Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lucifer, the original anti-hero? An interview with Christopher C. Starr

Today as part of a blog tour organized by Making Connections on Goodreads, I'm interviewing Christopher Starr about his retelling of Lucifer's rebellion in Heaven, The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer.

-----



1) Tell us about your book.

The Road to Hell is the story of the war in Heaven, the war between the angels, the fall of Lucifer and the dawn of man told through the words of the angels themselves—Lucifer, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. It’s a story that predates humanity; it explores the relationship of the angels to God and to one another, and examines what could have led to their rebellion. More than anything, the book tackles Lucifer’s descent into evil, into becoming Satan, and explores his emotional arc as he falls.

2) You're following in the footsteps of some greats, such as Milton, in choosing to write about The Fall from the perspective of the Devil. What inspired you to write this kind of story?

Yeah, I know, Milton’s got big shoes to fill. But I’m not really trying to. Where Paradise Lost is epic, I’m trying to tell the story in much more intimate strokes. There’s something much bigger in Milton—“justifying the ways of God to Man”—than what I’m doing here. I wanted to make it personal, have the reader feel the actions, choices and consequences as they are happening.

As far as inspiration goes, it was like a perfect storm for me: my first marriage was breaking down, I was in the beginnings of my 30s and having some sort of mid-life crisis, and I was having a crisis of faith. So I started looking for answers. That leads me to other characters who also had questions of faith. The Bible is full of people who had the same questions but the storyteller in me said, “What would happen if an angel had a crisis of faith? What would the consequences of that be?” And here we are.

3) What sort of thought process went into your decisions about what details to "fill in" while writing this story?

The story had to make sense to me and every version I’d ever read simply didn’t. Most accounts assume there were warrior angels—why? Before the Fall, what happened in Heaven that required soldiers? But the biggest question to me was how Lucifer could persuade a third of the angels to challenge God and fall with him? I couldn’t ever reconcile this idea given the way we usually think of Heaven.

So that’s where I focused.

To me, there was free will already, right? If not, how did Lucifer choose to challenge God? He made a choice. We generally hear these portrayals of Heaven where the angels want to do nothing more than sing and dance and worship God and tell Him how awesome He is. But that doesn’t jive with the angel who’s in charge of leading the worship deciding he’s had it. More than that, what kind of argument could Lucifer have made that would resonate with such a significant portion of the population? This is war we’re talking about, war against God. I felt that there must have been some sort of unrest, some level of discord that Lucifer could have both felt and capitalized on.

So I built a version of Heaven that wasn’t pie in the sky, song and dance. It was darker, grittier, and doubt was a real, tangible thing. I wanted to create a class system among the angels, one that would spawn unrest and envy and hate.

In the end, it was about motivation and rationale. I never intended anyone to agree with Lucifer’s actions. I just wanted the rationale to make sense; I wanted my readers to understand how he might have gotten to where he did.

4) Whatever name you want to give him, your main character is a central figure in the religious beliefs of several world religions and billions of people. Are you concerned that you might offend religious sensibilities with your book?

Heh. Yeah. I’ve already been moderately successful at pissing some people off. I’m ok with that. Whether it’s my portrayal of Lucifer or the number of curse words in the book (a whopping 11), or that it’s not strictly creationist, there will always be detractors. And I know from an author’s standpoint, it’s always good when people are discussing your work, good or bad. At least you know you touched them, right? But my intent has never been to offend or alienate.

I am a Christian. But I think my relationship with God won’t be the same as someone else’s. And I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It’s such an intensely personal idea that I would be remiss for trying to foist my beliefs on someone else. In the end, I’m a storyteller and this story—this foundationally human story—was too good to resist. The characters, mainly Lucifer, go through emotional arcs that shake them to their core, force them to reaffirm their beliefs, and make them stand up and fight for what they believe in.

I love Lucifer as a character; he’s a lot of fun to write. The biggest fear I had was that people would interpret my words as sympathy for the Devil. I just wanted to see the world through his eyes, how it might have seemed to him. Hear his justifications for his own actions. I thought it was cool and a good story. My job as a writer is not to give you what you’ve been given but to push the conversation forward. To look at it from another perspective. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.

5) Were there any particular writing challenges that you found in writing this type of story?

The first time I wrote this story, I wrote it from Michael’s point of view. I wanted to explore what it must have felt like to have to put Lucifer out, to wage war in Heaven, to hear Lucifer’s arguments and choose to stand with God. I wondered if he had a crisis of faith in those moments and I wanted to explore them.

But it was boring. I wrote it 3rd person, Michael was clich├ęd, and his motivations were built solely around losing his lover in the war. It didn’t have enough oomph to really carry the story. But I loved writing Lucifer, loved hearing his take on everything, loved his wicked banter. I remember writing a piece from his perspective (didn’t make it into the book) that was just him ranting about Heaven, about Earth, about us. It’s where I got the line “My name is Lucifer and I was first.” 

6) This is the first in a series. Please tell us a bit about the series.
Heaven Falls is a 4-book series that chronicles God’s relationship with His angels as He builds His relationship with man, told from the perspective of the angels. It is our story through their eyes. It begins with the war in Heaven and the creation of the earth in The Road to Hell. The second book in the series, Come Hell or High Water, is due out December 2012 and covers the temptation in the Garden of Eden up to the Great Flood.

7) Please tell us about some of your other projects.

Let’s see: I have a werewolf-themed horror project in the works, a semi-autobiographical novel I’ve planned out, and am working with a couple younger authors to get their works published. And when I’m not writing, I’m trying to make sure my son graduates middle school, ensure my daughter doesn’t burn down her elementary school, and give my wife as much Disney as she can handle.

Thanks so much for having me!

-----

The Road to Hell can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can find more from Christopher at:


2 comments:

christopherstarr said...

Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it!

J.A. Beard said...

You're welcome.