Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Post: Jessica Shirvington

Today, I'd like to welcome Jessica Shirvington, the author of Embrace to my blog. Jessica is here to talk about what she found in her research about angels and how she adapted her angel mythology to make it unique.

I love delving into old tales and finding loopholes or differences of opinion that offer new story possibilities. When I started writing EMBRACE, I knew from an early stage that I wanted to explore the many tales about angels, but in my own way. There is so much I could discuss, but today I would love to tell you a little more about how I used the concepts of free will from mythology.

The idea for EMBRACE stemmed from a desire to write a story that explored free will vs. predetermined destiny and if the two may in fact work together. So often humanity are defined by our free will - by the choices we make and the consequences that we suffer and inflict on others. The questions I asked were - If angels play a role in the function of the universe but are not making and enforcing decisions that direct our lives towards a predetermined fate - then what do they actually do? I decided it would be interesting to consider that they could be providing the options - for every choice one option is better than the other. Sometimes we take the better option - sometimes we do not. And then, for every angel that was there to offer the ‘good’ option, must there not be one to offer the ‘bad’ one?

When I started to dig deeper - so much of the research agreed that angels must also have free will; they can choose to fall, have the ability to feel pride and envy. So what makes them serve the universe as they apparently do? Is it their profound knowledge or something else? And if they have free will, angels could not possibly be all-divine beings that do no wrong? It seemed more probable that whilst their function may define them and indeed control them - free will demanded they were not perfect.

This led to the development of the two categories of angels in EMBRACE: Angels Elect (the light) and Angels Malign (the dark). It has always seemed convenient in storytelling to simply have beautiful angels who want only good in contrast to the ugly demons who want only evil. Lucifer was described as an angel - but is it possible that he still is? Is it possible that he simply had a function and is fulfilling it? For the purposes of storytelling this seemed like a conflict rich subject.

In EMBRACE, there are no demons. Only angels. The story takes the viewpoint that angels equally provide both good and bad alternatives for us to choose from. It doesn’t make an angel elect a wholly good spirit, nor is an angel malign an evil entity - they simply follow the function (completely). Likewise, if angels are the administrators of the universe and control all things including weather and nature - then angels must be willing to provide a draught or hurricane just as much as perfect summer days. So it all fit together really well.

I loved working with this concept because it led to so many developments in the story. It allowed me to excuse my characters from the larger ‘God question’ - one I was not interested in drawing into the plot and it also allowed for a new approach - not so simple as good vs. evil but instead, a whole lot of grey.

Thanks for dropping by, Jessica!

A bit about Jessica (as found on Goodreads): An entrepreneur, author, and mother living in Sydney, Australia, Jessica is a 2011 finalist for Cosmopolitan’s annual Fun, Fearless Female Award. She’s also one of the lucky few who met the love of her life at age seventeen: Matt Shirvington, a former Olympian and current sports broadcaster for FOXTEL and Sky News. Married for almost eleven years with two beautiful daughters, Sienna and Winter, Jessica knows her early age romance and its longevity has definitely contributed to how she tackles relationships in her YA novels. Previously, she founded a coffee distribution company, Stella Imports, in London, and before that was involved in the management of restaurants Fuel Bistro and MG Garage in Sydney. Jessica is now a full-time novelist and living her dream.


  1. Wow, it is abundantly clear that the author really put a lot of effort into making sure her angel story - a subgenre that notoriously is often not very highbrow - was unique and involved, which I very much appreciate. I love that she has two types of angels and that they have a choice.

  2. Oh gosh, I loved this book so much!! And one of my favourite things about it was how original and awesome the angel lore was, so I really loved this post too! :) It was really cool how, instead of demons and angels, there were two types of angels who could choose to be what they wanted because that seems more realistic than all angels automatically being good and all demons automatically being bad. I probably wouldn't make the best angel OR demon LOL! x)

    Thanks so much for posting this, Z! :)

  3. I've had a hit or miss with angel books. I'm starting to figure out the reason why. I, personally, don't believe angels have freewill but that's more of a religious aspect so to me reading about an angel who has doesn't compute. I wonder if the author only looked into the Christian theology for her research. I doubt that all theologians would have the same understanding about angels. I did find her question intriguing though and it does go beyond the human-angel hybrid that's abundant right now.

  4. Like Rummanah, angel stories are usually a hit or miss with me. But I really like the concept of balance and free will Jessica spoke about. There are so many vast ways to interpret mythology and it looks like she found one that works really well for telling a great story.

    And I'm so in love with the cover!

  5. I love hearing how authors come up with their concepts. Love her creativity!


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