Scribble City Central's twenty-sixth Fantabulous Friday comes from James Dawson, author of Hollow Pike. I love finding talented new YA authors to read, and James's debut novel doesn't disappoint in any way - he's definitely a writer to watch, as I think he'll just go on getting better and better. Apart from having a spookily scary setting and an edge-of-the-seat plot involving murder and witchcraft, James has also tackled the themes of LGBT teens and school bullying head on in this book, and done it brilliantly. Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog will know that both of those things are close to my heart, and I'm always more than delighted to find another author who cares about them too.
Hollow Pike may be set in deepest Yorkshire, but Fulton High School has a definite whiff of California to it - with a rugby hunk in place of American Football jocks, and its very own crop of Queen Bees and Wannabes. This may explain in part why the book and James made it to the finals of the Queen of Teen Awards (I just wish it had won!), and I reckon it's a prime candidate for being snapped up by a film producer. I'd certainly go and watch the movie, so I hope someone out there in Hollywood is listening!
The whole witchcraft element is woven in very cleverly indeed, and James has clearly done his research. There is no direct mention of Lucifer in the book, although the Horned God makes a brief appearance. It's always been fascinating to me to see how the threads of the ancient Celtic belief in Cernunnos have been tangled and twisted with those of the Christian faith to make a monster - so I'm now delighted to hand over to James to take you into the fiery realm of:
L for Lucifer
Horned God or Morningstar?
JD: You might well think of him as Satan, The Devil, Beelzebub, The Horned God, and certainly something evil…but YA fiction owes a massive debt to Lucifer. Meet the ultimate fallen angel and the original bad boy…
I was assigned Lucifer, I imagine, due to the witches present in my debut novel, Hollow Pike. According to texts like The Malleus Maleficarum, witches turned their back on Christianity to serve Satan. I knew Lucifer was another moniker for the devil, so started researching the beast for this article. However, I soon discovered that I’d got Lucifer all wrong. I’d imagined, as I suspect many would, a terrible horned beast with cloven hooves. All the engravings I’d seen when researching Hollow Pike show Lucifer to be monstrous. Far from it. If you trace Lucifer back, he started life, according to 3rd Century Bible texts, as the brightest star in the heavens. In the beginning, Lucifer, an angel was God’s special favourite. He had devastating good looks – the most beautiful of all the angels. Mere mortals would do the most YA of all things… ‘gasp’.
The character is brought to life in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. As well as his beauty, he is arrogant and charismatic, every inch the charmer. In the poem, he begins a rebellion against God, a power struggle for the control of Heaven. He fails in his bid and is spectacularly cast out of Paradise and introduced to Hell, where he memorably states ‘better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.’
Now embittered, Lucifer dedicates his eternity to tempting people away from the righteous path of traditional Christianity. This, ladies and gents, is where it gets sexy. As authors and readers we know that the bad boy is always more interesting than the pure-hearted hero. Look at Eric Northman in True Blood; Cam Briel in Fallen; Sebastian in The Mortal Instruments; all fall into the category of ‘temptation’ for the female main character. It’s not hard to understand why any young witch would do a little dance around a fire for the most beautiful angel in existence with a side-line in sin.
In traditional Christian terms (and indeed for Milton), Lucifer represents sex. It is he who encourages Adam and Eve to get jiggy with it in the garden of Eden while disguised as a not-at-all symbolic snake. I suppose the message is ‘it doesn’t matter how sexy he is, you MUST RESIST’. Thankfully, attitudes have moved on now and perhaps we’re more forgiving of both Lucifer and anyone who might wish to submit to his charms. With time definitions of sin have shifted and a bit of sex isn’t quite the anathema it once was. Therefore, Lucifer and all the characters he’s inspired aren’t automatically villainous anymore. The Lucifer figure has become an anti-hero, and a very desirable one at that. After all isn’t both fiction, and real life, all the more fun for a little temptation?
There are no Lucifer figures in the Hollow Pike world (as yet, who knows further down the line), if you’ve read the novel, you’ll know that the witches are a force for good. However, my research for this piece inspired me hugely. Don’t be surprised if a future James Dawson release features a Lucifer-like bad boy…or even the man himself….
SCC: Absolutely can't wait for that future JD release! Do please be tempted by the Devil man in your next book. Maybe an Eric Northman lookalike *dreams a little*... Thanks so much for visiting, James, I hope it will be the first of many times.
You can buy Hollow Pike by clicking HERE.
Next week: Ann Halam holds up her mirror to M for Medusa. Cover your eyes!