S.R. Johannes is the author of Untraceable, as well as the newly released MG novel On the Bright Side. Shelli dropped by the virtual offices to share why she thinks angels are so popular in fiction.
The Rise of Angels in YA by S.R. Johannes
Angels seem to be popular these days, especially in young adult. With On The Bright Side, I wanted to expand the talk of angels into tween and middle grade. Which meant it needed to be fun and interesting.
But why have angels been so important in recent years?
One – I think angels offer some a connection to religion that may not be addressed enough in fiction today. I think kids begin questioning God and the world at a very young age. And sometimes, they may have questions that they can’t voice or even understand.
Two – Good angels show us balance– with the pure white angel on one side representing the good side; while the dark angel is on the other side representing the darker side. This relates to us as humans struggling to balance the parts of us that are good with the pieces of us that may be negative or angry. I think that is why dark angels and demons have shown up in fiction lately – the dark side is a curious place to investigate. With angels – we know there is a good side so it provides comfort. I think kids struggle with balancing these 2 sides of themselves even from a young age.
Three – I also think with the difficult things our society has gone through since 911, angels have been discussed more because they can be comforting to some people. They also represent safety in the unknown.
I wanted Gabby to be an angel. But I wanted her removed from religion and everything we think angels are. So I called her a Bright and called Heaven, Cirrus. All to break through the religious perceptions. I also made Gabby human-like – she has a good side and a bad side. I think this allows kids to relate to her and understand – we all have those moments we are not proud of.
I hope On The Bright Side allows kids to step away from their religious beliefs and the idea of perfection. To look at some of the questions we all have about life and death. Also show them about balancing all those good and bad feelings or decisions that sometimes come with puberty. I want kids to realize that no one – not them, their parents or even angels are perfect. That we all make mistakes and it’s okay.