In The Beginning…

When I first got the idea for Blackfeather, over twelve years ago, it was going to be a stand alone novel about an angel exiled from Heaven for his part in causing the death of the girl he was supposed to be guarding. Through her subsequent lifetimes he would fall in love with her and she with him and at the end, when the quest had been completed he would return to Heaven. The happy ending would come when the angel, now seemingly an ordinary mortal man with no recollection of his angelic heritage, walked into her place of work as the new employee and they began their relationship anew.

It was all a bit too neat and tidy, a bit twee and quite unsatisfactory. I got to thinking was he really mortal now, why didn’t he remember, what if there was a reason he couldn’t remember and for some reason he was made to? And so the possibility of a sequel was formed.

By the time Blackfeather was written the ending had changed quite considerably. That vague possibility of a sequel had formed into an entirely new plot with new characters, both good and evil and a few in between and so readers were left at the end of Blackfeather with the satisfaction of a quest completed and a whole new adventure about to begin.

Those of you who follow my Facebook page will have spotted the new cover photo (shown below) and I hope will be feeling a bit excited. It’s taken a long time in coming, my last post was an apology for the delay in publishing Immortal, but you’ll be happy to know we are almost there.

It is true that Blackfeather started out as one story that changed over the course of its writing and the same is true for Immortal. The original premise I started with is now unrecognisable. Only I will ever know what the original drafts looked like, but I can say that it is a much better book than it would have been twelve years ago and I hope when you get to read it that you think so too.

 

coming soon immortal

 

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

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The Real Life House Behind A Tragic Past Life

In “X Marks The Spot” I promised to show you what Evelyn and Sebastian looked like, so here they are.

sebastian

evelyn

Below are several photos of Evelyn and Sebastian’s house as it looks today. Sadly it has been badly neglected, but that was one of the reasons I chose it for Blackfeather. It’s location was ideal and this is exactly how Ash and Kate find it when they arrive and are caught in the attic by Evelyn’s great, great, great nephew. You can view the Markham Family tree here.

evelyns 2 evelyns house1 evelyns3 evelyns4 evelyns5

All photos of the house are taken by and copyright to Guinever Saunders Artist

It’s such a shame that it’s being left to rot and when we were up there last there were squatters in it. If only I had the money….

As a special treat, here is a picture of Evelyn’s beloved dog, Bertie

bertie

X Marks The Spot

Whilst writing Blackfeather I used several real life locations as settings within the book including the place where I live – Liverpool. This is where Kate lived in her past life as Evelyn Markham.

If you’ve read the book you’ll know this is a tragic tale which ends in a double suicide in the year 1873. This was the Victorian period and part of Liverpool was undergoing a wonderful transformation.

A beautiful park was being built a short distance from the city centre and  brand new villas for the well to do families of the era were springing up around the edges of the park.

The park began life in 1867 when the Liverpool Corporation bought the land from the Earl of Sefton. They decided to hold a competition to see who could come up with the best design and it was a French architect, Edouard Andre and a local architect, Lewis Hornblower, who won with their French style design.

They included a cricket ground, sheep and deer parks and a boating lake in their plan and the park was opened, in all its Victorian splendour, in 1872.

The Fairy Glen in Sefton Park, Liverpool Image from http://www.externalworksindex.co.uk/

When Ash first meets Evelyn, in the Fairy Glen under the Iron Bridge in 1873, this had only just been added and it was a popular meeting place for the Victorians who promenaded in the park at that time. Some of the houses were still under construction and wouldn’t be finished until 1890, but others, like Evelyn and Sebastian’s house were already being snapped up to be lived in.
Their house is the very last one on the row after the cricket ground. and just below the semi-circle next to that row is where the iron bridge and fairy glen are situated. This is where Ash would stand to watch over Evelyn, close to her, but shielded from view by the trees that surround the grounds of the house.

The Iron Bridge

Today, many of the houses have been turned into flats or hotels, but you can still get a feel for the Victorian period as you walk around the area and the Palm House, which was added to the park in 1896 has been renovated and restored in recent years. I think Evelyn would have loved to spend time here looking at the exotic plants from all over the world, but of course she never saw it in her lifetime.

sefton palm house

Sefton Palm House

Below is a map of the park, the little red x marks the spot where Ash and Evelyn met and the arrow points to the house.

1867 design of Sefton Park with marks

 

In a future post I’ll show you what Sebastian and Evelyn looked like and some modern day photos of their house.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

The Angel of Mons

angel of mons painting 2On 23rd August 1914 both the English and German forces believed they had witnessed a miracle. Some saw St George and a legion of bowmen others said that angels had surrounded the English in a wall of protection. Whether it was divine or supernatural intervention or not, the fact remains that the heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Forces were being forced to retreat under heavy fire. Something turned the tide.

A further tale has it that a group of soldiers belonging to the Coldstream Guards got lost in the Mormal Forest and became aware that they were close to being discovered until a tall, slim female figure appeared to them. She wore a white flowing gown and appeared to be glowing. The soldiers followed her across a field where she showed them a hidden road which allowed them to escape.

The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War by Arthur MachenArthur Machen, a Welsh author, published a short story entitled “The Bowmen” on 29th September 1914 and insisted that this was the inspiration for the story of the Angel of Mons, but would this story spread far enough to account for the tales told by English and overseas forces alike?

One of the other ideas to account for the tales is that fog and rain caused unusual cloud formations or poor visibility that gave rise to unusual sightings, but this can be discounted since the sun came out from around 10 am that day.

I have used this enduring piece of folklore in Blackfeather to place Ash at a a turbulent time in history where his path crosses not only with one of Kate’s previous lives, but also at a crucial moment for Kate’s Great Grandfather. By saving Arthur Parkes’ life Ash ensures Kate’s birth in the future – the discovery shocks him. Perhaps someone should have explained to him that time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff 🙂

You can read a more in-depth investigation of The Angel of Mons by Alan S. Coulson MD, PhD. and Michael E. Hanlon here.  They even include pictures, maps and theories on the legend.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

What’s Your Super Power? – Angel Abilities Part 2

Teleportation, Soul Reading, Angel/Demon Sensing
Teleportation
Angels are outside the natural laws of time and space and so can travel through it at will in any direction, into the past or the future or from one place to another, instantly.
Fallen angels, Watchers and demons can only travel in space as their physical bodies prevent them moving through time. It is quite unnerving to watch someone disappear in front of your very eyes but even more so when they can reappear silently behind you as Kate can testify from these two short excerpts from Chapter 14 of Blackfeather.

Damn it! he thought, hitting the table with his fist. 
He hadn’t meant to scare her. He was only angry at himself. He sighed and picked up the journal. Whatever she thought of him, she had a right to know. 
His voice was softer when he returned, but still hard-edged and she shrank from him. He hated himself for the fear he saw in her eyes.
You’re right, you should know everything I’ve done.” 
He laid the book on the chair arm and vanished into thin air, leaving the paper chains swinging overhead.
* * * 
There was no reason for him to be so angry, nothing he did with Isabel made me hate him, she thought, as she emptied the pot into the sink. 
Something stirred the air.
There’s worse to come,” Ash said. 
She was relieved to hear his voice. He was leaning against the wall behind her.
Ashrafel, you scared me.”

Soul Reading
A human soul is reborn many times over, each incarnation bears a different face and may even be a different ethnicity or gender to the life before, but angelic beings can see beyond the outward appearance and read the soul that resides inside. In this way Ash can see who a person was in a previous life and would know if they have been connected to Kate before.
If Ash had performed this simple task on Brian he would have been able to ascertain if Brian was a threat to Kate. But Brian was drunk and Ash states:

It’s not a pleasant experience looking into the souls of drunken people.It’s something I try to avoid…”

Demon/Angel Sensing
All angels/Watchers can sense the presence of evil, be it human or demon. Demons, whilst sickened by the presence of good can’t detect or locate angels on their own and use this sensation to detect if an angel is nearby.
A Watcher could locate any other being anywhere on the planet and then teleport to its location. Demons can only do this with their own kind.
Whilst these beings have many more abilities this is the last post in the angel lore series for now.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

What’s Your Super Power?

Angel Abilities Part 1

Continuing the explanation of how supernatural beings and events work in the Blackfeather Series of books.

Manipulation, Mind Reading and Invisibility

The angelic beings in Blackfeather, be they fallen angels, watchers or demons, all possess a wide range of abilities and put them to use in various situations.

MANIPULATION

This subtle ability is used on humans and animals in order to achieve a certain outcome. For instance, you may suddenly find yourself thinking what a great idea it would be to visit a certain place, only to find when you arrive that an old friend you haven’t seen for years is also there.Kate is manipulated several times in the book and so are those around her. In the church, Ash’s brother cajoles her into digging up the box and suggests she takes it home. When she becomes resistant to this idea he becomes more forceful and compels her to take it. He is, of course, a Watcher and is acting in the best interests of his brother, but he might well be breaking angelic laws over this and have to face consequences later. Ash, as a fallen angel, possesses this power too and uses it to gently persuade Brian to leave the nightclub instead of fighting him and later he uses it on a wider scale to influence the crowds at the Festival of Angels. Under his guidance the crowd parts to allow himself and Kate, who has a fear of crowds and small places, through unhindered, and later he compels diners to leave a busy pub so that he and Kate can get a table and have dinner together. Demons would use this power for nefarious ends and to manipulate people into committing anything from petty theft to horrific crimes and acts of violence.

Of course, humans have free will and so could easily resist this manipulation if they so wished. Angelic beings can merely suggest a course of action, it would be no use for a demon to suggest murder, for instance, to someone totally opposed to this action.

MIND READING

Angelic beings can read minds and converse telepathically with each other and with non-angelic beings. Kate hears Ash’s voice before she even meets him and is unnerved by his intrusion into her private thoughts. He tries to respect her privacy, but as her guardian angel he has a much closer bond with her and finds it difficult to close off entirely.This short extract from Blacfeather is a moment from early on in Kate and Ash’s relationship, shortly after she finds out what he really is:

It unnerved her, the way he knew she was there, even with his back to her and his earphones in. She wasn’t going to argue with him and watched as he dished up a generous helping of baked beans. He was humming a tune she knew well now and it sounded good. Good enough for a choir.

Choir of angels, said a voice in her head.

He placed the plate in front of her and poured real coffee from her mother’s best silver coffee pot, then looked up to find her wary eyes on him.

“Sorry, I’ll try not to intrude.”

This ability becomes very useful if you want to conduct a private conversation that can’t be overheard by others. It is also great for communicating over vast distances. Angelic beings may have the means to block or divert other angelics from their mind at will. Most demons do this as a matter of course, as they don’t even trust their own brethren.

INVISIBILITY

All angels are, for the most part invisible to humans and only show themselves on rare occasions, fallen angels, demons and Watchers are “clothed” in physical bodies that can be seen as clearly as any other human, but can vanish and hide themselves from sight at will. For Ash, this is a very useful power, especially when danger is nearby or when his presence will be awkward for Kate. Of course, for us, it means that we can be watched at any and all times by beings unseen, whether they be friend or adversary. We will discover some more angel abilities in the next post

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Behind The Scenes – A Peek Into Kate’s House

I thought you might like to have a nosy round Kate’s house today. I used the pictures below to reference Kate’s house in Blackfeather and as an aide memoire. It’s very easy to forget exactly what colour a room is painted or where you left that gun, if you’re writing a crime novel. Having a visual reference can help you get the details right from scene to scene and can save on editing at a later stage. Also, it’s fun to be able to see where a character lives or works, the clothes they wear or the car they drive.

Strictly speaking this is Kate’s parents house, but as they’re now living in France they’ve all but given it to her.

Kate's House

Kate’s House

 

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Kates parents house2

The Living Room with French Doors

Kate's Bedroom

Kate’s Bedroom

And finally Kate’s 1971 cherry red VW Beetle

beetle

 

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter