Welcome Wednesday: The Gritty Business of Redemption with Angie Grigaliunas

Author: Angie Grigaliunas

Published Books: The Purification Era Series: Sowing, Quelling

Work In Progress: A Bridge of Starlight Trilogy: Perception

Genre: Christian YA Fantasy, Fantasy

The Purification Era Series Book 1 — Sowing: A dystopian fantasy filled with complex characters, slow-burn political tension, romance, and never knowing who to trust.

A Bridge of Starlight Book 1 — Perception: As a murderous hunt for all people with itzalin blood advances across the nation, a Hulcondan commander offers an unusual escape to a mix-breed girl who once saved his life. But marrying the enemy means trusting the enemy…

The Gritty Business of Redemption

Interview by Jenny Fulton

Author Angie Grigaliunas writes gritty young adult (YA) and new adult (NA) dystopian fantasy books with Christian themes.

“I’ve tried just fantasy, without the dystopian stuff,” Angie joked, “but it always ends up with dystopian elements. My main series, The Purification Era, is kind of gritty YA, and my current work in progress, A Bridge of Starlight, is more… NA, I guess. I think it’s geared toward a slightly older audience because of the age of one of the main characters. It’s also a bit darker, deals with harder themes, and contains some violence and language. My second series is a trilogy and serves as a companion to the first one. They take place in the same fantasy/medieval-tech world that’s without magic and contain a very dystopian feel. Picture medieval Nazis and that’s kinda’ my soldiers/antagonists. I also have a little backburner project that’s urban fantasy. I’m trying to branch out, but it’ll probably end up rather dystopian too.”

In addition to being more intense, Angie’s unpublished trilogy also has a stronger romantically driven plotline with elements of marriage-of-convenience and enemies-to-lovers.  The relationship is set against a backdrop of war and persecution, “because I can’t write just plain romance,” she explained. “It has to have war or rebellion or something.”

While some people aren’t fans of enemies-to-lovers romances, Angie assures this audience that hers is very slow to develop because, “one, my characters are super stubborn, and two, I feel like true enemies-to-lovers should be a gradual unraveling-of-preconceived-notions and learning-of-new-mindsets, not a quick shift because, ‘Oh that person over there who wants to kill me is kinda’ hot too.’ Uh, no. Find someone on your own side who doesn’t want you dead.”

And on that note, we might as well transition to what inspired Angie to write this intense, slow-burn war-torn dystopian fantasy romance.

She laughed when asked this question and then proceeded to trace the story’s development. “So, this monster thing [the trilogy] started as a short story for an anthology with the theme of ragged/unexpected heroes. It was originally going to be a story where the guy and girl save each other – he saves her physically; she saves him emotionally. It was going to be all short and cute. But alas, my brain got in there and decided it needed to be longer than 30,000 words. So, I put that idea aside and went back in time to when the girl is a kid and he’s a young man, and she saves him after finding him as an escaped POW. And then, surprise surprise…my brain decided that needed to be more than 30,000 words too. At this point, I completely dropped out of the anthology and just started writing the original thing, picking up from where he saves her with their backstory still being that she saved him years ago. This became a novella. And then a novel. Now it is a trilogy, and it is not getting any longer than that!”

Angie glared at her story and shook her finger at it. Time will tell if it complies this time… or not.

Besides being triggered by the anthology, the new trilogy was also fueled by sub-plot ideas that developed as she was working on The Purification Era books.

“The new guy was originally going to be my new bad guy for my main series, and I thought it’d be interesting if he had this wife who was part itzalin – which is the race my human soldiers are fighting against. So, it was this twisty thing where a loyal soldier was actually a traitor, but no one knew. He was going to be a really bad dude, but then I realized he actually cared about his wife and was trying to protect her and that was just adorable…and it grew from there.”

Another element that really pushed A Bridge of Starlight forward was the research Angie did on the Red Army toward the end of WWII.

“There was some really dark, awful stuff, and of course my brain wanted to know why people would do what they did. This story is kind of my exploration into how you take normal people and turn them into monsters, and how war shatters innocence.”

Perception, the first book in the Bridge of Starlight trilogy, is a rather heavy story with several poignant themes.

  • Redemption –  no one is too far gone/too bad to save.
  • The healing power of love – not just romantic love but love in the sense of truly accepting all of someone.
  • Spiritual and Emotional Healing – the main characters grieve deeply throughout the story
  • Hope in the midst of darkness.
  • Making the best of bad situations.
  • Choosing to rise above the evil things that have happened around you…
  • Forgiveness – forgiving enemies, forgiving self, forgiving people who aren’t sorry…
  • Overcoming prejudice, racism and fear – seeing people for who they are, not who you’ve been told they are…

When Angie first contacted me with a request to be featured on my blog, she expressed a concern that her first book, Sowing, might be too dark for me and my readers. As we talked more about this fear, she revealed that part of her hesitancy came from a rough review she’d received from someone who’d been uncomfortable with a few of the grittier scenes. Angie had taken the critique to heart and, although she’d gone back and revised those scenes, she was still wary about how she and the book would be received.

Since the question of how much is too much in a Christian book remains a source of discussion and sometimes controversy, I decided to ask Angie about her take on the matter.

“From what you’ve said, the review I read, and the scene you showed me, there are definitely some hard scenes in your book [Sowing] that depict the evil side of humanity. Why did you choose to include and confront these evils rather than avoid them?”

“I believe that no one is beyond redemption,” Angie explained. “And the way my mind works, the best way I can show the light is to slam it up against the darkness. For me, showing only the good stuff…or skimming over the darkness… That isn’t what God did. He didn’t skim across our darkness: He entered into it in order to pull us out.”

Entering into such darkness is never an easy or pleasant task, so my next question was about the impact that writing these books has had on Angie.

“I think in many ways, it is testing my faith and resolve with those beliefs. Do I truly believe anyone can be saved? Are there some sins too bad to be forgiven? Some evils too dark for the light to penetrate? Are some people just too messed up and broken? What I’ve found is yes – anyone can be saved; no – there aren’t any sins that are too bad to be forgiven; no – there are no evils too dark for the light to penetrate; and no – no one is too messed up and broken to be redeemed.”

“What do you hope readers come away with after reading your book?” I asked.

“All of the stuff above,” Angie replied. “If they come away with nothing else, I hope they have at least an inkling of hope more than they had before – hope that, they too, can find healing.”

Book Blurb for Perception, Book One of A Bridge of Starlight

Trust the enemy. Survive the hunt.

“Stay away from them. Whatever it takes.”

Emian is one-fourth itzalin, alone and on the run from the advancing Hulcondan army and their murderous hunt for all mix-breeds. But no one and nowhere is safe. With enemies on both sides of the war, her only hope is evading them all and keeping her heritage a secret.

Ruthless and hard-bitten, Hasiak has earned his place as a Hulcondan commander despite secrets of his own. After years on the battlefield, compassion has no place in his heart or life – until he stumbles upon a young woman in desperate need. A mix-breed who embodies everything he wants.

Faced with the choice between certain death and a way to hide in plain sight, Emian takes the risk of going with her enemy. But in a world where being part itzalin is a death sentence – and those who aid them meet the same fate – they must find a way to trust each other if they hope to survive.

Special Deal

Sowing and Quelling are just 99 cents right now on Amazon! They’re also in Kindle Unlimited.

Purchase the Books

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