michael

Rebellion breaks out in the UK

Running in very quickly (because you’re almost certainly sick of me going on about it) to say that BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION is officially out and in the wild in the UK, and you should now be able to find it in all places that books can be found – especially, seeing as it’s Independent Booksellers’ Week in the UK, in your local indie. Here’s the Hive link for Rebellion, if you’re wanting it…

I’ve been incredibly busy doing some guest posts and interviews for some lovely blogs, which I’m linking to on the “Interviews” page as they go live, and which I’ll probably also collate into a single Lou-a-palooza blog tour post once they’ve all gone up. Huge thanks to everyone who’s been kind enough to ask me to come and chat for a while. It’s enormously appreciated.

I put a couple of the photos from the REBELLION launch at Forbidden Planet onto my Tumblr (yes, I have one of those too. I’m everywhere. Like, umm, dust bunnies) in case anyone’s interested. I may or may not put some more up, depending on how goofy I look in the rest. If these are anything to go by, the answer will be somewhere on a sliding scale from “slightly” to “incredibly”. So it goes.

As a release-day game, I’ve also got an experiment for you. Over on my Pinterest (like I said: dust bunnies) I have a board called – rather enigmatically – Faces. Most of these guys have served as an inspiration for characters in either BLOOD AND FEATHERS or REBELLION (some both). One or two aren’t taken – yet. If you’re at a loose end, take a look and see if you can match up the face to some of the characters whose fantasy casting actor is on the board. You’ll definitely find Michael, Gabriel, Zadkiel, Castor, Rimmon, Xaphan, Brieus, Pollux and Lucifer on there. And maybe one or two more. It’s not a competition and there’s no prizes – I’m just always fascinated by how differently we see characters in our heads. I may not even tell you whether yours match mine… I don’t know whether that would spoil the fun!

Thank you again to all the team at Solaris and to every single one of you who’s supported me and the books by reading them, talking about them, reviewing them… all of it. I owe you more than I can ever tell you.

REBELLION is all yours.

REBELLION final cover

Angels and Alligators

I had a holiday. An actual, honest-to-goodness holiday. It did, admittedly, only last five days and I managed to rack up several injuries while doing very little (including an ant bite and possibly the most ludicrous first-world wound ever: splinters of shells stuck in my finger and the tip of my thumb. Ouch, by the way) but it was a holiday.

I read books – not many, given the timeframe, but 2’s respectable: Dan Brown’s “Inferno” and Julia Wurz’s “SuperEgo” (the latter I enjoyed immensely; set in the world of F1, it’s a sort of Devil Wears Prada, but with wheels instead of heels. Marvellous.) and I went and looked at Stuff.

There was Mont St Michel (which I’ll save for another time, because I have SO many photos. Seriously. All the photos in the world. I don’t think there was a single stone of that place I didn’t point a camera at) which is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s extraordinary, looming up out of the water. Even when it’s packed with tourists (like me) which it inevitably is, it’s an incredible place.

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Like I say: ALL the photos… so, another time.

As well as Mont St Michel, I went to the Scriptorial in nearby Avranches – which is a museum dedicated to the medieval manuscripts made by the monks of Mont St Michel. The French Revolution had a not-dissimilar effect to the English Reformation when it came to medieval libraries, but the Scriptorial is a new purpose-built home for the collection.

Only a few of the books – and what books – are on display at any one time, but they’re regularly rotated to ensure their continued survival. There’s something magical about the “Tresor” room where they’re kept: it’s circular, with the cases set around the walls and one in the centre – and almost entirely dark to protect the books, which have their own lighting. It’s also surprisingly noisy: a side-effect of the temperature & humidity control systems for the display cases. I was lucky enough to get in there by myself: just me and a bunch of 800 year old books… (and the fans, obviously). I had a “moment”. I really did.

The rest of the museum is dedicated to both the history of Mont St Michel itself, and the development of the art of manuscripts. There was a huge amount of information on calligraphy, on the materials used and what went into the different inks… everything connected to the creation of a medieval book. It’s an excellent museum, and well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Not a million miles away is Dol de Bretagne, with its cathedral and Mont Dol (where the Archangel Michael is said to have defeated the devil, leaving claw marks across the top of the hill. This whole region is very much Michael’s manor) and Medievalys. Another museum: this one dedicated to the construction of cathedrals, taking the one right next door as its reference point.

One of the best things about this place was its layout: it was designed to follow the “idea” of a cathedral from foundation (the architect’s studio on the lowest level) through to construction (an exhibition on the design and the actual craftsmen involved on the middle floors) through to the symbolism of cathedrals on the top floor, which had frankly terrifyingly detailed descriptions of how to read a stained glass window, and absolutely amazing projections of art onto raked sand. You kind of had to see it. Again, if you’re ever in the region – go. It’s beautifully thought out and put together.

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The cathedral of Dol de Bretagne itself is a massive, hulking thing: unusual in that it has a double well (one shaft outside the walls, and one inside, opening in the floor of one of the chapels). It also has a big, big chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael – as you might expect on his stomping ground.

And – just for a change – there was Alligator Bay. I have no idea why or how this ended up right at the foot of Mont St Michel, but there you go. It houses a lot of snakes and lizards (I discovered, climbing down a ladder between two glass cases of ENORMOUS snakes, that I’m not massively fond of them. Wish I’d known that at the top of the ladder…) and, yes, alligators. Lots of them. Including three albino alligators – of whom there are thought to be only 40 in the world. And who didn’t scare me anywhere near as much as the Mississippi alligators did.

 

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Very big, and not at all like this…

Not even slightly.

Which does kind of make you wonder: are they absolutely sure it was the devil Michael fought on that rock – and not just Louis here out for a stroll…?

Bad Like Mike

I’ve been doing some angel-related bits and pieces lately, and cannot believe that I’d not stumbled across this before:

God takes one look at this thing and is just like, “Mike, show this fucking douchebag the door”.  The Archangel Michael calmly nods his head, slowly takes the cigarette out of his mouth and flicks it onto the floor, cracks his knuckles and confidently strides towards Lucifer.

Yes, it’s the Archangel Michael, featuring on Badass of the Week. How genius is that?

And, yes, I might well have that quote pinned up on my study wall.

Also, bonus points for this:

Now I’m exactly not a religious man, but I’d be remiss in making Satan the Badass of the Week while not giving credit to the guy who Pedigreed him Triple H-style onto a bed of tacks and then stepped on his stupid horned head.

Of course, now I’m going to have real trouble shifting the image of Michael-as-wrestler from my mind, but I’m also pretty positive that his finishing move would be the Pedigree (less flashy than the People’s Elbow, after all).

Bad. Ass.

There’s Something About Michael…

Today, interestingly enough, is Michaelmas, the feast day of the archangel Michael.

He’s my favourite. Well, one of them. Yes, I’m allowed to have favourite angels.

What?

Essentially being the alpha-angel, legend and scripture between them record a long list of his attributes.

For instance, we all know that Michael is the one who defeated Lucifer – but did you know that when he weeps, his tears turn to gemstones? (Or, slightly more alarmingly, cherubim?)

He’s connected to knowledge, to light, patience and repentance; righteousness, mercy and sanctification. He assisted in the burial of Moses and depending on who you’re reading, technically it’s Michael who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven… and not St Peter.

That last one does rather make sense: if you’re going to have a bouncer on the door, you want someone who’s not afraid of a fight. And preferably carries a sword.

I’ve collected images and descriptions of Michael for a while now – but my favourite comes from Hastings’ Encyclopaedia of Religion & Ethics, where he’s described in one early tradition as having wings the colour of “green emerald”, as well as being covered “with saffron hairs, each of them containing a million faces and mouths and as many tongues”. You can see why most people opt for the more familiar armour / sword portrayal, can’t you?

Once, he was also associated (benevolently) with death: he was the one who would lead the souls of the faithful into Heaven – and perhaps this is why he is sometimes also referred to as the angel who foretells Mary’s death.

Chief of the order of the virtues, chief of the archangels, prince of the presence and ruler of the 4th Heaven: with a list of titles like that, he must have one hell of a business card.

Happy Michaelmas.