Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes: Guest Post


The Concept of the Antagonists, the Shadowmen
I haven’t spoken at all about the antagonists in the book because I kept thinking there was only one antagonist, but there really isn’t. Initially, it is these creatures called the Shadowmen that are the antagonists. These are the shadowy figures that are haunting Amelia. They want her because she is a witch, and when witches die, they turn into Shadowmen who may have incredible powers—they want those powers.
            You see, the Shadowmen are a very bitter species. Witches are treated horribly in Amelia’s world. At first, witches are taken away silently and are never heard of again, but everyone knows those witches are likely murdered. Witches are never verbally spoken of in the city that Amelia resides in, which is Malva. But there is plenty of witch propaganda to go around to remind everyone why he or she should hate witches—notwithstanding the Vulgate, which is the Bible in their world (vulgate is latin for bible anyway, just as Deus is latin for god, not to be confused with the Deus in Xenogears).
            In any case, as soon as witches die, they undergo a process to become Shadowmen. They take their original bodies with them to the afterlife. So if they were beheaded, they will bear a thick scar around their neck. If they are burned, they’re technically purified, so they emerge as unharmed Shadowmen. Witches turn far quicker if they are burned. Otherwise, their turning is often slow and painstaking when they die any other way.
            At the beginning of the book, no one knows concretely what happens to witches, but later, under Pope Gilford’s command, they are burned. Before they are even burned, they are tortured, whether it be through beatings, lashes, near-drownings, or whatever else the torturers’ depraved minds can come up with. So the Shadowmen’s previous lives have been rough, and they are very, very bitter about this.
            Being a Shadowman is supposed to be a gift for enduring suffering in life, but they are essentially servants of Deus, out to carry his will through things called Exaltations, which are tasks they must carry out in order to Exalt themselves before Deus and be allowed entry into Paradise, the heaven of Amelia’s world. But they suffer through Maladies, which are things that manifest themselves as the weakest parts of themselves in a previous life. So if they were crippled, they’ll be crippled as Shadowmen.
            Because of this, they want revenge against the people who have harmed them in their previous lives, which are the people who have never born the sin of being a witch. So revenge is their main motive for doing what they do, and hopefully for you, the readers, the Shadowmen will prove to be some brutal antagonists. They are for Amelia because they are terrifying for her, even though she knows she will become one when she dies.

When Amelia discovers witch blood in her family, she joins a convent to cleanse the taint from her blood. But when she learns that redemption isn’t possible, she unites with the dangerously attractive priest, Oliver Cromwell, to fight for a place in Paradise.

 Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn't like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward...again. But she doesn't care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.

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