Please welcome T. Frohock to The Qwillery. In Midnight's Silence, the first part of the Los Nefilim series, was published on June 23rd by Harper Voyager Impulse.
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your newest work is the novella, In Midnight's Silence, the first part of your Los Nefilim series. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Miserere (2011) until now? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
TF: My writing process hasn’t changed too much from when I wrote Miserere. I think my writing and my storytelling is improving as I continue to learn more about technique. I no longer read fiction as much as I study fiction. Whenever I read someone else’s work, I ask myself: what makes this story successful? Is it a technique that I can incorporate into my own work, or is this story successful because of the author’s voice, or style—something that I cannot easily translate into my fiction?
The most challenging thing for me remains deadlines. The pressure of knowing the story has to be completely finished in a short timespan can be crippling if I allow it. I’ve found I do my best work when I’m not staring down at timelines. However, this being the business that it is, I’m retraining myself to think differently about plot and story. It helps me immensely if I have the bulk of the story in either synopsis form or an outline prior to beginning the first sentence.
TQ: What are Nefilim and why focus on them?
TF: Nefilim is simply the Spanish spelling of Nephilim. I’ve always been fascinated by the sons and daughters of angels—the prophets and great people of ancient times—but before I could understand the Nephilim, I wanted to have a better grasp on angelology.
The canonical texts give us glimpses of angels, but it’s in the pseudepigraphal texts where these creatures are examined in great detail. In the Book of Enoch, for example, angels are described as otherworldly and terrifying.
I wondered what if—instead of angels are good and demons are evil—what if angels and demons were different species warring to exist in the same realm, much as we mortals tend to fight over territories? I wanted to reimagine the entire cosmology as something more in line with Hinduism where not all gods are good, not all demons are evil. They are seen more as complimentary forces, but they can become inimical toward one another when their interests collide.
With all of that rolling around in the back of my mind, I wanted to create my own breed of Nephilim. I recalled some early research I did for Miserere. While reading the Psalms, I noticed that some of the verses were attributed to Solomon, third king of Israel, while others were attributed to someone named Asaph.
Solomon, of course, was a well-known figure; he appears in Judaic, Christian, and Islamic literature. He possessed the ability to work magic, harness the power of demons, speak to the birds, and was a great musician. Those were just a few of his many talents.
Asaph, on the other hand, was something of an enigma. I’ve had difficulty finding information, or even scholarly agreement, on who Asaph was and his role at court. Most agree he was a temple priest and a musician.
So I made up a story about Asaph. I played around with the idea that Solomon and Asaph were really the sons of angels, or in Asaph’s case, the progeny of an angel and a Nephil of daimonic ancestry. In my backstory, Solomon and Asaph were best friends, and they had a falling out, one that destroyed both of them, but Solomon’s love for his friend was so great that even after they betrayed one another, he couldn’t entirely expunge Asaph’s name from court records.
Then I decided that since this was my story, and I could do anything I wanted, I gave my Nephilim the ability to reincarnate and retain the memories of their past lives. During the Diaspora, many Jews fled to the Iberian Peninsula, and since, in my story, Solomon and Asaph were fleeing the daimons in Israel, I thought maybe they, too, would seek another country to begin anew. So they went to the Iberian Peninsula and became Los Nefilim.
And that is how the story in my head became the backstory for Los Nefilim.
TQ: What sort of research have you done for the Los Nefilim series?
TF: Because I already had the religious background I needed for the Nephilim, I did more historical research with Los Nefilim, primarily about Medieval Spain and, of course, the Spanish Civil War.
Much of the information on the Spanish Civil War has been coming to light since Franco’s death in the mid-seventies. It was a brutal conflict, which I think Guillermo del Toro captured beautifully in The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. Those two movies really ignited my interest in the Spanish Civil War in the first place. Then I watched Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, which shows how the effects of the war were still being felt in Spain all these years later, and I wanted to understand more.
TQ: Tell us something about In Midnight's Silence that is not found in the description.
TF: Time is not the same to Los Nefilim, or the supernatural creatures they serve, as it is to mortals. As an angel explains: “Four, maybe five mortal years. Less than a minute to the angels. An hour to Los Nefilim.”
TQ: Into which genre(s) does In Midnight's Silence fall?
TF: I call it dark fantasy; although I don’t see that being used very often nowadays. Definitely dark fantasy, or dark urban fantasy.
TQ: Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from In Midnight's Silence.
TF: Damn. When I was looking at the manuscript, all of the really hard-hitting, good lines were spoilery. Here are couple of quick paragraphs with no spoilers:
1. In the same way that earth was an echo of other realms, this new place was a mere reflection of the Paralelo. On a superficial level, everything seemed the same: the walls were brick, the fog was blue, yet this new place was smaller, paler, less complete than the original. The handbills and advertisements were faded, nearly illegible. The scent of the sea became a memory embedded in the fibers of Diago’s clothes. Sounds of the Paralelo’s revelers diminished until the clamor vanished. Time stood still and soft, like the moments embedded in midnight’s silence.
2. It was time for Diago to go. In the way of an amends, he kissed Estrella and warmed her soul with a shield of light that would protect her from feeling Miquel’s loss too deeply. In doing so, he opened himself to her and allowed her to see his true nature—that he was daimon, a creature borne of the darkness, his soul made of dreams earthy-sweet and whispers in the night. Yet he was also angel, filled with fire and stardust and eternal light. He was a thousand contradictions, bound to the clay and water of the flesh, but that was his magic, the spell that was his to weave.
TQ: Hisses and Wings by you and Alex Bledsoe is a story of the Tufa and Los Nefilim. How does Hisses and Wings fit in to the Los Nefilim story sequence?
TF: Ah! Hisses and Wings … that was so much fun to write with Alex Bledsoe. By the time Hisses and Wings takes place, Guillermo and Diago are starting to stand back and let the younger Nefilim take over. However, I gave both Diago and Guillermo larger roles in that story for marketing reasons: I really wanted to introduce everyone to Diago since he was going to be the hero of In Midnight’s Silence, so I took advantage of the opportunity.
I’ve got some story ideas for Rafael and Ysabel, but that is for much later on. I hope I get to tell them.
TQ: What's next?
TF: Next up is Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2, coming November 3, 2015. Like In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide is a complete novella, but it continues the story that began in In Midnight’s Silence, and takes us to the next level.
Then in March of next year, the third installment, The Second Death, will be published. Between those projects, I’m looking at either more novellas, or a novel for Los Nefilim. A lot will depend on how well the series is selling.
I’m working on The Second Death now, then I definitely have a couple of short story ideas I’d like to try. I love experimenting with new ways to tell stories, and I’ve found short stories to be the perfect vehicle for experimentation.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
TF: Thank you so much for having me here!
In Midnight’s Silence
Los Nefilim: Part One
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 23, 2015
eBook, 128 pages
The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…
Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can't get to him directly, they do the one thing he's always feared.
They go after Miquel.
Now, in order to save his lover's life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world's next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.
A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock's In Midnight's Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he'll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.
Hisses and Wings
The Story Vault, December 3, 2014
eBook, 32 pages
Janet Harper, a musical prodigy even by Tufa standards, concocts a scheme that she is sure will reunite the fractious Tufa into one strong clan. An old 78 record that belonged to her grandmother recounts a legend about a golden snake, which possesses the ability to enchant even the Faerie Queen. The snake is guarded by a group that calls itself Los Nefilim, creatures with their own magic and a violent past. Janet knows next to nothing about these Nefilim, but she is confident in her mastery of the one thing the Tufa shares with them: the ability to work their magic through music.
On winter solstice, Diago the Nefilim must decide whether to give up his people's greatest secret, and Janet is forced to choose between saving the Tufa or the world.
Without Light or Guide
Los Nefilim: Part Two
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 3, 2015
eBook, 128 pages
The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…
Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimons…and a half-breed caught in-between.
For although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don't trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path.
Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim's suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.
The second novella in T. Frohock's Los Nefilim series, Without Light or Guide continues Diago's journey through a world he was born into, yet doesn't quite understand.
T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse.