I am doubly pleased today to not only be part of the blog tour for ‘Michael’s Spear’ (the final part of the Hobbes End trilogy) but also to have an exclusive Q&A with the author himself, Hilton Pashley.
All his life, Jonathan has been forced to hide his true identity – the only half-angel, half-demon. He just wanted to be normal and fit in, something which had become increasingly difficult following the turbulent events of the previous year. But with Lucifer calling a village meeting, and Archdemon Lilith in control of Michael’s Spear (a legendary weapon) Jonathan has never faced a more formidable foe or needed the help of others more. Gabriel’s grandson is going to have to show his true colours and fulfil his destiny.
This book is truly epic in scope – rebuilding the gates of heaven, battles between celestial beings and the minions of hell, Lucifer showing his soft and cuddly side…. absolutely packed with action, but with humorous undertones. I think that fans of fantasy series like ‘Percy Jackson’ (by Rick Riordan) would be sure to love this. Perfect for confident readers aged 10+
And now for a Q&A with author, Hilton Pashley who (when not busily tapping away on his keyboard) limes to fly kites on the beach and ride horses:
1. Where did the initial inspiration for the Hobbes End series come from?
I started writing the series in response to the loss of a close friend about twelve years ago. Writing is very cathartic, and I even went as far as to name the main character after my friend. Words have their own magic, however, and sadness soon gave way to a plethora of other, more positive emotions as Jonathan’s story gradually took shape. Many parts of the trilogy have been inspired by random things I have seen or experienced over the years. For example, the village of Hobbes End comes from a childhood trip to the private estate village of Heydon, just north of Norwich where I live. Likewise the Corvidae – the demon villains in Gabriel’s Clock, the first book in the series – are based on an image from an episode of the 1980’s sci-fi/fantasy series Sapphire and Steel.
2. Were there any books or films which particularly helped inspire your writing?
There have been many books that have inspired my writing. Neil Gaiman is a huge favourite of mine, as he too reinvented the character of Lucifer for the Sandman series of graphic novels; it gave me the courage to have a go myself. Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ sequence had a huge impact, with its mix of mythologies and much ‘greyer’ definition of good and evil. Likewise, Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ books detailed a world full of bizarre and strangely-named characters, and that always appealed to me. I love giving characters strange names, Halcyon Nathaniel Oberon Grimm being one of my favourites from array of Hobbes End inhabitants.
3. Your writing draws on a lot of theological references; where did this interest originate?
It wasn’t that I was interested in theology as such, but when I first began thinking about what I wanted to write, I decided to try and come up with an original world and setting. Elves, dwarves and boy wizards have already been done brilliantly, but I didn’t think anyone had tried this particular avenue before. In some ways I unknowingly set myself quite a challenge with the subject matter, as the concepts of Heaven and Hell, angels and demons come with established settings across many faiths; it took a lot of work to ‘reinvent’ these settings in my own way without appearing flippant or disrespectful. One of the nicest comments I have received about the series, came from a librarian in the US. She described it as being chock full of theology but with not a whit of religion, which is exactly what I was aiming for.
4. Why did you decide to portray traditionally ‘evil’ characters such as Lucifer in a more human way?
We all screw up from time to time, and if one sincerely wishes to seek redemption then a second chance can make a lot of difference. Lucifer was the most difficult character to write; incredibly powerful, intelligent, ruthless, and too proud to say those two little words that keep getting stuck in his throat, ‘I’m sorry’. I’ve always disliked labels, life is far more subtle than a 1930’s cowboy film where the good guy wears a white Stetson and the villain wears a black one. I wanted – hopefully in a subtle way – to show that it is our actions that matter, not the label we may have been arbitrarily assigned, and that a simple act of kindness can have far-reaching consequences.
5. Did you know when you began writing, how the trilogy would end?
To be honest, no, I didn’t, which in hindsight was a mistake. The amazing JK Rowling said in an interview that if you know how a story ends, you’ll eventually end up there, no matter what detours you may take in the journey. When I first started writing I had no idea that I would be able to finish one book, let alone a trilogy, and so the process took longer than it should have as I painted myself into one narrative corner after another. It was only once I took her advice that the story started to open up. I realised that it was fine to change direction, alter the plot and fiddle with character development, as I knew where everyone needed to be in the final chapter. It was quite an epiphany really, and it made the process of writing much easier. When I do school visits, beginning at the end is now one of my top tips for any aspiring scribbler.
Beginning at the end may work for writing, but ending at the end is definitely the way forward for blog posts. So that’s what I shall do!
Thank you so much to Hilton for taking the time to answer my questions and to The Dome Press for inviting me to be part of the ‘Michael’s Spear’ blog tour.