Guest Post: ‘Good Vs Evil’ by Michelle L. Johnson
Good vs. Evil is a common theme in fiction. After all, without it where would all of our beloved superhero stories be, from Superman to Batman? The inner struggle of those characters, the good vs. evil within themselves, is a large part of what makes them interesting.
In my novel DIVINITY, though, don’t assume that the traditional good vs. evil, angel vs. evil, rules apply. They don’t.
Every character – angel, human, and even the terrifying A’nwel – has an agenda. They each have a role to play, and a purpose that guides their actions.
When our main character Julia discovers that she is half-human and half Archangel, her agenda is to simply understand who she is, to learn about her family, and to understand how to use her own unique powers. Her agenda quickly converges with those of the Archangels, each of whom have their own sense of who Julia is and what she might become, and her human family, friend and business associates, each of whom wants or needs something from Julia as well.
The Archangels in the world I have created are more interested in keeping a balance between good and evil than in destroying evil. They understand that evil is a natural part of humanity, and each Archangel has a role to play to ensure that balance is maintained.
Then, there’s the A’nwel, the dark and terrifying creature that our heroine, Julia, must face. It has immense power, and frightens the Archangels because they can’t see it, nor have they ever encountered anything like it before. It threatens to destroy the balance in humanity that the Archangels strive to protect. Only Julia can see it, and only Julia has the power to confront it.
(Let’s be clear now: the A’nwel is not the devil, nor a demon, nor anything we traditionally think of as evil. There are no devils or demons in DIVINITY. I was very careful to steer away from the traditional “if it fights with the angels it must be of the devil” theme.)
As the story develops, we get to know each character and discover the many aspects of each character’s agenda. What makes DIVINITY so much fun is watching as the different agendas intersect. We discover that each agenda isn’t inherently good or evil, but that how the characters see it – how you as the reader see it –defines a character or an action as good or evil.
Imagine, if you will, a chess board on a swivel. Chess masters use them a lot to practice their game by playing against themselves. If one side is white and one side is black, does that mean that they are good and evil? Or can it just mean that they each have the desire to win, and so they will play with their agenda in mind.
So when I write from any character’s perspective, I swivel the board around to see the game from their point of view. I believe this makes for well-rounded characters. Human characters – even when they’re not. This approach to writing gives me a unique ability to see what each character wants and what they need to do in order to get where they want to go.
What I didn’t count on when I started writing was the number of characters playing the game. My chessboard has many sides to it. Each character’s moves ripple across the board, interacting with the moves of others, in surprising and unpredictable ways, ways that I hope make the reader wonder if good or evil really exists, or if we all see things based on our own agenda.
Michelle L. Johnson was born in Ohio and adopted by Canadians. They traveled all over North America, and when they weren’t on the road Michelle could be found with her nose buried deeply in the pages of a book. With all of her travels and adventures, she hopes to bring some of her unique perspective to the pages and to entertain others the way all of her heroes have for her. When she’s not hanging out with her feathered friends, she’s busy being a literary agent with Inklings Literary Agency. She says wherever she hangs her coffee mug is her home, and right now that’s a toasty warm Jacksonville, Florida with her happy Cocker Spaniel and her small family.
About the book:
When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she’s left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel. With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart. Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A’nwel and protect the family she never knew she had. What she doesn’t know is that Archangels have secrets too.
Divinity hits shelves on the 23rd of September.