I would like to welcome Robin Helm, author of Guardian. Because I am a writer of Jane Austen re-imaginings, I do not comment on the books of other authors who write in the same genre as I do, and so I asked a friend to read Robin Helm’s debut novel. Her interview is below, but first a brief summary of Guardian:
The powerful and imposing Xander/Darcy, chief of all guardian angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia without losing a single battle. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which will forever change his ordered existence and alter the course of human history. Will he lose the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her? Will he be strong enough to resist her as she grows from a precocious child into a beautiful, intelligent woman? The veil dividing the physical and spiritual planes is drawn aside to reveal warfare on an unprecedented scale as Elizabeth develops her gifts and her guardian discovers his emotions.
The way you describe Xander as a Guardian fits well with how we picture Darcy:
He stood six feet nine inches tall with eyes the color of a cloudless summer sky… He was well-known for his ability to make difficult decisions quickly, and his good judgment ensured that his final choices were the correct ones. If he chose to speak, he was never ignored… Though Xander’s appearance and mind were those of a warrior, he was surprisingly gentle when he was not engaged in battle.
In my mind, Darcy has always been a protector; this was a natural role for him. He was protective of Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, as he illustrated when he forced Wickham to marry Lydia. He did that to guard Elizabeth's reputation, selflessly, because he loved her. He had hopes but no real expectations of receiving her affection in return. In fact, Darcy did not wish for Elizabeth to know what he had done. He did not desire for Elizabeth to marry him out of gratitude.
The Bennets have a healthy marriage and Mrs. Bennet does not suffer from “nerves,” but is rather a strong and opinionated character, much like Lizzy. What made you portray the Bennets, in particular, Mrs. Bennet in this light?
I felt that God would have provided godly, sensible parents for a person as important in His plan as Elizabeth is in Guardian. Her upbringing was integral to the plot. Her parents had to be wise and involved in her life in order to ensure that Elizabeth had the proper training for the role that she will play in the rest of the trilogy. Mrs. Bennet was faced with important decisions from the moment of Elizabeth's conception that required for her judgment to be sound. Mr. Bennet is also quite different from his canon counterpart - a very "hands-on father.
There is one part where Elizabeth’s mom is going to crash her van due to the evil ones working against them, but Xander and the other guardians manage to save them. This scene is pretty descriptive. How did you conduct your research for this scene, and more specifically, the novel? Are you a Bible scholar? How do you have such a vast knowledge of these things?
This particular scene actually happened in my life, as did several of the events in Guardian. Nothing in the novel is exactly as it occurred, but many things are similar to actual life events from the lives of family members and friends, all used with permission. All of my family has read the book and given their approval. I graduated from a Bible college; my degree is in music, but everyone who graduates from that college is required to take enough Bible hours to have a theology degree. I was reared in a family that went to church every time there was a service. I also taught Bible every day in Christian schools for twenty-five years, and I have worked in churches alongside my husband (a minister) for more than thirty-five years. For scenes requiring further research, Google became my new best friend.
There is a strong Christian theme, how do you think your book will be received? Who is your target audience?
My book has been well-received so far, and I expect the audience to grow when the second and third books (Soul Fire and Legacy) are published. I will not pretend that the story is for everyone, but many people who are not Christians have told me that they thoroughly enjoyed Guardian. The elements of the supernatural, the paranormal, and spiritual warfare are quite popular today. I have many Harry Potter, Airbender, and Twilight fans on FFN. People from over eighty countries read Guardian as I was posting it as a WIP, and many of them were teenagers.
Guardian is the first novel in a trilogy. By the time I had finished the book, I immediately wanted to start Book 2. When will the sequel be released?
The sequel, SoulFire, is now finished and will be published in January. I will start writing the third book, Legacy, immediately, and I hope to have it finished and published by May, 2012.
Robin Helm taught school for twenty-five years in Florida and South Carolina - mainly high school English, music, and Bible. She now teaches elementary school music part-time, serves as Associate in Music and the Music Academy Director for her church, and teaches piano. Guardian is her first book, as well as the first book in The Darcy/Guardian Trilogy. The second in the series, SoulFire, is completed and should be self-published in January, 2012. She and her husband have two grown daughters and live in a small South Carolina town with their Yorkie-Poo, Tobey.
Thanks, Robin, for joining us today. We wish you tons of book sales.