When I got the idea to my ‘Council Of Twelve’ series, I considered doing some research, start with finding ‘experts.’ I talked to two people I considered experts: a nun and a monk.
Unfortunately, both were not as good as experts as I had hoped. The nun is an amazing, wonderful personality with a huge golden heart, selfless, helpful, pious – and an avid reader and a big fan of fantasy books. I could not ask even one of the many questions I had; she didn’t stop talking, telling me about all the fantastic books she already read. By listening to her, I had the impression, in her imagination, she actually wrote my entire series. It was an enjoyable, interesting afternoon, but I got home with nothing than a headache.
The priest was a different kind of expert. He answered most of my questions with quotes directly out of the bible, and he was not at all a fan of my idea for that series. He found, the fight Good versus Evil should be left to our Lord. I can only agree with that, but I had not planned to single-handedly fight Hades and the entire Underworld! I was only planning to write a book, for Heaven’s sake, and we’re not talking about a non-fiction reality report. We’re talking about a fantasy book series. Towards the end of that conversation, I had the impression if I ever wrote that ‘Council Of Twelve’ series, my ‘expert’ would do anything to get me excommunicated and not only that; I would be going directly to the Catholic ‘jail’ and my soul would be grilling in the inferno for all eternity.
I cured that headache too and decided to write the series anyway, even without Father Thomas’ blessing.
The wonderful thing about fantasy books, as compared to history books (or all non-fiction, of course) is, that the creation of worlds, characters, and magic does not need as much research as the book that entwines around existing facts. The Council Of Twelve series bases on values, the Christian values I grew up with, and a few of the characters that cement my beliefs.
Since I now got the few already existing characters, I started adding up with more figures and creatures on the good side…
However, the evil side needed more of my attention. In my book, it exists, but it’s not like I’m an expert on that side. Therefore I went on a research crusade. I needed demons… I needed to ‘build’ a picture of the evil side. And I had to build antagonists…. not one, but uncountable ones.
An inexhaustible source of information in my case was ‘Wikipedia’. I got quite a few lists from them. Theological Demons and their classification, Demonology, a list of fictional demons, and a list of legendary creatures. Occasionally these lists helped me while writing.
But what helped me the most was the List of Demons in the Ars Goetia.
It not only gives the name of the respective demon but also its look, what kind of demon it is, what command it’s under, and the legions of minions under its control. Now…
I know that the evil side exists, just as I know the good side exists. That is rooted in the beliefs I grew up with. But I’m writing fantasy books for young adults. I have to keep it simple. This list is not a fact list… I, therefore, permit myself the freedom to use the respective creature I need – and I don’t feel very guilty adjusting the demons a bit in order to be useful for my current scene.
With a little bit of my own spicy humor, I allowed myself to object the common existing demon-name-lists by leaving the fallen Archangel Lucifer’s name as it was and positioning him on the top of the seven thrones of Hell. Experts on that might kick my butt for that, but no matter how many ‘bad guys’ there are, in the series, I’m working on fighting them. I figure, one more isn’t that much of a drama.
Also, I did not forget that Evil tempts with softness, with the illusion of love and with beauty… Demons in my books rarely look like leathery wings carrying, flying, and walking horror creatures…
Lucifer is a beautiful as a personified sin… and so are his minions in the form we humans can understand… But when they are home… where they live… in their place and their environment… that’s different. Then the entire extent of the evilness they hold becomes obvious – and visible.