OS: Welcome to Amy Lane who has graciously come by today to talk about her newest book, Familiar Angel!
The Name of the Thing
Okay—so I admit, after writing so many books with so many male characters, for a little while there, I was worried. I mean, I tend to write everyday sort of guys, right? Everyday sort of guys have everyday sort of names.
How many everyday sort of names was I going to be able to find before I had to start calling my construction workers things like Julian and Mortimer—I’m serious, it was getting dire.
And then, two marvelous things happened.
The first was that I started writing baseball players.
I’m telling you, baseball players can be named anything. I love going over baseball rosters. In the middle of all the Stevens and Michaels, you’ve got things like Augustus and Jeremiah and Claudio and Coriander and Elvis.
Especially in minor leagues.
It’s beautiful. I’m saved.
But the other thing that happened was I came up with the concept of the familiars—and besides writing fantasy again (hurray!) I was suddenly writing angels and demons again.
Thank you, internet.
There is a site—I think it’s changed names and servers a couple of times—but every time I look up “angel names” I get directed here. And here is… well, it’s a treasure trove of plot bunnies for the irreverent writer is what it is.
Some of you may remember Guarding the Vampire’s Ghost—which introduced us to Shepherd and Jefischa—I got their names from this site. Shepherd was the angel of watchfulness, Jefischa was the angel of the fourth hour of the morning. Just browsing through that list, I had my two angels, and BAM. I had my personalities. It was lovely.
For a short story I wrote called Do Over, I featured Dagiel, angel of fish. Because everybody needs fish in their life, right? The same for the short story I wrote in a charity anthology called Grand Adventures. (The charity anthology—I forget the name of the story.) I wanted to write angels, I looked through the list and… oh, hey, hello, in just a name and a brief five word description, I have found all the inspiration I can handle.
I have to admit though, that when I looked up the name for the angel in Familiar Angel, I had a bigger problem than just a name. I needed a dilemma—I needed a reason for Suriel to not have come down to earth already. I mean, 140 years is a long damned time to make your human wait for love, am I right?
So as I was scrolling the sight—delighted as always at the infinite possibilities of supernatural romantic mayhem—when I saw it.
Suriel—the angel who is bound.
Bound how? Bound to what? What binds him?
These were things I’d very much like to get to know about—and I did like where my answers took me!
So Suriel was easy—but he wasn’t my only supernatural being.
I also had two demons to call up.
This is tricky, because the demons are coming into the human world, and while Angels can fall, which is lovely, demons need to be forgivable if they’re going to be romantic leads.
Leonard was… well, he was the demon of sorcery, which was fairly generic and very useful as it turned out. He’s also the demon of demonic orgies, but I don’t think he’d tell his sons that, but I’m sure it will get mentioned somewhere! But the point is, Leonard is sexy enough—and kind enough—for us to believe that Emma, our strong sorceress, would have risked everything on heaven and earth to save him.
And Mullins was the demon of office work. I think I got that right—but of small organizational projects that don’t actually accomplish anything but seem to dominate your day. Paperwork. Now, I could be wrong about this—you have to remember that when I’m looking these things up it’s usually one a.m. and I can barely see the screen, but I’m pretty sure that was it. Muyllins was the demon of bureaucracy, which is sort of hard to forgive on hone hand, but on the other, if he wasn’t excited about gutting, maiming, and torturing, how bad could he be?
Hopefully bad enough to seem a little bit sexy when Edward’s book rolls around, but hopefully good enough for us to want to see his Happy Ever After too!
So there were my supernatural lovers, all lined up in a pretty row, Goddess bless Google. But what about my familiars?
Well, this was when my plot sort of proved a blessing. The boys discovered Emma in the clearing in the 1880s, which meant that I got to use some names that aren’t so common in the modern day.
I mean, Harry isn’t a name you hear a lot in the schoolyard or the office these days. In movies, unless he’s a young sorcerer with a heavy workload, he’s usually the battered police chief, trying to hold his squad together, but in a contemporary romance, no. It’s not really a name I’d use—unless of course, I was naming a character born in the 1800’ds.
The same with Edward and Francis.
Eddie we hear in the modern day—and Francis is usually shortened to Frank these days. But in their non-shortened form, they scream old school—kids born, married and died all before the beginning of the 20th century.
As a group, those names sets them apart. They had a secret club already, just in their names.
It was beautiful.
So that is the story of the names in Familiar Angel—but I have a confession to make.
I really liked writing a character named Harry. I have a way of thinking about a new book, especially when I’m trying to sit down and start writing it. There’s usually a codeword in my brain that summons the piece in front of me. It’s a sort of mental trick I’ve developed to snap myself to attention when I have a busy day with writing at the end.
Anyway, when I was thinking about this book, it would be “Wild for Harry.” Every day I’d ask my beta reader, “So, are you wild for Harry?”
“Don’t do this.”
“Please? Say it for me!
“No. I hate this book!”
“No, I don’t hate it. Just… do I have to?”
“C’mon, say it!”
“Fine. I’m just wild for Harry!”
“And he’s just wild about you!”
So I really am wild about Harry—and I really hope my readers are too!
One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.
Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.
In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?
Amy Lane has two kids who are mostly grown, two kids who aren’t, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
“Hide!” Harry had just enough presence of mind to grab Francis’s other side to help Edward pull him through the thicket of brambles that lined the river. Bleeding, dirty, breathless, they slid to a halt in a hollow between the blackberry bushes and the hill, lying on their stomachs, Francis sandwiched between them. Francis, who had received a terrible scratch from the corner of his mouth to the corner of his eye, moaned in pain. Harry shushed him, and Edward placed a gentle hand over his mouth.
A woman, clothed in blinding, glowing white, burst into the clearing with a man—man?—draped over her shoulder. His clothes were red velvet, and thick curly hair grew all over his face and large skull, like a goat’s.
His back feet were cloven.
“Leonard,” she begged. “Leonard… darling. Wake up. Wake up. I need your help.”
Leonard—the thing… man—rolled his head, much like Francis had done, and moaned. “Emma, leave me. If they find me with you… if they find Mullins here….”
“Mullins!” the woman whispered. “Mullins—I’m losing him. Oh please—Mullins, he’s losing himself again.”
“I’m losing myself again!” came a terrible growl, and another Leonard-like thing stepped into the clearing—this one very obviously glowing red. “Emma, we need to do the ritual. I can’t….” The monster thing, Mullins, let out a horrifying series of snuffling grunts and growls. “I’ll turn,” he said, sounding tearful—if a beast could be in tears. “I’ll turn and gut you both.”
“I understand,” she whispered. “You’ve been very brave. Here.” She set Leonard on the ground then and started to pull items from a leather satchel across her shoulder. “We’ll do it right now.”
“This isn’t the ceremonial place!” Mullins said, sounding despondent. “It’s not cleansed, it’s not prepared—”
To Harry’s surprise, Emma put a tender hand on the beast’s cheek. “My sweet boy, you’ve been too long in hell. We don’t need the trappings of the spell—although the things in those hex bags should help us focus. We just need ourselves, and our good intentions, and our desire.”
Mullins’s grunt was self-deprecating. “The road to hell is the one paved with good intentions,” he said gruffly.
“That’s only because the demons trying to get to earth walked that path first,” she said, sounding cheeky. In their quiet interaction, Harry got a better look at her. Not young—over twenty—but not old either, she was beautiful in every sense of the word. Straight nose, even teeth, perfectly oval face, and blonde hair that streamed, thick and healthy, to her waist, she was what every boy should dream about when he went to sleep hoping for a wife.
Harry didn’t dream about girls, but he could look at this one and know the appeal.
But it was more than the physical beauty—and she had it all, soft hips, small waist, large breasts—there was the kindness to the beasties. The gentleness and calm she radiated when Mullins had threatened her.
Suddenly Harry had a powerful yearning for his mum, when she’d been dead for nearly five years.
“Here,” Emma said, breaking the sweetness of the moment. “Take the hex bags—there’s ten. Make a pentagram with me and Leonard in the center. I’m summoning an angel, love. You may want to leave when you’re done. I’ve no guarantees he’ll be friendly to you.”
“That’s not news,” Mullins said dryly and began his task. “Do you…. Emma, I know you’re powerful. You summoned my master for knowledge on power alone. But all else you have done, you have done out of love.”
“Including persuade you to our side,” she said. While he set the hex bags, she was stretching Leonard out before her, stripping his shirt with deft, practiced movements. The skin underneath the clothes was smooth and human, and Harry felt nauseated at the abomination of beast and man.
But Emma seemed to care for him.
“It would be worth any torture,” Mullins said softly, pausing in his duties, “to know Leonard will live.”
“Come with us!” Emma begged. “I may not love you like I love Leonard, but you’ve been a good friend to us. Please—”
Mullins shook his head. “It’s not enough to break me free,” he said, and his bestial smile would haunt Harry and Edward for years. “Someone would have to love me enough to sacrifice for me, and make no mistake, Emma. This will come down to your sacrifice. You will be stripped of your power, your youth—are you sure you want to do this?”
Emma let out a sigh. “I would live a mortal lifetime without worry,” she said softly. “But I do not want him all alone without me. ’Twould be cruel.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and then—
Harry gasped and heard Edward do the same.
She was looking right at them.
“I’m about to do something very wrong,” she said, great conviction carrying in her serenity. “But I think something very right too. Carry on, Mullins, but run as soon as you are done.” Her voice dropped. “Please, my friend—I’ll have enough weighing on my soul for tonight’s doings as it is.”
Mullins continued to bustle, and as he set the last hex bag down, Emma began to chant. Mullins traced a circle in the dirt around the outside bags, and then, when the circle ends touched, he pulled out a knife.
Emma nodded unhappily at him and then bit her lip as he cut a line on his palm and let the blood drip on the sealed ends of the dirt line. He and Emma looked at each other again, a strong friendship locking their gaze, before he turned and lurched away, his gait awkward and crippled on his cloven hooves. Harry felt some compassion for him then, poor beast, good friend—but his gaze didn’t linger.
He was too busy watching the white light around Emma grow larger, filling the space inside the pentagram like a bowl.
The light exploded outward, filling the clearing itself, and then one more time, just a few feet more.
Harry and Edward stared at each other, terrified.
They were in the light circle as well.
“Glory!” Edward whispered, and Harry was too shaken to quiet him.
Francis stirred between them and opened his eyes slowly. For a moment Harry feared that he’d startle and scream—Harry certainly would have raised a bloody great hue and cry—but then, Francis wasn’t Harry.
He parted his bruised lips and smiled.
“An angel,” he breathed, and Harry turned his attention back to the center of the clearing.
Where an angel appeared.
Harry’s heart stopped in his throat. Tall—because of course, right? An angel would be tall. Clothed in robes that glittered like diamonds, whiter than pearls he was. His hair was a marvelous flame-gold color, red like a sunrise or an ember. His face was more handsome than sin—bold, straight nose, full lips, a square jaw, eyes of warm, solid brown.
Harry’s groin gave a painful throb, and he almost wept. Those things—those dirty, filthy things that were done to him by rough miners and haughty bankers with gold in their grubby fists—those things were not right here.
Not with an angel.
Not with this angel.
Harry’s eyes burned with the perfection of this angel.
“Suriel,” Emma breathed.