Dark Days of Supernatural: Cynthia Hand Q&A

I am so super excited to be included on the Dark Days of Supernatural blog tour. As you guys know I am a huge fan of Unearthly (review.). I have raved and celebrated and now that the book is out I am so excited that each and every one of you can now read it too! I have lots of fun info for you guys and a Q&A with author Cynthia Hand provided by @PitchDarkBooks.

First of all I want to show you the best fan kit I have ever seen. There is a button, widget, wallpaper, anything you can think of for all the books included on this tour! You must click here to download all your favorite buttons and bookmarks. Click here to go to Facebook where you can like Dark Days and take quizzes and win prizes. I took the Unearthly Quiz and I am 1/4th Angelblood. I am so proud of myself.

You may be asking yourself, is the Dark Days Tour coming near my hometown? Well Look no further, here is an event calander for you to check out all the dates and who will be where!

Dark Days Video

You can read an excerpt of Unearthly by clicking here.

Q&A

Pitch Dark: What gets you through a dark day?

Cynthia: The best thing for a dark day is friend time, preferably in person, but on the phone or web is usually how it happens these days. I have awesome, insightful friends who are good listeners and have special tear-absorbent shoulders! I also call my mom all the time, who’s the best listener of all. Other things for dark days: Walks, to clear my head. Cooking. Music. When I was a teenager I poured all my stress into my piano, but alas, my piano is more than a thousand miles away from me now, so I have to make do with recorded music.

Pitch Dark: There are so many options for potential characters when you go with a supernatural theme—why angels?

Cynthia: This is a complicated question for me to answer, because the truth is, there was never a clear, definitive moment where I said to myself, “you know what? I’m going to write about angels!” It just sort of came about organically.

The seed that grew into Unearthly was always Clara—I clearly started to hear the voice of this character, this girl who knew that it was her destiny to save a boy who she kept seeing in visions. (Usually in life it’s not a good sign when you’re hearing voices, but as a writer that’s how a story often comes to me, a character speaking.) So I started to hear Clara’s voice, and she began to tell me about this vision she was having. Then I lit on this fantastic image of a forest fire, and once I had that, the story began to unroll itself. With the forest fire came the setting of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and with the setting came the character of Tucker, this other, more rough-and-tumble boy who captures Clara’s attention and complicates everything beautifully. So suddenly I had the who, the what, the where, and the when.

Now all I had left to do was think of the why. And write the how.

The why led me to angels. First off, I knew that I wanted Clara to be special; I wanted her to be a modern-day, bona fide hero. But I also knew I wanted her to be human. I didn’t want her to be a vampire or a fairy or any other kind of wholly supernatural creature—even though I love reading those books; don’t get me wrong. I wanted her to have some unique problems, sure, but I also wanted her to have very normal, human problems. I wanted her to be a high school girl who gets completely tongue-tied around the boy she likes.

I kept mulling over the word “hero,” and then, in one of those freakish writerly flashes of inspiration, I remembered this one obscure little passage in the Bible that talked about heroes—the Nephilim, the offspring of angels and humans.

I’d been interested in the Nephilim since I was a little girl and read Madeleine L’Engle’s book Many Waters, in which the main characters travel back to the time of Noah where there are angels walking around on earth, and some of the angels have children by human women. This idea always fascinated me—what would it be like, I wondered, to know that you’re part angel, the blood of the divine running through your veins? It would be crazy, right? Maybe it would be cool, maybe you’d have all these neat powers, but it might also be a lot of pressure!

As soon as I hit on the Nephilim idea, I knew that’s what Clara was, and all the other pieces of my story tumbled right into place. Then I had loads of fun coming up with the rules and mythology of the new world I was creating. That’s where some of the real joy of writing comes from—it’s just wildly fun to invent all these cool things and see them play themselves out on the page. I also kind of fell in love with how the story immediately began to operate on two levels, the surface level where Clara faces all her real-life challenges, and another deeper, spiritual level where she is forced to confront all of the big questions of life, the “why am I here?” questions.

Pitch Dark: The Wyoming setting of the novel was so vivid on the page. What made you choose to set your book there?

Cynthia: Once I knew that there was going to be a forest fire involved, the setting was a no-brainer. I grew up in that part of the country, southeast Idaho near the Wyoming border. When I was a kid there was a huge forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, and our family went to see it burn. It’s kind of funny now that I think about it—they were evacuating all the tourists from the area and the locals were driving out there to get in on the action! That fire made a huge impression on me. I was awed by its terrible beauty, its relentless power, how the firefighters simply could not contain it. To this day I still get shivers thinking about it. So I knew I wanted Clara’s fire to be in that general area, a place I knew very well.

I chose Jackson Hole as Clara’s new home for two reasons. The first is that I am completely charmed by the city of Jackson, Wyoming. I went there constantly growing up, and I always found it such a fun and fascinating town, a wonderful combination of the Old West and modern day, both rugged and polished, cowboys and fly-fishing and nature at its wildest, versus art galleries, expensive homes and five-star hotels. It seemed like the perfect place to put Clara, a place where she would be caught between these two different ways of life, not really fitting in with either one. 

The second reason is the Tetons. These are my favorite mountains in the world. I wish words could adequately describe how breathtakingly beautiful these mountains are. Seriously, words fail, although I did my best to put these mountains onto the page. There is something so, well, unearthly, about gazing up at these mountains, something that has always created a kind of stillness in me, a sense of awe and reverence. What better place for angels? For flight? What better place to experience love?

Pitch Dark: What overall message do you want readers to take away from UNEARTHLY?

Cynthia: One thing I’ve always said about this book is that everything Clara assumes only applies to angel-bloods: how they are given a purpose, a set of powers, the ability to transcend the ordinariness of life and become something special, actually applies on a metaphorical level to regular people. Sooner or later we all face the question, why am I here? What am I meant to do on this earth? We all seek a purpose in one form or another. We can search for purpose in all sorts of places, but in the end we find it within ourselves. We all have to learn how to fly, so to speak.

Pitch Dark: What’s next for Clara and the rest of the characters?

 

Cynthia: A lot! It’s tough times ahead for Clara and her family, I’m afraid. There’s a lot of mystery still to be unraveled. We’re going to find out about the purposes of some of the other angel-bloods, like Clara’s mom and her brother Jeffrey. Clara will have to struggle with the idea of her own purpose and how it didn’t play out quite the way she thought it would. There are some new characters popping up, and new ways to look at old characters. Some kissing. Some rodeo. Maybe a real, full-blooded angel or two. And Clara’s going to pick a college!

      

Top 10 List

Top 10 Places to Be Kissed in Wyoming

10.
On the boardwalk at Old Faithful in Yellowstone Nation al Park, as the geyser is going off, with a large butter brickle ice cream cone in your hand. Get someone in the crowd to take your picture.

9.
Top of the tram at Jackson Hole Ski Area, light-headed at the elevation 10,450 feet, overlooking the entire valley. Wearing ski pants, jacket, ski boots, warm wooly socks, long underwear, fuzzy neck warmer, waterproof gloves and a hat. The taste of a cherry Jolly Rancher lingering in your mouth. . .

8.
Under the antler arch in Jackson, while down Broadway people gather for a cowboy melodrama, put on by the folks at the Pink Garter theater. Horse-drawn stagecoaches passing by, the smell of fudge and leather in the air.

7.
Quick smooch in the rotunda between classes at Jackson Hole High School, with the principal calling out, “move along, people.” It’s worth detention.

6.
Bubba’s restaurant in Jackson, smeared with barbecue sauce and about to dig into the custard pie.

5.
On the bank of the Snake River, fishing pole in hand, wearing waders and smelling like bug spray and river water.

4.
In the clouds. Somewhere in the air around the Grand Tetons. It’s tricky to kiss and fly at the same time, but you can do it!

3.
On a boat in the middle of Jackson Lake, water lapping at your feet, breeze stirring your hair. Again with the bug spray.

2.
Under the stars. In the cab of a truck, parked under the Lodgepole pines. Can’t say whose truck, though.

1.
Inside a big red barn. With the smell of hay heavy in the air. And nobody there to see you but the horses.

Cynthia Hand divides her time between Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son, and southeast Idaho near the Teton mountains. She teaches creative writing at Pepperdine University.

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4 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

    Oh what fun! There is so much going on in this post that I need to comment about but I’m not going to write a dissertation on your comments page. :O) I’ll stick with Jackson Hole remaining in one of my favorite hiking spots of all time from my childhood and I can say it would make a GREAT kissing spot. :O)

  2. Gravatar

    Thanks for this interview! Recently read your book and _loved_ it. Work part-time in a bookstore and it’s been my pleasure (purpose:) to hand sell it.

  3. Gravatar

    What is the name of the 2nd book? And do you know when it will be released because I cant wait! :)

  4. Gravatar

    [...] is no secret that I adore Cynthia Hand’s UNEARTHLY series, heck last year I was on the Dark Days blog tour for Hallowed. It is one of the very few angel series that I recommend reading. And I do desperately want you all [...]

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