Friday, October 30, 2015

Writing Serialized Novellas--The Shadow Knows

On November 3, 2015, the next installment of my Los Nefilim series, Without Light or Guide, will be published. I've been having a great deal of fun with this series, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about some of the influences behind the novellas.

When I was first approached about writing novellas, I immediately thought of the old pulp novels of the 1930s, which eventually morphed into radio serials. These were short adventures that could easily be digested in one or two sittings. They were heavy on adventure and light reading, which made them all the more fun.

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Although it was before my time, my father turned me on to The Shadow by telling me about the radio serials he'd loved as a child. There were several different serials, but for some reason, my imagination latched onto The Shadow and wouldn't let go.

The character of Lamont Cranston sounded mysterious with a supernatural edge. Unlike detectives such as Sam Spade, the Shadow had psychic abilities that enabled him to "cloud men's minds" so they couldn't see him.

The Shadow was way cooler than Batman and more debonair than Bond. His mythology changed as his story moved from print to radio and finally to film. He began as World War I aviator Kent Allard, who faked his death and finds his true calling as a vigilante crime fighter. Eventually, he assumed the identity of Lamont Cranston, portraying himself as a "wealthy young man about town."

Cranston had a rogues' gallery that incorporated everyone from gangsters to super-villains. The radio shows were filled with sound effects and wonderful narration. The Shadow was even voiced by Orson Welles at one time.

My dad, who had this marvelous voice, would intone the Shadow's tagline, Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?, whenever he caught us in a prank. The answer, of course, was: The Shadow Knows!

So when it was proposed that I try writing a novella, I wanted to do something along the lines of the old Shadow pulps. In the pulps each individual story was always part of a larger narrative.

That was the approach I took with Los Nefilim. Since there were a great deal of novels and novellas set in World War I and World War II, I thought I would set my series in 1931, merely a few years prior to the Spanish Civil War. I wanted to place my reader at the beginning of the conflict so I could ease them into the politics of early twentieth century Spain.

The hero of Los Nefilim is Diago Alvarez, and much like the Shadow, Diago has magical abilities. Diago and his lover, Miquel, are part of a secretive group known as Los Nefilim (Spanish for The Nephilim--say it like "The Mob" and you've got the right idea). This group of angelic Nefilim monitor daimonic activity for the angels.

The only thing is: Diago is not fully angelic. He is part daimon, part angel, and his very unique form of magic is sought by both sides in the conflict between angels and daimons. Like the Shadow, Diago moves through a world of espionage and partisan warfare with a rogues' gallery filled with angels, daimons, and mortals.

In the first novella of the series, In Midnight's Silence, the reader is introduced to Diago's world. We meet Diago, Miquel, and Diago's son, Rafael. We get a brief glimpse of the shadowy world of Los Nefilim.

In Without Light or Guide, Diago's story continues as he tries very hard to fit in with Los Nefilim, but his daimonic heritage follows him, and seeds distrust among the other Nefilim. Throughout Barcelona, the mortals he has known are dying gruesome deaths. A daimon is loose in the city, and Diago's only clue to her identity is a mysterious phrase written in smoke: She Hunts.

The year is 1931.

The city is Barcelona.

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind.

On November 3, 2015, the hunt begins.

In Midnight's Silence: Los Nefilim Part 1 begins the series and is available now.
Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2 will be available November 3, 2015.
The Second Death: Los Nefilim, Part 3 will be coming your way March 2016.


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Helen Lowe said...

I love "the shadow knows" backstory, Teresa--but your novella series sounds dark and more than a little eerie as well. Roll on "Without Light or Guide."

T. Frohock said...

The Shadow was really dark, too. Some of the early backstory had Allard threatening the real Lamont Cranston if he didn't lend his name and money to Allard and his vigilantism. Written for adults, some of the storylines were edgy, too. ;-)