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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A moment of SQUEEEEEEE plus announcement

Squeeee first: I’ve just started reading Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman and my queer heart is exploding with emotions! So many feelings! All over the place! The variety of experiences and the honesty and the abrupt feeling of having a history, there is a history out there is overwhelming and wonderful and brilliant! If I never come back, it’s because I’ve attempted to move in to this book…

Announcement second: tomorrow will be the first of the Behind the Scenes: The Life and Times of Angel Evans blog posts, and I’ll be talking about the development of Angel Evans as a character. There will also be an art 🙂

Random music video for your delectation:

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Aside

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.

Happy nine years to the booksmugglers

My lovely publishers turned nine recently – a very happy birthday to them! The shared post includes quite a few exciting announcements (and I am so looking forward to seeing what they publish this year – it all looks amazing), including an anthology of the Superhero stories! You can now get all five (including my story The Life and Times of Angel Evans) in one awesome anthology for $4.99 as epub and mobi. And for those of you who struggle with screens, I have heard that it will be out in paper edition at some point this year (date to be confirmed). Happy reading one and all!

HAPPY SMUGGLIVUS, EVERYONE! As part of our Smugglivus Celebrations, we took a retrospective look at 2016 yesterday. Today, as we turn 9 (NINE!), we look forward to 2017–and make a few exciting announcements! ALL THE PLANS FOR 2017 Gods and Monsters! 2017 is the year of Gods and Monsters! Like Subversive Fairytales, First Contact and…

via The Book Smugglers Present 2017 — The Book Smugglers

Artwork for ‘The Life and Times of Angel Evans’

So, you may have noticed from my repeated posting on this blog that I have been published! Apart from the total excitement of having my work picked up by the lovely BookSmugglers (who are fantastic to work with) and being paid for writing, one of the truly wonderful things about this was seeing Jenna Whyte’s fantastic cover art for The Life and Times of Angel Evans. In fact, I was so in love with it that I bought the original, and had it framed. This is me, having just got the original back after getting it framed, feeling very pleased indeed. Big shoutout to Jenna, who is a fantastic artist and who really captured the essence of Angel Evans – find out more about the artist here.

If you want to buy The Life and Times of Angel Evans, you can do that by clicking on the icon to the right. It’s about £1.50. If you can’t afford that, it is available for free on the BookSmugglers website.

Note: I just realised I am wearing the same jumper in these photos that I was wearing when I met Ana and Thea – what a coincidence!

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