Angels and Demons and Monsters, Oh My!

Realm Makers logo smI’m working on the workshop I’m going to be teaching at the upcoming Realm Makers conference, and I’m starting to gather my resources. My topic is integrating supernatural and fantasy elements in a real-world setting. That’s what I write, so that’s one of the things that I’ve worked a lot on, and I have a pretty good idea of some things that can make or break the reality of a world.

Some of the things I’ll be covering are the differences between a real-world setting and a different world, different supernatural and fantastical elements, the importance of understanding theology and spiritual warfare, and how to integrate all these elements into a cohesive world in a fluid way.

So, I’d like your input on a couple things.

First, what have you read, preferably books that take place in a contemporary world, that you really loved or really hated? Why? What about it was good? What made the world so realistic you wondered if it could really happen? Or, what made an otherwise good story so implausible you couldn’t really buy into it?

Second, if you were attending this class, is there anything else you’d be interested in learning or talking about? Is there anything you don’t think is relevant, or that you think sounds boring? If you had your choice between this class and a different one, would you be likely to come?

Please, be brutally honest. I’d like this class to be really interesting, informative, and practical. I want it to be useful and I want you to want to come to it. Thanks!



About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

6 comments on “Angels and Demons and Monsters, Oh My!

  1. Hi April,

    I would definitely come to this class, as this is mainly what I write, too. I really enjoy “urban fantasy” stories, both writing and reading them. The novel I am writing has this element in it, although it is a historical fantasy, dealing with a main character who time travels to the Dark Ages in Britain. And yes, it does include angels, demons and monsters! 😉 But I am striving to present these elements in a non-stereotypical way.

    So. What works for me in these types of stories is some kind of mystery. The “normal” world with something strange, something off, that people are trying to figure out. I guess that’s why I tend to not read too many so-called “Christian” books in this genre, it often seems to be pretty obvious right from the get-go where the author is going with it. That being said, I did quite enjoy the Peretti books, (This Present Darkness, etc) but I have NOT enjoyed the many rip-offs on the same theme since then.

    On the other hand, I have read some fantastic books from non-CBA publishers which incorporate these themes and yet also bring a spiritual or even Christian worldview to their stories without the reader feeling like they have been bashed over the head with a certain viewpoint. I enjoy those kinds of stories much better, and often I find that the quality of the writing is much better as well. But that’s just my opinion, and my preferences.

    I guess what i struggle with is originality, both in the reading and the writing of these stories. It’s very easy to fall into the black and white good/bad characters dichotomy, which can get very tiresome after awhile.

    Good luck with the workshop…i would so love to attend, but I live waaay up in Canada and funds are limited, so I am unable to join you. Wish I could.

  2. Thanks for your input! I have found the same thing with a lot of Christian fiction. Peretti, of course, is a classic, and was really the first of his kind in that sort of world, but there are a lot that fall short. My goal is to help authors create their own worlds that are equally compelling but not trying too hard to be Peretti’s world.
    The Realm Makers staff is hoping to have the conference available online, so that might be something you’d want to look into.
    Thanks again!

  3. It’s an old one — but sometimes older is better. I refer to Alan Garner’s masterpiece, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I can think of no other book I’ve ever read, written by a Christian or otherwise, that blends the fantastical with our own “real world” half as well as what Garner did in this story. Delving into the legends of the Huldrafolk in England and Wales, Garner makes you believe these are real children, real adults, a real place — and a real wizard, real goblins, real warrior dwarves and very real servants of evil. Garner did it right — he carefully wove the tapestry of his real setting of Alderley Edge BEFORE introducing the fanrtastic. You don’t have weirdness on page 1 as is so common today. Though not written by a believer, and having its source in North European pagan beliefs, this story deserves to be enjoyed, read and studied, especially if you want to have fantasy elements woven into the real world and not have your story set in a Narnia or Middle-earth. And if you want your story to ring true.

  4. Hi Avily,

    Awesome topic! If I was attending RM, I’d definitely enroll in this class. Hopefully, RM will offer online participation – if so then I’m all in!

    Christian supernatural (i.e. angels and demons) intrigues me more than any other in Christian fiction and is the subject matter of my YA paranormal novel. For me, it’s the thought of an invisible war being waged 24/7 for every soul on Earth, a conflict that began with Lucifer’s Rebellion and continues to this day. A war that inflicts casualties daily, a war in which one side grows increasingly desperate to avoid the ending they know is coming … a war with only one outcome.

    How the two sides wage war on Earth and interact with humans fascinates me. As to what captivates me from a literary standpoint it’s really just the basics – a great story and superb writing. I don’t need to be hit over the head with dogma, nor do I need to have some humongous moral to the story on the last page. I just want to be entertained. I like Peretti, but to be quite honest I prefer Ted Dekker. Peretti can get a little dry for me, but Dekker moves at a faster pace and keeps me guessing with every turn of the page. But one of the better stories I’ve read regarding spiritual warfare was, believe it or not, written by Dean Koontz. His novel, The Taking, is perhaps my all-time favorite of his – although it was not widely acclaimed by his legion of fans due to the overt Christian influence and material. If you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll just leave you with a passage from Revelation that features prominently in the novel: “Woe to you inhabitors of the Earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down among you. And he will be filled with great wrath, for he knows that he has but a very short time.” Still gives me chills.

    From a personal standpoint, where I’ve encountered trouble with this subject is that I’ve found myself stuck in a no-man’s land: CBA publishers disagree with my portrayal of angels, and secular publishers find the novel too Christian. I’ve found that when it comes to angels and demons, if it doesn’t align perfectly with the publisher’s own personal doctrinal beliefs and opinions then they won’t accept it. It’s frustrating. I’ve had two publishing offers fall through because of this issue. A CBA publisher disagreed doctrinally with angels having free will and capable of experiencing human emotions and wanted me to make changes to that effect – which I refused. An ABA publisher loved the story and made an offer – on the condition that I tone down some of the Christian elements. Not wanting to turn out another book in the vein of Becca Fitzpatrick, I declined.

    All that to say that this is an awesome, entertaining, and compelling piece of Christian fiction. It can just be a tough road to travel if one’s goal is to go the route of a traditional publisher. Anyway, best of luck on the class, Avily. I truly do hope that RM will be able to offer it online.

    • Fantastic, thanks so much for your input! I’ll check out Koontz’s book, that sounds good.
      If you can make it in future years, Realm Makers is EXACTLY the place for you! A LOT of us are in that same no-man’s-land with not Christian enough for CBA and not secular enough for ABA.

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