Guest Post: Female Characters in The Bone Cup by LJ LaBarthe
Thank you so much for having me again, Jacqui. I’m so happy to be visiting your blog again!
The last book of the second trilogy of “The Archangel Chronicles” is out, and I’m very excited to talk about it. This book is called “The Bone Cup,” and is book six in the series. (Full list of all books is here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=598) The blurb is:
Gabriel and Michael, hand in hand and leading the Brotherhood of Archangels, the Venatores, and the Archdemon Guild of Glass Knives, march into the mouth of madness to retrieve the Holy Grail with the blessings of both God and Lucifer. They cross dimensions and battle for the future of all realities: Heaven, Hell, Earth and Purgatory.
In Purgatory they are reunited with Naamah and meet her children, who are terrified of her. One of her allies is an angel, but they can’t identify the traitor. Gabriel faces his worst fear when Michael is injured and he might lose the unwavering comfort Michael embodies. If Gabriel cannot save the Holy Grail, he risks losing more than his one true love—all of creation might be destroyed along with them.
What I wanted to talk about today were some of the secondary characters in the series. All of the characters I’ve chosen to discuss are women. I feel that having female characters in M/M romance is important, because no one lives in a vacuum and there will always be women involved, even peripherally. It seems disingenuous to me to have no female characters at all, whether they are “on screen” or “off screen.” I am just as fond of my female characters as I am my male characters, and so I would like to introduce readers to five of my favourite ladies in these books.
First up is Lilith. There is so much mythology associated with Lilith, it can seem overwhelming. The basic foundation of her story is that she was Adam’s first wife and cast out of the Garden of Eden for not being submissive to him and for daring to say no to him. She wandered the world and fornicated with giants, having giant children, and then was seduced by Lucifer, becoming his consort. In my books, that basic mythological foundation is there, but I have added to it. Lilith is not just beautiful—and for her looks, I was inspired by the gorgeous painting by John Collier—she is intelligent, witty, devoted to her family and friends. She is a complex individual, given to deviousness as well as kindness. With her angelic sister, Agrat, there exists a strong bond and they tease and snark at each other with as much ease and good natured ribbing as any pair of close friends or family.
Lilith was also one of the Four Holy Succubae in some traditions. The other three are Agrat bat Mahlat, Eisheth and Namaah. Lilith dwelt in Hell, Agrat in Heaven, Eisheth in the stars and Namaah in the seas. Lilith and Agrat both dote on Eisheth, their baby sister, and are very committed to their families. Prior to Adam, some have speculated that she was consort to God. After she left Adam, she wandered in the wilderness and mothered giants, the monsters of ancient mythology. Originally named Lilitu, she met Lucifer in the desert and they spent a long time in conversation. Unlike Adam, Lucifer listened to and respected her words, and he was attracted to her not just for her beauty but for her mind. She has several titles, which are: Consort of Lucifer, Eater of Infants, The First Adulteress, Consort of Yahweh, Mother of Giants. Lilith is a free spirit, and while she is Lucifer’s consort and partner, she is unphased by Lucifer’s taking of other lovers and has taken other lovers herself.
Next is Agrat bat Mahlat. As the younger sister of Lilith and one of the four Holy Succubae, Agrat was known as the Whore of God. Her powers involve assisting people who have suffered sexual abuse or slavery, orphans and pregnant women. She is a strong-willed angel, who sees beauty everywhere and feels a strong affinity for the Asian continent. She loves to dance and is devoted to her husband, Shateiel. She uses glamours to change her appearance when it’s required, and her touch to beguile minds so that humans will do her bidding. She is friendly and easy-going and not easily offended.
Agrat appears as a Korean woman and she and Shateiel live together in a house in Indonesia. Shateiel is the Angel of Silence and Soldiers, and he and Agrat have a strong, equal marriage. They are devoted to each other, but not to the exclusion of their own uniqueness, and Agrat has a strong personality and is in no way submissive to Shateiel or any of the other male characters. She and Shateiel are friends as well as husband and wife and are monogamous. Agrat is a beautiful Korean woman with long black hair and bright blue eyes. All of the angels, with the exception of Michael, have blue eyes.
Then there’s Ishtahar. I’ve been fascinated by her for years. I first read about her in a non-fiction book called, “From the Ashes of Angels” by Andrew Collins. The book talks about the Grigori, the angelic choir who were tasked with watching over the first humans, and as such, were also called the Watchers. It covers their leader, Semjaza, falling in love with the priestess Ishtahar and having children with her, half-human, half-angel children, called Nephilim. Other Grigori did the same thing, and it has been suggested that the flood that launched Noah’s Ark was carried out by Archangel Uriel on the orders of God in order to cleanse the planet of the Nephilim.
In my books, some Nephilim survived, including Ishtahar’s two sons and Ishtahar herself. She was born in the city of Eden and was forced to bear children to Semjaza. Her punishment for this, given to her by God was to live forever, a punishment she has turned into a blessing by devoting her life to helping those in need, particularly abused women and children. She runs a group of halfway houses and shelters with Agrat, and is involved in a very long term relationship with Archangel Remiel, which began just after Noah’s Flood ended. Her two sons are Hiwa and the younger Ahijah. She has a brand on her inner left arm, the name Hashem, which was burned there by Semjaza. Ishtahar is described as being one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, with soft, tanned-gold skin, dark blue eyes and long, wavy black hair.
Last but not least are two human women characters, both of them wolf shifter and both of them working for Archangel Michael’s elite task force, the Venatores. Angelique is the Alpha of her little pack—the unit who work together, as all the Venatores are broken up into groups or units or teams. She is a dark grey wolf shifter, formerly US Air force. She is of Mexican descent, raised in Texas and has long, dark hair and brown eyes, and speaks English, Spanish and Latin, and has a forceful personality. Angelique is given to swearing and enjoys sex; she is bisexual, loves her tequila and is protective of her pack. She forms a relationship with Declan, one half of two human brothers who work for Gabriel. The other Venatores is Lily, who is tiny, barely topping five feet tall. Beta of Angelique’s pack, Lily is an Englishwoman, formerly of the British Army. She has close cropped, white blonde hair and blue eyes, and is married to Danny, who is one of the two Kappas of her pack, and her shifter is a grey wolf.
L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.
L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.
L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.
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full series is here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=598