When I was young and naive, I always thought that doing your best and aiming for what’s right guaranteed success. Not so. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I discovered that sometimes your best isn’t enough. You can’t stuff a funnel into a kid’s head and pour information into his little brain–even if he doesn’t want it. I learned that if a kid doesn’t want to learn or want to succeed, you can’t make him. And like my protagonist Enoch, in Fallen Angels, I learned that things aren’t always black and white, and that there are many shades of gray. (Sorry, no play on the new bestseller. There are probably a lot more shades than fifty).
Anyway, Enoch’s biggest problem is that he’s friends with Caleb. And in essence, Caleb should be the novel’s villain. He’s what’s blocking Enoch from achieving his goal. But talk about opposites attracting. Enoch loves the Light, and he loves Home. Caleb finds it restrictive and boring, so when Caleb joins up with Lucifer to overthrow the One, Enoch tackles him and pins him down until Lucifer and his band of angels are thrown into the pit. Enoch thinks he’s won a serious moral victory and saved his friend. Caleb doesn’t agree…and says so…and gets himself thrown to Earth, banned from the Light.
That’s when Enoch’s problems really begin, because Caleb loves living on Earth. He loves his freedom. He doesn’t have the Light, but he discovers that human blood works just as well–gives him the energy he needs and craves. Of course, his bite infects mortals with his immortality, so that they become vampires, but what of it?
I don’t know about other people, but I have friends who don’t hold the same opinions I do, friends who look at the world and life from a completely different filter than I see, but that’s part of why I love them. Enoch and Caleb are like that. So Enoch is sent to Earth to clean up after Caleb, and he can’t return Home until he brings a willing Caleb with him….
You know the old saying, “Until hell freezes over?” Caleb never wants to leave Earth. That means that no matter what Enoch does, no matter how many bad vampires he hunts and slays, he’s still stuck here. And like Eeyore, he’s not happy about it. But no matter how much he resents Caleb, he still doesn’t want him to be eternally punished. So the gray areas just multiply. When he finds GOOD vampires, the gray gets even grayer. He likes them. He starts to work with them. Nothing is as simple as he hoped it would be. Until he meets a female vampire that he’d do anything to protect, and then gray looks crystal clear because all of his moral boundaries begin to blur. He’ll never purposely do something wrong, but there are lots more options that look acceptable to him day by day.
Enoch, like Eeyore, resonates with me because–for me–even when I try, it’s hard to be happy with myself, it’s hard to find the right path. It’s easy to feel guilty about the good I can’t get around to. It’s easy to see my shortcomings. Enoch never feels like he does enough. A few critics have said that readers don’t have to worry about him in a battle, that he’ll always survive. But I’m not worried about his safety. I’m more drawn to his inner struggle.