eSpec Books interviews Michelle D. Sonnier, contributor to the anthology Horns and Halos edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.
eSB: Please tell us a little something about your story.
MDS: My story features the archangel Chamuel (pronounced SHAM-u-el). He is the angel of finding lost things, from mundane items to lost people and animals to your inner self and your purpose in life. Chamuel helps you find anything and everything. In my story, Chamuel notices a huge increase in lost item requests and he starts to look into why. He finds out that the Fae have been stealing or moving small items to trigger the prayers to him, but why?
eSB: What inspired this story?
MDS: I can confidently say, this one is all my mom’s fault. My mom was a diehard Roman Catholic and whenever she couldn’t find something she would pray to St. Anthony. A frequent memory of my childhood was my mother walking around the house muttering, “Dear St. Anthony please come around, I’ve lost my <whatever> and it cannot be found.” It was usually her purse or her keys. It happened so often that we (her kids) would tease her that every time she started praying St. Anthony would roll his eyes and say, “Again??” Mom took the teasing well.
So, when I was trying to think of an angel story my thoughts naturally strayed to my mother, because she loved angels and truly believed. Then the St. Anthony story popped into my head because that was just so MOM. But it needed to be a story about an angel, not a saint. After a little research, I found Chamuel and the gears started turning.
eSB: Angels and Devils are a common theme in fiction. How did you make yours stand out? How much of a challenge was it?
MDS: Coming up with this story was hard for me. Angels are supposed to be all goodness and light, which can get, well, a little boring. In addition, one of the things I love to explore in my work is shades of gray. None of my other characters are all good or all bad, but angels are all good. I spent weeks wracking my brain trying to think of a way to write something interesting about an angel that hadn’t been done to death already. My mother’s St. Anthony prayer led me to Chamuel but then I still had the problem of what did he need to find and how could I bring in characters that are neither all good nor all bad, which is one of my hallmarks. Then it came to me to bring in the Fae and everything worked out rather quickly from there.
eSB: Is your story based on particular lore or legend, or did you take the broad concept and run with it?
MDS: My story is very particular to Chamuel. It wouldn’t work with any other angel but him. The whole plot depends on who he is and what he does.
eSB: Is your story set in an existing universe or fresh and new for this collection?
MDS: This story is based in a universe I’ve been taking notes for and writing in for a few years now, but it hasn’t seen the light of day yet. It’s not quite ready. It’s mostly the world we know, but it is urban fantasy so the supernatural exists and fantastic things happen.
eSB: Are your characters here ones that you plan to revisit?
MDS: I don’t think Chamuel will reappear in any of my other pieces, but I do think some of the minor Fae that appear in this story will pop up again.
eSB: Is this your first time writing for a themed anthology, or have you done so before? What draws you to such projects?
MDS: I’ve written for themed anthologies before, and I love doing it. It’s a great writing exercise to take an idea with restrictions and think, “how can I make this work with my style? How do I fit my story into this shape and stay true to me?” Earlier in my career sometimes I would have trouble with writer’s block, so I would trawl anthology calls on Ralan and Duotrope to see what would spark my imagination. I might make the deadline and actually submit to the anthology or I might not, but I got inspired and wrote a new story so I won in the end anyway.
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
MDS: I’m doing a lot of work in my Clockwork Witch universe right now. I’m wrapping up book 2 of a 7-book arc, and I’m itching to get going on book 3. There are some really interesting new characters I can’t wait to play with. And as I work on the mainline novels, I’ve got a running list of other spin-off ideas I’d love to work on. Every time I dive back in I see more corners of that world that I want to explore.
Michelle D. Sonnier writes dark urban fantasy, steampunk, and anything else that lets her combine the weird and the fantastic in unexpected ways. She even writes horror, although it took her a long time to admit that since she prefers the existential scare over blood and gore. She’s published short stories in a variety of print and online venues, and has upcoming projects with eSpec Books and Otter Libris. You can find her on Facebook (Michelle D. Sonnier, The Writer). She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a variable number of cats. The Clockwork Witch is her first full-length novel.