“WAR ANGEL” Q&A SESSION with ANN
Q: In War Angel it seems that everyone is living for the love of something or someone’s love. Why did you decide to make this suspense thriller a love story, but also a story full of unrequited love?
A: No matter what genre I write, I always try to weave in certain universal elements of the human condition. “War Angel” is riddled with murder and violence but, in order for a reader to CARE about the characters outside of the “shock value” of blood and guts related events, they have to be able to see them as relatable human beings. The pursuit of love was what drove most of the characters to do the things they did in the story.
Q: In one scene late in the book Jahaira thinks about how Hector pursued her relentlessly, professing his love for her. She thinks, “She had always believed that he was so persistent in his pursuit of her affections because he blindly saw perfection in what he did not possess.” Is this a key statement in the book, one that holds much greater meaning throughout, as it relates to the characters and what they are “coveting”, be it power, love, control, or otherworldly benefits?
A: It definitely was and I’m glad you picked up on it. Hector’s relentless pursuit of Jahaira’s affections is a perfect metaphor for people simply wanting something because they seem to not be able to possess it. We lose ourselves at times chasing what we want instead of the things we need and while we hunger for things that seem out of reach, we invent perfection where sometimes none exists. I think we’ve all had experiences where the fantasy was way better than the actual reality once we got a taste of what we were chasing. For example, everyone wants to be a king/queen but often find the weight of the crown very heavy once they’re wearing it.
Q: You placed some statements in the book that were taken from some of your previous works. For example, Jahaira finds she is becoming more and more jealous as Lenox is obviously keeping something from her, and she states to herself; “Normally she wasn’t an insecure woman at all but lately, with all the open spaces that seemed to be widening between them, she had started to be driven crazy by her own jealousy.” Can you elaborate on how “open spaces” directly relates to your previous novel, Open Spaces ? Are there other open spaces being created or widened in War Angel besides between Jahaira and Lenox? I love this connection to your previous novel, Open Spaces; it is one of my all time favorite novels.
A: “Open Spaces” is one of my favorite novels as well. One of the themes of that book was how easy it is at time for people to drift apart, even when they love each other deeply, if they don’t find a way to keep the world outside of their relationship where it belongs. Lack of communication and misplaced lust which weakens trust has destroyed many a home. In “War Angel,” Jahaira knew Lenox so well that she could FEEL that he was keeping secrets from her which in turn made her begin to doubt his honesty. Although he meant to spare her pain by not sharing everything with her, it began to slowly eat away at their relationship and drive them apart. Also, after her own husband’s death, Carmen, Jahaira’s mother, becomes very jealous of the happiness that her daughter has found with Lenox. She pretends to want to strengthen their bond but secretly wished to destroy it, by any means necessary. Then, there is also the strange taboo relationship between Carmen and Hector. We learn in the book how that started and how it was the catalyst that drove her husband, Caesar, so very from away from her.
Q: You wrote in War Angel; “These elderly folk who had lived their entire lives with poverty’s boot heel on their throats didn’t pray to get to heaven or for forgiveness for any of their sins. They only turned eyes upwards to God to ask for a little bit of luck. It was a tragedy that played out daily in a place desperately lacking hope because of the absence of faith.” I took these statements in addition to the paragraphs surrounding them to reflect a human condition; when and where more hope is needed there is little or no faith, which unfortunately doesn’t help anyone, it only makes the cycle continue. Can you explain your precise or implied meaning for this statement/section?
A: That was one of my favorite parts of the book because I got to express my feelings about all the lives I see wasted. Crime and untimely deaths aren’t the only things plaguing urban communities like the ones I grew up in. There’s a sense of people being cheated out of life because they’ve been fed false dreams to chase and waste their entire lives slaving away for other people, believing that there’s a slice of pie reserved for them for being model “citizens” that report to work and do what they’re told. People aren’t taught to think. We’ve been conditioned to follow and I see where it ends…playing lotto and hoping to get lucky. I still believe that many people are still enslaved. It’s just that you can’t see the chains. In its own way, that’s a cruel, extended death sentence as well.
Q: “Evil only wins and heinous deeds only go unpunished when good men stand aside and do nothing.” Is this statement from Chapter 12 a foreboding of what is to come later in the book and in the sequel?
A: It definitely was a foreboding of things to come in the sequel. At the time, Carmen also used the statement as a tool to try to motivate and manipulate Lenox into thinking that what he was about to do for her was righteous and justified.
Q: Why does the butcher’s knife in Jon’s house have pb&j on it? What are you saying to the reader here?
A: That was a little bit of dark humor on my part. I though t it was ironic that he eventually got stabbed to death by the same knife he had used to make a PB&J sandwich a few minutes before. (Remember that he was eating his sandwich when Lenox knocked on the door) If he had used a butter knife instead, that’s what would have been sitting within Lenox’s reach during their violent confrontation in the kitchen. I wanted to give the reader a sense that he might have had a chance if he had done things differently, even if it was something minute and trivial. It kind of showed that he was doomed no matter what and deserved his fate. I despise human beings who harm children the way Jon did.
Q: I noted throughout my reading of the novel there were many parallel references or similarities to one of Shakespeare’s most popular and bloody plays. Particularly I noted the 3 weird/ghostly sisters, bloody hands, and murder by a large knife, secret plots, and secrets kept, guilt, hallucinations, and even a dinner party as a place where someone is drugged or begins to hallucinate. What motivated you to embed elements that reference Shakespeare’s play? Do share other references I’ve missed.
A: The sisters were definitely a homage to the weird sisters in Macbeth, as was much of the novel. I see you noticed the scene where Lenox imagined the blood on his hands, just as Macbeth had. Carmen is a modern, Lady Macbeth but to the tenth power. She pushed Lenox AND Hector to do the things they did. Macbeth has always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.
Q: You put a statement in the book that can be paraphrased as saying “One moment, one choice, creates a tidal wave through time. Setting events into motions that cannot be stopped...” Did any waves stop in War Angel? If so, where did the wave begin and where did it end? Will the sequel see these waves through time stopped?
A: The waves started in this book carry over to the sequel in a BIG way. “War Angel” was just the beginning. The subtitle for “War Angel II” his “Where Angels Fear to Tread” for a good reason, believe me. I also give the reader a glimpse at the past to provide more insight about Jahaira’s family’s history. There are also some new, very interesting characters that get involved. Now that I think about it, some of the events in the first book could be considered pebbles that lead to an avalanche.
Q: What are some of the lessons or themes throughout the book? What lessons might we learn in War Angel II?
A: One of the main themes of “War Angel” is love and what people are willing to do to keep it, chase it and even deny it. The main driving force behind everything that happens is Lenox and Jahaira’s unbreakable bond. I wanted to write a story where the male lead was totally devoted to the woman he loved instead of making it into the typical “unfaithful man” kind of storyline. I’ve been in love and totally devoted to a woman so I know for a fact that that type of love does exist. I surrounded that very real theme with an outlandish paranormal, action-packed, bloody thriller type of story. I think it gave the rest of the mayhem a calming center and a rock-solid central theme. It carried over into “War Angel II” in a major way. Without giving away TOO much, I’ll say that Jahaira certainly isn’t the “damsel in distress” in the sequel. You got a chance to see what she was capable of at the end of “War Angel” but I’ll say this, You ain’t seen nothin’ yet kiddo!
Q: Who is your favorite character and why?
A: That’s a tough one. I have a few but, I would have to say that Lenox and Jahaira are my favorites in the book. I see them as one unit and I admire the love that they share and what they’re willing to do to protect it. Carmen is one of my favorite villains because of how complex she was.