Michael O’Brien. 24. New Yorker. Musician. Commander of Heaven’s army.
It’s been centuries since Michael stayed on Earth for an extended period of time. Now he’s here because of Jordan Amador—a Seer who helped him restore his life and memories and thwart the archdemon Belial from taking over the city. With Jordan on Belial’s hit list, Michael decides to stick around and live out life alongside her as her friend and temporary bodyguard. But as the days pass, he finds it harder to resist the seven deadly sins that tempt all men. Especially as he and Jordan grow closer fighting the demons who want her almost as much as he does…
This collection takes place in the two month period in The Black Parade between Chapters 15 and 16
From Bible to Urban Fantasy
Some might say what I write is blasphemy. I call it fun. Then again, I might be a few knives short of a cutlery.
Now, anyone who has read my work can certainly tell I am no Bible scholar. However, I did grow up Southern Baptist and I remember my fair share of the Good Book. My favorite was always the poetry in Psalms, and I think that contributes to why I chose to write about the angels. John Milton’s Paradise Lost rewrote the events of the Bible into a comprehensive narrative with a surprising protagonist, a sprawling fantasy world, and incomparably beautiful language. You can flip to any page and find something exquisite. It’s a combination of the Holy Bible and Paradise Lost that led me to start my series.
I have a bunch of reasons for why I decided to write The Black Parade, The Deadly Seven, and the two upcoming sequels, but I think one of the main reasons will always be because I wanted my own flavor. I wanted to take something so ancient, so well-known, and so vastly explored and shrink it down. I could have chosen to modernize any of the figures from the Bible, but I really wanted to focus on the archangels Michael and Gabriel because they are the most popular. For the most part, both men are portrayed pretty much the same in most media: Michael being the stoic, harsh, sometimes even cruel warrior angel while Gabriel is often portrayed as becoming corrupted as he is God’s Messenger. I’ve seen it so many times that I thought it would be fun to put my own spin on them.
I truly liked the idea of Michael still be a warrior, but I wanted to give him some layers as well. It’s far too easy to write a detached leader persona. He needed to be complicated and even misguided. A lot of urban fantasy novels write angels as disdainful of the human race, but it’s my belief that they wouldn’t be able to stay on earth alongside us if that were the case. However, I could certainly see how the celestial beings could get sick of us, so I decided to incorporate both ideas. In the beginning, Michael is the protector of mankind, but he does not connect with us on any level until the events of the Black Parade happen. Jordan becomes the catalyst for the change in his world view, and I believe it’s for the better. Michael is such an important, imposing angel in the Bible, so I decided to show that he could be brought down to our level and yet still be the all-powerful Commander of Heaven’s Army.
As for Gabriel, I loved the idea of him being benevolent rather than malevolent. In my series, he is very much an older brother to Jordan and to Michael as well. He is always the voice of reason and encouragement for them, but he is still his own man at the same time. I wrote Gabriel as a sweetheart in order to balance out Jordan’s cynicism and Michael’s occasional hot-headed moments. Surprisingly, as the books progressed, he started becoming one of my favorite characters to write as his perspective is so unique to theirs. He is always optimistic, yet practical; kind yet powerful; humble yet confident. Michael is the sword and Gabriel is the shield. Michael is the order and Gabriel is the faith. The two of them are like night and day, but they work so well together since they still share the desire to protect Jordan and the rest of the world.
The other fantasy elements of the Black Parade that were based on the Bible sort of fell into place after I read through Paradise Lost a few times. Hellhounds have always been a mainstay in Christian mythology as well as demons, but the archdemons I decided to give a new coat of paint, so to speak. For example, Mulciber is and (as far as I know) has always been male, but I dislike that so many Bible-based fiction is male-dominated. I wanted a femme fatale who could be just as vicious as Belial, but without the burning need to conquer Jordan. She is completely detached from any sort of emotion. She was the archdemon responsible for building Pandemonium in Hell, and so on earth she seeks to build her own kingdom.
The spiritual energy that the Seers, angels, and demons use in the Black Parade are also something I came up with on the fly. Seers are simply the descendants of the twelve disciples, who in my continuity had many, many children, grandchildren, and so forth. They have an abundance of purity in spirit, which allows them to be sensitive to supernatural elements of the world, particularly dead souls and a kind of almost psychic energy. The powers granted to Jordan as a Seer were also a great opportunity to give her an edge against the demons without turning her into a super-powered freak. Nothing is worse than a heroine who can wipe the floor with anyone. She immediately becomes boring if she has limitless abilities, and that is how the idea of limited spiritual energy came about.
Now, I’m sure the following thought might have crossed your mind if you read the books: “where the hell are God and Satan? They’re kind of a big deal, right?” Well, truthfully, I’ve seen so many incredible incarnations of the Lord and the Lord of Darkness that I don’t think I could possibly add anything to them as entities. I decided from Day One that I would never have God or Lucifer appear directly in my series because they’ve been portrayed thousands of times since the Bible first came about. It’s not so much a cop-out as it is a nod to the greats out there—from Morgan Freeman to George Burns to Al Pacino to Peter Stormare. It might disappoint some people, but I think there is enough incredible material out there who can handle the Big Two better than I ever could.
I’ve never quite tried to intentionally put a message in my series, even though it is based on Christianity, so I can only hope that it’s entertaining. I love stories. I love telling them, and that is what the Bible—and Paradise Lost—have inspired me to do, every step of the way.
Being Jordan Amador’s angelic bodyguard against a horde of bloodthirsty demons was a lot of things, but certainly not boring.
I checked my watch for the fortieth time in the last twenty minutes. Jordan usually got off at eight o’clock. Things had been quiet for over two weeks now, which was rare for a Seer’s lifestyle. She encountered ghosts with unfinished business a few times a month and that kept the both of us busy. Earlier, she had convinced me to meet her at the bus stop a couple streets over instead of in front of the Sweet Spot.
“So would you mind waiting for me at the bus stop instead of out here?” she had asked, sweeping her shoulder-length black hair up into its usual high ponytail.
I frowned. “Why? Doesn’t it kind of defeat the purpose of the whole ‘temporary bodyguard’ thing?”
“It’s been quiet for a while now, Michael. Come on. Helping avert the end of the world and ganking an archdemon aren’t enough to prove I can take care of myself?”
I glanced between her and the store front. A couple of her waitress friends who were watching us through the window scattered as soon as I looked over. Then it clicked.
“They think I’m your boyfriend, huh?”
Jordan got really interested in her shoes all of the sudden. “Yeah. They do.”
I shook my head. She was an anointed soul charged with helping the dead find peace and yet she still cared what her coworkers thought of our relationship. I couldn’t decide if it was cute, frustrating, or hilarious. Possibly all three.
Then again, I could see how her coworkers would get confused that a six-foot-tall, dark-haired, green-eyed “underwear model” (which I overheard one of them dub me last week) dropped Jordan off at work on a frequent basis. I decided to be lenient for once.
“Fine. We’ll give it a test run today. If you survive, I’ll take it into consideration.”
She shot me a scowl. “Gee, thanks, almighty Michael. I am humbled that you considered the request of a lowly human.”
I grinned. “You’re welcome, my humble servant.”
She rolled her eyes and swatted my arm before turning to head into the restaurant. “Later, pretty boy.”
“Stay out of trouble.” I called, and then headed back towards the bus stop.
That had been eight hours ago. Getting off a shift late wasn’t unusual for a waitress, but most times it was by only five or ten minutes. My instincts needled at me that something was off.
Sighing, I fished out my cell phone and called her, tapping my foot. “Come on, Amador, pick up.”
Several rings. A click. Voicemail message. Ugh. I hung up and stuffed my hands in my pockets. It was a short walk through the heavily trafficked area on this side of Albany, New York, but it was during one of the busier times of the day. Nighttime in the city meant chatty couples walking through holding hands, teenagers hollering and chasing each other down the street, and music pouring out from the clubs already packed to the rafters with the twenty-somethings.
Two stop lights, one near-death experience courtesy of a speeding cab, and one step in some gum later, and I reached the glowing red sign to the Sweet Spot. The Southern cuisine eatery was busy. As much as Northerners made fun of the South in sitcoms and stand up shows, they sure did like the food.
I pushed the door open and smiled at Beth, the head hostess. “Hey, you.”
“Michael.” The short blonde grinned. “Good to see you as always.”
“Is Jordan still in the back?”
A slight frown marred her brow. “No, honey. She left about ten minutes ago.”
I froze. “Left how? She was supposed to meet me at the bus stop.”
“She went out back to take out the trash and I just assumed she went home after. Why? Something wrong?”
A cold lump settled in my stomach. Something wasn’t adding up. Jordan wasn’t the type to disappear without texting me. I didn’t want to concern her friends so I kept my expression pleasant. “Nah, she probably just wandered off to window shop. I’ll catch up with her. Thanks, Beth.”
“No problem, sweets.”
I made a point to leave the restaurant in a casual manner, but once I was out of sight, I hurried around the block to the back of the building. The Sweet Spot was part of an entertainment district in this section of Albany. There were narrow alleys between the establishments and the streets ran parallel to the store fronts.
The Sweet Spot’s back alley looked like any other restaurant in Albany—lined by dumpsters and garbage cans. The concrete was littered with fallen bits of food. A couple of mangy cats fought over fish bones. The entire area stank to high heaven. I called Jordan’s phone again and prayed that my instincts were wrong.
The raucous chorus to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” echoed behind me.
I turned towards one of the dumpsters and lifted the entire thing with one hand. Her phone lay cracked and forlorn underneath it.
About the author:
Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, made it through the first round of Amazon's 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. She participated and completed the 2011 National Novel Writing Month competition. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.
I would love to have a paper back copy of this book it looks so good, and i love the cover thank you for the giveaway...
This looks like a fantastic series and i look forward to reading it asap!! thank you so much for a great giveaway
Great excerpt! I'm not familiar with the Black Parade but ill have to check that out too!
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