Sunday 12 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - The Road to Hell

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Genre - Religious Fantasy 
Rating - PG13
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Page 99 is a big page for Lucifer in The Road to Hell. His existence up to this point has really been a game of cause-and-effect whose consequences become exponentially worse: angels are born because of his actions. Angels die because of them too. Lucifer makes a legitimate mistake that he escalates into utter defiance because he lost faith in God the Father. He thought the Father had left him when he was only being punished.

By the time we get to page 99, Lucifer has come full circle: his mistake has been punished and forgiven, and he’s brought back into the cadre of angels. But things are different now and they can never be the same. There are new angels with new purposes—where Lucifer was once the one and only angel, now he is one of many.  And as he has gained in power, he has also gained in responsibility. Lucifer has a part to play whether he likes it or not. The other angels attack him, make him burn for two reasons: first, they need his light and heat to fulfill the Father’s new mission; and second, Lucifer has to be reminded of the penalty of disobedience.

This was a tough piece for me to write because it is such a transformative moment that is both brutal and beautiful in its execution. Lucifer has to burn. Fire is part of him, part of his character both in this book and broader society. He has to embrace that facet of himself. Moreover, fire symbolizes destruction in this story—its presence and intensity represent Lucifer’s rage. As long as it is fed, fire will burn and the more fuel you pour on it, the larger it gets. We had to see that idea. We had to see Lucifer continue to grow angrier and angrier and we had to point that anger at his peers before it is directed at the Father. At this point he’s still scared of God.

This scene also typifies my approach to Lucifer as a character and his motivations. I didn’t want to maintain the same clich├ęd approach that has him angry at some slight. I wanted to make him furious for reasons we could all understand. I wanted him to sow the seeds of doubt among the other angels, to give them a catalyst for rebellion (remember, we have make an argument for 1/3 of all the angels to rebel) but I felt that Lucifer’s motivations had to be fueled by something else. Loss. Separation. Obsession. Revenge. It is his continued anger at his separation from the Father—either physical by being exiled or emotional through God’s love for the other angels—that propels all his actions. This also gives us a rationale for why an exile in Hell is a worse punishment than death.

On page 99, we are seeing Lucifer in the point of no return. Everything he does after this confirm his fate. His rage at his circumstances, at the actions of others as a consequence of his own—these things fuel a beast that cannot be contained. He is reborn on page 99 but we are seeing the birth of Satan.  

This is the point in the story where Lucifer the character became really fun to write. The first 98 pages he’s discovering what he’s capable of; after page 99, he defines what he’s willing to do to get what he wants and acts on it. And it’s Lucifer, it’s Satan, he gets to be as vile, foul and wicked as my imagination will allow. That, my friends, is absolute joy.

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