Behind the Scenes with Skylar West, and Angels and Demons Romance
How do you classify the sub genre: Demon in book 1 could be considered paranormal. Outside of being explained by science. Urban fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, my specific story is defined by ‘they walk among us.’ — Described as a Current contemporary end of the world possibility in which it is doomed or saved by a sect of beings we can not see.
What drew you to using angels and demons: I wrote the series because of topics I’ve wrestled with as a person. I was exposed to things that would be considered evil, then was baptised in the church, I wanted to create a world in which there was more acceptance of the pathway we take. That individuals can come together without judgment.
Reason some people avoid A&D stories: our influences can make us feel uncomfortable with reading about angels or demons. Moral context preaching, or the opposite that’s not what angels do. Don’t want their belief system questioned. My books don’t preach, or question people’s beliefs. People are looking for reality adjacent romance literature, and that’s what I provide.
When we pick genres and tropes, we pick the best plot to show off our characters. I don’t classify myself as a paranormal writer although I have a paranormal series.
Loki character as a leading man: We want our book boyfriends to be evil to everyone but the female heroine. We would never want Loki to be captain America to the rest of the world, but her could be with the leading lady.
Vanilla romance harder to tell, touches, glances, conversations, often in our steamier stories the very act of kink or sex they engage in is necessary as part of the growth of the characters. The level of trust has to form faster, establish those relationships much sooner and often in real life too.
Encourage readers to explore different genres and tropes of romance, be an educated reader. Read blurbs, and reviews, before deciding to buy. Ann discusses M.A Innes, an example of trying a story that she couldn’t image she’d like about alien tentacle love and was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.
Hi, I'm Ann Jensen, coming to you from the east coast of New Jersey. Hi, I'm Skyler West, coming to you from the west coast of Canada. We are two romance writers using our life experiences to break down and share with you all things romance, how you find your next book, boyfriend, discovering genres and tropes. And looking at what works and why. And what doesn't work and why. Today we're going to be talking about angels and demons, romance, and what possible category could that fall into? That's a very good question. And so we've decided to cover this spectrum because I have a series called angels and demons. And the premise, of course, is that we are in this current world. And there's things going on that the average Joe just doesn't see unless they know what they're looking for. In other words, they walk among us. Yes. And one of the fun things that we've discussed is, and how do you classify that? Is it supernatural fiction? Is it fantasy romance, right? Is it well and normal. And you know what, despite how my books are marketed, there's so many ways in which you could categorize as an example, fallen angel. So paranormal romance, which is a sub genre, obviously, of romantic fiction has to have certain elements, a range of scientific explanation, blending together themes that are both fictional, and fantasy, and perhaps even science fiction and horror in some way. The fact that we have a demon in book, one that goes after a human, or so we think she is, could be considered the paranormal aspect of that story. However, if you look at supernatural and what they talk about their corporate elements that cannot be understood by science, and operate outside the rules of the real world. But if you also go down to fantasy, it kind of fits in there too, right? And in the world of Amazon, a lot of us live and die by our categories, whereas before, it just would have kind of been Mish mashed into one sub genre being not contemporary. Yeah, but now you fit within the contemporary you fit between the paranormal, romance, supernatural and fantasy, urban fantasy, all of this could fit within that, well, it gets interesting because Daddy, you take somebody that looks normal, acts normal, meaning like a human being, they've been alive for 7000 years, and then compare that in the same categories as a omniverse world or a different world that's been created. And or mega verse, yep. And you have aliens and humans, right? It's such a wide range, the way that angels are handled in various different series is very different, you know, some treat them like aliens, some treat them like supernatural beings who have been some to them as spiritual beings. Then you get into, which of those are you using? And does that change what category it's in? right? Exactly. And so for myself, when I'm asked what is angels and demons, I always come back to that line, they walk among us, it's really a story of Earth, in the here and now. And if you are familiar at all, with the Bible, I use some of biblical knowledge as background for this story, along with a lot of other texts. But I mean, there's accepted story that there is a war that's waging all the time, right? A war between good and evil, and we it's in a sector or a different space than what we can currently see with our human eyes. So we're expected to accept that there was a war constantly going on between good and evil. And that's definitely a biblical rendition. Let me just specify that, right? Whether you realize or believe that or not, and then we look at things like Lord of the Rings, if you want to take pure fantasy, right? I love that whole book series. It's the same thing. And I it's interesting that the writer wrote this during World War One, when there was a time when there was actual war going on. And it felt like everything was any of either an evil presence or a positive presence. And so I think for myself, how I classify these this book is that ultimately, it's a current contemporary end of the world possibility in which it is either doomed or saved by a whole different set of beings that we cannot see. Right. And I think one of the things that I enjoy about your series is and talk about this and previous episodes, I am not a fan of black and white, and many angels and demons series. It's white, and black demons. And they're such a beautiful rich mix. They're just beings who has, I mean, I hate to say it this way, there'll be Who have wings and supernatural powers, they are not the embodiment of good, they are not the embodiment of evil. They just are their individual selves. Absolutely. And it explores the idea that explores the idea that even what I would call the fallen, right? There's these age old ideas of what these things are. Why, right? Why can't we explore that? Why can't we open up the doors on that? Why does it have to be black and white? Why not? Oh, I have no idea why I fell Actually, I don't, I didn't do anything. Maybe there's a greater plan that I'm not part, you know, privy to, right. And so that's definitely a big element to my stories, because of course, the book begins with one girl, and one boy, right? And quickly expands outwards. But quickly does that you definitely have a gift for weaving multiple storylines together. Thank you. What do you think drew you to using the angels and demons which, which already has kind of an archetype in people's minds? What drew you to writing those? That's a great question. And in retrospect, if I had, you know what I don't even think I would have I was gonna say, in retrospect of I've been aware of this position that people have on because of their faith most often or lack thereof, on what angels or demons are, I might have called it like something you suggested to me at one point, you know, flying beings are, you know, alternate creatures that can that have wings that have wings, and super powers. But you know, what, here's the thing is, I have, I wrote that series because of topics that I have personally wrestled with as a human being. And by that I mean, I grew up in an area, and exposed to things that would be considered extremely evil. And then as I got older, and was able to see that life for what it was, and I was able to get away from that, then I raced something completely different. And I was baptized when I was pregnant with my third child, and opened myself up to a completely different thing. And what happened to me when I did that is some of my personal gifts evaporated, it's like they disappeared, like there was a wall, or a shield between me and some of the things I can do and, and for those who don't know what I do, kind of outside of writing, I'm an empath healer. So I focus in on using energy to help read and heal people. Well, the first question for a Christian often is, well, it doesn't energy come from a bad place. And as a Reiki practitioner, among other things, my question always back was, how do you know it's not from a good place? Has anyone ever experienced hands on healing, I've done that in a church setting. And I've done it outside of a church setting, and there was no difference. But where I'm going with all of this is, is that I've had these opposing ideas have been slammed in my direction, all of my life. And so I wanted to be able to create a world in which everything was okay. And I don't mean to say that the lines are so blurred, that there was no good and there was no bad now, there's definitely some evil out there. And it's definitely in my books. But like Lord of the Rings, there's these nine figures that are all different that they they're the ones that stand apart and say, I want to take care of this, I want to make a difference. I nominate myself, and do you have the most unlikely group of people come together for a cause. In my books I've taken a girl who is 20 years old, she has a dream to be a musician. All she wants to do is play drums. She wants to be part of music, because it allows her to get out of her head. But she also wants to be in the background. She doesn't want to be noticed so much. She just wants to be able to be part of something beyond herself. And in walks a gorgeous, immortal. She doesn't know that yet. She just knows there's something about him, she picks it up, she knows there's something different. And he watches he comes in every night where she's playing and watches are all week long, because she's way more than she even realized that she is right. So hence we have the introduction of what we call the Savior. Right? We find out later she's even more than that. So there's a story within the story within the story. But I want to give people hope that there are so many ways in which we can be saved, right in which our universe can be saved on which our environments can be rescued. Right? It doesn't have to be as you say, and black or white. Because inside all of us, there's possibilities for both, right you reference something that we actually haven't talked about on the podcast, but we could bring it up here is the reason that some people avoid angels and demon when it's in either a romance or a paranormal story. And a lot of people say, Oh, well, only the truly religious would have a problem with it. And it's like, no, a lot of us don't understand just how much our upbringing or our, our influences our influences around us can make us feel uncomfortable. Yes, about talking about certain things. And that's a, that's a really great point. And that's exactly what happened to me is, I found that if I was one thing, there wasn't room for anything else, right. And so when I became something else, all those other things, there wasn't room for that either. And so I think that's why yoga appealed to me so much as a human being because it opened up the doors for non judgement. Right? And, and the mantra in yoga is the paths are many, but the truth is one, right? So and I really feel like my books are influenced by that idea. Yeah, I always felt that it was a shame that some people would avoid books like yours in that they were just like, Oh, you know, either one I don't want to be preached to and there's no preaching in your books. And they automatically assume that a book containing angels would have a whole lot of moral moral context, moral preaching, and everything like that absolute or on the reverse side, they would say, That's not what angels are like because Yeah, and I, I personally am a Unitarian and therefore I believe that everyone finds their own spirituality in their own way. Exactly. But people who believe in angels then don't want to read about them in any context other than how they feel they don't want to have their belief system disrupted right and that's not what you're trying to do and that's not what that's not what any of us as fiction writers are. Well okay that's I don't want to say this is pretty sweeping statement Yes, it is in general the purpose of fiction is to entertain Absolutely. Which is necessary for all of the angel breed Absolutely. It's like all aliens are like a foot taller than average men and Oh yes. And pudgy and they all have oh yes the two extra appendages that no which are just somehow perfectly designed to bring us pleasure Well, you're gonna love this but in my last in my last book is as I'm writing it, I'm like what what kind of powers Could I give these guys now you know that they're transforming and I'm like oh yeah the appellate the ability to get pleasure with their minds. Man Am I having fun right Matt? It's like yes. telekinesis dumb. very targeted So yeah, I mean it I mean I've heard it Lucas I don't know if you've heard of her but she's got I think 40 No, she's got more now. I think she's got 52 books in one series and she started a couple of other series and I think her series is called children of the gods okay. Okay now basically in a nutshell is they are the gods are not that she's she's great at not specifically making them from any specific place right it's very random it's very young challenge religion it doesn't challenge anything it's very great and as the series get deeper Of course you have to you know allude to a little bit more like why can this person do this how come you know they have this lifespan How come they feel they need to hide you know, other than having an enemy angel or demon or in this case paranormal. So she's blended together really well that that angels are actually from a different planet. They're actually aliens and they fell here millions of years ago and so this this doesn't come out till way deeper like it's a Lucci alludes a little bit each book. But you know, when you get far enough in, you start to realize what these beings are. And then, of course, there was the fall of the earth of the human race, and then most of the gods were blown up or killed in some way. And there's only two left and now everything else that's on earth is from one or the other. And I really enjoyed her series a lot. And she's a good writer, but I found I guess, I started reading my series after I read a few of her books, and I wanted to be a little bit more nitty gritty. And not that I wanted to challenge people's belief system. I wanted to challenge what I was willing to share about my own belief system, right? From a fantastical perspective, just like the writers of Lord of the Rings was able to create this world in which there's all these things going on. But ultimately, he's challenging, or you can almost say it was a religious challenge. You'll think about people that write like sidhartha German writers from 80 years ago that are literal Challenge people's perspective through story, right? Why not have a good time? It is fantasy, right? But why not be a little bit challenged on on that fantasy? I just finished reading two books by a new author. And in her version, angels and demons are vampires. That's interesting. Now I'm not gonna sit there and go, Well, I know that's not true. It's a fantasy. Right? Right, the fallen? Do we know that they're all demons? Well, the Bible says that they are. But do we really know that? So why not play with that a little bit? Right now? Why not say, hey, yeah, they all fell, because there was a war. And but not all of them became evil. And the ones that didn't they hid? Yeah, in a case like that, I think on a lot of levels, much like fantasy, you're creating your own world. Exactly. And I have not published any fantasy or anything like that, though. I've written some, I think my argument a lot of times is the same. Even when people challenge me on things in my own books, which are contemporary. That's not how it is, or that's not how that place looks or that not, that's not you know, every one of our books have a little bit of fantasy on them. It's my world. And if in my world bikers are all hot, and in your world, angels are all well hung. Okay, that's how he is. That's how it is. That's that world. Well, that's just it and, and at the end of the day, you know, as writers that of romance, let's get back to the main target here is that these are all genres of romance. It's how you want to tell the romantic story between the couple. Right? Right. And for me, you know, would it be fun to have a guy walk through my door who looks like a Viking God from the show Vikings and then six foot four, and is chiseled and beautiful, and has the most amazing eyes and, and his entire focus is me. Yeah, I don't know. I've read Romans stories where it was like they by accidently rubbed the lamp or you think one was like, came out of a book or something like that. And it's like, it's funny, they don't get challenged, because it's obviously fantasy. But the truth of the matter is, is while there are some amazing authors out there who might be able to write realistic fiction that includes romance, what a person is looking for when they are reading romance, is that reality adjacent? Because while I would love to believe that there is a billionaire out there waiting for me, and he just hasn't seen me yet, and he's gonna sweep me away, or she'll sweep me away, or whatever the case may be. I'm pretty sure whoever I ended up with is not going to be that person. Well, then it's bad time to write that story. Right? And that's the thing is why do we write books, right to write the story you want to read? Right? And so I just wrote stories I wanted to read. At the end of the day, and angels and demons was fun, what I write like real, like, if I was to think about like, the deeper aspects of paranormal supernatural fantasy, I wouldn't mind you know, try my hand at the vampire romance. But not yet. I'm not ready for that. Right now. I'm focusing more in on books that have a BDSM Overture to them. And I really have been enjoying this tangled weave of mafia that I'm kind of been playing around with, because it's not traditional mafia. Yes, I've enjoyed those. And so, you know, as my late night texts, reminding you that you just destroyed another night's sleep of mine will attest. Yeah. Because what a great way to tell the story of two people you know, and so it's really I think, when we pick a genre or tropes even that we're just picking the best way to express the characters story, right? And you and I are both character driven writers. And as you mentioned a lot of other character driven writers and yeah, at the end of the day, that's what it comes down to. So I guess where I'm going with all of this is I wouldn't classify myself as a paranormal writer, although I have a paranormal series right? It's not it's not just it's not just my my not your only Yeah, it is not the only hook you have to put your hat on. Exactly. I find them also interesting and I just want to continue to explore where I can go now. What do you I'm sure you read some but I read a lot of actual demon romance. Okay. What do you think draws people? Well, the bad boy right? I mean, one of the my favorite shows is Lucifer with that lovely English actor. I'm not sure what his name is. And same thing with Loki. Oh, by Tom Middleton. I think his name is Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, they're the bad boy summary. I'm gonna write a series. Quit my version of him of Loki. Yeah or Lucifer. Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah, well, for I is wrong I feel like I've dated Lucifer but I think we all have a one point was not the one that took our virginity oh god no he he went gay Yeah, anyway uh huh okay yeah I have that fun one where I joke that I turned the guy gay but lucky with that devious sense of humor that that the the surface level shallowness that Hefei? Yes, well in lucifers, the same kind of character underneath. I like those. And I think the attraction for the bat for that is that you've got these characters that they want the same line that you were talking about in your podcast about your motorcycle club, right there. They're supposed to be bad. They've been given the label of being bad, yet they walk this line of morality. At least as far as your female main character goes. Exactly. Yeah. Which I mean, hey, if I'm picturing myself as the fate that works for me, yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it's that we want our book boyfriends. Yeah, to be evil to everyone. But us, but the female heroine, absolutely. to them. They, and it's not. And the funny part is, is I've seen analysis where people are like, Oh, it's all about changing him. It's all about you know, with the right woman, he will change. And I'm like, you know what, I don't think they want them to change. They want them not to act that way to them or their friends. But I think they still want them to be evil to everybody else. I think we're actually disappointed if Loki was to turn into, say Superman or something, you know, like, yeah, or captain, if Loki was all of a sudden turn into Captain America? If so we can stay in the same. Yep, super universe comic geek. We'd be like, he's not fun anymore. What if he was Captain America to his lady love and his best friends. But to everyone else in the world? He was still Loki, then he'd still be an interesting character. Absolutely. And here's the thing is female POV that's going to be linked up with a Lucifer or a Loki, they're going to have to have some interesting characteristics themselves. Right? Right. And I think that's where you get fun. That's where all the fun comes in with the exchange, because she's not going to be the Cinderella. She's not going to be the princess that just wants you to, you know, shove her shoe on her foot and a ring on her finger. Right? Right. These are going to be interesting women and like in that show, Lucifer, you know, it's a detective. Yeah. And who can completely appreciate his devious mind. Right? Right. And the same thing for locating whoever is going to be that female POV is going to have to have as interesting a mind as he has. But probably, and here is where I love when these books come together is you'll have the naughty, sneaky masculine male POV. We don't want to change them, because that would be boring. And ultimately, I mean, that's just stroking the women's rights kind of ego in that, hey, we can change man. Right? This like, now we don't need to do that. And these characters and these fantasy books, to have her come in and be like, okay, so you're gonna be an ass and drink tequila until you're drunk and totally forget about the fact you're supposed to be guarding that mere meat mortal over there. Well, guess what, I got my own agenda. And all sudden, you've got almost a female version of themselves. Right? And it's so interesting to watch these interacting characters. Yeah. Right? Because they often will have very similar characteristics. Yeah, and nothing is more boring than when you have one fascinating character and one cookie cutter character. It's like, even if you have an innocent character, and a jaded character, the innocent character still needs to be interesting. They have to be able to match wits or match in some way, the force of personality. And I think, at least in my experience, what I've loved about demon romance novels has been that while the female character may not be 1000s of years old, they have depth they have opinions, they have a backbone in the demon ones that I've read. I've loved the strength of character necessary in the female or non demon character in order to keep up with Yes, yeah, that one. Yes. And I think that a lot of us whether it be paranormal Superman, For whatever whatever we want to call it, I think what we enjoy about reading these things is why do you want to read a romance because you want to be one of the main characters for a little while so having one of them be paranormal and one of them not be paranormal maybe you put yourself in the not paranormal one or maybe your fantasy is is that your paranormal? And and then you know, you meet another paranormal but having that dynamic, whether it be because they're an angel, or because they're an alien or because they're a lucru or, you know, like werewolf, whatever the case may be, it's more not about what they are, but I think a personification of a personality type Yes. And on some levels at first I thought you were doing that with the angels and then you just blew me away sideways but I thought you were getting like the angels were going to be the intellectuals and the cold and the slightly distant who think that they're superior because they're older and that was the first impression you gave and then that was wrong. So what definitely they're definitely dominant. Yes, you know their dominant race or species for sure. Because I like the you know, I like the Dom's right at the alphas for sure. Which is why you love your your kink, no matter what, what genre you're writing in 100% and pot kettle, I am not saying that, Joe, don't read my books. If you're looking for vanilla relationships, I'll include myself in that category. Now mind you don't get me wrong. I love a good vanilla love story. But I think it's harder to tell sometimes. I agree with your spice. Yeah, I agree with you. I think it's almost the difference between being meeting your lover as a pen pal, years before you meet them physically. Right? How do you tell that story view it's, it's through touches, it's through glances. It's through phone calls, it's through conversation, it's through all of these other elements, right? And when you have the kind of heat level that you and I have in our books, a lot of times our characters find themselves through the acts that they engage in with the other person, right. And one of the common themes when when you have a spicier than vanilla relationship is that the level of trust that has to form faster, precisely. I'm not saying that it's not hard work, but you establish those relationships much faster. And I believe that's true in the real world, too. Which can be dangerous, but Well, there's pros and cons to everything. Yeah. But that's a good thing. I think. Absolutely romance novels at least. Alright, was there anything else that you wanted to talk about with? No, I mean, I guess I would just encourage listeners that we tend to get as readers I mean, I'm also a reader and you're also a reader. We you know, we can get stuck into always reading a specific style of book. And I think that's why you know, of course, as an author, you want to have a superfan and that's how we create those superfans is for whatever reason, it's just the way you wrote it. And what you wrote about that is just tickles their fancy and so you've got it this wonderful superfan. However, as a reader, I would recommend that you explore and, and be open to these all these wonderful genres and tropes that we talked about. And if you've never read a paranormal slash fantasy slash supernatural story, you know, definitely or a motorcycle romance, you know, then 10 don't. And I think this will actually go back to where I said, read the reviews, read the synopsis, oh, please read the synopsis. People, we write them for a reason. Don't get me wrong. I am as guilty as next person. I'm going oh my god, that's a great six pack. I'm going to click on that book. But I still read the synopsis before I hit buy. Yes. And I usually hate the first 10 reviews as well. Yeah, there's an option on Amazon where you can click on it. And you can see the top positive reviews and the top negative reviews. And I'll read the usually a top like four of each, right? Not necessarily because I'm going to agree or disagree with either of them. But it does give an insight into the content of the book 100% and some of those reviews are almost a synopsis themselves. Right? You know, I can tag into a different aspect of the storyline and some great, what do they call them on Amazon that the top 1000 Yeah, they have some amazing reviews. They're very detailed. And so, you know, using these tools is a great way to decide if it's going to appeal to you. I mean, it's I can't tell you how many books I've clicked on too because I've liked the cover. It's grabbed me and definitely is what gets me to even bother reading anything about it but I am rarely k you is the only thing that every now and then gets me because sometimes because it's k you I'll just click on it and then I'll get three chapters and then go Oh, what was I doing? No pack back. Yes. Same I'm guilty done the same. This doesn't sound like the synopsis. Not what I thought it was. Yeah. rot away. Retreat. But I'll also put this out there for authors out there. Do your God, please say if you have cheating in your subconscious or something like somewhere? Yeah, but that's just my trigger. You don't know but it's valid. And that's the thing is for me, like I don't like reading. I know a lot of people really like secret pregnancies, secret baby, those types of tropes. I generally don't like having stories with babies, children or animals in them, especially if anything negative happens. Because I'm a mom of five. And I never want to see anything happen to anybody's child. And the funny part is, I'm a mom, too. And I love the secret baby trope. Right, though and, but it's all exactly an elf as part of a series. You know, like, eventually, my two main characters they have twins. Yeah. And I think Book Three. Yeah, but they're not they're not the feature of the story. It's it's a it's a result of a growing relationship and marriage that's occurred. Yeah. And I also think that I don't think I'd enjoy the secret baby trope. If it was about staying up late and feeding and diaper changing. You know what I mean? Like, exactly. Like, no, I'm reading it for romance. I want my smexy Yeah, it's got to be sexy. Absolutely. But on some levels, it's like, oh, the ultimate expression of love. Okay, I know that 100% truth in real world, but in my fictional world, exactly. It can be and and I think all mothers are amazing. And all fathers, all active mothers and fathers in my series are amazing. The parents of my main characters, man, yes. Absolutely. Yeah. That's funny. I think judging something based on whether it's angels and demons or werewolf or a mega verse or any of those things. I mean, ma ns wrote a technical erotica story which no interest in absolutely no interest in my mind, but because I love this particular author. I was like, I'll try it out. And I was like, holy crap, you wrote a love story about an alien who is basically a jellyfish. And I still enjoyed it. It's amazing. Now that's a good writer. There you go. Yeah. And I was dying because of like, why am I reading this? But that just goes to show that like, normally, I would not have read this, but because I like the author. And because I read the reviews, which were like, this is awesome. I was like, all right, and I get where I started the story with my eyes, like half closed going, I can picture it. She came out with the second one. And I read, I was like, oh, download, you know, where's the third? You know, like, that's awesome. But you know what, that's a great testimony to someone. You know, I don't know if her books I guess I read them are seeing driven or character driven, character driven. character driven. weighed me. Right. Adelie perfectly and I, that's amazing. But apparently, jellyfish can form themselves some abs, but you know, Hey, keep thinking about my hot tub. I have this orange sponge that soaks up chemicals. And as I did with my daughter yesterday, and I was very punchy, because as you know, we've had a hot spell in Canada. Mm hmm. And it's been very hot. And so as it's floating towards me, I'm looking I'm going it's SpongeBob but it's burnt. It's a heat wave. SpongeBob spin burden, the heat wave. I love my dogs killing herself. She's like, Oh my gosh, Mom, you're crazy. Sum it up to the sun, honey. Anyways, thank you, everyone for joining us today. And this has been a particularly fun episode. Yes. And feel free to join us next time for interesting ramblings. Who knows? Exactly. Yeah, stay tuned. Thank you for listening to coast to coast romance. I'm Ann Jensen. And I'm Skyler West. If you'd like to contact either of us. Our links are located in the show notes. Have a great week. Thanks so much. much for joining us.