The Influence of Religion

Explain the influence of religion and mythology in the novels.

Wingéd built on the amalgamation of religions, because religion of any kind is so intertwined with the dead and the human spirit. Every religion has lore about the afterlife, funeral rites, and various ritual and forms of worship. I have yet to find a religion where they say when you die, that’s it. So, I borrowed from everywhere I could. In Wingéd there are about five or six different religions that play a dominant role specifically through the use of ritual. Catholicism, Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism, traditional Greek mythology, Hawaiian mythology, Shamanism and more all make an appearance in some form. The Leap resembles a Catholic mass. The celebration following resembles some Wiccan celebrations of the changing of the seasons. In Dragon Wingéd and the current novel, Wingless, I have continued to add aspects of other religions as I go into more detail about individual Wingéd types. We get to see how the Moths use Buddhist meditation and the character of Emmy utilizes the Shaolin arts. Some Old Norse and Druidism also feature strongly, which I’m very excited about.

There are things that I’ve made sure to tiptoe around.

1) I have alluded to a Wingéd specific religion in the living. Friedel’s mother is the one who calls the Wingéd to her daughter’s body, but other than a few “stories”, it’s not something that I’ve completely explored. I’m looking forward to doing it, but I’ve purposefully left it open for further exploration.

2) I also made sure not to confirm nor deny the existence of a God or gods. I do, however, confirm the existence of heaven and hell (in Foiche Dé) as well as there being other religions outside the realm and reach of the Wingéd (in Dragon Wingéd). And I did these things for a number of reasons. I didn’t want to offer an “answer”. I didn’t want to be like L. Ron Hubbard. This is what happens when we die. No, in my heart, I believe that these things are deeply personal. I didn’t want to advocate or force a certain view, and I wanted to leave the Wingéd in a space where all of these things could coexist together.

From time to time, I do have to work backwards. There are times when I have to find religion/lore to fit something that I’ve already written. It’s not always required, but I like putting in that extra care. For example, it was only for Dragon Wingéd that I decided to embellish on the Demon Wingéd. In order to create the demonic equivalent of the Butterfly Wingéd, I had to delve deep. I searched for days to find an evil butterfly, but it seemed that cultures of the world agreed that butterflies could only be pretty and good. That was until I looked into the Aztec religion to find the Itzpapalotl, also known as the Obsidian Butterfly. She is an Aztec goddess who seduces young men and while she’s sleeping with one, she rips open his chest and devours him. Evil butterfly! Honestly, it’s probably one of my greatest triumphs to fit an existing religion to what I’d already written.

 Colleen

What is up with the Denise/Louisa character?

One of the questions that I frequently get is “what is up with the Denise/Louisa character?” And it’s because I never really found a good way to explain her behavior in the novel (Winged). She enters at a time when momentum is starting to pick up, and I didn’t want to just go off to explain an awkward side character.

In order to understand Louisa, you must understand how she came about. Louisa was born from a strange conversation over a bus stop. My friend, Chantae, and I were in San Francisco, and we’d just been dropped off to an obscure part of town by an unsanctioned taxi (who was ripping us off, by the way) while we were in search for a Peter Pan hat. The store didn’t have said hat, and we were going to try another, but we found that the taxi was no longer present. There were no other taxis in the area and we didn’t have a lot of money anyway because of the taxi that was ripping us off, so we decided to look for a bus stop. And as we were running around San Francisco like beheaded chickens, Chantae saw a rather attractive boy and said, “Him! We should ask him where it is!”

“Well, what makes you think he’s going to know where the bus stop is?” None of the other dozen people we asked knew where the bus stop was.

“I don’t know, but he’s hot. So we should ask him.”

“Oh, that’s a great conversation starter,” I replied sarcastically. To illustrate my point, I straightened up and, doing my best caricature of her, said, “‘Excuse me, you are very attractive. Do you know where the bus stop is?’ Yeah, that wouldn’t be awkward at all.”

After a good laugh, we found a sign that let us know where the bus stop was, and it was decided that I should make a character who might be so awkward that she didn’t know how to interact with normal people in the most basic way. While we walked several blocks to our destination, we worked everything out from her frizzy blonde hair to her glasses with the thick black frames.

Okay, so what is up with Louisa?

Louisa learned that people enjoy compliments, and it was a quick way to boost a person’s ego before asking for something that she wanted. However, this was transformed into a personal rule or tick whenever she asks someone a question no matter how simple.

Colleen