Gwendolyn N. Nix is the author of The Falling Dawn, a fantasy novel about a celestial warrior named Eos, who is charged with the task of finding a sacred book in order to stop an all-out heavenly war. She joins us as our guest today in order to talk about some things that inspired her to write this book!
Halting a heavenly civil war wasn't exactly what The Falling Dawn's protagonist, Eos, had in mind when she was swept up on a quest scouring the oceans for a holy book, but books are exactly the tools I expected to mine for all my inspiration while writing the Celestial Scripts. Luckily for you, dear reader, this won't be a laundry list of research books. I realized I had a lot of things that influenced The Falling Dawn besides the stacks upon stacks of lore I accumulated—whether it be in an aesthetic sense or for world-building.
- Angels: Celestial Scripts in Art and Legend by Jacqueline Carey Okay, maybe just one book. I found this gorgeous book while researching angelic lore and it was monumental in shaping some of the characters and themes of the novel. Beyond being the gateway drug that eventually led me to the Kushiel's Dart series, I spent hours pouring over the snippets of myths that led me to craft Rahab, the Master of the Oceans, who holds secrets ultimately dire to Eos' plight. Not only did the book explore the classic commonly-known stories, it hinted at the apocryphal texts—sending me further down the rabbit hole, desperate for more. The artwork elevated my perception of what an angel looked like—beings with wings, sure, but also as massive sublime giants, terrifying to behold, monsters crafted from fire compared to us humans, creatures of clay.
- "Ghost Love Score" by Nightwish One of my favorite songs of all time, "Ghost Love Score" premiered on the album Once by the symphonic metal band, Nightwish. It's a ten-minute ride full of a beautiful orchestra, operatic vocals, and grinding guitars and whenever I hear the flutes trill at the end, I get all tingly. Whenever I hit a writer's block, I'd give my brain a dose of that song and it felt like my creative side lit up with lights. It captured the aesthetic of how I wanted The Falling Dawn to be—layered with complexity, legends, and at its heart, an exploration of love and the lengths people and creatures will go to keep that love.
- The Little Mermaid I've been told I'm more of a Belle Disney princess—you know, the books, the library, it makes sense—but I'd always loved Ariel. Her passion, her collector's tendencies, and even her recklessness became something I admired and incorporated into Eos' character. That red-haired spitfire went after what she wanted and she even had the adventuresome free spirit to boot that took her where those under the sea would never go: the surface, the sea witch's lair, even into a shipwrecked Spanish galleon where great white sharks hunted. Yes. I might have a degree in marine biology and yes, I've studied and swam with sharks, but for a good long time before all that I hid beneath the covers when that great white peered through the glass as Ariel marveled over her dinglehopper. Let's just say that oceanic fear and fiery spirit are recognizable traits within The Falling Dawn.
- Resurrection It's a broad word to geek out on, but the idea plays a heavy role in the Celestial Scripts. One of the basic tenants of Eos' world revolves around resurrection. Her soul was at the beginning of the world and would be at the end of it. Yet, as she discovers the strength of her unknown powers, she meets a secondary entity—a creature that gains personality, autonomy, and vitality—who is somehow tied to her. Could this creature be a split-personality entity, a past self, or even a future rendition of Eos? I love the idea of recycled souls, but find the aspect downright terrifying. How much of the you in this lifetime remains? Can that facet of the resurrected spirit that is wholly you somehow live on and break off from its original resurrected soul? Questions abound and The Falling Dawn seeks to answer them.
- The Coast There are two places that embody The Falling Dawn to me. The first was Makoshika Park in Glendive, Montana where on a family vacation, we were caught in a huge thunderstorm. Caught between the thunder and the rain, the golden streaks of lightning looked like falling angels. The second is a piece of beach along the Long Island Sound where I saw a group of smooth, rounded mossy boulders that looked like a pod of whales rising gently the distance. Both these scenes became heavy visuals that influenced The Falling Dawn and if you keep an eye out, you'll find them.
About The Falling Dawn:
Stopping a heavenly war isn’t exactly what Eos Azzapardi had in mind when Enoch, scholar and mentor, wiggles his way into her heart and fills her head with gods and angels. He sweeps her on a quest for the Lost Book of Raziel, a book containing all the divine secrets of the god Adonai. Enoch plans to use the Book to stop an imminent civil war between angels in Heaven and release the imprisoned Watchers, an angelic sect who fell from grace because they loved humans.
After a chance meeting with the prince of the realm, Ciriacus, who reveals he is one of Enoch’s disciples, Eos realizes she must find a balance between obeying the demands of her newfound family and coming to terms with what Ciriacus and Enoch require of her. As jealousy deepens a rift between Eos and Ciriacus even as a prophecy threatens to encompass them both, Eos discovers she has an uncanny ability. Using her gift has consequences, specifically heralding the arrival of a split personality entity named Madame Decay. Madame Decay transports Eos’ mind into an underworld similar to Enoch’s Hell. There, she learns that there is more than one god at play, and sparks fly between her and a psychopomp of death.
When Enoch’s faith begins to border on zealotry, Eos discovers he plans to trade the Book for the Watchers’ salvation, while using Eos as a bargaining chip to seal the deal. Hurt from this revelation, Eos seeks revenge by attempting to sully her soul, all the while uncovering that her unexplainable powers stem from the secrets of her bloodline. As Enoch manipulates her to his own ends and the angels begin to fall, Eos realizes that she must make a choice: fall in line with Enoch’s demands, or lose what little soul she has left to the machinations of Madame Decay.
About Gwendolyn N. Nix:
Raised in the wilds of countless library stacks, Gwendolyn N. Nix has forged her skills in writing and science in the shark-infested waters of Belize, by researching neural proteins, inducing evolutionary pressures in green algae, and through the limitless horizons of her own imagination. A born seeker of adventure, she saw her first beached humpback whale on a windy day in New York, met a ghost angel in a Paris train station, and had Odin answer her prayers on a mountain in Scotland. Her short fiction appears in The Sisterhood of the Blade anthology. The Falling Dawn is her first novel. She lives in Missoula, MT. Find out more at www.gwendolynnix.com.