages for Rapture, I just knew that the central protagonist had to be a demon. In Sam’s case, half-demon (sometimes referred to as a Cambion). Even better because that way I could fully explore his duality without taking away his dangerous allure. He represents humanity because of this duality. His mother (human – good) and his father (demon – evil). Humans have always had it within them to be either good or evil. Sometimes it’s a personal choice but often that choice is made for them by an outside influence. What a great way to have a conflicted character, and believe me, I really wanted him to be conflicted. After all, he’s trying to save humanity when humanity want nothing to do with him.
The other side of things I wanted to explore was the nature vs. nurture debate. Are you evil because you were born that way or can a happy, loving upbringing counteract that? Sam gave (and continues to give) much fodder for exploring this conflict.
Hence the reason I love demons and am drawn to write about them – such fascinating and conflicted subject matter.
RAPTURE has been nominated for the
The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted.
The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell. Earth burns. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon is the colour of blood.
The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the Earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they’re lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship of the Devil, and ushered into endless hell.
Eighteen year old, Sam, cursed by his demonic heritage, must embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels. There he will confront his destiny.
There he must fight to save a friend ... and the souls of the living.
Rapture ~ a tall tales & short stories review
Rapture is definitely one for the boys!
Sam, the protagonist, is half demon, half human left behind on earth to fight for the ‘non believers’ abandoned on earth when the Rapture occurs. (Rapture: for those who have faith and believe in God are taken to Heaven, while those who don’t are left to endure Tribulation)
Those left behind are subjected to nightly terrors where demons roam desperate to drag them down to Hell for eternity. Simpson cleverly divides the chapters between present day and Sam’s back story, until they meet at the half way point. This is where the story comes into its own. You can’t help but root for Sam as he travels through his own personal journey towards transformation. The ending has a great, unexpected twist (no plot spoilers here, you’ll just have to read it yourself!).
Rapture is heavily based around religion and Christianity, with many diverse points of view. At times it can be really thought provoking, at others, it really pushes a few buttons! But, that’s what I really like about Rapture, it evokes an reaction, which, in my opinion is what makes a great, memorable book.
Would I recommend Rapture? Definitely, if you love demons, battle scenes aplenty and a great ending, you’ll love this!
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