Author Claire Ashgrove kindly agreed to give a little bit of insight into the world building behind Immortal Hope:
There are three four layers in IMMORTAL HOPE that each took some strategic planning to figure out how they would blend together appropriately.
- The immortal Templar Knight – where men are firmly rooted in the 12th Century
- The archangels – elements of Christianity
- Metaphysical gifts – the seraphs powers
- Modern Life – the background of the seraphs and the world the Templars must interact in.
I’ll be honest, it would have been much easier to cut out one or two. For instance, my seraphs didn’t have to be gifted. And my knights could have come into Immortality for reasons that were completely unrelated to Christianity.
But really – can you have a Templar Knight without the basis for the Order’s founding? And surely, the seraphs wouldn’t serve a purpose if they weren’t something special, otherwise they could be just any random woman a Templar passes on the street. Why would they descend from the Nephilim if they didn’t have some sort of gift?
That actually became the starting place for blending the concepts together. Templar Knights were Knights who served early Christian ideals. Which made it a necessary component to make their immortality related to this.
I chose to play upon the question no one can answer – “What happened to the Knights Templar”, and one fact in particular that stood out to me. When King Phillip eradicated the Order, and locked up key figureheads, an entire fleet of Templar ships vanished from port.
Now, because every good hero needs a bit of angst, I couldn’t give them immortality because they’d done such a good job at their duties. So we needed a reason immortality would be a bad thing. Which led me back to the accepted belief the Templar found something beneath the Temple Mount… and well, it didn’t just tick off King Phillip. They were cursed for digging there.
So the archangels had to come into play, as the archangels are typically understood as the angels who interact with man most commonly. They have the power to curse. But as the initial concept went further, I realized I needed to limit them somehow as well. Otherwise, if they were completely all powerful, there’s no need for immortal Templar Knights. Enter the specific assignment of duty that the archangels I chose possess. They are not allowed to act outside of their little “box”, and each is skilled in something entirely different.
I knew from the get go that I wanted the women to be contemporary women. Otherwise, the series would have turned out to be a historical series. This gave me a set of challenges to work with. Modern women don’t fall into the role of a 12th century woman. We're more "do it yourselves" kinda gals. And that whole "here's your place"- not so much. There's nothing more certain to set a 12th century knight on edge than a woman who speaks her mind and refuses to fall into line because of her gender. Like Anne, who has a very distinct reaction to Merrick's initial order, "Take off your clothes." And while 900 years ago he might have gotten away with removing them for her, he knows times have changed, and he can't just strip her bare without permission.
Given the knights various backgrounds and personalities, this made internal conflict, and romantic conflict very easy to develop. Also given that modern women (and men) aren’t as prone to accepting ‘fate’ or ‘higher powers’ controlling their lives, that presented a grounding point for external conflict as well. They aren’t going to hear their role and necessarily accept it without hesitation.
The setting was frankly the most enjoyable. Because my Templar knights are rooted in the 12th century, their ideals, beliefs, and goals are already ingrained by the time we reach 2012. The world around them is going to make them uncomfortable to some degree. Sure, they have made concessions when they have to – such as driving vehicles and using cell phones. But going to the movies, trendy clothes, fancy meals and guns aren’t things they embrace. I get several good laughs in when I have to force my knights into contemporary society.
As I said, it would have been easier to pick one or two layers to merge. But in the end, blending so many proved immensely enjoyable, despite the challenges.
And to illustrate that, here’s one of my favorite scenes from IMMORTAL HOPE:
So, for fun – what would you do if you were born and raised in a different era, and one day woke up in ours? I’m very curious how you’d answer. While I love the world I live in, I have to say I think I’d be looking for the quickest ticket back home.