Please welcome Michele Lang to the blog! She’s the author of the Lady Lazarus series and the final book, Rebel Angels, just came out. She was kind enough to talk about the series, her inspirations, and more, and we also have a pretty awesome giveaway (3 sets of the entire Lady Lazarus series), so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!
Michele, will you tell us a little about,yourself and your background? Have you always pictured yourself as an author?
My parents are both immigrants from Europe, and didn’t get much formal education, and as a baby my Hungarian grandma watched me, and she didn’t speak English at all. So reading and writing seemed like an exotic magic to me. I didn’t know any authors until after I began writing for publication myself, so to me, growing up, authors seemed like mythical beings, centaurs or fairies. I couldn’t imagine being such a creature myself!
What inspired you to start the Lady Lazarus series?
The main character in the series, Magda Lazarus, basically hunted me down and insisted I tell her tale. I tried as long as I could to back out of it, but she refused to let me off the hook. After all, her story is a magicalized version of my family’s history…for plenty of personal reasons, I would have preferred to avoid going there! But she spoke so loudly and insistently that I really didn’t have a choice.
Your third book in the Lady Lazarus trilogy, Rebel Angels, just came out this month! Will you tell us a bit about it?
Are you planning to write more novels in this world?
Rebel Angels is the final book in the Lady Lazarus trilogy, and is the culmination of Magda’s quest for the Book of Raziel. Her battles with the supernatural Nazi army take her into the eastern wilds of the Caucasus. The book features flying carpets, fire angels, and Magda’s final great battle with the forces of evil.
I have a novella, The Magic of Fabulous, set in this world as well, written from the point of view of Magda’s best friend, the irrepressible Eva Farkas. I also have a non-fiction companion, The World of Lady Lazarus, that lays out the mysticism and the historical context for the series – it’s a free ebook on all platforms.
Now that the trilogy is complete I am going to take a little breather. But this world is huge, with lots more stories to be told!
What made you decide to set this series amidst WWII, and why angels and demons, as opposed to other beings?
As I mentioned above, my family is all from Europe, survivors of World War II, so this story is a homage to my brave grandparents and parents, and how they either managed to survive the war or die with courage and honor. Growing up, I always imagined the whole world at stake in World War II, so it seems natural to me that the war would be fought on every level of reality, including the celestial and infernal!
Since this a magical World War II you will find all kinds of supernatural creatures here, on top of the angels and demons. Vampires, valkyrie, werewolves, ghosts, imps and witches all have their part to play in the great battle for the world…
What kind of research have you done for the books?
Tons, and yet I feel like I could never read enough. Many books about the war as a whole, the years before and after, and some of the root causes for the great conflict. I also studied Hungarian history specifically, and the complexities of that country’s situation after World War I, heading into a huge war of ideologies as well as armies.
But I spent most of my time reading first person accounts of the war and biographies of people who fought in it. Stories of partisans, world leaders, children, and mothers. Besides being riveting reading, these memoirs helped me see how to tell an individual story within the huge backdrop of the war.
What do you like most about writing fantasy?
I love the idea of our everyday world infused with magic. I love the idea of magical creatures living among us mundane, mortal folk. And I love how magic grows out of the ordinary circumstances all around us. Writing historical fantasy is especially fun for this – the fantasy in Lady Lazarus grew directly out of the history of the period. For example, there really was an SS Werewolf partisan unit, and Hitler’s eastern headquarters was really called Wolf’s Lair. Imagining actual Nazi werewolves wasn’t much a leap from that!
What, are who, are some of the biggest influences when it comes to your writing?
Here’s a short list of some of the authors that have influenced my own work: Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN), Robert Graves (I, CLAUDIUS), Mercedes Lackey (THE SERPENT’S SHADOW) Ursula K. LeGuin (A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA), Stephen King (THE STAND), Leon Uris (EXODUS). But this is just scratching the surface — I could go on for pages!
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
I would have to say Watership Down. I read that book at such a formative time in my life, and it influenced me tremendously.
What book(s) are you reading now?
A history of Ulysses S Grant – The Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brands. I’m working on some new historical fantasy stories…
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Very much how I think Magda Lazarus likes to spend her free time…in a smoky café, drinking Turkish coffee or something stronger, listening to romantic jazz music with close friends and my honey by my side. I don’t get to jazz clubs often enough, but I truly love the music and the ambiance!
What’s next for you?
I am working on a new historical fantasy series and having a great time with it! Also planning a new paranormal romance series, set in modern day New York. All lots of fun!
Keep up with Michele: Website | Twitter
2. Giveaway is for 3 sets of the Lady Lazarus series (3 books) to 3 winners + ebook of The Magic of Fabulous
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only
4. You must enter on or before 3/29/13
5. Giveaway books courtesy of Tor
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.