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Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel


Please welcome Sabrina Benulis to The Qwillery. Angelus is published today by Harper Voyager. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Sabrina a Happy Publication Day!




Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel



TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Angelus (Books of Raziel 3), is published on February 9th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Archon (2011) to Angelus? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sabrina Benulis:  Hello, and thank you again for taking the time to interview me! It's hard for me to believe it's been a few years since I wrote Archon. Of course, in answer to your question, my writing style has evolved. But it's mainly a matter of perspective now. I've learned a few tricks and methods from being observant about other books I read, but on the whole, I'm just much less demanding of myself now. I'm a perfectionist, and it's taken me a while to relax when it comes to whatever mistakes I might make. I think that is the most challenging thing about writing, actually. We can be too critical of ourselves, and fearful of readers, and it can paralyze us as writers. The most important thing you can do as a writer is to tell your story as best you can. In the end, nothing else matters half as much, because if fear stifles you, you'll never share the world you've created with anyone.



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Archon came out that you know now?

SB:  So much has changed in the publishing industry since Archon first arrived on shelves, that it's mind-boggling. When I sold Archon, e-books were just starting to become popular, and very few authors started their careers by self-publishing anything digitally. It's hard to believe that was only back in 2010. Most of us still had to travel the long and challenging route of finding an agent, and then hopefully a publisher, and more often than not, a book wouldn't sell. I was lucky enough to sell Archon and its sequels relatively quickly all things considered. To be honest, there is incredible opportunity nowadays. In fact, it would be fair to say that a writer's career never has to be over anymore, because the options to publish your work are now more accessible than ever. You still can't match the marketing and publicity powerhouse of a traditional publisher, but it's still amazing to know that so many paths to reach your dreams exist. So if there is one thing I wish I knew back then, it would be that despite setbacks, persistence truly pays off even more than you're initially led to believe.



TQTell us something about Angelus that is not found in the book description.

SB:  Angelus is a book that takes risks in how the story ends. I wanted an epic and original conclusion to a story that was, in all honesty, probably too big for only three novels. But I'm really happy with it, and I'm hoping readers will be too. A lot of people didn't understand where I was going with the story that began in Archon, but trust me when I say, it all truly comes together at the end.



TQWhich character in the Books of Raziel trilogy has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

SB:  Unlike most authors I know, I had the most surprises and problems with my main character, Angela Mathers. You will understand why once you read the end of Angelus, and you will probably commiserate with me, but I mean that in a good way. Angela turned out to be an incredible character with an amazing past and future. But she constantly evolved and was difficult to pin down. Whereas most authors tends to reflect themselves in their main character, Angela has few personal traits in common with me, which was both refreshing and a true challenge, because I was always getting to know her just like the reader. But overall, writing her character was a truly enriching and rewarding experience from beginning to end. I really felt like I was on a journey with her.



TQAngelus is described as "a gothic supernatural tale". In your opinion, what makes a story "gothic"?

SB:  A story being 'gothic' is really all about the atmosphere. It's the world you create and how you convey it. The gothic has a lot to do with the contrast between light and darkness, characters that have strong passions that are ironically difficult to define as good or evil, and underlying currents of otherworldliness and dread. You might not get scared when you read a gothic novel, but you will probably feel uneasy, and definitely absorbed in a world that's familiar but frightening at the same time. In the gothic, there is a beauty to the darkness that draws you in and refuses to let go.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Angelus.

SB:  There is one line in Angelus, spoken by a very important character named Sophia, that basically sums up the entirety of the story. "A mother does anything and everything for her children--until they are beyond all possible help." Angela's story begins and eventually ends there. It is the central point around which the entire trilogy pivots. And I'm sure any of you Moms out there will agree with that quote one hundred percent. The world of Angelus is ultimately our world, and though it's characters might be angels, demons, or other supernatural creatures, they still live by the same fundamental truths as you and me.



TQWhat does is feel like to end the Books of Raziel trilogy?

SB:  It's a surreal feeling to have finally concluded the trilogy. I've inhabited Angela's world and known the characters for a long, long time. And I'm including years before the first novel Archon was even published. So much has changed since then and I've learned and grown so much more as a writer (because writers are always learning and growing like any artist), that it's incredible to think I am now moving on to new worlds, stories, and people who inhabit them. I will miss Angela and her world, but I'm also ready to move on. That's just life.



TQWhat's next?

SB:  It's hard for me to steer too far from fantasy fiction. Every time I write, something supernatural or fantastical always seems to creep in, no matter what I do. Maybe it's in my blood. Archon, Covenant, and Angelus were books that focused on Western mythology and religious elements like angels and demons. I find myself now moving on to mythologies from other cultures. I've really been wanting to write a great fantasy based in Asian mythology. Then again, I also have a great idea for a dark urban fantasy, and even a dystopian novel.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

SB:  Thank you again for interviewing me, and for the opportunity to share my thoughts on writing and a little bit about Angelus. I'm so excited for people to read it, and I'm grateful you could help me spread the news to readers out there!





Angelus
The Books of Raziel 3
Harper Voyager, February 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel
The heart-pounding conclusion to the Books of Raziel trilogy, a gothic supernatural tale about a girl who discovers that she holds the keys to both Heaven and Hell—and that angels, demons, and all the creatures in between who will stop at nothing to possess her and control the power she holds.

The war begun by three powerful angel siblings—Raziel, Lucifel, and Israfel—has divided the kingdoms of both Heaven and Hell, and the destruction is spilling over into the human world.

The last hope for a crumbling world is the Archon—the human Angela Mathers who has the power to control the supernatural universe. Angela alone can successfully oppose Lucifel and open Raziel’s Book, to use its power for good. But to do so would mean murdering her best friend, a sacrifice Angela refuses to contemplate.

Angela sits on the throne of Hell, fulfilling a prophecy of ruin. But ruin does not always mean destruction—sometimes it means revolution. Time is running out for both Angela and the universe, and former enemies are eager to see her fail. As she enters the Angelus duel for the crown of Heaven, she can only pray that she’ll see her friends again.





Previously

Archon
The Books of Raziel 1
Harper Voyager, November 6, 2012
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, December 27, 2011

Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel
Angels and demons do battle for a girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful, dead angel in this fabulous paranormal debut by Sabrina Benulis. Archon is the first of the Books of Raziel, a truly fantastic and very hip new take on heaven’s warriors that readers of the angelic novels of Danielle Trussoni, Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Alexandra Adornetto are sure to adore. Archon is new wave urban fantasy, a tale of the supernatural that brilliantly blends passion, obsession, horror, and suspense in a way that will appeal to dark fantasy fans and paranormal romance readers equally. Sabrina Benulis’s angels are creepy, sexy, and totally awesome—and, like Anne Rice’s amoral, ambiguous, and addicting vampires, they will seduce and terrify you at the same time.




Covenant
The Books of Raziel 2
Harper Voyager, April 1, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel
The haunting gothic tale started in Archon continues-a mesmerizing work of the paranormal in which a young woman discovers that she is caught in a labyrinth of intrigue where angels, demons, and all the creatures between Heaven and Hell will stop at nothing to possess her.

A year ago, Angela Mathers, a talented artist with a tortured soul, enrolled at the Westwood Academy and encountered the angels who haunted her dreams. Then she discovered the dark truth … she is the Archon, a being of supreme power who will determine the fate of the universe. But with such power comes great danger, and for every force seeking to aid Angela there is another burning to stop her. After a scheming demon kidnaps the Book of Raziel, Angela must find her way through a nightmarish game and enter the Door to Hell to rescue her only friend before it is too late.

The perilous fate of both Heaven and Hell rests on her success.





About Sabrina

Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of Raziel
Photo by Sharon J. Naples
Sabrina Benulis graduated with a masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She currently resides in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania with her husband and a spoiled cockatiel.








Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook


Twitter @SabrinaBenulis




Interview with Sabrina Benulis - December 20, 2011

Please welcome Sabrina Benulis to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Archon (The Books of Raziel 1), Sabrina's debut novel, will be published on December 27, 2011.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Sabrina:  My most interesting writing quirk is that I'm developing the bad habit of needing to be in my pajamas when I sit down at the computer. The weather also affects my writing. When it is sunny, I tend to be more enthusiastic, and, well . . . cheerful!

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Sabrina:  Some of my favorite writers include Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. I also love the classics The Lord of the Flies, Wuthering Heights, and anything by Edgar Allen Poe. H.P. Lovecraft has also influenced any creepiness in my stories. Besides books, a lot of inspiration comes to me from movies, and also from Japanese anime and manga which is a personal hobby of mine.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Sabrina:  I'm a mix of plotter and pantser. I need to know the overall framework of the plot, and most especially the end or goal I am working toward, but I find that the small details tend to develop best spur of the moment. In that sense, my subconscious tends to do a lot of the work.

TQ:   Describe Archon.

SabrinaArchon is the first installment of a trilogy called The Books of Raziel, a gothic paranormal fantasy series centering around the existence of a dark messiah known only in higher occult circles as the Archon. This person is suspected to be the reincarnation of a vengeful angel who created an artifact that could determine the ultimate victor in Heaven and Hell's eternal battle. The story begins in Luz, the Vatican-owned island city of a future where people with red hair are suspected to be this dark messiah. My protagonist Angela Mathers has suffered for her red hair all of her life, and arrives in Luz to begin a new life after the untimely death of her family. Little does she know, she is about to enter a world of dangerous intrigues and shifting alliances, where even angels are not quite what she has been led to believe.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Archon?

Sabrina:  I first began Archon six years ago in college, merely writing for the love of it. I always wanted to write a story about angels, but I knew it was going to be drastically different than anything that had been done before. Once I thought of my characters and fell in love with them, the story continued to evolve into its present form.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Archon?

Sabrina:  I have always loved reading about mythology and different religions of the world, so much of that was in the back of my head when I wrote the book. I did, however, do a lot of reading on angels in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and then created my own world from that and ran with it.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Sabrina:  The easiest character to write was Troy. She sprang fully formed into my head from the first instant. Unfortunately, you only get a small glimpse of her in the first novel. Her role increases drastically as the story continues. Angela--the main character--was the hardest at first. It took me a while to really get into her head and figure out just what made her tick. She is a very reserved person, guarded, and admittedly damaged. Perhaps it is very similar to getting to know such a person in real life. They make you work for it.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Archon?

Sabrina:  I love the scene where Angela and Troy finally meet. There, the terrible beauty that is the supernatural is in full display. Archon is not a book the glorifies the supernatural as much as it reminds us just what makes angels and demons so alien, powerful, and perhaps dangerous to humans in the first place.

TQ:   How many books are planned for The Books of Raziel series?

Sabrina:   Two more books are planned in the series. The story should be complete by book number three, but I suppose prequels and separate sequels are always a possibility. I like tightly contained stories where most of the sub-plots are resolved by the last book.

TQ:  What's next?

Sabrina:  I have just finished the first draft of Book 2, and I am very excited about where the story is going. The Books of Raziel are like nothing you will have read. Archon is a very gothic, dark novel, but the progression toward the light is becoming an amazing journey. I can promise you'll have no idea what will happen next.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sabrina:   Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure!


About Archon

Archon
The Books of Raziel 1
Harper Voyager, December 27, 2011
Hardcover, 400 pages

Interview with Sabrina Benulis - December 20, 2011
Angels and demons do battle for a girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful, dead angel in this fabulous paranormal debut by Sabrina Benulis. Archon is the first of the Books of Raziel, a truly fantastic and very hip new take on heaven’s warriors that readers of the angelic novels of Danielle Trussoni, Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Alexandra Adornetto are sure to adore. Archon is new wave urban fantasy, a tale of the supernatural that brilliantly blends passion, obsession, horror, and suspense in a way that will appeal to dark fantasy fans and paranormal romance readers equally. Sabrina Benulis’s angels are creepy, sexy, and totally awesome—and, like Anne Rice’s amoral, ambiguous, and addicting vampires, they will seduce and terrify you at the same time.


About Sabrina

Interview with Sabrina Benulis - December 20, 2011
Sabrina Benulis lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, a scruffy cockatiel, and a yard full of adorable wild birds. Peacocks from a nearby farm have also made an appearance. Sabrina loves fantasy that makes you think and challenges the norm. Unable to visit the worlds she imagines, she often resorts to letting her typing fingers do the dreaming for her.

Sabrina's Links

Website
Blog
Facebook

2011 Debut Author Challenge Update - November 5, 2011

The Qwillery is happy to announce that debut author Sabrina Benulis will be participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interview series.

Sabrina's debut novel, Archon (The Books of Raziel) will be published on December 27, 2011 by Harper Voyager.

2011 Debut Author Challenge Update - November 5, 2011
Angels and demons do battle for a girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful, dead angel in this fabulous paranormal debut by Sabrina Benulis. Archon is the first of the Books of Raziel, a truly fantastic and very hip new take on heaven’s warriors that readers of the angelic novels of Danielle Trussoni, Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Alexandra Adornetto are sure to adore. Archon is new wave urban fantasy, a tale of the supernatural that brilliantly blends passion, obsession, horror, and suspense in a way that will appeal to dark fantasy fans and paranormal romance readers equally. Sabrina Benulis’s angels are creepy, sexy, and totally awesome—and, like Anne Rice’s amoral, ambiguous, and addicting vampires, they will seduce and terrify you at the same time.


Look for an interview with Sabrina in December. You can keep up to date on 2011 Debut Author Challenge happenings on the 2011 DAC page.
Interview with Sabrina Benulis, author of The Books of RazielInterview with Sabrina Benulis - December 20, 20112011 Debut Author Challenge Update - November 5, 2011

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