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The two characters were created together. I consciously thought of their relationship as the mountain, where earth meets heaven. Ian is “earthy.” So he likes food, he is physical and sensual. Paul is the one with his head in the clouds. Ian teaches Paul to live in the moment and to get in touch with his physical nature, and Paul teaches Ian to appreciate the spiritual.

I think Ian’s earthiness appeals to people. He is not self-conscious in areas where a lot of us are. He is not worried about his physical attractiveness, and he doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned about what anyone thinks about his sexuality. Those are areas where a lot of us are hung up. This doesn’t mean he has no issues. He has a lot of them, just in other areas. I think of Paul as being someone who has romantic ideas about love, he wants love to be spiritual and transcendent, but he has detached love from the sensual world. He talks about the body and blood of Christ and the physicality of that, and yet it is all intellectual for him. He can’t appreciate his own incarnation. Ian knows he is sexy, but he doesn’t quite believe that he can be loved.
At this time in their lives these two men need each other. The relationship that brings each of them back to health is also one that is risky and could tear them apart.
The process of creating a character, for me, is quite subconscious.

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— Interview with author Laura Lee on the novel Angel on The Readdicts

"I saw an image of a young actor against a white background that, in the film, represented heaven. He was gazing up and he was exceptionally beautiful and reminded me of Renaissance paintings, devotional paintings. I started to think about what it is about certain kinds of beauty that creates this feeling. What makes you want to go consume something when you see a bikini clad model in a commercial, and what is it that makes a beautiful person touch you on a different level, where it sparks your imagination and makes you want to create?"

— interview with author Laura Lee on The Readdicts

Seriously, do you know of any other novels that are listed under both “Christian Books and Bibles” and “Erotica”?
Anyway, thanks to the Ninja Pirates for putting Angel on their list of top 10 indie books to give or receive this holiday season.  Also for calling it “a work of literary fiction; a true love story in more than just the physical sense.”  (Not Biblical erotica.)

Seriously, do you know of any other novels that are listed under both “Christian Books and Bibles” and “Erotica”?

Anyway, thanks to the Ninja Pirates for putting Angel on their list of top 10 indie books to give or receive this holiday season.  Also for calling it “a work of literary fiction; a true love story in more than just the physical sense.”  (Not Biblical erotica.)

Ian Speaks!

Recently I had the opportunity to complete two “character interviews” based on the novel Angel. The first on The Readdicts is Ian’s first opportunity to speak for himself (instead of from Paul’s perspective.)  Ian talks about his recovery, what music he likes, and the one thing people don’t know about him.

Second, on my blog, is an interview with Paul as part of the Snowy Reading Blog Hop.  He talks a bit about what he has been up to since the close of the novel, and shares some memories of Christmas past.

If you’ve missed the characters since you closed the book, visit these sites and check out their interviews.

"It is a story that is going to stay with me for a very long time simply because of it’s depth and the contemplation that comes along with it…The end of Paul and Ian’s story was delicate, pure, realistic and totally perfect. Author Laura Lee’s writing is poetic and has a subtle flow. Angel is an absolutely impressive work of literature that opened my mind and made me think about how, even though religion teaches us to love, it comes with it’s set of complications…I know I haven’t exactly praised this brilliant work the way it deserves to be praised, and that’s because the book has left me stunned and speechless and it is difficult to describe it’s beauty. All I say is that Angel is an enlightening, and completely opulent piece of work. Laura Lee’s writing is truly charming and captivating."

— review of Angel by Laura Lee on Readdicts

"I just call it fiction. You know, this is a strange issue to me because one of the challenges of getting the novel in print was that it is a bit genre-defying, and it is still occasionally criticized by reviewers for not knowing what genre it is supposed to be. They say the novel can’t decide if it is supposed to be about the church or a love story. This is strange to me because people don’t compartmentalize their lives in that way. You don’t chose whether your life is about a crisis in your career, an existentiual crisis about your philosophy or your romantic relationship. Those aspects of life come all mixed together. They overlap, they affect one another and the thing that ties them together is you. So Angel is the story of a situation in Paul’s life,which is what happens, what he thinks about, what he does and what he has to confront when he falls in love with someone his community doesn’t approve of. In a way, the whole point of the novel is that you can’t compartmentalize these things."

— interview with Laura Lee, Book Connisseur

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LS: There is an obvious lack of graphic sex scenes. Can you explain why you made that choice?

Laura Lee: To be honest, I think the sexual act is subjectively beautiful and objectively goofy. I described sexuality subjectively, in terms of how it made Paul feel, rather than objectively in terms of who touched who where because to me it is sexier. Adult readers know what goes on in bed. I have nothing against erotica, but turning readers on was not my purpose. I didn’t feel vivid sex would add much information in terms of understanding the character’s relationship. Beyond that, there is a perception among a lot of people that same-sex relationships are all about the sex. It was important to present them as fully sexual beings without focusing too much on the sex itself. I also wanted to be able to reach readers who might not be as comfortable with the idea of men being in love. I wouldn’t be too successful reaching those readers if I had pages and pages of hot man-on-minister action in the book. The focus of the story is on the spiritual and social dimensions of their relationship, not on their bedroom antics. Unfortunately, the book consistently gets labeled as “erotica” anyway. It bothers me to see it labeled that way. It is misleading and false.

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— from Question and Answer with Laura Lee on Lenore Skomal’s Web Page

LS: Did Paul really love Ian and vice versa? Or did they just fill certain needs in their lives?

Laura Lee: I don’t really know how to answer that because I don’t know that there is this one objective thing called “love” that you can measure emotions against.  What does anyone mean by that word?  Big “L” love usually involves some element of sexual desire, but you can have sexual desire without love.  You can also have romantic love without sex.  Paul and Ian loved each other as friends but there is something about consenting to be lovers that transforms that into romantic love.  People who are married have moments when they wonder why they are together.  Is deciding to go through those times and remain together the definition of love?  If it is, if the couple breaks up, does it mean they were never really “in love” to begin with?  Are anyone’s motivations for being with another person ever that clear or unambiguous?  No one’s love lives up to the Platonic ideal.  Every love is made up of individual moments of being drawn to each other, confused by each other, annoyed by each other.   Mutually agreeing to fill one another’s needs is probably not a bad definition for love.  Do they do this perfectly?  Of course not, but what human being does?  I would say that permanence is not necessary for something to be called love.  No love is really permanent because no life is permanent.  The way to get a love story with a happy ending is to stop narrating at a point of happiness.

"Q: Angel is listed under a number of different genres. How would you describe its genre?

A: I just call it fiction. You know, this is a strange issue to me because one of the challenges of getting the novel in print was that it is a bit genre-defying, and it is still occasionally criticized by reviewers for not knowing what genre it is supposed to be. They say the novel can’t decide if it is supposed to be about the church or a love story. This is strange to me because people don’t compartmentalize their lives in that way. You don’t chose whether your life is about a crisis in your career, an existential crisis about your philosophy or your romantic relationship. Those aspects of life come all mixed together. They overlap, they affect one another and the thing that ties them together is you. So Angel is the story of a situation in Paul’s life,which is what happens, what he thinks about, what he does and what he has to confront when he falls in love with someone his community doesn’t approve of. In a way, the whole point of the novel is that you can’t compartmentalize these things. So genre labels help to sell books, and they make sense if you’re describing a book about space aliens as science fiction, but I don’t think it is that useful for character-driven story telling."

The Book Connoisseur interview with author Laura Lee

The best part of being a book blogger is encountering those books that demand you read them twice or more to truly find all the words to describe them properly for a review. Those books also manage to stay on the shelf, to refer back to, to read again and again, for they are so beautifully crafted and speak to different thoughts at each reading.  Today I am pleased to present such a book for you:  Angel by Laura Lee.