ANGELS have always been of interest to me – I watched every episode of Touched by an Angel and was so upset when it went off the air. But ever since I was little, I remember collecting angel figurines with the hopes that one day they would become real. Needless to say, that never happened – at least I don’t think.
After you read ANGEL, by Cliff McNish, you will be forced to wonder if angels are real – look for its release this spring.
A.B. What was the inspiration behind ANGEL? Was this purely your imagination, or a message from an angel to write this story?
I’ve always had a secular interest in ideas about angels (and perhaps my own religious upbringing reinforced that), but the starting point was an arresting image that came from nowhere: of a young girl, waking, and finding a glorious angel, winged and huge, sitting at the bottom of her bed. I had no idea why the angel was with this girl, but I knew her life thereafter could never be the same. I wanted to know what happened to her …
A.B.You selected strong characters for your story – Amy, Hestron, Freya, Tate – they each possess different types of human strength. My favorite though is Luke – he was my angel in the story. But upon reflection, what character did you fall in love with and why?
In a sense Luke is the human angel – quietly doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. What other message can be more powerful, really? But I suppose my own favourite character is the angel Hestron. He is a perfect altruistic being – and as such so hard to make believable as a true fictional character (Hey, where’s the flaws!). The challenge was to keep him that way and yet still make him convincing and unsentimental. Mestraal, an angel full of flaws, was much easier to conceive.
A.B. While I was reading ANGEL, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my own high school days and the bullying that took place. Stephanie – my heart hurt so much for her. What can a teenager learn from her character?
I think from Stephanie we can learn something about resiliency – standing up for what you believe is right and fair and true, even when the obstacles are enormous. Maybe something about passion as well. In a sense, the whole story almost inadvertently became a moral fable. I guess, looking back, that was inevitable once I started contrasting human behaviour with the angels. At first I was worried about that – the last thing I wanted to write was a preachy book, as in my experience that turns teenagers right off. But after completing the first draft I decided that the ethical dimension was the main strength of the book, and I made each of the characters have choices over the full range of possible moral choices. At least I tried!
A.B. At the end of the story, I was left wondering about Amy, the health of Freya’s dad, Luke, and Stephanie – are you planning a sequel?
Originally I wrote this as a stand-alone novel, but a weird thing happened once it was finished – 2 sequels, including an ending to book 3 that had me jumping with excitement, came into my mind. At the moment these are just detailed synopses. I guess we’ll have to see how sales go to find out if there is any interest commercially in a sequel.