Book Review and Author Interview: Copper Descent by Angela Hartley

Copper Descent is the first book in the Sentient Chronicles by Angela Hartley. It's a thrilling new take on creation stories that had me stuck in bed, reading furiously to the last page. Angela Hartley has a wonderful voice, and I found myself plunged heart-first into Nina's world. Nina, a Native American descended from the divine, resonated with me in many ways. Her struggles and difficult choices defined the delicate—yet strong—Nina as an authentic heroine. Her deep sense of self, duty, and morality, however, took Nina's character to the next level for me. She was well-written and is not easily forgotten.

The story is set in Midway, UT, where I actually live. So I truly enjoyed experiencing a place I know and love through a new and magical lens. The author's multi-level world-building was an exciting surprise. I loved the Native American details, elements of mythology, and biblical roots of the story. Angela has taken a wealth of folklore and history, and distilled it down into something unique and enthralling. The fantasy and horror elements should be noted, as well. Sinclair was a chilling, yet enticing, antagonist. And the sweet and complex relationship between Nina and Nate (the hometown love interest with an unexpected backstory) left me with the hollow ache for more that only a good love story can impart when the last page has been turned.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys local folklore, biblical retellings, and mythology, all set against beautifully written scenes infused with love and honor. I cannot WAIT for the next installment!

What inspired you to write Copper Descent?

When I first started writing, a dark figure showed up in all of my work. He became a calling card, really. I never knew when or how he would appear, but there was no doubt he would be there, lurking in the shadows and waiting for his opportunity to wreak havoc. Copper Descent started out as an exploration. I wanted to understand the monster. I also wanted to find a girl who was strong enough to take him on. The rest kind of took on a life of its own. No one was more surprised than me when I discovered he was Lucifer, but it also made perfect sense. So, I ran with it, and came up with an entire series centered around his choices.

Copper Descent is chock-full of mythological/spiritual/biblical references. Tell me a little bit about this. Do you do research? Have you always been inspired by these themes?

Having lived in Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah for the majority of my life, I’ve grown up hearing many stories about the Native American tribes in these areas. There are some pieces based on actual facts, like the Freemont Indians who disappeared from Nine Mile Canyon, and I incorporated parts of the Timpanogos legend.

I also spent a lot of time researching ancient texts, mainly the book of Enoch in The Dead Sea Scrolls. Ezekiel was a complete nut, but he carried knowledge a man of his time shouldn’t have possessed. He talked about the gateways to heaven, eleven total. Four by sea, and seven on land. How could he have possibly known how many continents and oceans were on the earth? Take these two elements, mix them together and there you go. Just enough validation to make one question, but I think all good lies are seeded with a bit of truth. And that’s really what a storyteller is—an excellent liar. Whatever accuracy is found in the pages were only a set-up to deliver the words in way I found pleasing.

What was your path to publication like?

My entire journey took ten years. In the back of my mind, I always thought I’d write someday, but it took losing my father for me to realize that sometimes there are no more tomorrows. I went back to school at thirty, drafted my novel at thirty-three and spent the next six years querying. I didn’t sit idle, but continued to revise and work on other projects as I waited for responses. Mostly, I built my social media platform. At this time, I took a job offer, not because I wanted a career in that field, but gave me an opportunity to be visible. In the public eye, several speaking prospects presented themselves. My novel started reading beautifully, my query was flawless, and I found myself writing a column in the local paper. Some would say the universe aligned, but the truth is I worked my butt off and allowed myself to be uncomfortable.

Do you have any writing rituals? (Music, favorite chair, snacks, deep levels of meditation…)

I go for long walks, and rearrange furniture while I work out a plot inside my head. Once it plays like a movie, then I write. Oh, and Peanut M&M’s are a must. So is Diet Coke.  I tried to quit drinking it once. It was the worst week of my family’s life.

Are you writing anything now? Tell me about your next project!

I’ve recently finished Iron Resolve, the second book in Sentient. No release date yet, but hopefully late 2015. In this novel we follow Myke Preston—a man with a weak disposition. He walks away from his wife and child only to discover Brooklyn has crumbled quite literally underneath his feet. The only way back to his family is through a maze of doors leading through his hellish past. It is raw, powerful, and for anyone who has dealt with addiction, infidelity, or domestic violence, incredibly inspirational.

Utah Fantasy Authors plan to release an anthology later this year, The Secret Door. For this collection I’m writing a funny witch story, Room 517. In my spare time, I’m working on a stand-alone Horror novel—a cautionary tale of hypnotherapy and mass murder called D-Brie. And yes, the devil has a cameo appearance.

What are you currently reading personally?

Heart of Annihilation by C.R. Asay. She’s another Utah author, and an amazing person.

When you’re not writing, what can we find you doing for fun?

Lately? I’ve been watching Supernatural non-stop with my seventeen-year-old daughter on Netflix. It’s the last summer where I can still call her mine, and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.

What is the best advice you have received when it comes to writing?

Fall in love with the work, not the dream. If you’re writing because you want to be famous or make millions of dollars, this isn’t for you. It is a long, hard road full of disappointment, but if you love the work you can discover aspects of yourself and others that make the journey worth your time.
My best advice? Quit. If however, you find that you can’t, you are not an aspiring writer, but in fact a writer. We are all addicts here, hooked on words and ideas. But the more you surrender to the impulse to create, you’ll find those imaginary worlds will become clearer and more concise. Which is why you either need to quit or indulge as often as you can.

What do you think are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Finding peace and balance where you’re at. There is no ending in this career. New mountains will always pop up on the horizon. Chasing them will make you crazy. But I’ve also discovered that I can accomplish difficult tasks I never thought I could, and look forward to the challenges ahead.

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