Thursday, 4 October 2012

Interview With Jane LeBak

The Wrong Enemy is the story of a guardian angel who killed the child he vowed to protect, an action that should have landed the angel in Hell and instead gets him…a second chance?

And it’s not a ‘second chance’ guarding a popcorn stand at the circus, either. Tabris is assigned as co-guardian over a ten-year-old girl, alongside an angel who absolutely doesn’t want Tabris anywhere near that child for fear it will happen again. The only one who does seem to want Tabris around is a demon who’s making a full-court press for him to leave the God who set him up to fail, and Tabris isn’t sure the demon’s wrong.

I met Jane over a year ago when we became agent siblings. Taking the road to publication with her has made all the difference in my mental health. She's hilarious, a real smarty pants, and a good ear. She's also a regular contributor on Querytracker. Check out her website here.

Jane, without her Yankees cap.

What inspired you to write THE WRONG ENEMY?

Way-back-when, I went to bed thinking about my Seven Archangels stories, how all the angels have wings of one color, and I said to myself, "What would an angel look like with two colors?"

And then....I saw him. In my mind's eye, there he was, with green and brown wings... but looking absolutely devastated, and so help me I sat up in bed thinking, "What happened to you?!"

In the next instant, I knew it: he'd killed the child he'd been guarding. He'd killed the child, and been tried, and been found guilty, and now he'd been put on probation and incomprehensibly made to guard a second child -- and he was just so heartbroken.

I finally curled back up under the blankets, but I couldn't get him out of my head. Not that night, and not the next day. I didn't want to start writing a novel right then (it was the beginning of the semester, and I'd just finished writing the manuscript that would eventually become Seven Archangels: Annihilation) but every time
I walked around campus, or when I washed the dishes, or when I was waiting for class to start, I'd find myself working out the story of this sad, sad angel. Eventually I cracked (during finals week) and ended up writing thirty pages a day while taking exams. I finished the novel about four weeks later. That was the first version. I needed to know what would happen to him.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I didn't start with one in mind, no. You could find messages about trust and self-forgiveness if you wanted, but my intention as a writer was to get that angel into a safe place.

What was the hardest scene to write (no spoilers!)?

The final scene, oddly. I was about three pages from the end and couldn't finish it up. Eventually I realized the problem wasn't actually there, but about sixty pages earlier, so I went back and fixed that scene, and then the book ended itself.

Which character do you relate to the most? Why?

Tabris and Rachmiel are the two main characters, and I find I relate to both of them and the duality they inadvertently create. They've each got a strong sense of duty, but they express it differently. Rachmiel is all emotion and Tabris is all bridled emotion, and somewhere in that dynamic tension I think you can find me.

Outside of family, what was the greatest support while you wrote this novel?

Knowing so many people believed in me: my friends from college, my professors, my family, and James (who eventually became my husband, and who looked over the version of the first chapter and told me to keep going.)

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Learn to think others' thoughts. Learn to put them on and take them off again. This is the writer's version of stereoscopic vision: you can't write realistically until you can step behind someone else's eyes and see their world exactly as they do, then step out again to see your own vision. The best writers would be able to see both, with all their subtle differences, at the same time.


What did you have for supper last night?

Taco night! Woohoo!

 Is there an actor who you think looks like your MC?

Not so much, no, but I don't watch many movies.

Vanilla or chocolate?


 As a little kid, what did you want to be be when you grew up?

At age three, I wanted to be a paleontologist.

Last book you read.

Live And Let Fly by Karina Fabian

Thanks, Jane!

Now here's a sneak peek at THE WRONG ENEMY. Feast your eyeballs on beginning of the first chapter.

Raguel waited at the back of the Judgment Hall to hear the verdict passed on the boy's soul: Heaven. He nodded as he registered the word, but without rejoicing as he should have. Based on the expressions of the other witnesses, neither was anyone else. Half the angels in the room watched the boy as he leaped in delight and hugged the angel at his side, but the larger number studied the angel who stood at the back of the hall, Tabris.           

Tabris had not reacted to the echoing verdict. Staring only at the chains binding his wrists and securing him to the floor, he stood like a horse at a hitching post. Only once did Raguel see him look up, struggling for a glimpse the boy before the other angels crowded into his line of sight, but then they'd taken the boy away, and Tabris said not a word.  

Two Archangel guards flanked Tabris, one wearing a thousand-mile stare and the other struggling against grief. Everything about their posture read duty to Raguel, broadcast without words in their alert stance, the readiness of their weapons, and their raised chins. Between them, Tabris seemed smaller, slumped, his two-toned wings drooping until they touched the floor. With a shudder, Raguel realized at least one of the guards had probably been his friend.           

They had no idea how to act. And rightly so. Angels didn't usually take one of their own into custody.

THE WRONG ENEMY is available on October 5th! But you can preorder it here For every preordered copy, a dollar goes to Heifer International.

You can also add THE WRONG ENEMY to your Goodreads list here.


Laila N Mysis said...

Sounds intriguing....

(To be honest, I don't really know how to comment on interviews, but hey, it was fun to read :) )

Anonymous said...

" can't write realistically until you can step behind someone else's eyes and see their world exactly as they do, then step out again to see your own vision."

Beautiful. Loved the interview and will definitely check out the book. :)

Arianna said...

Loved this.

Mary Vettel said...

Enjoyed the interview and excerpt. Congratulations on release day!

Loved the bit about "stepping behind someone else's eyes and see their world exactly as they do, then step out again to see your own vision." A great technique for all writers to try.

Jane Lebak said...

Bethany, thank you so much for posting the interview! We spent yesterday dealing with a kid in the hospital, otherwise I'd have been there yet. But it's really an honor for you to feature me, and thank you for sharing my story with your readers.

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