We had the chance to sit down with L.A. Weatherly and ask her a few questions about her newest book, Angel Fire (which you can begin reading for a limited time on Figment here). Angel Fire is the sequel to Angel Burn, which turns everything you think you know about angels on its head. What if angels aren’t the benevolent beings we believe them to be? What if they’re in fact feeding from human energy, sapping their victims’ strength and making them ill? When teenage Willow–former ordinary (albeit psychic) high school girl–discovers she’s half angel, she learns the legacy of her kind . . . and also learns that she’s the target of an angel hunter, Alex. But Willow has no desire to feed on anyone–instead, she joins forces with Alex to bring down the angels. But this comes with some serious risks, and Willow isn’t sure she can survive them. In Angel Fire, things are further complicated when Willow realizes she’s not the only half-angel in the world, the way everyone thought she was. She meets Seb, another halfie, and her attraction to him will change everything.
If you had to sum up Angel Fire in 5 words, what would they be?
Romance, action, temptation, heartbreak, deception
I’d have to say harder, at least initially. Though I’d originally planned out the whole trilogy in detail, by the time I completed Angel Burn I’d learned a lot more about the characters and their world, and many of my ideas about the sequels didn’t really fit any more. So I pretty much had to start from scratch with Angel Fire, with only a few basic ideas about the storyline and where I wanted things to ultimately end up. It wasn’t until the character of Seb came to me that everything finally clicked and fell into place (which was a huge relief!)
While writing Angel Burn you took the same road trip that Alex and Willow took. How did being in their shoes inspire your writing?
I think it gave it a sense of realness that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. For instance, in the first draft I’d described the Texas panhandle as being ‘hot and flat’. Which isn’t untrue, but it’s a little like saying the Grand Canyon is ‘a big hole’! Once I’d actually seen the panhandle for myself, though, I was blown away by the sense of immense, endless space, and hope I succeeded in translating some of this onto paper.
You’ve said that Alex was a character you’ve had in your mind for a long time. What about the setting of the Angel series felt like a good fit for him?
I wanted to write about an assassin falling in love with his prey, but I also wanted to write a romance with a reasonably happy ending. Without bringing in some kind of paranormal aspect this would have been difficult: there are some rather obvious complications about having a real-life hit man for a boyfriend! So the idea about angels not being what they seemed felt immediately right for Alex and the story I wanted to tell.
Do you ever dream-cast the movie version of Alex and Willow?
Very excitingly, the film rights to the Angel series were optioned recently–so yes, this is something that’s been on my mind! I think Amanda Seyfried would be a perfect Willow, and though Sean Faris is probably a little old for the role now, he’s the image of Alex in my mind. In fact, the wallpaper on my cell phone is a photo of him, so that I can see Alex every time I look at it (my husband’s very understanding!)
Do you have a writing routine?
Definitely; I think you have to when you’re working to a deadline by yourself. I’m usually at my desk by 6.30 in the morning (I love writing when the world’s quiet), and try to keep going until I’ve done at least 2,000 words. Naturally, this includes lots of coffee breaks and Twitter updates.
What other myth would you like to flip on its head?
You know, I don’t think I would, unless something truly amazing and different occurred to me. There’s been such an explosion in paranormal writing recently that the whole “mythic creatures who aren’t what they seem” thing is feeling a little too predictable now. I know what I want to write next, though, and am extremely excited about it–and while it’s not strictly paranormal, I think it’s something that readers of the Angel series will really enjoy!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? How old were you?
I do! I was around four or five, and I wrote and illustrated a story about a fox and a horse, which I then ‘bound’ by stapling it down the center. I was very serious about it; I was determined that it was going to get published. (It didn’t.)
Your books are long, but keep the reader engaged the whole time! Any advice for writers looking to hook their audience for the long haul?
Thank you! I’d say it’s important to keep the emotional stakes high for your characters, so that readers are invested in turning pages; you also want the action to feel as fresh and unpredictable as possible. Never give information away before you have to – even the most minor details can be revealed gradually, heightening tension. Also, keep things tight and focused. Really think about the purpose of each scene, and cut things whenever you can.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I guess I’ve been pretty lucky with the advice I’ve received over the years, because the worst thing that comes to mind is when I was in a writers’ group in college: there was a woman who insisted that you should never, ever have a paragraph that was made up of a single word or sentence. Of course, this is incorrect–and it can actually be a very effective technique to emphasize a point.
Thanks so much for the great questions; I really enjoyed answering them!