In a war that pits Lucifer against the Army of Heaven, it’s a recipe for disaster.
The lives of Adryel and Ramael, two young angels who are in love, are altered forever when God determines to create humans.
His decision is met with scorn from Lucifer, one of the archangels. The humans, he asserts, will cause evil and chaos throughout creation. God’s proposal, he says, is flawed. As Lucifer debates the plan’s merits with another archangel in Palace Square, their discussion turns into argument.
Argument leads to insults, rocks are thrown… and battle lines are drawn.
Ramael is second in command of the Army of Heaven. His loyalty never waivers.
Adryel casts her lot with Lucifer. Swayed by his arguments, she leaves Ramael and all else she holds dear. She wages war for Lucifer’s cause and, refusing to renounce him, is exiled in hell.
From there, she tempts the humans to join their cause.
Adryel yearns to tell Ramael her love for him has not dimmed. She will risk any punishment, even hell’s lake of fire, in order to speak with him. But how can he return her love when she has done more to thwart God’s plans for humanity than have all of the other angels in hell combined?
Last week, I was asked where I found the idea for my new book, Beyond Heaven and Hell. No surprise, there. It’s a common question. Readers are always curious about the writer’s inspiration.
I always sigh and shake my head when someone poses this question, not because my sources are secret, but because I never have a really good answer. I have never had a story spring, fully-formed into my mind. I’ve never taken a plot from my own life or from a news story. I’ve never re-written a fairy tale. I have never purposely manipulated any of the thirty-six basic plots which are said to underlie every story ever written.
A story’s idea develops over time. It is a dynamic process. No book that I have written has been exactly the story I started to write. As a result, it’s difficult to identify where I got my idea. I’m at a loss as to whether I should cite the source of the original idea, which may have little to do with the final story, or whether I should cite the idea I had while lying awake in the dark at three in the morning, the one that completely changed the story’s direction after fifteen thousand words had been committed to paper.
Perhaps an example would help.
Beyond Heaven and Hell, began in church. The initial prompt was a line from a hymn written to be sung on Palm Sunday: “Ride on, ride on in majesty…the angel armies of the skies look down with sad and wondering eyes…”
When I hear those words, in my mind I see a line of angels clad in Roman armor, spears in hand, gazing down from the clouds, ready to speed to his defense as Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem for the final time. I think of Michael the archangel who is said to command the heavenly arm. I recall images of Michael slaying the dragon (Satan) − a metal sculpture mounted on the wall of Saint Michael’s cathedral in Coventry, England and the stained-glass window over the altar at Saint Michael’s Church in Charleston, where I live.
I’m reminded of the story of the war in heaven when, as legend tells us, Lucifer, another archangel, led one-third of the heavenly host in a rebellion against God and did battle against the army of heaven commanded by Michael. Lucifer was defeated and he and his followers were consigned to hell.
I recall an animated film from my childhood that dealt with this war. It was a Disney production as I recall, and it narrated a legend of how the leprechauns came to live in Ireland.
It seems the leprechauns were residents of heaven when the war began. While they sided with God, they were too small to actually take part in the conflict, so they hid until the battle was over. Since they had not fought for God, it was determined that they could no longer remain in heaven, but no one believed they deserved hell. Instead, they were sent to Ireland, which the legend maintains, is the next best thing to the celestial city
Why did Lucifer rebel?
It is said that he rebelled when God determined to create humans. A legend tells us God created Adam and presented him to the host of heaven with the injunction that they bow before him, since he represented the pinnacle of God’s creative work. Lucifer took exception to God’s evaluation of humanity, and he refused to bend his knee.
What happened next?
A war in heaven would have been a civil war, angel against angel.
In the US, when we think of a civil war, we think of the war fought between the South and the North in the eighteen-sixties, but the American Revolution also had characteristics of a civil war. Both wars created divisions among friends, neighbors, and families, driving wedges between people who loved each other as each did what he believed to be right..
In a motion picture shown at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, we witness a discussion between the Randolph brothers. As the Revolution moves toward war, we hear John tell his brother, Peyton, “I am going home (to England). His brother replies “I am home” (Virginia). Brother against brother.
A civil war in heaven would result in similar situations as angels chose sides and prepared for battle. What if Michael was in love and the angel he loved chose the other side? What would he do? What would she do?
Why would an angel follow Lucifer? Especially someone close to Michael? Would Michael really send someone he loved to hell?
We now have a story, not only about angel armies, but armies at war, about those separated by the conflict and the heartache that results.
Of course, we don’t often think of angels as engaged in physical warfare, we don’t imagine them doing evil, but if Lucifer rebelled against God, as the legend tells us, if he and Michael fought, as the Bible tells us, then there must have been war and evil. Perhaps there was lust and back-stabbing and other such characteristics that we normally see as human. Fallen angels would not be angelic!
Now, from where did I find the idea for my story?
The legend concerning the war in heaven?
The recognition that the war was a civil war, with all of the complications that flow from such a conflict?
The hymn did provide the original inspiration. The war in heaven does provide the framework for at least a part of the book. The complications that arise from a civil war do form the heart of the story.
The person who posed the question last week was expecting a two-sentence response. Which of these should I cite?
I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the war in heaven and this was an opportunity to explore the conflict and its consequences would be the easy answer, and no one would question it. The truth, though, is more complex.
The collection and combination of ideas to produce a story is a mysterious process that defies explanation. In another essay on this same topic, I compared the process to that of a weaver who must choose the colors that she will use, and I quote from a novel, Second Chance Café.
The author writes of a young woman who weaves beautiful scarves. They sell in upscale stores around the country and are often seen wrapped around the bodies of movie stars and celebrities. Each scarf is unique. How does she decide on the colors, the pattern, for a new scarf? She describes the process in this manner:
“I don’t know how you do that,” her father said, looking at the collection (of yarn) she held and shaking his head.
Honestly, neither did she. To this day, she could not explain how the colors came together in her mind. How one flowed into another as she sat at her loom. How the different strands of story became a whole. “I just see it. I don’t know where it comes from. Any of it. It’s just there.”
About the author
David Burnett lives in Columbia South Carolina, with his wife and their blue-eyed cat, Bonnie. The Reunion, his first novel, is set in nearby Charleston.
David enjoys traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches.
He has photographed subjects as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, a Native American powwow, and his grandson, Jack. David and his wife have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During one trip to Scotland, they visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen. In The Reunion, Michael’s journey through England and Scotland allows him to sketch many places they have visited.
David has graduate degrees in psychology and education and previously was Director of Research for the South Carolina Department of Education. He and his wife have two daughters.
Nadene's addiction to reading began at an early age, when a family friend gifted her a copy of Wuthering Heights. From that moment she was never without a book.She will read anything as long the material is compelling enough to hold her attention. She gained many experiences through the pages of the books she had the opportunity to read.She created this blog to share her love of books with like minded individuals hopes that in sharing reviews of the books read visitors to the blog will discover their next addictive read. When not reading, Nadene enjoys cooking, listening to music and watching television.
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