Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review of DIES IRAE and interview with author Christine Fonseca

School psychologist by day, critically acclaimed YA and nonfiction author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great way to explore humanity. Her debut YA Gothic series, The Requiem Series, including DIES IRAE and LACRIMOSA, examines the role of redemption, sacrifice and love. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can be sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at her favorite coffee house or playing around on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog.

Some sacrifices should never be made—even for love.
Mikayel lives by one rule—obey the orders of the angelic Council at all costs. But when he and his friends, Azza and Demi, are sent to Earth as teenagers, following the rules is more difficult than they expected.
Being human isn’t the only problem facing the three angels. Unbeknownst to the Council, demonic activity is on the rise, threatening to break a tenuous peace that has existed for a millennia.
Caught in a struggle for power with unseen demonic forces, and fighting against his rising emotional, Mikayel must now decide how many rules he is willing to break to save his friends, a decision that could reignite an ancient war and will threaten the only thing that matters to the angels, the survival of humanity. 

My Review of DIES IRAE:
DIES IRAE  ( for Kindle – From Amazon, Epub – From Barnes and Noble, Pdf – from is a novella—short, exhilarating and packed with emotion. I read it in literally one night, mainly because I loved the writing and characters—but what I really love the most is the visceral emotions pulsing not very far under the skin of her fascinating characters. This is not surprising since Christine is a school psychologist who has written numerous nonfiction books about gifted individuals (link here). Emotions are her stock and trade.

But what I found so gripping about this book was the timeless and epic quality of the story. Set in the distant past, in a vaguely Greek or Middle Eastern locale, the story thrums with a sense of mythic foreboding. Right away, the reader gets the sense that they are about to become witnesses to the cataclysmic event with seismic consequences. The tale is told from the point of view of two brothers in arms, angels Mikayel and Azza, both incredibly compelling and conflicted characters with deep ties and heartbreaking desires. They choices they make ultimately forces an upheaval to their way of life with devastating results.

Christine writes with a terse style that made these two larger than life individuals blaze from the pages in crackling detail. I don’t want to give too much away, but you get the sense from this book that nothing is ever black and white, that the good carry a seed of evil in them and the evil, a seed of good.

If anything, I wish the book was longer. That the build up to the crazy thrilling climax was a little slower and more layered. But this is a novella, so I’m okay with that. DIES IRAE a fascinating parable, vivid and gut-wrenching, and I am so excited for the next books in the series! Way to go, Christine! I’ve been your friend a long time, but now I am a FAN!
Interview with Christine Fonseca
Tell us a bit about your background, why you write, your publishing history, etc. 
I used to think that I started writing recently, that I never had planned on it before. But, the more I think about, the more memories of my college days pour forward, the more I realize that I “pictured” myself as a novelist forever in some ways. Now, I write because it is how I process my own emotions, and bring other emotions to my readers.
I originally started out writing fiction, crafting a novel I foolishly thought I’d just “get published” and yea, that would be it. HA! That did NOT happen. In fact, that novel was shelved. As were the next two. While I crafted a fourth novel to query, I decided to fulfill a different dream and write my nonfiction books related to the social and emotional needs of gifted kids. This book was quickly picked up and sold. So, my career definitely started with my nonfiction. Another book was proposed and sold, and my future as a nonfiction author was solidified. Fast forward six very miserable months and I was still pushing to make the jump into fiction. I had no agent, my querying process was not resulting in an agent, and yea…I was ready to give up. Completely.
Fortunately, I opened myself up to all potential avenues of publication and within a few months of that decision, I signed a four book deal with the up-and-coming Compass Press. And now with the release of DIES IRAE, I have made the much anticipated jump into fiction! WOOT!
WHY A: What was the inspiration for this book? 
DIES IRAE is a prequel novella, pulled from a story in LACRIMOSA, the first novel in the series. Steeped in the mythology surrounding the fall of Lucifer, this story was my “take” on the rebirth of evil onto the planet. I purposefully set it at the cusp of Greece’s Dark Ages, and wrapped in several world mythos into the fabric of the novella and the series. Wanting to stick with the Requiem Mass theme that is present within the balance of the series, I titled the novella DIES IRAE – or Day of Wrath.
Tell us about the other books in the series. 
 The next book in the series is LACRIMOSA. This book takes place 3000 after DIES IRAE, in modern-day NYC. It chronicles one of Mikayel’s warriors, Nesy, as she sets out to vanquish a particularly bad-ass demon, Aydan – someone who just happens to be Azza’s right-hand warrior.  I don’t want to give up too much, but suffice it to say, that things are seldom what they seem, good and evil overlap far more than anyone realizes, and the concepts of sacrifice, vengeance and redemption are stretched to their limits. The rest of the series follows these same themes as the battle between good and evil intensifies and everyone must decide whether or not some sacrifices should never be made!
What else do you have in the works? 
A TON of projects, actually. I am hoping to share some exciting news on both the fiction and the nonfiction front within the next few weeks. Beyond that I am working on a few more psychological thrillers (my new favorite genre), as well as additional urban fantasies. No matter what it is I am working on, one thing is certain – like you have noticed, everything is steeped in emotion!
Christine, you are a notorious multi-tasker, garnering my fond nickname Energizer Bunny. How do you juggle your busy life as a working mom and author? 
Honestly, it is a never-ending struggle. I have learned to be exceptionally disciplined about my time, multi-tasking whenever possible. I have also learned to write in 15-minute increments, as well as remove things from my life that do not move me towards my goals, and the goals of my family. So yea, a daily struggle. Some days I am successful, some days are a train wreck!
Where do you see the publishing industry headed?  
Clearly we are standing at the precipice of change. I think we can expect to see more influence in the e-book domain, enhanced books of every sort and style, and strong influence from readers on what gets published and what doesn’t. I don’t believe print will go away, but I do think there will be a balance between the two.  Furthermore, I think the big six may have to consider changing their model with regards to large advances, etc. Clearly, there are still fabulous advances being given. However, when I read some statistics that many books take a year or more to earn back the advance I am concerned. In our current economic climate, how can any industry expect to survive that mode? Especially when there is a surge in self-publishing and small presses that utilize a different model.
Speaking of the alternative forms of publication, I agree with Kathleen Duey and others that urge authors in any form to insist on quality within their product. I think readers are starting to demand this more and more too. And I agree with some who express concern regarding the flood of .99 books on the market – concern that we are training our consumer to insist on that price point. Also a valid concern. These are all things that need to be figured out within the industry as a whole.
The only thing I really know about this amazing, ever-changing time is this… NOW is the time to remain flexible and open to all of the changes coming our way. It is exciting, really. At least, to me!

Thanks Lisa! And thank you for your kind words regarding DIES IRAE. I just love it when someone “gets” the story the way you have.
Thanks for stopping by, Christine! I just love the historic and mythological underpinnings of this book. LOVE! But mostly what I love, even more is the emotion that drips from every page. So much depth and drama, while being totally believable and not trite or contrived. This is why I’m pretty sure I’ll love anything you write, because yeah, I get you, Christine!



  1. awesome interview and wonderful review!! Great job ladies :D

  2. Thanks Lisa! I am just thrilled that you enjoyed the book!

  3. GREAT interview. Congrats, Christine!

    I agree, Lisa, I wish the novella was longer, LOL! ;)

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