The Life and Times of Angel Evans: Behind the Scenes

Hello, and welcome!

I’ve not had a lot of time this month, so rather than a neatly planned out post, I’m simply going to give you a few of the drawings I did of Angel while I was writing. Hopefully, back with a full feature next month.

Illustration of Angel Evans, talking to a smoke demon

This first one is a moment right at the beginning of the story – Angel Evans chatting with a being made of smoke. I really like how this one came out, especially Smoke-Face. Perhaps one day I’ll even give my sketches settings.

Angel Evans running through grass

And this one is from a moment at the end of the story, when we get a glimpse of Angel Evans as a child on the day she ran away from home. I almost never think about what my characters are wearing, so sometimes when I draw them there’s just this moment of “Oh damn, what clothes would they wear?” I like the movement in this one – it’s always challenging and fun to try to draw things in action. I was also really trying to make her look actually like a child with child proportions, rather than a mini-adult. I think I managed.

And that’s it this month – back soon with more book reviews.

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The Life and Times of Angel Evans: Behind the Scenes

Welcome to the third in the Behind the Scenes posts! Apologies for the delay – I was unwell over the weekend.

This month, chatting about Yumiko; the ghostly girlfriend of Angel Evans.

Yumiko from The Life and Times of Angel Evans. By Meredith Debonnaire

Yumiko original character sketch, with colour.

Yumiko was one of those characters who developed as I wrote. I did not plan her out, and when I first started writing I knew next to nothing about her. She was a very gentle presence who was simply there. I have different ways of working with characters: some characters I sit and figure out their entire backstory, all their likes and dislikes, defining memories. With others, I think I’ve figured out those things, and then I have to go back and poke them, and then the story changes them and they end up as patchworks. And other characters are just there. Present where they need to be. Yumiko was one of those.

I’m a little ashamed to say that I did not pay lots of attention to her in her own right: Angel Evans, as a character, is really quite attention hungry (see how she’s sneaking into this post that is meant to be all about Yumiko?). Writing Yumiko mostly came easy, but it very much felt like writing from the outside rather than the inside. It’s hard for me to say what’s going through Yumiko’s mind.

So, rather than going on about the mysteriousness and elusiveness of Yumiko, here are some things I do know.

  • Yumiko was newly dead when she met Angel. The exorcists in Yumiko’s world are very very good at their jobs, so Yumiko was putting a great deal of effort into hiding. She was also dealing with the trauma of being, well, dead.
  • Her family hired the exorcists. She doesn’t like talking about that.
  • Her death was under investigation as suspicious. She doesn’t like talking about that either.
  • Really don’t ask her why she’s a ghost rather than having moved on – depending on her mood she will either start talking about bright lights and tunnels and/or islands covered in glowing mist, or she will lecture you on the importance of recognising different forms of existence. Whether or not any of this is genuine is anyone’s guess.
  • She had no idea who Angel was when she met her: it was about two months in before Yumiko realised that the hopeless junkie she was involuntarily haunting and whom she kept trying to sneakily feed was the Angel Evans, savioiur of the multiverse.
  • Yumiko was not impressed by the saviour of the multiverse thing. She’d had way too much first-hand experience of Angel as a person by then.
Yumiko and Angel Evans meet

Yumiko and Angel meeting.

  • Cranberries, or something rather like it, were Yumiko’s favourite food. She misses them a lot. Sometimes, if she’s sad, she will “acquire” cranberries and leave them all over the flat.
  • Most ghosts cannot do as much physical interaction as Yumiko does. She’s unusual in that respect.
  • Yumiko has a rich and varied online life – the internet, although extremely haunted, is just so much fun.
  • Yumiko’s pre-death memories are hazy – this is quite ordinary for a ghost.
Yumiko, Angel Evans

black fog day

And that’s it for now – I do hope to be able to write more stories in this universe at some point, and one of the ideas I’ve toyed with is using Yumiko’s point of view….

Please join me again next month – I don’t yet know what I’ll be writing about so if you have anything you’d particularly like to see on Behind the Scenes, let me know and I’ll take it into consideration.

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The Life and Times of Angel Evans: Behind the Scenes

Welcome back! This month, I’m exploring Dragonboats, Featherboats and worldbuilding.

Dragonboat sketch by Meredith Debonnaire

Art by Meredith Debonnaire

So, dragonboats. They are, as you will (I hope) know, mentioned in the story. As are featherboats. And they’re one of those things that’s actually quite important to Angel Evans’ world. As you can see from the sketches above, I imagine dragonboats to resemble viking longships with figureheads. They’re mainly made out of wood, with the scales being added on later (if you imagined them differently, I would love to know how). And it’s the scales that allow them to travel the way that they do. Angel Evans’ native world has a lot of natural magic, including really big currents of it that are known as marivers. Dragonboats travel by tapping into the magic of the marivers and using it to float. They are fast, reliable transport. They tend to be used more for cargo and trade than transport, although there are people willing and able to pay to travel quickly, as well as stowaways, and others who do things like join a dragonboat crew and conveniently hop out at the place they wanted to go.

Now the scales, as I have said, are the things that allow them to tap into the marivers. Dragonboats are covered in them (which makes them a bit painful to look at if the sun hits at the right angle), and not many people are sure how they work: something to do with absorbing and refracting the magic in a particular way. As you may remember, the scales for the dragonboats are made by Dwarfs. It’s one of their biggest exports. And the Dwarfs have never shared the secrets of how the scales are made (in fact, no single Dwarf knows the whole process – the scales are made from a rare raw material that is mined by the women, then forged by men, enchanted by grafs and sold by kleed), meaning that the main method that Humans have for transporting cargo is dependent on trade with Dwarfs (who don’t often use dragonboats themselves). This makes for an interesting relationship, as the dynamic between Dwarf nations and Human nations is often fraught with cultural misunderstandings (and battles). However, the Humans like fast, convenient transport, and the Dwarfs (who do not have a very agrarian culture) like the variation in diet afforded them by this trade, so the dragonboats are one of the main reasons why battles between Human and Dwarf nations do not tend to last, although they are often bloody.

The next best thing are featherboats. No-one’s quite sure who came up with featherboats: some people say it was a Human, some that it was a renegade Grem with poor Phasing skills. What is certain is that, although featherboats are the next best thing, they are not actually good. They are smaller, they are riskier, they sometimes explode. Or stop floating. Or decide to go somewhere else entirely. They are the cheap option, and unfortunately, as in so many places, this means the dangerous option. As the name suggests, they substitute feathers for scales, with very very mixed results. Some feathers are good at channeling magic, and some are not. About the only advantage is that featherboats can travel along weaker marivers than dragonboats, but considering the possible exploding this is not a great advantage…

Join me for Behind the Scenes next month for some thoughts on the elusive Yumiko.

If you enjoyed this, remember you can buy me a coffee 🙂
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The Life and Times of Angel Evans: Behind the Scenes

Welcome! This is a new monthly thing that I will be doing, taking you behind the scenes of The Life and Times of Angel Evans. It’s going to vary as to what exactly that means; I might take you behind the scenes to the process of writing, worldbuilding and editing, or I might take you to bits of the world that didn’t make it into the story and characters who I would have loved to give more page space. If there’s anything specific that you’d be interested in seeing, do ask! Also, if you’re reading this and wondering ‘how do I get my hands on this story?’, you can buy The Life and Times of Angel Evans through Amazon or directly from the Booksmugglers (it will cost you about £1.50 or $1.99 USD). You can get it as a Mobi or an Epub file.

Now, onwards! Let’s start by taking a look at the eponymous character herself…

Angel Evans concept art

Art by Meredith Debonnaire

I’ve talked a bit about the creation of Angel Evans as a character in both the essay and the interview that are included with the eBook; those of you who’ve read that will know that, originally, Angel Evans was meant to be a background character. I don’t remember quite how I created her – she started life as an OC in a fanfiction that never got written, grew a bit in my head, and made it into a larger project that I was planning at the time. The planned story was a really big, portal-hopping kind of thing, and Angel Evans was meant to be a background character. She was just a cleaner, working in this awful pub which, for whatever reason, was where the main characters always went for drinks while trying to figure out how they were going to save the world. They’d be getting drunk, having these very intense conversations about magic and sorcery and oh shit how do we fix this now and in the background was this ginger cleaner who always stank of tobacco. The idea I had was that, eventually, there would be this big revelation that the cleaner was actually super powerful and had saved the multiverse already (at a very high cost) and was intrinsic to doing so again, but very reluctant indeed.

That story didn’t work out. Mainly because Angel Evans just kept stealing the show – I’d try to write the story that I had planned, and all the time in the corner of my mind was this angrysad ginger cleaner, smoking cigarettes and glaring and being really really intriguing. So that project got jettisoned. And I didn’t write anything involving Angel Evans for quite a while, although she continued to hang out in the back of my mind and grow. She acquired a girlfriend, Yumiko, and a backstory and more and more of a personality. Angel Evans is one of those rare characters who seemed to write herself.

There are a lot of things that I really like about Angel Evans (sense of humour, ridiculous flirting, absolute disregard for rules concerning magic, relationship with Yumiko); the thing that I think interests and challenges me most about her is the contradiction between her selfishness and her altruism. She’s definitely selfish in a lot of ways, and she will literally climb over other people’s bodies to survive if she has to. But she doesn’t necessarily want to do that, or to have to make that choice. She has a lot of kindness, but it’s hidden beneath layers and layers of learning to survive. I think that, a lot of the time, women in fiction are not allowed to be selfish and  sympathetic: if they are selfish, we are supposed to dislike them. And I wanted to play with that.

Angel Evans is someone who, when she was pushed to absolute breaking point, did the right thing. The altruistic thing. She herself did not even consider that she had a choice in the matter, not really. But that supposedly altruistic thing is the thing she’s struggling to live with, not the things that some readers may view as selfish.

So some of the questions I was asking while writing her were: does this one, really really big act of altruism cancel out the rest of her selfish acts? And should it even matter that she can be selfish, when it was the selfishness that allowed her to survive and gain the skills she needed in order to save the worlds? Would we, the readers, view her behaviour as selfish if she had had a different gender? (it’s worth noting that she does have a different gender for a while when she’s living with Dwarfs – I’m using she pronouns because Angel Evans is ‘she’ for most of the story.) And, of course, what motivates her?

I still think about most of those, despite the story being done and written. Angel Evans is probably one of my favourite creations, precisely because she’s a flawed ball of contradictions with the potential to be absolutely monstrous. She also grew very organically, rather than being planned out in advance as some characters were, and I think this gave her the rough edges that she needed.

Join me next month for more Behind the Scenes – I’ll be talking about Dragonboats and why they’re important in Angel’s world.

If you enjoyed this, remember you can buy me a coffee via the magic of the internets 🙂
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Update: Holidaaaay tiiiimmmeee!

Hello all! A quick updateamundo!

I shall be on holiday for the next little while, so you probably won’t hear much from me. However, I do have some things planned once I get back: firstly, sorting out my laptop situation (a brilliant friend has lent me a working laptop until I can afford to buy one – three billion cheers for her!); I hope to do this mid-August. Secondly, I have found all the scribbly art that I did while I was writing The Life and Times of Angel Evans. I’ve been sorting it out, and colouring some of it, and I intend to start a little ‘behind the scenes’ column once a month sharing that and other things with you. I hope you all enjoy this 🙂 Thirdly, I have set up a ko-fi page! You can buy me coffee through the internet now! Wow, isn’t that magical? 😀

Other updates

Writing: Just finished a novella, I’m now hiding it from myself for a few weeks so that I get editing space. Also plotting a mini-series that would go on this blog: bonkers, not-particularly-accurate sci-fi full of queerness. It’s in progress, and I’ll keep you updated. Also been poking some of my old stories: sometimes they poke back, which is worrying…

Reading: more fanfiction than I should. I regained internet access and went a bit mad. I have a lot of books that I’m planning to read while on holiday though. So. Many. Books.

Other thoughts: I want this song to be my theme music. Whenever I walk into a room, it plays. Loudly.

And that’s it! Until we meet again, farewell 🙂

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Locus poll and survey

Soooooo, here I must admit that I do not usually pay much attention to awards: I have a tendency to quietly live beneath a rock and emerge only briefly for basic necessities or if my friends poke me. I find new books by a) wandering into bookshops or libraries and browsing b) recommendations from friends, or c) mystical messages from the great beyond communicated to me via carrier pigeon, smoke signals or messages in bottles left outside the aforementioned rock…..

HOWEVER, something rather exciting has happened! Which is that The Life and Times of Angel Evans (my debut novelette) is on the Locus Award ballot *insert expressions of disbelieving excitement here* and and and I don’t really know what to do with that information – it has reduced me into a weird mess of nervous excitement because people read my work and liked it!!!!!!!

Ahem. So, I’m off to actually vote in the Locus Award ballot-ma-thing. And if you have read and enjoyed The Life and Times of Angel Evans, please do consider voting for it (it’s in the category Best Novelette). Click here.

If you haven’t read it and you would like to (it’s got magic, a ghost, dead prophets and the end of the world), click on the image to the right of this post and you’ll be redirected.

Thank you to everyone who’s read, reviewed, critiqued and enjoyed – it’s wonderful that Angel Evans has come this far 🙂

I’m now returning to my rock – reviews again next week 🙂

Celebratory Post! Locus annual recommended reading list

The Life and Times of Angel Evans has made its way on to the Locus annual recommended reading list! The entire list is here. This post is basically the equivalent of me having a tiny, one person party. YAY! Thank you very much – I really did not think this would happen.

So anyway, in celebration of how far this story has come, I give you some photos of the very beginnings of it. Behold, the first six pages of The Life and Times of Angel Evans, as written on the note pages from my diary at the time. And also the notebook that I wrote the rest of it in. Thank you for reading it, reviewing it and enjoying it. And many thanks to the BookSmugglers, who love the story and edited and published it 😀

You can read The Life and Times of Angel Evans by following this link. There is an option to buy the ebook at the foot of that page; buying the ebook means you also get an essay and an interview with me 🙂 The Life and Times of Angel Evans is also included in Superheroes Reborn: Five Origin Stories (and all of the stories in there are fantastic!). Follow this link and scroll down.

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