Del's Asked Questions
My younger sister, Del, is the very first person who finished reading No Great Matter and immediately (read: at one o'clock in the morning, 24 hours after she got it in the mail) peppered me with legitimate reader questions about the story.
Totally warmed the cockles of my feedback-addicted writer's heart.
So until more people (read: fans) chime in and do the same, I'm leaving this page entitled 'DAQs', or Del's Asked Questions, in honor of my sis and also because I think 'FAQ' smacks of businesses and institutions and because, like Nick, I'm all about stomping on The Man and subverting the status quo.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS!
I advise you to stop reading further if you've yet to turn the final page.
Explain the cover, please.
It's supposed to simulate Nick's notebook, and all the doodles are symbolic of something important from the story: the interrobang, the umbrella, key lyrics of songs (including the scene where Nick asks Evie about words that rhyme with "fate"), and the members of Vocal Large. And Nick being Nick, of course he'd write on graph paper rather than lined paper, just to eff the Man.
Funny factoid: the font I used for Nick's handwriting is called "Jinky" and the parentheses and less than/greater than keys produce cartoons instead of symbols and those are the "pictures" I used to represent Billy, Heath, Raj and Chris. Can you guess who's who?
What's up with all the umbrellas?
It's all in the Prologue. The reference to The Curious Savage. Page 4. Go ahead, I'll wait while you re-read...
You're back? Okay. So the umbrella is not only symbolic of love (both in the play and my book), it's also symbolic of almost impossible love - at least in Evie's world - because it hardly rains in Southern California and there's really no need for an umbrella. Clever, right?
If that's still a bit abstruse, just remember: every time a character mentions umbrellas, love is always the subtext.
What's an interrobang?!
Man, that was snarky! Mea culpa.
Okay, I guess the 'do you one better' question is 'Why is an interrobang'? It's actually the Owens family crest, if the Owens family had one, because the Owens family members (barring Dad) are all pretty extra in their own, special way. An interrobang is a punctuation mark expressed by using a question mark and exclamation point together. It represents excitement and/or disbelief, two emotions that grow more and more prevalent with key characters as the plot progresses.
It's also on the cover of the book.
Supranatural or supernatural? Is there a difference?
I didn't think there was either - in fact, most sites say the two are synonymous and Word actually thinks 'supranatural' is misspelled and always gives me the red squiggly lines - but when I was trying to figure out how to categorize my story, I felt 'supernatural' didn't quite cut it; there had to be a better way, because angels aren't really in the same league as supernatural creatures like werewolves. Or vampires. A quick Google search revealed others felt the same way I did.
So how do you pronounce 'Aloysius'?
Al - pronounced like AL in ALBERT
oh - rhymes with TOE
ish - pronounced with the ISH in WISH
us - pronounced same as US in the English Dictionary
What's up with the mountain lion in Chapter 8?
All the supranatural events were supposed to be the modern day counterparts of the ten biblical plagues that God sent down on Egypt so Moses could convince the Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. So Audrey Sweet broke her leg when she fell off the cheer pyramid because of a swarm of gnats (locusts), Roxy Gomez got food poisoning from a bad burger (diseased livestock), the mountain lion was wild animals and the science lab got frogs while Liz Abbott was drenched in what looked like water into blood. I was gonna do the other five but needed to wrap up the story and frankly, I lost interest in the supranatural part when I started focusing on Evie and Nick.
Why are the words in italics and brackets on p. 324?
That's Noah's way of updating Evie but being kind of a douche about it. Clearly, he wouldn't let Evie's brain to turn into mush - Al would never allow that! - but he could use certain words in pure angelic just to mess with her, which is exactly what he did. Sadly, Al doesn't catch on to Noah's pettiness and ends up doing the same thing. It's kinda like how bilingual people tend to intersperse their speech with both languages.
What was Al doing to Evie on p. 328?
I was very deliberate in keeping the angels' powers pretty low-key. I did this to downplay the supranatural angle and to emphasize more the human/character study elements of the story. So when Al finally reveals one of his major powers, it needed to be due to a pretty potent reason; Evie arriving at the boiling point of her self-centeredness and hysteria was it.
Al reaches into her mind and not only tells her, but makes her feel, the full gravity of the situation. He shows her that God's plan and protecting free will goes beyond even the Grigori and all the angels in heaven. That it's no great matter to everyone, not just to Evie. The words are staggered on purpose to express the alienness of the divine emotion behind the message.
And it's also supposed to look like angels' wings.
Who were the two angels talking with Evie and what's the significance of their final decision?
When I first started writing this story, I did extensive research on angels and how they are perceived by different religions. I didn't want to offend or blaspheme, so I tried to come up with my own mythos, but I still relied heavily on both Christianity and Jewish mysticism.
Cassiel is the archangel of Seventh Heaven, the holiest of the heavens and where God sits on his throne; she is essentially God's right hand. Dardariel is the angel of the eleventh hour, which I interpreted to mean the angel of the very last moment.
When you do things at the very last moment, there's less risk of your getting caught. So Cassiel chose Dardariel on purpose because they were both going against God's edict and therefore exhibiting free will of their own, emphasizing even more the theme of 'no great matter' because, if the angels who aren't even involved in the war already seem to have self-determination, then why fight a war in the first place?
If I'd pursued the supranatural angle more like I'd originally intended, I would've gone in depth with the heavens, hierarchies, archangels, choirs and armies. Another story for another book, perhaps?
Was Evie dead when she was talking to the angels?