Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find a Friday escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Michael Carney.
THE WORLD OF THE OUTCAST ANGELS
The world in which my OUTCAST ANGELS series is set derives from a simple question that I first asked myself about 25 years ago: “what if there were angels who were exiled from Heaven at the time of the Great Rebellion – but they chose not to go with Lucifer and his demons?”
That was the backstory, inspired by a couple of Christmas stage musicals about angels for which I wrote the librettos back in the early 1990s. Then we had kids and all my non-work writing went on hold for a couple of decades while we raised our family. Oh, except that I managed to write a couple of non-fiction books, in 2005 and 2007.
The world of the OUTCAST ANGELS didn’t go away, however, and by 2011 I began working on it again. I like to use real-world historical events as a backdrop to my stories, and have a life-long fascination with Italy (probably as a result of learning Latin for five years at school), so it was fairly inevitable that at least the first novel in the series would be set in and around that country. My wife and I went on a cruise around Italy in late 2011, so that I could soak up the timeless culture of the glorious cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice.
Somewhere along the way during my research, I discovered the tale of Fulvio Salvi, a young speleologist working for the City of Naples Department of the Underground in 1980, who discovered1 an underground cave with “a huge floor-to-ceiling sculpted skull with teeth, its mouth wide open!” A short tunnel led to other ornate sculptures and carvings dating back to Renaissance times.
The cave was linked, rightly or wrongly, to one Giambattista della Porta, a late-1500s Naples prodigy best known for creating a scientific society called “The Academy of the Secrets”. The society was, alas, compelled to disband (by the Roman Catholic Pope of the day) when its members were suspected of dealing with the Occult.
Needless to say, I seized upon the name (shortened to ACADEMY OF SECRETS) and the circumstances, and applied the appropriate twists. In my story, the Academy was not disbanded but was forced underground – which means that they often have to find potential recruits (including my heroine, CHRYMOS) by pressganging them from the streets of late Renaissance Naples. The Academy trains and conditions its recruits and then provides the graduates with supernatural powers through alchemic potions. It’s a recipe for some interesting conflicts, especially once the OUTCAST ANGELS discover what the academy is doing.
The story is mostly set in 1610, which really was a magical year. Galileo has just published a semi-heretical booklet about the moon, with the aid of his newly-refined spyglass. Shakespeare is still alive and writing. England, Spain, France and the Netherlands are between wars but bustling with intrigue. Catholics and Protestants are constantly at odds with each other. And the future of the New World hangs in the balance, with only a single English colony, Jamestown, struggling to survive.
Researching this book has been a labor of love. What did the poor and indigent wear in 1610? What weapons did they use? What did they eat? How long did it take to travel from Naples to Paris by horse? Was there a full moon on a particular date? How did people measure distance in Naples in the 17th century? What language would they speak? Every chapter seemed to require a pause to research some aspect or other.
Thankfully, the Internet exists (along with a few hundred reference books that I seem to have acquired), for which I am deeply grateful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Carney has been writing professionally since he was 17, which was a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away.
He began his writing career straight from high school, writing radio advertisements for a bright and shiny new radio station in the glorious South Island of New Zealand (only a few hours’ drive from that wonderful scenery made famous by Sir Peter Jackson in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and, latterly, ‘The Hobbit’).
In the decades since, Michael has carved out a career in advertising and marketing, as a copywriter, Media Director, Strategic Planning Director and Online Marketing specialist. These days, when he’s not writing about rebellious angels he’s writing online training courses.
The world is in grave danger if a long-missing artifact falls into the hands of the Academy of Secrets, a group whose members have gained unnatural powers through alchemy. And Chrymos, a young woman with a mysterious past, may hold the key.
For Chrymos, scrabbling out a wretched living on the streets of Renaissance Naples, the Academy represents a chance to gain special powers and make a difference in the world. But is she willing to leave behind all the people that she cares about?
And what about the OUTCAST ANGELS, a ragtag group of former angels exiled from Heaven at the time of the Great Rebellion, who are desperately trying to stop the Academy? They face an uphill battle against alchemy-enhanced humans who can become invisible, cast illusions and create storms and tornadoes.
Will the Academy recover the missing artifact? What part will Chrymos play? And will the prophecies of the demon Nekhbet — that the artefact’s recovery will trigger the Lost War — come true?
ACADEMY OF SECRETS is the first novel in the LOST WAR Chronicles, part of the OUTCAST ANGELS series. Launches February 29 on Amazon Kindle: http://academyofsecrets.com
For more about the Outcast Angels, see http://outcastangels.com