A break in Body Image & Self-Perception Month, today I'm delighted to share with you a guest post from Lauren Kate, author of YA novel Fallen, to talk about good and evil.
Blurring the Lines
When people ask me where I got the idea for Fallen, I usually go back to a line in
Genesis*, which describes a group of angels who were cast out of heaven for falling in love with mortal women. I explain how this line made me wonder about what kind of mortal girl could attract an angel's affection. And then: What kind of emotional baggage would an angel have? What would her very over-protective parents think?
That was the spark that led to Luce and Daniel’s saga. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story. They’re what I’ve been writing my whole writing life. I believe that love is what (almost) all good stories really boil down to. But what made this particular love story feel bigger to me—what’s keeping me writing about it for four hefty books and almost as many years—is that I get to grapple with good and evil.
We throw around these two terms all the time, but what do they really mean? It’s difficult to define one without speaking of the other (many of us have heard the phrase “evil is the absence of doing good”). To me, this suggests an interesting reliance. Does “good” require “evil” to exist, to be perceived in the world? Does “evil” need “good” to pit itself against? (When I say “good,” I’m not talking about specific embodiments of what we think of as good or evil, like Mother Teresa or Hitler respectively, rather a broader look at everything each word might suggest.)
If you go back and look at Zoroastrianism, the earliest known dualistic religion (meaning there are two opposite sides), good and evil are twin brothers, two parts of a whole, and born of the same place. In Judaism, God is both merciful (“good”) and just (occasionally punishing or distant). He is, of course, never described as “evil,” but many scholars make the case that the Hebrew god contains some of the same dualities as the pair of Zoroastrian gods. A hard side, and a soft side. In Christianity, there’s Satan. We all know about him.
The fact that all three of these foundational religions have strong dualistic roots has always fascinated me. Can the lines dividing them really be that clean and that stark? And even if they are on paper—or in Heaven—what happens when you throw humans and their free will into the mess? What was black and white becomes grey.
I had all of this in my mind when I started to write Fallen. I’m interested in blurring the lines between angels and demons, between heaven and hell even further. I want readers to fall for the “evil” characters in these books as much as they fall for the “good” ones. Like Satan in Paradise Lost, Cam is (at times) the most charming character in Fallen. And Daniel certainly isn’t a perfect angel in every scene. Luce herself is so wide open—she’s perfect to be put in the middle of this age old battle between good and evil, to have to determine whether each side truly is what she’s grown up thinking it is.
I know many readers were unnerved by the epilogue where Daniel and Cam come together to discuss Luce’s future. All three of these characters have a long way to go before their story is complete, and I can’t wait to explore how complicated the relationship between good and evil can get before it’s over.
*Genesis 6:1-4. (There are other references—a mention in Isaiah about Lucifer being cast into the abyss, and a mention in Psalms 82 of a prince’s [read: possibly Lucifer’s] falling, for example—which together, many scholars think can explain the consequence of God’s anger over these angels’ lust.)
Thank you to Lauren for writing brilliant guest post! So interesting!
You can read my review of Fallen here. Torment is released in the UK on 30th September 2010, Fallen came out in paperback on 1st July 2010.
Be sure to check out the recently updated UK Fallen website and Lauren's website.
You can see the trailer for Fallen that is showing at Eclipse cinema screenings here, and the US teaser trailer for Torment here.