Author Interview: Daniel Arenson

Please welcome Daniel Arenson,  author of Flaming Dove to Book’d Out today.  This dark fantasy novel  centers around Laila, a tortured heroine, who is trapped between the grace of God and the damnation of  Hell, and their epic battle for supremacy on Earth.  In my review I praise  Flaming Dove, for its complex characters, epic conflict and thought provoking examination of good versus evil.

Thanks for stopping by Daniel.

Q: Tell us a little about your work.

Daniel: Since 1998, I’ve sold dozens of stories and poems to various publications, among them Flesh & Blood, Chizine, and Orson Scott Card’s Strong Verse.  Five Star Publishing, an imprint of Gale, published my novel Firefly Island in 2007.  Flaming Dove is my second novel.

Q: Was there a specific trigger for the premise of Flaming Dove?

Daniel: I decided to write Flaming Dove after a visit to Israel.  Visiting a crumbling old Crusader fort made me think about how, for thousands of years, men fought over the Holy Land, and how prophecies say that even Heaven and Hell will someday fight for it.

Fairytales inspired my first novel, Firefly Island.  It is Armageddon that inspired Flaming Dove.

That Crusader fort made it into the first chapter of Flaming Dove, and features prominently throughout the novel.

Q: Interestingly it is the women who are the most complicated (Laila) and least complicated (Zarel) characters in Flaming Dove.  As a male author, why choose a female protagonist?

Daniel: Laila is a girl because the plot calls for her to share a romantic past with Beelzebub, the antagonist.  Beelzebub, a fallen angel, is the charismatic and womanizing ruler of Hell.  He is also Laila’s former lover; the two almost got married.  This was necessary for increasing the drama in my story.  When I first envisioned Flaming Dove, the protagonist was actually male… but once I realized that my protagonist required a romantic past with the villain, I made her a girl.

Q: Was there any scene  in the story you particularly struggled with? How did you move past it?

Daniel: Actually, Flaming Dove was pretty easy to write.  Once I understood the characters, the drama between them, and the storyline, I just hammered it out.   Flaming Dove is my second novel, and was a lot easier to write than my first.

Q: Your interpretation of Christian-Judeo mythological figures could be considered controversial, did this affect your writing decisions at all?

Daniel: When Flaming Dove was released, I was surprised that some readers found it controversial.  I wrote a fantasy novel.  It’s about a half angel, half demon who fights alongside a black wolf and fires an Uzi.  It’s totally out there; it’s meant to be dark, action packed, and over the top.  Yes, there are angels and demons, but it’s not a book about religion, or a book that attacks religion.  It’s less Dogma, more Constantine.

Most readers get that, but a few found my story controversial.  I portray my angels with human qualities.  They experience self doubt.  Sometimes they’re afraid.  A few smoke and curse.  A few lie.  They aren’t bad guys by any means; they still clearly fight on the side of “good”.  But “good”, to me, isn’t just about pure white righteousness.  Reality is more complex, and so is my novel.  So my angels are flawed.  At the same time, I didn’t want my demons to be archetypical monsters intent on destroying the world.  Pure evil is boring.  So my demons are sympathetic villains.  I show the pain of their exile from Heaven, the pain of their downfall and curse, their need for revenge.  I wanted to show that they have motivation beyond merely, “Let’s enslave Earth in the name of darkness.”

The portrayal of flawed angels and sympathetic demons has offended a small minority of readers, but really, it’s similar to what Paradise Lost did.

I want to make this clear, though.  Flaming Dove by no means attacks religion.  In fact, aside from a couple brief references, there is no discussion of God or Jesus.  This novel is more about angels and demons swinging swords, firing guns, and blowing up the world than it is about theology.

I think it’s fine that a few readers might be offended.  Harry Potter offended a few readers, too.  I didn’t set out to offend anyone, but at some point, you can’t tiptoe around every word, worrying if somebody might frown upon it.  I wrote the story that I wanted to tell.  Some readers will love it, others will avoid it.  That’s fine.

Q: You are a vocal supporter of indie publishing, what benefits do you think it offers readers?

Daniel: Well, I don’t know that I’m that vocal a supporter of indie publishing.  I come from a background in traditional publishing.  My early short stories were traditionally published.  Five Star, an imprint of Gale, published my fantasy novel Firefly Island in 2007.  I released Flaming Dove independently, and am enjoying the experience, but I don’t think one venue is necessary advantageous over another.

I think indie publishing is great for ebooks, which have become so popular this year.  It lets me keep my prices low (Flaming Dove’s ebook format costs only $2.99).  So readers definitely benefit from lower prices.  A traditionally published ebook will often cost $10 or more.

Readers can also enjoy some great, experimental fiction that a traditional publisher might not have released.  Publishing is a business like any other.  It’s about making money.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does limit its output.  If tomorrow Paris Hilton hires a ghostwriter to pen her dog’s memoirs, publishers will pay millions; they know that’s a money maker.  If an obscure author writes experimental fiction that doesn’t comfortably fit into one, marketable genre, they’ll hesitate to publish it.  Now, that obscure author might not sell many independent books, but his voice will be heard.  Readers will have the option of reading his work.

Indie publishing is sort of like the Internet.  There are billions of words out there.  Some are boring, some are pointless.  Some are gems.

Q: Are you working on anything new you can share with us?

Daniel: I will soon release my third fantasy novel, The Gods of Dream.  Here’s a description:

Cade and Tasha are refugees.  They flee a war that killed their parents and left them scarred, hurting, alone.  They seek solace in Dream, a secret world only they can visit.  Among its hidden forests and meadows, they find mysterious gods who craft our dreams, sending them into our sleep.  It is a world of forgetting, of escaping, of beauty and endless wonder.

Phobetor, the god of Nightmare, was outcast from Dream.  Now he seeks to destroy it.  He sends his monsters into Dream, and Cade and Tasha find their sanctuary threatened, dying.  To save it, Cade and Tasha must overcome their past, journey into the heart of Nightmare, and face Phobetor himself.

Discover a world of light and darkness, of hope and fear, of dreams and nightmares.

Look for The Gods of Dream in early 2011.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Daniel: I’m currently reading The Dark Tower novels by Stephen King.  I’m almost done reading the third.

Thank you Daniel for for the opportunity to read Flaming Dove. I wish you luck and success in publishing.

Thank you for this interview!  It was fun.


You can learn more about Daniel Arenson at his website

You can also find his author page on Facebook

Flaming Dove is available to purchase

@ Amazon in paperback

@ Amazon for the Kindle

Other places to buy Flaming Dove

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie
    Dec 01, 2010 @ 00:13:53

    Very nice interview Shelleyrae! Good questions and nice answers from Daniel! 🙂



  2. Trackback: Book news, reviews, and musings 1 Dec 2010 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books
  3. Kelly
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 19:58:21

    It still surprises me how people can really get upset or offended by books that incorporate even the tiniest idea of religious elements.
    I mean it is fiction, it isn’t meant to educate or convert. I see nothing wrong with reading a book regarding angels and demons.

    Thanks for the interview, it was great and the book sounds really good! XD
    It is a good thing that authors have the opportunity to publish their books even as ebooksn when they don’t get picked up by traditional publishers, so that more people can read them



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