An insight into my research for the Black Rose series #1 - Places
Let's start with places. Those from the UK or familiar with it, might've realised right away that I have used real towns and cities of England, but in a fictitious way. I grew up not far from the beach on the South coast of Britain, and we frequented the beaches and coastal towns when I was a kid. When I began writing about Cate, I decided that she should come from a beach town, so I used one of my childhood haunts as inspiration. I loved the idea of her being a small town girl, innocent and naive to the ways of the world and the evil lurking on the periphery of her sheltered life. The fact that she blindly chooses to leave all of that behind to go to hell when Satan comes for her is testament to that. The biggest setting for the Earth based storyline is then undoubtedly London. I just had to use this city, it is a place in which evil can lurk and live, thrive and dominate.
I mention the characters going to places such as Paris, Rome, Bali and watching the Northern lights in Greenland and Iceland (all of which are my bucket-list travel destinations) I also used the towns of Harrogate and Colchester, which are both lovely towns in the UK.
Next I began using towns along the ley lines of Britain. I wanted to use the ley lines and their elements of scientific research, ancient myth and magical fable to add to my storyline. Rather than use Stonehenge, what is undoubtedly the most famous structure along the British ley lines, I used the small town of Avebury. I loved reading about the stones and quickly decided to use Avebury in my story. If you would like to read about the circle of stones in Avebury, here is one of the websites I found very helpful:
The other town I found in my research, and decided to use in my story is Winchcombe. I read that it is not only an incredibly old town, but there are also numerous ghost stories and history of unusual experiences there, which I was drawn to instantly.
Here is a website I found helpful in my research:
After these, I cannot finish without mentioning the amazing cities of Moscow and Rio de Janeiro. I chose these as the 'two ends of the earth' for Lucifer and Uriel to fall from the heavens. I was excited to research both cities, and loved the idea of Uriel looking out at 'Christ the Redeemer' not knowing that he was in fact the most powerful angel in heaven. Even thinking about it makes me smile!
An insight into my research for the Black Rose series #2 - Hell
So, in continuing in what I hope is an enjoyable insight into the mind of a writer, here are my thoughts and decisions behind the underworld I created for Cate and her dark brood. I think most people think of Hell and fire, dungeons and torture chambers immediately spring to mind.
My Hell had to have these, of course, but I also decided that it needed to be a home. I wanted rooms and beds, clothes and jewels - not just flames and thrones.
In my series, human beings move on after a life on Earth of free will only to then find themselves eternal slaves to either Heaven or Hell. To advance in either realm they must give themselves over fully to their masters, and prove themselves worthy. Once evil souls progress, I decided that they could then be chosen to become demons or other dark beings.
I added some other small details to my vision of Hell, such as there not being any air to breathe or the ability to have food, which would decay and rot within seconds. My idea was of stifling heat and pressure, all the things that would emphasise the idea of a prison for the mind, body and soul. It is a place that captures every one of the characters senses as well as their bodies. No matter how big the realm might be, and how lavish Cate and her dark family might live, they are slaves to the higher power and the darkness that they have encompassed and serve. That theme remains throughout my series, along with the all important idea of balance.
With all those things in mind, I quickly came up with the idea of a huge city in the centre of the hellish realm. That city would be built around the vast citadel, known as the Dark Castle. In my mind, this one magnificent building sits amongst basic houses and walkways. Only upper-level demons and witches are allowed inside, and some are even permitted to live there when they progress higher. Of course, the dark royalty have a vast wing all of their own, lavishly created and full of every decadence they might want.
Having lived in Europe for years, I can't tell you how many times I've peered up at the gothic architecture we are blessed with having on our doorstep. My absolute inspiration for the Dark Castle was Cologne Cathedral (aka Köln Dom.) If you ever visit Cologne, you cannot miss the dark-bricked, intense and ominous structure in the centre of the city. It's beautiful and thought-provoking, but to me it has always seemed powerful and even a little sinister. I love the almost blackened brick and pointed edges, go check it out for yourself, and you'll see exactly what I mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne_Cathedral
I think that just about wraps up this post, I hope you've enjoyed a 'behind the scenes' view of my dark world and its creation. I cannot deny, I'm really enjoying looking back on what has undoubtedly been the most amazing journey of my life.
An insight into my research for the Black Rose series #3 - Demons
Ok, so this is the part that kept me awake at night! Demonology is a very real, widely researched subject. I hope to have done the lore justice in my novels, but can honestly say I have used the demons I researched in a completely fictitious way. I've never practised Satanism, or participated in demonic rituals of any kind, even just the research was a little too intense for me at times. Yes, I'm a wuss!
I did want to add depth to my storyline, though. So, I decided to use the names of demons many of us might've already heard of, be it on TV shows or in other novels. They each have their roles and responsibilities, as well as their contributions to my series as a whole.
Demons such as Lilith, Leviathan, Beelzebub, and importantly, Lucifer, were of course my main focus. Cate and her other family members were created wholly by me for the storyline, but what I wrote about the goddess Hecate, is based on real mythology. You can read here if you'd like to find out more about her:
The story most people have heard of is that Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and he took control of Hell. I too have used that lore, along with the premise of him later being joined by the other fallen angels Leviathan and Beelzebub. Those two are Lucifer's best friends, and I love the way they became layered, interesting sub-characters of my series. I developed them to be funny, sexy, good and evil all wrapped into one. I wanted proper characters with both flaws and perfections, as well as their sinful existence and clear evil doings. In book5 of the series, I developed Leviathan's lore and used it to give him his moment in the spotlight. He is the fabled sea monster, the cruel master of the oceans and I wanted to take that myth and twist it around (as I like to do.) He became a creature of the seas, yet not necessarily evil. His love interest helps him to conquer that overwhelming power he feels when immersed, and she teaches him to love that beast he'd hidden away for so very long.
Lilith has had many different tales told about her, but I decided to make her a powerful, vicious demon worthy of being Lucifer's second in command. She sometimes shows her softer side, especially towards the end of the final book, but I hope to have done her justice as a strong female demonic presence. I wanted there to be a balanced set of powerful male and female characters in these books, and hope I've done just that!
And now to Leviathan's love interest - Keeva, the Banshee. I decided to steer clear of werewolves or vampires when it came to adding other dark creatures. Not because I don't enjoy those types of books, but because there are so many out there that I simply fancied something different. I developed the banshee of my story using the fabled stories of women of reportedly Irish descent that somehow sensed death. We've all heard the phrase 'scream like a banshee,' but instead I decided to do it differently. She sings when death is close, and what starts as a hum becomes more powerful and hard to control. She sings louder and more violently until her voice gives out, and that is when the person she's singing for dies. Keeva is damaged, abused and technically beholden to neither sides of the Heaven/Hell divide, but she pledges her allegiance to the Crimson Brotherhood after asking for their help.
I hint here and there at other dark creatures, but I guess the only other ones I go into greater detail with are the Incubus/Succubus demons. They are singularly minded, powerful demons who follow their instincts to seduce and reproduce. We have Meri (based on the fabled Succubus Meridiana who reportedly seduced Pope Sylvester II) and her incubus brother Malik who preys on women at night in order to try and procreate. I've taken the lore and adapted it to add more depth to Meri as a supporting character. She's stepped away from a life of mindless adultery and need, focusing instead on using her power to serve the Crimson Brotherhood. She becomes Melody's assistant, and uses her gifts to make her look beautiful, such a simple task, and yet its adds to her as a friend and loyal companion to the poor, imprisoned woman.
I guess that's it for this instalment. Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed getting to know me and my writing process a little better :-)
Parts One and Two
I think I can handle his dark side
MAKE HER YOURS...
I can play his game of cat and mouse
SHOW HER THE REAL YOU...
What's the worst that can happen?