Book & Author Details:
Lost Eden by G.P. Ching
(The Soulkeepers #5)
Publication date: November 18th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Rules. Balance. Consequences. War.
When Fate gave Dane the water from Eden to drink, she did more than save his life. She changed his destiny.
Since the beginning, a compact between God and Lucifer has maintained a tenuous peace, balancing Soulkeepers and Watchers and the natural order of things. Dane upset that balance the day he became a Soulkeeper. Fate broke the rules.
Now, Lucifer is demanding a consequence, requiring Fate to pay the ultimate price for her involvement. God intervenes on the immortal’s behalf but in order to save her soul must dissolve the compact and with it the rules, order, and balance that have kept the peace. A challenge is issued. A contest for human souls begins. And the stakes? Earth. Winner take all.
The Soulkeepers are at the center of a war between Heaven and Hell, and this time, nobody, anywhere, is safe from Lucifer’s reach.
“Hello, Abigail.” The velvet smooth voice lassoed her shoulders, stopping her short.
She turned to face her enemy. At first the man’s attire, a double-breasted suit with Italian loafers, threw her. Very human. But then she noticed his eyes matched the deep navy blue, almost purple color of his tie. A Watcher, for sure. Human beings didn’t have eyes that color or noses that straight. He twisted the gold, lion’s head ring on his manicured finger.
Lucifer was the Lord of Illusions, and his followers boasted similar talents, but under it all, Abigail knew the Watcher’s skin and blood were black as tar. “How is your illusion so strong during the day?” she spat, nervously. Distraction was her only hope.
“Who are you? I deserve to know who Lucifer sent for me.”
“You don’t remember me, Abigail? That hurts. We were once very close.”
A deadly smile crossed his full lips, and he smoothed a hand over his meticulously styled black hair. Abigail tried to place his voice, but in her human form all she could sense was the illusion. Worse, the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls had filled the maple grove. His sorcery drew her in, luring her, a fly to the spider’s web. The smell triggered a memory of a long ago day, before Lucifer had become jealous of God and led the Watchers to fall from grace.
This Watcher had chosen an illusion not far from his appearance as an Angel. Abigail shook her head. Lucifer must be serious about her capture to send his right hand man. “Cord.”
He took a step closer. “Good girl. I see your senses haven’t completely dulled with your humanity. Now come, Lucifer is waiting.”
Abigail took a step back, dropping into the fighting stance Lillian had taught her. She wasn’t completely defenseless. She’d learned the martial arts basics Lillian insisted all of them learn. Cord took another step toward her, and she whipped her knife from her boot. “I think it’s you who have lost your senses, Cord, if you think for a second I’m coming with you willingly.”
G.P. Ching is the author of The Soulkeepers Series, Grounded, and a variety of short fiction. She specializes in cross-genre paranormal stories, loves old cemeteries, and enjoys a good ghost tour. She lives in central Illinois with her husband, two children, and one very demanding Brittany Spaniel. Visit her at www.gpching.com and www.thesoulkeepersseries.com.
How did you come up with the idea for the Soulkeepers?
I was talking to a friend about creation stories one day, the one with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and I questioned how the serpent was able to get to the woman. It was supposed to be the safest, most perfect place created by God. When I started to research different interpretations of the creation story based on this questioning, another story started to play out in my brain, one of a boy who didn’t believe in God but would come to play a pivotal role in the battle between Heaven and Hell. That was the birth of the Soulkeepers series.
Tell us about Lost Eden.
In Lost Eden, the agreement between God and Lucifer is dissolved as a consequence of Fate making Dane a Soulkeeper. A challenge ensues for human souls. When Lucifer and his Watchers unleash Hell on Earth, the Soulkeepers use Eden as their safe house while attempting to recover Abigail, who is abducted by Lucifer, and help God win the challenge. Unfortunately, new rules mean that even Eden isn’t safe from Lucifer, and it’s just a matter of time before he destroys their last safe haven.
Some reviewers have accused you of trying to manipulate young readers’ belief systems with your books. Is the Soulkeepers an evangelical series?
Absolutely not, although you might call the series religious in the same way the DaVinci Code is religious. There’s nothing wrong with Christian books. I am Christian and proud to be. But when it comes to the Soulkeepers, while the books are based on Judeo -Christian history and mythology (Angels, Watchers, Garden of Eden) and have some Christian themes, they are not prescriptively Christian. The books are about faith in general, friendship, loyalty, redemption, and the power of doing the right thing even when it is difficult.
What do you hope readers take away from your novels?
First and foremost, I want them to be entertained. I write novels to give people a mental break from a stressful world. Beyond that, the story is meant to be life affirming, to give a sense of hope, and to encourage acceptance of self and others.
You took some knocks after the fourth book, Soul Catcher, because it featured a homosexual main character. Do you regret the route you took with that book?
No I don’t regret it. I did receive some hate mail and reviews after book 4. What’s important to me is that I remained true to my story and my characters, their individual triumphs and challenges, and true to myself.
Lost Eden is book five in the series. How many books will there be?
Six. The Last Soulkeeper, will end the series and will be released first quarter 2014.
How does it feel to be wrapping up the series?
I have mixed emotions. When I self-published the Soulkeepers in 2011, I said I’d be happy if I sold one hundred copies. Two years later and I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of copies of the books in this series. The Last Soulkeeper ends the story arc as I imagined it. I believe it will be a complete and fulfilling ending for my readers. However, I’ve lived for two years with these characters in my head. I imagine the release of the sixth book will be like a death in some ways. This book, then, is like the beginning of the end.
All of your books are cross genre with a strong paranormal element. Why do you choose to write in the paranormal genre?
Anything can happen. One of the benefits of writing for young adults is that the age of my characters puts them at the start of their lives. They can be anything. They can do anything. Add a paranormal element and the world is wide open.
All of your characters have imperfections. Jacob has anger issues, Malini struggles with disrespect for her parents, Mara is jealous, and Dane, dishonest with himself. Do you worry the characters won’t be likeable?
In real life, people make mistakes. Some make the same mistake again and again. Writing a character without flaws is, in my opinion, unrealistic. But it’s fiction, you say! Yes, it is. It doesn’t have to be realistic. Then again, I try to make my characters relatable and human. Each reader brings his or her own feelings, thoughts, and experiences to a story, and it is very possible that one reader’s “relatable” is another’s “detestable.” But, in the end, my characters tell me who they are as they experience the story, and I relay that to the reader, warts and all.
What’s next for you after The Soulkeepers Series?
I have a completely original series in development loosely inspired by A Clockwork Orange and the artistry of Cirque du Soleil but with a Young Adult focus. It’s too early to share much more than that.
You’ve had amazing success self-publishing. How do you recommend people who are interested in writing get started?
Learn all you can about the craft. I recommend The Writer’s Journey by Vogler, Save the Cat by Snyder, and Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne, Renni, and King. I also recommend subscribing to Grammar Girl and Daily Writing Tips on-line. While you are learning, try to develop a habit of writing a certain number of words per day. Five hundred isn’t a bad starting point for someone who is working full time. The goal is to develop discipline, a big part of a successful author’s life. Once you have a few chapters down that you feel are good quality based on the books you’ve read on craft, try to find a critique group to help keep you on track. At the same time, make sure you are reading a broad cross section of literature to fuel your muse.
Do you recommend self-publishing?
It depends. In most cases, for a debut author, I think it is wise to pursue traditional publishing first because the process of querying agents and pitching your work is an important exercise, no matter the outcome. For someone who is working full time, taking care of a family, and writing more as a hobby than with career aspirations, a vanity press or full service distributor might be the way to go. On the other hand, authors who’ve won awards pre-publication, or have had some success in the traditional realm (multiple agents requesting their work, for example) might profit from a direct jump into self-publishing. I think the key here is that self-publishing, and certainly running your own publishing company like I do with Carpe Luna Publishing, is a 24/7 career that goes well beyond the first manuscript and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed some writers rush into self-publishing for the wrong reasons and with unrealistic expectations, only to be crushed emotionally when their work isn’t an immediate best seller.
Without giving too much away, a couple of well-known characters die in Lost Eden. Are you concerned with reader reaction to their deaths?
Parts of Lost Eden were difficult for me to write and will likely be difficult for readers to read. However, they are vitally important to the story. The good news is that in the Soulkeepers’ world death is not the end. There is a Heaven and the characters who die live on in some form.
All of your books depict God as a reflection of the character who sees God. Sometimes God is a man, other times a woman, sometimes black, other times a child. This is in direct contrast with Lucifer whose blond good looks never change. What can you tell us about why you wrote the characters this way?
The dichotomy between God and Lucifer in The Soulkeepers can seem confusing. The Lord of Illusions always looks the same, blond and perfect, not a hair out of place. In contrast, God, who is truth and love, appears in various illusions for the viewer’s comfort. The idea is that God is so majestic and beyond our understanding that seeing Him in his true form would kill someone. So out of love and compassion, God changes himself to be more digestible for the other characters’ psyches. This isn’t dishonest or an illusion because God is upfront about the reason for the taken image. It also represents how we are made in God’s image, but clearly, a single physical representation couldn’t possibly define him/her. God’s presence then, reminds a person of their best qualities.
In contrast, Lucifer’s illusion is meant to look better than the other characters’. His impossible beauty is both a lure to humans and meant to shame them. Being around Lucifer would make you feel poorly about yourself before he even said a word. Lucifer isn’t concerned with other characters’ comfort, he simply wants to control everything. His illusion, then, is meant to intimidate and elicit jealousy.
As I release the fifth book in my Soulkeeper series, I’m reminded of what it means to be a Soulkeeper. In my novels, the Soulkeepers embody a few important characteristics the world needs most.
1. Do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
2. Feel a responsibility for others
3. Accept others for who they are
4. Accept themselves for who they are
5. Take action for the greater good.
With that in mind, and since we are closing in on the holidays, I thought I’d take a moment to be thankful for three real-life Soulkeepers.
Malala: She took a bullet to the head to stand up for what she believed in. I find this modern day Rosa Parks inspiring and know that her work to give girls in Pakistan the right to an education has made a world of difference. Every time I see her picture, I am thankful for being born in a country where it is legal for girls to go to school. Learn more about Malala at http://youtu.be/gjGL6YY6oMs.
Jack Andraka: At the age of fifteen, after the death of a family friend, Jack researched and developed a rapid test to detect pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer in its early stages. Just to find a lab to test his protocol, he wrote to 200 professors at John Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health with a plan, a budget, and a timeline. He received 199 rejections before the one acceptance that made all of the difference. Jack won the 2012 Gorden E Moore award, the grand prize of the Intel International Science and Engineering fair. You can watch Jack’s story at http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50157066n
Ian Somerhalder: While Miley Cyrus was twerking, Lindsey Lohan was making another visit to rehab, and Robert Pattinson was brooding over…Does he ever stop brooding?…Ian was running the Ian Somerhalder foundation. Yes, at the peak of his popularity, this celebrity isn’t self-destructing but making an effort to improve the world. The Ian Somerhalder foundation focuses on mobilizing youth toward animal rights and environmental causes. Looks like he’s more than just a pretty face. Learn more about the Ian Somerhalder foundation here http://www.isfoundation.com/welcome
So, readers, do you know any Soulkeepers? Who else do you think belongs on this list?