As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.
Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.
Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos. Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell...
About Christina Henry:
Christina Henry is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.
Hi Christina- Welcome to Rex Robot Reviews- we're excited to have you here! Will you tell us about the inspiration behind Black Wings?
I knew I wanted to write an urban fantasy. I’d tried my hand at writing a thriller years ago but never finished it. I enjoy reading pretty much anything with a paranormal element in it so I wanted to give it a try myself. It started with an idea of writing a book about the Grim Reaper and it kind of snowballed from there.
Can you explain the world building in Black Wings? What is unique about your process?
I really love to write dialogue, and before I had a real concrete idea about the plot I heard Maddy’s voice in my head. Beezle followed pretty quickly after that because I needed to have someone to exchange dialogue with Maddy.
I write chronologically, so I started from the first scene and just kind of let the story unspool from there. I’m usually not too sure about what’s going to happen more than a couple of chapters ahead. This keeps the writing fresh for me, but it also means you run the risk of writing yourself into a corner if something isn’t working. I’ve had to throw out two or three chapters at a time and go back and start over at the last working point.
You’d probably be surprised to find out that a lot of the world-building happened on the fly, like “Would this work? I guess it would!” I’m very type-A in real life but when I write I’m more of a seat-of-your-pants person.
Maddy is one kick-ass, witty heroine. Did she ever challenge you during the writing process?
The biggest problem with Maddy was trying to find that fine line between vulnerability and strength. I hate reading about characters with no weaknesses, which win every battle they’re in and walk away without a scratch, etc. But you also don’t want the character to be whiny and annoying, so I struggled a bit with showing how she’s emotionally affected by the story but still has that core of strength that allows her to survive some pretty harrowing events.
Even though I love Gabriel, I'm partial to Black's supervisor. Is he going to be a bigger character in the books to come? Can we get excited about a love triangle? I'm dieing to find out more about him.
J.B. is definitely going to play a bigger role in the next book. You also get to meet his mother - he has a cryptic comment about his mom in Black Wings that I never expanded on. His mother is a major player in the world of Black Wings and both J.B. and his mom will be around for the foreseeable future. I can’t tell you too much more than that without giving away some of the twists in the sequel.
Have you considered writing in another paranormal genre? Such as Romance or Young Adult?
I like to read paranormal romance but I don’t think I have the temperament to write it. I like to read about happy endings but I’m not too good at writing them. I enjoy the darkness and uncertainty of the urban fantasy relationship better as a writer. I also like having the opportunity to develop a relationship over the course of several books.
Where is your favorite place to read and write?
My favorite place to write is currently the bagel shop down the street from my apartment, which basically became my second home when I was working on Black Night (the sequel to Black Wings). My 4-year old son goes to preschool for 2 ½ hours every day and the best way for me to maximize my writing time is to go somewhere where there is no wireless Internet connection and no laundry/dishes/unmade beds to distract me.
My favorite place to read is at home on a cold Saturday afternoon (I’m a big fan of autumn and winter weather) with my husband and son out somewhere so that the house is totally quiet. Endless cups of green tea can only make this scenario better. As you can imagine I don’t get too many days like this!
It is going to be absolutely painful waiting for the sequel to Black Wings. Is there *anything* you can tell us about the second novel in the Madeline Black series?
I can tell you that the world will open up some, and that you will be introduced to some new creatures and characters that will become important in Maddy’s world. I can also tell you that her romantic relationships become more instead of less complicated, Beezle eats a lot more doughnuts, and that the ending of the book surprised me when I was writing it, so I hope it surprises you when you read it!
On your website you state that you love movies with samurais and zombies. (Yesss, zombies!) What are some of your favorite zombie flicks?
I am a great devotee of anything that George Romero does, just because I think he’s brilliant and daring – I mean, how awesome (and shocking) is the end of Night of the Living Dead?
Other than Romero I’m partial to funny and offbeat zombie films. Michele Soavi’s Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man) is definitely at the top of the list, as is Andrew Currie’s Fido. And of course, I adored Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.
28 Days Later is not strictly a zombie film (they are not the living dead, they’re ‘infected’) but I love the atmosphere of this movie. Danny Boyle will just lull you into submission with these long, dreamy sequences (like the one where Cillian Murphy’s character first wakes up in the hospital and wanders around the empty streets of London) and then scares the crap out of you. Can you tell I’m a little bit of a film geek?
What are some of your favorite titles/authors in the Urban Fantasy genre?
Jim Butcher is probably my favorite author working right now. I really admire the way he takes chances with his protagonist, Harry Dresden. Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs and Simon Green are also must-reads for me. He’s not a UF writer, but I also recommend Joe Hill to anyone who likes well-written horror.
Thank you so much for talking with us today, Christina! Are there any parting words you would like to leave with our readers?Thanks for having me here today, Julia! I hope that all of your readers enjoy Black Wings!
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