Saturday, June 15, 2013

Talk to the Hat: Angella Graff

JD           My Galericulate guest today is Angella Graff, author of ‘The Judas Curse’ series. Welcome, Angella.

AG          Wow! I hadn’t expected this, John. Being interviewed in a rooftop restaurant in Dubai! It must have cost you a fortune to fly me business class all the way here. It’s extraordinarily generous of you.

JD           Generous, hmmn. Yes, well I need to talk to you about that later.

AG          You’re not thinking of charging me the air fare, are you?

JD           Not at all. Anyway, forget about that for now. Let’s talk about your books.

AG          Yes, please.

JD           I love it when writers salivate. Speaking of which the champagne is chilled enough, I hope?

AG          It’s perfect.

JD           Good. Now then, I’d describe your series as a re-writing of the Jesus story but with additional immortal beings and a trajectory over hundreds of years. Is that a fair summary?

AG          Fair summary, yes, I’d say so.  I think the hardest part of these ‘Judas Curse’ books is coming up with a way to sum them up and not sound like a hysterical two-year old.  Jesus exists as a small character in the book, and I’ve actually expanded on a theory that he was educated as a Buddhist, returning to Jerusalem, and actually managed to escape crucifixion and spent his remaining years teaching in Kashmir, India.  In fact, there’s a tomb there with the remains of a man called Isa, and the tomb is placed in the traditional Hebrew fashion, and on the top are carvings of his feet which contain crucifixion scars.

Still the books revolve more around Ben Stanford, a detective who started out as an Atheist, and quickly had to change his tune when he was forced to realize that not only were characters from Western Theology still alive, but also from the Greek and Norse Pantheon of Gods.  Mark and Judas, who have been walking the earth now for nearly two-thousand years are actually some of the youngest ‘immortals’ to make an appearance in the books.

JD           So what made you want to take a religious theme – particularly a Christian one – and produce a new story? Weren’t you worried you might offend a lot of people?

AG          Truthfully, I was totally aware that the book was going to be offensive.  Before I wrote ‘The Judas Curse’ into a series, I had composed it into one novel which was very similar to ‘The Judas Kiss’.  I was in University at the time and we had an agent pay a visit to our creative writing class who said that my book, while good, was a little too controversial for an American Market.  Go figure.

But it was always something I wanted to write.  I have a degree in Medieval Theology, my focus was on the compilation of the Canon, but I spent about three years studying the history of Christianity and Judaism.  A lot of that stuff was definitely fiction-inspiring for sure.  A lot of people find it interesting since I am not a Christian, nor am I very religious in any sense, but honestly, I love the topic.

JD           Being an awkward type, I started your series by reading Book #2 (‘The Judas Kiss’), but found it easy to pick up the storyline. I will go back and read Book #1 however, because I’d like to see how you deal with the details of life in Judea at the time of Christ. Tell me where the story goes with Book #3 (‘Cry Nike!’), but without giving any spoilers, of course.

AG          ‘Cry, Nike!’ picks up almost directly after ‘The Judas Kiss’ ends.  There’s about a two week gap, but the gang (and by gang I mean Stella, Ben, Mark, Jude, Andrew and occasionally Alex) are together in a safe-house, trying to plot their next move against Nike.  It’s in this book we meet some of the new characters and understand the nature of the gods, and the nature of some gods, like Hades, a little better.  There is a climactic ending, but more of the meta-plot is being revealed as there is a general goal in these books which will conclude with either book six or book twelve—depending on how ambitious I actually feel with the series.

I feel like I should mention, too, that Book #1 doesn’t have life of Judea in it.  Book #2 is the only one that deals with that part of history.  I will, however, be writing three side-novels.  One will include Mark and his relationship with Hypatia at the Library of Alexandria (and ultimately its destruction).  One will include Judas and his time with DaVinci, and the third will actually deal with Mark and Judas in Judea, and I’m excited about that one because I’m including Paul in it.  He’s one of my most favorite people in all of theology, I was actually going to do my Thesis on him for my Master’s (until I realized the cost of a Master’s and decided I’d rather not live off of freeze-dried noodles for the next three years).

JD           Do you want some more champagne?

AG          Are you trying to get me drunk, Mr Dolan?

JD           Would that be worth my while?

AG          No.

JD           OK, we won’t have another bottle in that case.

AG          Men are SOOOO predictable.

JD           I can’t disagree. Now then, moving on, tell me about your current project.

AG          You mean in my garden?

JD           Do I look like somebody who’d be interested in talking about gardening?

AG          Actually you look like somebody who might be on the run from Interpol.

JD           Hey, I do the jokes. Tell me about ‘Alexandra Fry, Private Eye’.

AG          Ah well ‘Alexandra Fry, Private Eye’ is a project I thought I would never take on.  As you can see from my alcoholic, bitter, foul-mouthed main character Ben, I’m not very used to writing something from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl.  But my daughter begged me to do something for her grade, so I decided to take it on.

Alexandra Fry is a girl who can see ghosts;  history’s most famous, and she has to solve crimes for them.  In the first book, ‘The Curse of the Lion’s Heart’, Alexandra deals with the ghost of Queen Elizabeth the First, and attempts to find her cursed locket, returning it to the rightful owners. 

I like to think that Alexandra is your typical, slightly awkward, nerdy-but-cool middle school girl.  She has a small group of friends, and deals with a lot of the problems kids are faced with in school like bullying, crushes etc.  This series is going to span about six books, one book per school year until she finishes High School.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

Fifty percent of the proceeds for this book is actually going to the Tucson Alliance for Autism, which is a local organization here where I live.  My oldest son is Autistic and the Autism Alliance seriously saved my sanity, and I really want to give back.  Luckily my son is very high functioning, so I don’t have to deal with a lot of the trials and struggles other parents do, but the organization is really wonderful for kids and parents all along the spectrum.

JD           That sounds like a really worthwhile cause. Readers take note! OK, I think we’re done. Coffee?

AG          (Whispers) Actually, I just wanted to mention there’s a guy over at that table by the window who keeps looking at me and winking.

JD           (Looking) Ah, yes, that’s Bernard.

AG          Bernard?

JD           Well, you know it was very expensive to get you over here to Dubai and Galericulate only has a limited budget.

AG          So?

JD           So I thought one way to recoup the air ticket would be to sell you to Bernard for the night.

AG          You’re not serious.

JD           Angella, we both know being an Indie author is a tough business. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Think of it as a learning experience.

AG          I think I’d like to kill you.

JD           Yeah, I get a lot of that.


Found out more about Angella Graff by clicking on the links below. Go on, you know you want to!

Links for Angella’s books (available on Amazon sites worldwide)


  1. Very nice to meet you Angella, and your 'Judas Curse' series sounds intriguing and worth picking up. I'm only sorry you had to put up with John to get the exposure. I hope the champagne was worth it ;)


    1. Well it was good champagne so I suppose some of it could be forgiven :D But thank you, and it's good to meet you, too!!

    2. "Exposure"? No, there wasn't any of that in the end. A pity :-)

  2. Good for you, Angella! A rooftop restaurant in Dubai! Wow! Did you get stuck for the tab? John often forgets his wallet, I'm told!

    I echo Eden's comments about your 'Judas Curse' series and wish you great success.

    SPECIAL NOTE TO JOHN: I've talked with some mutual author friends, and maybe we're not lovely like Angella but we do deserve better than we got from Digby and the Dubai Dungeon... Be wary, John! We're not yet sure just how we will handle your show of disrespect!

    That said, we still love you!

    Billy Ray

    1. Stuck with the tab, no, but only because I disappeared while "powdering my nose." I'm on to his games -__-

      But thanks! :) It was a fun interview.

    2. BR, you guys can take it. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger (unless it's a hernia).