by Monica Millard
Publication date: November 11th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
As a senior in high school, Samantha Heman’s too busy trying to avoid getting stomped by a moose at the bus stop and keeping her grades up until graduation to put much thought into angels or demons.
That all changes on the day she is kidnapped by notorious serial killer, Christopher Hainsely. It’s a day she finds herself confronted by both evil and good, because her savior appears in the form of an avenging angel come to strike the monster down with a single stroke of his flaming sword.
Though she’s trying to get on with her life, she cannot get the angel out of her head. It isn’t the burning wings, fiery eyes or the flaming sword that keeps her searching the internet for proof one way or another of his existence, though.
The feeling of warmth she experienced when she witnessed that sad smile just before he vanished in a wash of golden light, haunts her nights almost as often as the nightmares.
If angels exist, then demons must too, and they’re about to wage a war for her soul.
There is a rustling sound, like the swish of fabric or the sound of a light wind blowing through the leaves. I hold my breath, straining my ears to tell where it’s coming from, which direction. I turn and the only thing I see is a flash of silver. It moves so fast it’s just a streak, a blur really. This is it, I’m dead. The guy has found me and now that I am out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but woods, he is going to take his time and make me suffer for fighting back, for escaping. For the knee to his boys.
A gurgling noise slows my panic. I’ve seen enough movies with the blood and the gore. It’s the sound of blood bubbling up and escaping a person’s body. There’s a horrible wheezing, a wet cough and then... A thump, softer than you’d think, but unmistakable. It’s the sound of a body hitting the ground, knees first possibly, then slumping the rest of the way down as gravity does what it does to things that can no longer fight it.
I’m too afraid to hope. What if the monster that was chasing me has found someone else, what if they have taken my fate. I don’t think, I just react.
“And then what did you see?” The trooper’s question brings me back out of my head, out of the memory.
“I’ve already told you this three times. It’s not going to change. No matter how many times I tell you. It’s not going to sound any less crazy town, either.”
“Humor me, Miss Heman. Sorry. Samantha.”
“You’re sure asking a lot of me, but you can’t even find the courtesy to address me as I’ve requested. I’m underage. You shouldn’t even be speaking to me without my parents present. I think we’re done here.” I hope my bravado and sounding professional will do what eons of answers haven’t—get me out of this room.
“I’m sorry, Sam. What my partner is trying and failing to do, is to help you navigate back through the memory. You were in shock, but you saw more than you realize. When a person is in a life or death situation, their mind stops filtering and picks up every detail it can, even if you don’t realize it. We’re trying to help you find the hidden clues in what you experienced. Those clues could help us piece together the real picture.” The older officer, who has remained quiet up until now, sits forward, laces his hands together and places them on the table in front of him. Normally I would think the gesture a sign of irritation or intimidation, but coming from him it just seems like he is getting comfortable, opening himself up even.
I nod and resign myself to a long night of recounting the loony bin details of how I escaped Christopher Hainsely, serial killer. A monster with a predilection for rape and torture of petite, young girls. Petite. That’s me alright. Standing five-foot-nothing is how I made it onto the sick freak’s radar.
“So, you pulled aside the branches and what did you see?” the older one, Rick Torrey, asks.
“An angel. Not the fallen kind. Not the choir of kind. He was the avenging kind. All muscle and sword, and blazing, fiery eyes like looking straight into the sun. It almost hurt to look at them.” The younger one, Trooper Tommy it’s-not-worth-remembering-his-last-name, rolls his eyes. I ignore him and continue. “I only saw him for a second and I’m certain he is just a figment of my imagination, a defense mechanism. My mind providing me with something safe, something divine to give meaning to what happened to me, to make me feel protected.”
“What makes you say that, Sam?” Rick Torrey asks, leaning forward further so his face hovers over his outstretched hands.
“Because what I went through, what that man would have done to me if that angel hadn’t showed. How could anyone go on after that? I want to crawl into a hole and hide just thinking about him. But if God sent someone to save me from him, then maybe...” I can’t really say maybe I’ll be okay, because I can’t even blink without seeing him looming over me or feeling his hand on my ankle, dragging me under him. I look down and realize I still have his blood on my hands, on my clothes. I gag and then retch. I just get my head turned enough not to get stomach acid on myself.
The door behind me bangs open and a woman comes in. She gives both the cops a sharp look before kneeling in front of me. Her eyes are full of compassion. She says something, but I can’t really hear her over the ringing in my ears.
My throat feels funny, sort of tight, but it also burns like I’ve swallowed a jar of jalapeños. I suddenly can’t catch my breath. I cough, trying to get oxygen and my hand comes away bloody. Fire blazes in my veins, feverish and excruciating. My eyes roll up in my head and my back arches so sharply, it feels like I’ll snap in half, then, blissfully, everything goes black.
It’s only seven-thirty, so I putz around on the internet looking for new books that are out and then find myself outside the local bookstore at ten, when they open.
I wander through the bookshelves looking for the books from the list I made. I only find one, because it’s a small bookstore and many of the new releases I like to read don’t make it into the store unless I special order them. Normally I can kill an hour in a bookstore easy, but since I’ve been all efficient like, making lists and such, I find I still have time.
I look around, feeling guilty, before I slip into the spiritual section. I don’t really expect to find anything, but it’s become an obsession. So I scan the titles looking for books about angels. I notice someone has joined me in the aisle, but I don’t look up to acknowledge them. Wasilla is one of those small, large towns and I’ve got a pretty famous face lately. I shouldn’t be in this section, in public. I don’t need to add fuel to the rumors.
“Looking for anything specific?” a deep voice asks.
I shake my head, probably a little too quickly, too long, still not looking at the newcomer. “I’m just browsing,” I say. “Killing time.” I turn, angling away from him as I run a finger over the spines of the books and move further down the shelf.
It isn’t until I turn the corner that my curiosity gets the best of me and I glance over my shoulder covertly. I see a flash of perfect, snow white feathers skim the top edge of the bookcase as the would-be assistance giver, an angel apparently, vanishes from the section. “Wait!” I call out, far too loudly for a bookstore, or any store for that matter.
I chase after him and round the end of the bookcase in time to just catch another quick glimpse of pure whiteness dipping around the wall at the front of the store, towards the exit. I race to catch up and get a bewildered look from the boy behind the counter.
I drop the book I am holding on a display table, so as not to add shoplifting to my long list of reasons to hide my face in public, and burst out of the store. I stumble left, in the direction I saw the wings exit. There is a small maze of twists and turns that I follow, only catching sight of the tips of feathers long enough to know I’m heading in the right direction.
I know I’m being led, but in my limited experience with angels, I’ve come to trust them implicitly. Where ever I end up is probably exactly where I need to be.
I turn another corner and find the hall dead ends. There is no angel here, but at the end is a corkboard with a mess of flyers and advertisements for events and classes. As I approach, a wind kicks up and I spin around to find a door I passed, one leading to the outside, clicking shut.
I consider heading for it, but some sense inside tells me I won’t find anything out there. No angel and not the message it wanted me to find. I turn back to the bulletin board just as a single flyer amidst the chaos of paper settles back against the board, its pull tag ends still fluttering in the breeze that lifted it.
I step closer and see that it is an announcement for a six-week self-defense course that has a new class starting in two weeks. I pluck off one of the tags with the telephone number, dates and website printed in tiny script and shove it in my pocket.
Music is a huge part of writing for me. I get a lot of those initial spark ideas from listening to music while I’m driving, exercising or showering. This holds true for Entertaining Angels. The inspiration struck in the car.The Music That Helped to Inspire Entertaining Angels
I thought I’d share some of the music that helped shape Entertaining Angels.
General Music for Samantha or the Angels
1. Beethoven’s 5th Secrets by The Piano Guys – This song and the next are the same song, just different versions and they are the theme songs for the whole book/series. If I was only able to listen to two songs while writing the rest of the series, that would be okay because they carry the entire feeling of it.
2. Secrets by Bryson Andres – This is just one guy, playing all the different instrument parts on his violin with a looper. The song inspires me so much.
3. Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine – I really connected with this song while writing Entertaining Angels, it just belongs to Terem. I get inside his head while listening to it.
4. Adagio for Tron (Remixed by the Teddybears) off of the Tron: Legacy Reconfigured album – This is one of my go to songs that is shows up on multiple playlists, because it just pumps me up, helps me shut off my head and just gets me in the zone. Almost like a hypnotism trigger, but for writing.
5. Mirrors by Bryson Andres – This one has a good swimming pool vibe, for the pool scenes and an overall happy vibe to counteract/balance some of the less happy bits.
For the tough, serial killer, attack and/or fight scenes:
1. How to Be Eaten by a Woman by The Glitchmob -This has a great battle vibe and features in other of my book playlists. Love this song.
2. Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge - This worked to get me into the stalker scenes mindset.
3. Monologue by She Wants Revenge – If there was a theme song for the stalker/attacker in Entertaining Angels, this would be it. I think I listened to this one on repeat while writing one really tough scene.
4. Out of Control by She Wants Revenge – Has that intense vibe that the others do. Just keeps you in the mindset, because coupled with the other songs the beat propagates the sinister feel.
5. Disconnect by She Wants Revenge - If you’re not paying attention to the words, the beat is one you can bop your head to, but then you start to notice the words and while I’m writing about someone who is playing a cat and mouse game with the main character in the most horrific way, gooseflesh rises.
Those ten are just a small sampling of a much larger playlist. They are ones that felt like they had more specific meaning or that were more essential overall.
Here is one song from the second book’s playlist. It feels like the theme song for a new character that will be introduced and who is integral in the second book: Seven Devils by Florence and the Machine
Monica Millard was born and raised in Alaska. She doesn’t own a dog sled team, but has worked in a place where there are buildings with caged exterior doors to keep employees from being eaten by polar bears.
Monica’s favorite quote is, “People do not see the world as it is, they see it as they are.” She is not sure who said it but it is a quote that has always stuck with her. She loves to read because it allows her to see the world through someone else’s perspective and experience something she would otherwise never be able to. Sharing that same experience with others through her own writing is a possibility that makes her excited to get out of bed in the morning.
She lives in Wasilla, Alaska with all her critters, some four legged and others that stand on two. She writes Science fiction, fantasy, and Paranormal for young adults.
Q. Where did the idea for Entertaining Angels come from?
A. I was working on another project, which is usually when new ideas hit and demand attention. I was driving home from Anchorage and the opening scene hit. I got home and wrote out the opening scene and my thoughts about where it was going and saved it in my ideas folder. Not all of those go anywhere, but this one wouldn’t leave me alone, so when I was finished with the other project I started on Entertaining Angels.
Q. Entertaining Angels is set in Alaska. Did you really grow up in Alaska? What was that like?
A. Yes, I really was born and raised in Alaska and similar to the main character, Sam, I had never been anywhere outside of Alaska until I was a teenager. I did travel all over the state though, and as big as Alaska is, that is a lot of ground to cover. Growing up here was amazing. It’s probably one of the reasons I have such an active imagination.
We didn’t have a television until I was eight and even then we rarely got to watch it. I’m from a large family and we spent most of our time outdoors. Some of my favorite activities were catching frogs, climbing the sand pile with friends and either burying each other or rolling down it (there were two of them and they were each bigger than a two story house.), riding bikes, ice skating (mostly on the road in front of the house, because we do get that much snow and ice) and as we got older, riding the three wheeler or dirt bike.
Q. Where does your inspiration come from?
A. I’ve always had a very active imagination. Nothing ever was just what it was in my mind. A clearing in the woods was a cottage with tree leaf carpeting, or a witch’s circle. I would lay in bed at night watching the big black bags of off season clothing, seeing them grow into scary monsters before my eyes. I remember once thinking there must be something wrong with me, because no one else made stuff up the way I did.
Now that I have an outlet for all the stories that have always filled my head, music is one of the biggest catalysts for inspiration. I can listen to a song and sometimes I’ll see a whole world in it, or just a scene that’ll make me curious to find out more.
Q. Are any of the events in the book based on actual experiences?
A. They tell you to write what you know, and while I have never gone through anything like the characters in Entertaining Angels, parts are colored by my own experiences. I did have a stalker when I was younger who went as far as getting a job at my gym where I swam. My dad gave me a Taser to carry after several scary experiences with him in the parking garage at my job. I drew from that experience to help make what Sam experienced realistic. Luckily my own situation ended differently from hers.
Q. Of all the supernatural beings, why did you choose an angel to save Sam? Is this another example of you drawing from your own experiences?
A. Unfortunately, I have never seen an angel. At least not knowingly. I didn’t really choose an angel, I feel like it chose me. I was driving home (I have a very long commute) and during that 65 mile drive this scene came to me. It was of a girl running from a killer and when he was just about to get her there was flash of light, a stroke of a burning sword and a golden angel holding it, there and gone so quickly if the killer hadn’t lay on the ground run through, the girl could have believed it wasn’t real.
But an angel isn’t a surprising choice for me. I love anything angel related, art, books, or movies. If it has an angel in it (or werewolves or aliens) then I will almost definitely be interested. Entertaining Angels isn’t even my first book with angels.
Q. Terem is a unique name. How did you come up with it?
A. I love names. I have a document on my phone and a more extensive one on my computer where I add any new name I find that I like, but for Terem, his name was a happy accident. It was a typo while I was at work and when I said it aloud it was instant love. I stopped what I was doing and added the name to my list on my phone, recognizing it immediately as his name.
Q. Have you ever experienced anything paranormal like your characters?
A. Watching the Northern Lights feels pretty otherworldly, but science has explained that magical phenomenon. I was pretty sure my grandparents’ house was haunted when I was growing up, but no angels. At least not that I’m aware of.
Q. Entertaining Angels is about a serial killer, angels and demons. Are these things you are interested in?
A. I do very much enjoy watching cop/law/forensic shows and Dexter was good, but serial killers aren’t an interest of mine. I actually had to stop watching Criminal Minds because it was making me paranoid. I prefer to see the good that is around us. I do really love angels, and I guess that adversely makes me interested in demons, but not on the same level. Though I do love a good demon rehabilitation story or a story about a demon overcoming their supposed evil nature, such as in The Demon’s Lexicon.
I like it when the good guys are good and/or when the bad guys are actually good or they turn good. I will say that I do like the bad guys that have depth, especially if they have redeeming qualities. I like being able to root for them, to hope they’ll reform. Especially if they’re hot!
Q. Was it difficult to write the scenes that involve Sam’s interaction with the killer?
A. I will just say that I wouldn’t want to be a crime writer. I did have some songs from She Wants Revenge on the playlist that really helped me get into that headspace.
Q. In Entertaining Angels, Sam was training for a sprint triathlon. For those of us who don’t know, what is a sprint triathlon and what was your inspiration for making her train for one?
A. You start with a 400 meter swim in the pool before taking on a challenging 9.25 mile bike course. Finally, the 5k (3.2 mile) mile run finishes it. My sister-in-law is crazy like Sam’s friend, Jessica, in the book. She does the Ironman triathlons for fun. She convinced me to do a sprint triathlon a few years ago. It was a lot of work training for it, but it was also a very rewarding experience. Very empowering, and that was what Sam needed at the time.
Q. In the book blurb, it says Samantha is too busy trying avoid being stomped by moose at the bus stop. Is this really a concern for kids in Alaska?
A. Yes, as a kid growing up I had my share of close calls with moose. For perspective, I’ll tell you that I’ve seen 11 different moose in the last 3 days. One of them was in my yard. They blend well. You can walk or drive right past them and may not see them until they are right in your face.
Q. Do you have any odd writing rituals?
A. Nothing odd. My writing ritual is headphones, if possible a darkish room, and the background on word is black or blue to soften the light on my eyes. Oh and tea. Blackberry sage. But I can write anywhere, especially if I have my headphones
Q. Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing.
A. I have a youtube problem. I’m completely addicted. I might click on a link for some cute cat video that someone posted on Facebook or Twitter, but then it ends and there are all those horrible suggestions for other videos I might like in little boxes all over the screen and I’m weak. I can’t help clicking on them. I can spend hours watching upcoming movie or TV series trailers, or that guy in Australia who vacuums up the spiders that invade his house, speedart videos, or my latest terrible discovery; the luckiest people in the world videos. Did I mention street performers? See. It’s a problem. I need to stay away from those insidious links.
Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?
A. I tend to get writer’s block in the middle and towards the end of a book, right before it ends, but that last part might actually be less writer’s block and more procrastination because I’m not ready for it to end. I hate endings and leavings, even if they are good. To break through writer’s block, exercise with work out music in my headphones often helps or the best cure for me is physically writing in a notebook rather than typing on the computer.
Ten Odd Facts About Monica Millard
1. Stray animals follow me home, a lot. When I was younger this fact was much to the annoyance of my dad because even if we didn’t adopt them, they adopted us.
2. I can predict the future. Haha. When I was younger, we were visiting friends from another place in Alaska and my brother was fishing on the bank of a river. The way he was doing it was making me nervous and I said to him, “You’re going to hook someone.” Not five minutes later I noticed something in my peripheral vision. It was a hook, in my face! On his backward cast he hooked me. In the face!
3. I love angels. It doesn’t matter if the stories, art or movies match my own beliefs. In fact if someone can tell a story about them in a new and unique way, like Angelfall by Susan Ee or Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or Uprising by Dawn Jane, I often times love it even more.
4. I love all things fantastic. One of my favorite movies is The Abyss. I love aliens and I’m fascinated by the things that live under the murky depths of the ocean. This movie mixed both of things to epic awesomeness. Even now, all these years later the effects are some of the best I’ve seen. Underwater sentient water tentacle!
5. I LOVE breakfast cereal. I could live off breakfast food and be happy.
6. It’s hard to surprise me, as far as movies and books go. I love it when a book or movie has something I didn’t see coming (in a good way). Serenity is a great example of that. I am so inspired by the storytelling in that movie. It’s one I could watch a million times and never be tired of.
7. I leave my Christmas tree up all year. It’s fiber optic and it makes me happy.
8. When I was younger I wanted to be a dancer.
9. I donate blood as often as I can. I’m not perfect on getting in every 8 weeks. Life is busy, but I’m probably one of the few people who recognizes the blood bank phone number because they call me enough that I know by the number that I’m eligible to donate again and they will have the bloodmobile in my area. I’ll never be a superhero, but I can save lives.
10. Just like Sam in Entertaining Angels, I’m a shorty. I’m not even five feet tall.
You’re stuck on a deserted island and you can choose five books/series, what five would you choose and why?
1. The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Technically this is five books, but the whole series is awesome so it’s getting lumped together. It has everything you could ever want. There are vampires, werewolves, ghosts, alternate history, steampunk, hats, poofy dresses and wit out the wazoo. I giggled through the entire series. And Lord Conall Maccon! Two words: Alpha Werewolf. Have I mentioned my secret werewolf addiction?
2. Stolen by Lucy Christopher. This book shouldn’t work, shouldn’t be amazing, it is told in second person as a letter from a kidnap victim to her captor, it leaves you with questions you can’t answer and will possibly make you mad for reasons that going in you wouldn’t think possible. It is storytelling at its very best. The story holds you captive and leaves you with a terrible case of Stockholm Syndrome.
3. The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness. I love science fiction. This series has is thought provoking, beautiful and also tragic. I am in awe at Patrick Ness’s ability to pack so much, so many morals into one series and do it without feeling like that’s what he is doing. His book A Monster Calls slayed me with its clever, sneaky way of telling a truly emotional story, but it also made my cry my eyes out so, though it is pure genius, it isn’t one I’d reread.
5. This is a toss up between The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Under the Never Sky. I just love these two books and could reread them both multiple times and not get tired of the love story in each. (I know that’s cheating, but since it’s a fictional setting, I figured it’s my prerogative as an author to bend it a little.)
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