A Fascination with Flight
The idea of being able to fly, of soaring above skyscrapers and mountains, sweeping across the sky and riding the winds, has always fascinated me. I guess it’s no surprise that I write a series about angels.
It was when I began writing the Guild Hunter books that I realized I needed to investigate the physical composition of wings and of the bodies that supported them. Of course, I’ve taken considerable artistic license with my angels, but there is an underlying structure of truth.
Did you know that birds wings are protected against becoming waterlogged? The waterproofing is created through a combination of naturally produced oil and the positioning of the feathers themselves. So when you read the scenes in Archangel’s Consort where Elena and Raphael are flying through a storm, remember that their wings don’t actually get heavier—though it may feel that way because of the strength required to fly, and the driving punch of the rain.
Flight also requires considerable muscle strength—as Elena discovers after her transformation. You are after all, supporting your entire body weight and cutting through the sky at the same time. I didn’t think it would be realistic—even within the confines of a fictional world—to have Elena be able to fly immediately upon waking with wings. Now that she is able to fly, she still has a number of challenges to face, because there are aerial maneuvers she doesn’t yet have the strength and/or skill to execute.
And yet, in spite of the hard work, there is wonder in being able to fly, a dizzying kind of freedom.
Aside from the structure of wings, I also had to consider the houses that would suit winged beings. At the Refuge, which we see in Archangel’s Kiss, houses are built right up to cliff edges and doors open up into nothing but air—lethal for someone without wings, but providing a convenient takeoff point for an angel.
A version of the same thing applies to the Tower itself. Neither its roof nor its high balconies have railings, allowing for easy landings. As for the homes within the Angel Enclave, they are built with soaring inner cores and wide doorways, so an angel doesn’t ever feel constrained.
Not all of these elements are necessarily conscious choices on my part—certain things just seemed “right” when I first saw the world through the eyes of my characters. For example, a railing on a balcony makes no sense if the being using that balcony has never had, and never will have, a fear of falling.
The Guild Hunter world is dark, with a seductive edge of violence, but it’s also one filled with incandescent beauty. To look across the cityscape and see angels taking flight from the light-filled column of the Tower—wouldn’t that be the most amazing sight?
What are your favorite fictional worlds and what do you love about them? As an aside, if you could choose between being able to fly, and having a powerful psychic gift such as telepathy or telekinesis, which would you choose?