When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis is assigned a new partner in Aramael, a Guardian Angel who doubles as a hit man, they have only one thing in common: a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse. Now they have no choice but to work together-relentlessly, fearlessly, intimately. Because only they can stop the rogue angel from ushering in the end of days.
In Sins of the Angels, the start of an exciting new urban fantasy series being published by Ace books on 9/27/11, you introduce tough homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis. What were your inspirations for her character? How did you go about creating her and, without giving too much away, coming up with her backstory?
I drew inspiration for Alex from the many, many cops I’ve had the pleasure to know over the years. In my early 20s, I worked as a dispatcher for the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Working alongside the officers gave me unique insight into the police perspective—what kind of person you need to be to be good at the job, what some of the drawbacks are to the career, how cops handle the many stresses they encounter, and so on. I eventually married one of the officers and, while I didn’t continue dispatching, I’ve stayed in touch with the police community as a whole. My husband’s former partner and good friend played a huge role in forming Alex’s character as a female cop—she likes to call herself my muse and she’s not far off the mark! When Alex was fully realized as a character, much of her no-nonsense personality was very similar to our friend’s… and trust me, that is a Good Thing!
As for Alex’s backstory, it wasn’t a conscious decision on my part as much as it was a revelation on hers—I’m very much a pantser when it comes to my characters, I’m afraid. Without venturing too far into spoiler territory, Alex suffered a horrific trauma as a child, something that stemmed from her mother’s mental illness. Once I knew about her family history, it explained a great deal about her character as a whole; in particular, why she would have so much difficulty believing in something she didn’t consider ‘real’—or even admitting it might be possible.
We get several great glimpses of the inner workings of the heavenly realm in Sins of the Angels. What traditions did you draw on to create Heaven? Did you always have an idea of what Heaven would look like before you became a writer?
I didn’t draw on any traditions that I’m aware of when it came to creating Heaven and, before writing Sins of the Angels, hadn’t really given any thought to how the actual place might look. In fact, I think the last time I considered a physical Heaven was back in Sunday school when I thought about it in terms of fluffy clouds, white robes, and harps! When I started writing the story, however, it just seemed fitting that it would be a place of knowledge and growth, and that it would have an air of ancient permanency.
Alex is forced to work with a new partner on a serial killer case and soon finds out that her new charge is Aramael, Power and hunter of the Fallen angels. Tell us about your process for creating the angelic hierarchy and how you decide on Aramael’s appearance, personality, and the powers he’s been granted.
I drew heavily on Christian angel mythology in creating the angelic world, particularly when it came to the hierarchy of the nine choirs. Because I found so many discrepancies even in that mythology, however, I felt perfectly justified in tweaking things to suit my own ends. I’ve taken liberties with the ranking of the choirs, for instance, and with their actual functions—if readers are interested in a rundown, they can find a quick summary of the hierarchy on my website, www.lindapoitevin.com.
For Aramael—and all the angels, really—I envisioned beings that would be very near physically perfect in human terms. And yes, they have the same physical form as humans. This isn’t in keeping with any of the accepted mythology (the Bible, for instance, describes angels as pretty fantastical creatures), but instead arose from the idea that, if the One created humans in her own image, it would make sense that she would have done the same with angels.
Aramael’s powers and personality are both strongly tied in to what he is—a hunter. He is an angel of the sixth choir, a Power, and his job is to track down Fallen Angels that mess with mortals and to exile them to a particularly unpleasant place. He does what the other angels cannot—and don’t want to—do, and that has a profound effect on how he views himself.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? What drew you to urban fantasy and the paranormal realm?
I’ve always written, but when I was growing up, ‘writer’ wasn’t considered an acceptable career option. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I began to seriously pursue the idea of publication—in between raising children and the various life crises that tend to get in the way of most goals!
I’ve always loved stories with a supernatural element. I love the idea that things exist beyond our capacity to see/know them, and that sometimes those things might touch our world and lives in a way that alters our very reality. When I wrote Sins of the Angels, I wanted it to contain those elements, but in a very real, very now setting.
Sins of the Son, the second book in The Grigori Legacy, will be published in April 2012. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s in store for Alex?
A lot. This poor woman just isn’t going to catch a break on any level. Sins of the Son is about choices, and Alex will face many, all of them impossible. Aramael and Seth both return to the story and Alex will find herself caught between them on multiple levels. She’ll also meet others not of Earth… specifically the Archangel Michael and Lucifer himself. Suffice it to say there will be a great deal at stake—not just for Alex, but for humankind and Heaven, too.