Theodore Beale is the author of
two books in the Eternal
Warriors series: The
War in Heaven and The
World in Shadow. Here he
discusses them, along with news of the third title, The
Wrath of Angels, and his
views on writing. Photo of Theodore Beale supplied by
the author; flaming sword included at no extra charge.
(Photo credit: Jeff Wheeler)
EBG: Can you give
us a quick synopsis of your first two novels, The War
in Heaven and The World in Shadow?
TB : The
War in Heaven can perhaps
be thought of as a retelling of John Milton's Paradise
Lost by C.S. Lewis if he'd
played a lot of Warhammer while listening to Metallica.
It's about a journey into and out of evil by a protaganist
who is not in the least unwilling to experience everything.
There's war on a grand scale, but seen from the point
of view of a teenage boy who's privy to some of the angelic
intrigue going on underneath. It's that old story: Boy
meets fallen angel, boy storms heaven with Hell's legions,
boy transformed into evil demigod while his sisters try
to stop him from destroying himself.
The World in Shadow
is a much darker and smaller book, even if it's longer.
It investigates the petty cruelties of life in the modern
world, their effects on individuals, and the way in which
the forces of evil take advantage of those who are weak
and wounded. The plot revolves around two unpopular boys,
whose anger is twisted and manipulated by the Fallen in
order to wreak havoc on the community. Unlike most people,
I wasn't asking why after Columbine. I know why it happened,
as did most of the kids there. This book wrestles more
with with the question how.
EBG: What are their
most significant themes?
TB: Redemption is the theme
of the first book. Responsibility is the theme of the
EBG: You have an eclectic
background: game designer, newspaper columnist, producer,
band founder, martial artist, and soccer player. What
prompted you to write a novel, and a series no less?
TB: I started reading early
and I haven't stopped since. I started dabbling in writing
short stories, very bad, very cliched science fiction
stories, when I was in college. After getting a rejection
letter from Asimov's, I switched to writing novel length
stuff—not that I actually finished any, you understand.
The first novel I ever attempted was an imitation of Joel
Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series, but with Traveller
standing in for Dungeons and Dragons. The one thing that
stands out for me now, having re-read it last year, is
that even then there was a gritty, almost brutal element
to my writing. That being said, the world didn't lose
much by my stopping after chapter five. It was derivative
with a capital D.
I've since learned that I'm just not good at writing short
stories. I need to have a bigger canvas on which to paint.
My ultimate goal is to bring the fantasy genre back to
its source and write the first big Christian fat fantasy
novels ala George Martin and Robert Jordan. I want to
write a series of 600-page monsters and really dive into
the whole world-creation concept.
EBG: Nearly all Christian
science fiction and fantasy is published by Christian
houses. How did yours find their way to a general publisher?
TB: I was writing secular
science fiction for them when I became a Christian, so
it was a natural progression. I love working with Pocket
Books, they've been very good to me. However, because
of my publisher being secular, I'm almost completely unknown
to the CBA market. I spoke with a VP at one of the large
CBA houses the other day; he'd never heard of me or the
Eternal Warriors books.
EBG: The angelic culture/society
(on both sides) is complex. How did you research all this?
Which sources did you use?
TB: There's a great book
called An Encyclopedia
of Angels that collects
all sorts of myths and legends from a wide variety of
sources. That was a big help, and then, of course, I just
made a lot of stuff up. The basic hierarchy is a modified
version of St. Jerome's listing of angels.
EBG: Your angels are
grittier than the ones on Touched by an Angel. What responses
have you gotten because of this?
TB: Parable Bookstores actually
refused to allow The
War in Heaven to participate
in a catalog promotion because, in their words, "it's
too intense." No problem with sex, violence or language,
since there isn't any, but apparently the vivid nature
of the novel was simply too much for them. I took it as
a compliment, even though it clearly wasn't intended as
After that, I didn't even bother submitting The
World in Shadow to them.
If the first one was too intense, someone probably would
have keeled over dead reading that. But most readers quite
like the fact that the angels have distinct personalities,
even if some of them are downright evil. Of course, that's
kind of the point, isn't it?
EBG: Do the characters
behave themselves as you write, or do they sometimes take
TB: I always dislike it
when writers talk about characters "taking over"
since it smacks somewhat of self-glorification to me.
I'm sure they mean it and I understand what they're saying,
but it always strikes me as posing. You know, "look
at me, I'm so doggone creative and artistic, I just can't
help myself!" Writing is rather more prosaic than
many authors—and readers—would like it to
be. That being said, I often do find myself modifying
dialogue and occasionally the plot itself as my understanding
of the characters evolves through the course of the novel.
EBG: How do you think
writing has changed you?
TB: I'm far more solitary
than before. When I was younger, I was a bit of a lone
wolf by necessity. Now, I absolutely cherish that time
alone, whether I'm planning to write or not. I'm never
bored, because I'm always constructing something in my
head. It throws me off sometimes, like when someone asks
me a question and I have no idea what's going on in the
conversation because I'm trying to figure out how I'm
going to work in a little quantum mechanics to underlie
some ancient Elvish wizardry.
EBG: What kinds of
sacrifices have you made because of your writing?
TB: I haven't made any significant
sacrifices, being very blessed financially, although writing
is a really bad field to go in for if you're in search
of fame or money. I'm sure my net worth would be more
impressive if I'd stayed on the full-time career path,
but that holds almost zero interest for me. Material things
are great, but I value time far more highly.
EBG: When should we expect to see The Wrath of Angels
[the next in the series]?
Pocket's got it scheduled for spring 2005, if I recall
correctly. I'm very close to wrapping it up—it's
due at the end of March. This one took longer, as two
false starts led to about sixty thousand unused words.
That's practically a book in itself, or it would have
been twenty years ago.
EBG: Would you tell us a bit about it, please?
I think The Wrath
of Angels will surprise
readers of the first two books in much the same way that
the different nature of The
World in Shadow surprised
people after the first one. I'm not the least bit interested
in writing the same book over and over again. I can almost
guarantee that whatever you're expecting, you won't be
expecting this. I can't say if it's particularly good
or not, but I daresay it's rather different. If not downright
The one similarity is that I've drawn a bit on Spenser's
in the way that I drew on Paradise
Lost in the first book.
Not much, but it's somewhat of a starting point. Sort
of. The book dives deeper into the internecine battles
between the Fallen and how the Divine angels attempt to
use these to further the cause of what C.S. Lewis called
the Divine Invasion, working to save mankind one soul
at a time. Scopewise, it's somewhere in the middle of
the two previous books.
EBG: Do you have any
suggestions for aspiring writers?
Don't look for the magic bullet. Just sit down and write.
I usually don't like talking with aspiring writers because
all too often, so many of them are far more intrigued
with the idea of writing than they are with the reality
of writing itself. Writing is nothing but perseverance—everyone
has plenty of ideas—the main thing that separates
the professional from the permanent amateur is the willingness
to sit down and bang something out, even if you're not
in the mood. It doesn't get any easier once you've got
a contract, quite the opposite, actually.
EBG: Do you have any
final thoughts for Edenstar readers?
TB: If you're interested
in the books, or if you've read the first two and are
waiting for the third, check out the various short stories
on the web site at www.eternalwarriors.com.
There's almost an entire book's worth of stuff up there
and it's all free for the reading.
EBG: Thank you, Theodore!
Contact info: Learn
more about Theodore Beale at his web site, www.eternalwarriors.com.
February 18, 2004