1. Wasn’t the Nephilim kind of what that Nicholas Cage movie City of Angels was about? Lol. I was at a weight loss convention and we had a lively debate about why any angel would leave the glory of God’s presence for any human being–no matter how attractive. Some thought if movie star X would have them they’d give up Heaven for him. I was among the dissenters.

    A big problem with writing angels is making them too anthropomorphic. I loved Lewis’s Screwtape Letters but the POV character was meant to be a cartoon you laugh at. The kind of entity you love to hate. Funny as it was it’s a good thing the work is as short as it is.

    You can err in writing fallen angels by making them too sympathetic–or too grand like Milton did. You read the high falluting dialogue by Satan and his angels in Hell and wonder if Milton was thinking, “These rebels are in Hell. But man! Aren’t these bad boys awesome?”

    For unfallen angels I just can’t imagine any personality completely devoid of sin. A similar problem with writing a Christ figure. Chalk it up to my imagination which is fallen like the rest of me.

    I am trying to get around this by writing about angels from the human perspective. The Delusion by Laura Gallier is good about this.

    I want to try to incorporate more subtlety into my ventures in this field. (If I go there.) Less like Frank Perretti and more like Henry James’s Turn of the Screw and some of Edith Wharton’s tales. Charles Williams also wrote great urban fantasy before it was a thing.

  2. I like the Nephilim and Angels vs Demons trope, but can be picky about how it’s done. End Times fiction is usually the one I’m less interested in, but could make exceptions for certain ones.

    For angels and demons, it’s fun when authors give them a different psychology, concerns, rules to follow, etc. than humans, but only if it makes a reasonable amount of sense for the story world.

    • I once read this book about Nephilim called Flood: The Story of Noah and the Family Who Raised Him. But the guy was a hack writer.

      In all seriousness though, I agree. Except… the angels-demons thing is just totally outside of what I’m interested in. I dislike it even more than End-Times stuff–although I’m pretty done with that, too. I do think the Nephilim thing is overdone, and most of the time it makes my eyes roll like bowling balls down an alleyway. But it can be handled in some cool ways, I think.

  3. Amen to all three, Shannon. I’m with you and have, like you, had some in the genres you named, that surprised me. But by far, I’ve had more that really, really make me NOT want to read any more.


  4. Shannon, thanks for this. I reached my fill of Nephilim in 2013 and I’ve not warmed to the critters at all since then. Quoting my 2013-era self:

    I’ve seen so many people go off the rails into late-night conspiracy-radio-type stuff. I swear, the amount of times I’ve had people act as if antediluvian fallen angel/human sex, aliens, weirdness, demons, all that stuff, was the point of the Bible, rather than the one true God Who came Himself to set humans free from *their own slavery to sin* (which Satan and demons can only augment) — ugh, I see this only as a distraction from the true Gospel into plain mysticism.

    End-times fiction I don’t mind so much, at least insofar as the Left Behind series is concerned. But I readily concede that a lot of this, for me, is plain nostalgia.

    As for angels-versus-demons, I was actually thinking about this recently (and a fair bit negatively). I think the really great Christian-made fiction on supernatural/spiritual warfare began, peaked, and ended with Frank Peretti. We had a few imitators, but they always seemed to think like a 1996-era version of myself and think, “Hey, what if we had books like Frank Peretti’s ‘Darkness’ books, but with only angels-versus-demons and not so much those boring parts with the humans?” Of course, this was a fatal move for two reasons:

    1. Biblically, because then to have some kind of a story, you must make the angels or demons more human-like, which stretches/breaks God’s worldbuilding for reality.

    2. Story-wise, because the author ends up insisting that the story only tell us “heavenly things” without caring to tell us “earthly things,” and as a result readers must do the heavy lifting to try to believe either. Yet Peretti excelled in portraying small-town America and familiar, accessible settings while also challenging our imaginations re. spiritual warfare.

    A few recent examples of spiritual-warfare fiction seem especially prone to this trope of over-spiritualizing the topic. Or else adding some kind of superpowers trope, i.e. “MacKenzie Teeniebopper never tried praying before, but the first time she does Her Eyes Are Opened to the amazing world of angels and demons around her. And also Nephilim.”

    As you can no doubt tell, I’m skeptical about this YA-take on spiritual warfare, not only as a worthwhile story but as a story that can actually sell. Surely there still exist unique and this-world-grounded speculations about spiritual warfare, but they haven’t been found just yet.

  5. notleia says:

    That seems to be the sticker, that people don’t know how to make angels/demons inhuman but also compelling. If I have to choose, I’ll pick compelling.

    I’m almost ready to pay for Amazon Prime in part to see the Good Omens adaptation with David Tennant.

  6. Travis Perry says:

    I’m a long way from reading all that’s been written in these three sub-genres, but I think there are many potential good stories in these three sub-genres that haven’t been told. I’ve suggested a few variations in the past, though I haven’t written them–such as an end times type in which the Antichrist makes a compelling case that Jehovah is an alien invader. Or I’ve thought of an angelic combat story in which angels accompany human warriors to combat zones and there are physical battles happening alongside spiritual ones–but the two are astoundingly different.

    I haven’t had any flashes of inspiration about writing Nephilim, but it seems to me such tales haven’t delved into real ancient history very much. (Since Evangelical writers have been generally so-so when it comes to writing ancient history.)

    Actually, my gripe in general about Christian fiction would be about a lack originality of ideas. While in general we can say Christian fiction has better production values in the past, as in better editing and cover design, the ideas behind the stories are in my opinion often pretty close to something someone else has already done…though I guess MOST fiction suffers from that issue, right?

    Anyway, maybe in ten years there will be other sub-genres you’re tired of. Because some themes seem to be repeating a lot recently…

    • One time I skimmed through a book called Lucifer’s Flood. The premise of it was that the fallen angels lived on the earth before we did, but after they messed it up God flooded the world (hence why genesis describes ‘darkness over the surface of the deep’ and God moving ‘over the surface of the waters’.)

      And the book is told from the perspective of a demon that regrets betraying God and watches/comments on the events of the bible. I haven’t seen anything else with that premise and bought the book because it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the story didn’t turn out as interesting as I hoped it would. I wish interesting premise and good execution of such premises came together more often.

      • Travis Perry says:

        YEah–sometimes it seems like people with the best ideas suffer from a lack of execution skills. And some people good at execution lack original ideas. But every now and then someone puts together something really good.

  7. I’m with you on all three sub-genres in general. There is a series with aspects of the first and third sub-genres that greatly impressed me with it’s correct Biblical underpinnings included in the story organically. That’s The Lamb Among the Stars series by Chris Walley. A futuristic Sci-fi end-times story set among the stars and on earth. And the angels and demons were believable, scary, and interesting. So were the humans. The conflict was not over-dramatized or sentimental. That series is the best I’ve read in a long time. I recommend it to everyone. Great stuff!

  8. Jenneth Dyck says:

    I absolutely loved Evan Angler’s Swipe series in high school. In an interview after the fourth book, he promised there would be a total of six novels, but since then dropped off the face of the earth. I’ve been hunting all over for any way to contact him or find out what he’d intended for the last two books.

What do you think?