Anne Rice returns to the mesmerizing storytelling that has captivated readers for more than three decades in a tale of unceasing suspense set in time past—a metaphysical thriller about angels and assassins.
The novel opens in the present. At its center: Toby O’Dare—a contract killer of underground fame on assignment to kill once again. A soulless soul, a dead man walking, he lives under a series of aliases—just now: Lucky the Fox—and takes his orders from “The Right Man.”
Into O’Dare’s nightmarish world of lone and lethal missions comes a mysterious stranger, a seraph, who offers him a chance to save rather than destroy lives. O’Dare, who long ago dreamt of being a priest but instead came to embody danger and violence, seizes his chance. Now he is carried back through the ages to thirteenth-century England, to dark realms where accusations of ritual murder have been made against Jews, where children suddenly die or disappear . . . In this primitive setting, O’Dare begins his perilous quest for salvation, a journey of danger and flight, loyalty and betrayal, selflessness and love.
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A Q&A with Anne Rice
Question: You’ve written about many kinds of immortal or supernatural beings. What inspired you to turn to angels in this new book?
Anne Rice: I have always been fascinated by the idea of angels--these perfect beings who are God’s messengers, sinless, bold, and unfathomable to the human mind. I was deliciously challenged to be biblically correct about them, and theologically correct: to present Malchiah as truly perfect, yet sent to interact with my hero Toby, and commissioned therefore to take a human body and reflect human emotions and respond to Toby’s human emotions.
Question: How did imagining a character like Malchiah the angel differ from creating one like the vampire Lestat?
Anne Rice: Well, again, Malchiah is perfect and sinless. And to make such a character appealing is a challenge; he has to reflect God’s love for human beings, God’s compassion. He’s not sent to judge Toby; he’s sent to guide him to salvation, and to enlist Toby in working for the angels on earth. He must feel things; he must have a personality, but with marvelous theological constraints. Doing Lestat was entirely different: Lestat is sinful and ferociously human, a rebel who wants to be good at being bad; a rebel who is seeking redemption but turning away from it all the time. There is a certain joy in writing about Malchiah because he is sent from God. There was never a perfect joy in writing about Lestat: Lestat suffers too much and does too many bad things with relish.
Question: The hero of Angel Time is Toby O’Dare, a boy who had a tough life growing up in New Orleans and who goes on to become a skilled assassin before meeting Malchiah. How does Toby compare to your past protagonists? What is unique about him?
Anne Rice: Well, Toby is deeply flawed, much like the vampires. He’s an assassin, and he has done terrible things, and questionable things. But he turns around in the very first book of the series and sets out to do the bidding of the angels in helping others. I think of all those characters I’ve created, Toby is most like Michael Curry in The Witching Hour. But Toby has done things Michael would never do. Toby is a deeply flawed human who is offered a chance to be saved; and he takes it. Maybe he’s a first among my characters in that he is given an opportunity to redeem himself through the mercy of God, and then to do good to make up for all the evil he had done before. Toby is also a crafty character. He’s pragmatic. Having been a clever assassin, he knows how to plot to do good. That was interesting to me, to have him struggling to save people from harm, and having to figure out a somewhat complex way to do it.
Question: People who have read your memoir Called Out of Darkness will recognize some elements of your own life in Toby’s story. Did you identify with him as a character?
Anne Rice: Yes, I did identify with Toby, though my life has been nothing like his. I know what it is like to struggle with an alcoholic parent; I know what it is like to care for younger siblings in an alcoholic household. But of course Toby suffers a family tragedy that I didn’t suffer, and he turns to evil in a defiant way, whereas I only turned to writing about evil.
Question: How did you imagine the concept of Angel Time (as opposed to Normal Time)? And what sources did you reference while reading about angels?
Anne Rice: I came up with the concept of Angel Time through meditating on it; really, figuring that from God’s standpoint there is no linear time. I felt certain that the angels would be able to move back and forth in our linear time, and to grasp how some one can be lifted from one century and put down in another to work a solution that then becomes part of the very future from which the original person came. I think meditation led to this definition of Angel Time, more than any actual reading. It seemed logical to me that the angels could do this. I did read theology about angels, of course, including St. Thomas Aquinas and books by Catholic writers who have studied angels and all the biblical references to them. It all starts with the Bible, of course and how angels appear in those pages. But the scholars Pascal Parente and Peter Kreeft help me to cover the sources. I stayed away from other writers’ more fanciful conjectures about angels. I wanted the biblical facts, and the way that the theologians interpreted them.
Question: People are clearly fascinated with angels. Why do you think even those people who do not consider themselves religious are so drawn to the idea of angels?
Anne Rice: People are drawn to angels because there is a deep seated instinctive belief that they do exist, that creatures from Heaven are here on Earth looking out for us and playing a special role in our care. Of course we read of this in the Bible. And it is a very seductive idea. It’s sometimes easier to pray to one’s guardian angel than to pray to the saints or even to the Lord. It’s easy to imagine that our guardian angel is right here with us. In my novel, Toby really does believe this, though after he suffered tragedy, he blamed the angels in charge for not stopping it. And he lived as a cursed human being for ten years.About the Author:
Anne Rice is the author of twenty-nine books. She lives in Rancho Mirage, California.
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