Book Talk: Tale of part-angel teen a gift for author

Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:18am EST
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Cynthia Hand was busy with life, working and raising a child, and hadn't had any desire to write for quite some time when she began to hear a voice in her head, speaking lines.

It turned out to be Clara, the heroine of her debut novel, "Unearthly," which Hand said "felt like a gift" the entire time she was writing the book, planned as the start of a trilogy.

The latest in a number of paranormal books featuring angels, Unearthly centers on the teenage Clara, who is one-quarter angel and has just received visions of her "purpose," which is a mission each part-angel has to complete in their lifetime.

Set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the book is a lush evocation of the mountain landscape -- a landscape that turns dangerous with a summer forest fire that is at the heart of Clara's destiny.

Hand spoke with Reuters about her book, angels and the genre of young adult literature.

Q: You said you started to hear Clara's voice?

A: "It's funny, because hearing voices is never a good thing, but with writers it sometimes comes to you that way, that you start to hear lines. I started to get these lines about the fire. Some of these ended up in the prologue to the book when she talks about seeing this boy, and there being a fire.

Then I hit pretty early on that she thinks this is her destiny, but what would happen if, when she gets to that moment, it's different from what she thinks. She has to make that choice between what she thinks she's supposed to do and what she really thinks is the right thing to do. I knew that choice was going to have to get made, I wasn't exactly sure how she was going to go about it."   Continued...