Hello my fellow book nerds! A while back I read and reviewed Heavenward by Olga Gibbs and really enjoyed it. Well, she is re-releasing the book and I wanted to help promote this great story so here I am. Since I already did a review of the book I figured I would share an interview. This was a lot of fun and her answers are great! I’ll attach a link to my review in case you want to check it out. Get caught up on the series before book 2, Hallow, comes out!
With the power to end the world, would you protect humanity when it broke you or would you take revenge?
Meet Ariel: a quiet, unnoticeable girl with an incredible gift…
Ariel never had an easy or pleasant life, but the arrival of three gorgeous strangers meant her measured life is turned upside down, as she discovers that angels exist.
Now against her will, she’s drawn into an ancient celestial conflict, where her powers will decide the fate of humanity.
Deceived, threatened, hunted and now on the run, who can she trust?
Interview with Olga Gibbs
What inspired you to write Heavenward?
This book began with Ariel, with her character and her life story. She lived with me, inside me and one day when I was ready to write, I wondered what I could do with her, for her. She lived an incredibly tough life and I wanted her to have something good for a change. I wanted to give her power back and for good measure to throw a humanity in it, to put us all at her mercy.
I’ve written this book for all girls out there, like Ariel, powerless at the moment, struggling emotionally and mentally. With this book I wanted to tell them, that they’re an incredible universe, a powerful archangel, who can change her own world. I wanted to tell these girls that their pasts don’t define them. I hope I’m making sense here.
I didn’t want to write a realistic book about Ariel’s abuse. At large it’s a very uncomfortable topic. I feel that someone who never lived through such things wouldn’t want to read about, the way it would come out of me would be too disturbing, and the girls who lived through it, would never want to relive it, but I felt it was important to give Ariel a voice, to speak about abuse that some girls are suffering today. So that how this book became a fantasy. And my twisted mind thought: “Ha! You’ve treated poor girl like dirt when she was powerless? Now I’m going to give her the ultimate power over you all and will watch you squirm and run for cover, as I’ll let her do whatever she’d like with you!”
The environment is so detailed. Did you use any references to write some of the scenes?
Thank you, I’ll take it as a compliment.
No, I didn’t have any references – all of it came out of me, which was difficult at times when I had to draft on separate sheets in scribbles and in my “stick-man” drawings my descriptions so I wouldn’t get lost and muddle them up later in the book. I used my kids’ colouring pen to draw the scenery and drew
I’ve always imagined the Hell to be bare, so Mar’s landscape was fitting the bill perfectly and Heaven I’ve always imagined with a bottomless sky, whites and blues of Santorini. (I’m still waiting to go there.)
Books about Angels can be difficult since there is already background surrounding them. How did you create the personalities of the characters?
Personalities and characters came out of the story. In my mind angels, if they were real, wouldn’t be different to people: they would be scheming or loyal, kind or lethal. I gave them personalities that my story needed and in fact I’ve started with the story. Bible’s Book of Revelation was my overwhelming, but perfect starting point. So a few months later, after the daily relentless research into Jewish and Christian eschatology, Jewish beliefs, Christian doctrines and old Sumerian beliefs and language, and some angelic and celestial thesis books later, I arrived to my characters, which would perfectly fit the story. Each character, apart from Ariel, is an angel in Christian mythology, some fallen, some not.
Were there any moments you got stuck while writing this? What did you do to move past it?
There were few, but luckily not many. I’m a control freak. I always need to know where I’m going and what’s the plan, so before I set off on this journey, I drafted my story plan. Writing this book I’ve found out, that I can only write the story as it takes place, in chronological order, so when I got stuck that was the end of the road for me, past which I couldn’t move, so I was taking extra-long walks in the local park. A few dog walkers are probably missing me now.
What advise can you give new writers?
Write, write and write; every day and not to wait for the “muse to strike you”. Just block an “x” amount of hours every day or even every other day, sit down in front of your computer and write. I’m a firm believer that if you work hard at something, eventually your labours will pay out.
Is there anything you try to avoid while writing?
My children and people in general. When I write, I imagine myself inside the story. My brain transports me inside my story and I’m in a zone. Unfortunately for me, it takes me a while to get into a zone, to transport myself into the story, so when someone comes and tries to talk to me: that’s it – connection is lost. So I’m trying to do most of my writing during the mornings, when children are at school and on the days when I don’t work for my charity.
What scene did you enjoy writing most from Heavenward?
Tough question. For me it’s similar to someone asking me which one of my children I love most… I loved the last chapter, as I love writing fight and battle scenes. I love chapter fifteen, when Ariel was trekking through Hell as I loved the sheer freedom of creativity in the world-building – I love that there are no rules in world-building in fantasy and I can create world as insane as I like. Chapter 13 was difficult to write and was bitter-sweet for me: I gave Ariel her small revenge, a consolation prize and some uncomfortable reading minutes for some readers. I know that I’ve lost some readers because of this chapter, but without this chapter it would’ve been a different story and quite frankly, I might’ve as well written a sweet romance.
Were there any authors or books that inspired you to write?
Not really. I just have these stories crawling inside my head and they’re pressing on my brain, screaming to come out. However I absolutely love Stephen King’s creativity and style – I love to be left breathless and surprised by the book, where I’d say: “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!” I like Martina Cole’s books; “Jane Eyre” is one of my favourite books – I’ve read it so many time, it’s unreal. But my reading taste is very eclectic, although one type of books I don’t touch – sweet romances. I’ve tried a few and every time, ten-twenty pages in I wish for something really horrible to happen to them, even romantic movies don’t work for me
How many books can we expect for Celestial Creatures Series?
At the moment it’s shaping to be four books for Ariel. First two are more of a paranormal fantasy, while the last two will be epic fantasy, as I’m planning to take all the action into Heaven and Hell and readers will see more of these places.
What should we expect from Hallow?
As Ariel said so apt herself (and she’s a smart girl): “It’s going to get worse before it will get better; and today is no exception.”
“Hallow” is shaping up a bit darker, but not because of the gore – there will be barely any of it in “Hallow”, but because of story and the dark alley, down which I’m taking Ariel. I think she needs to be pushed further, to become stronger in order to be ready for all upcoming battles, and she needs to discover a bit more about herself.
About the Author
My name is Olga Gibbs I live in a leafy-green town, nestled amongst the green fields of West Sussex, England. I live with my husband Richard, our two daughters and a ginger cat called Fluffy.
I was writing from the age of fifteen, mainly short stories and novellas and was a guest colunmist for a local newspaper. When I am not dreaming up new adventures for my imaginary friends, I do outreach work with teenagers.
I am currently writing a second book in the “Celestial creatures” series and another stand-alone psychological crime thriller book. Please check back regularly for more information on upcoming books.