Monday, 20 February 2012

Welcome Michele Lang!

As our first guest of honour at the Angels and Demons Party, I'm delighted to welcome back my old friend Michele Lang, whose sequel to the haunting historical fantasy, Lady Lazarus, has just been released. Here's Michele to tell us about her angels, demons and Dark Victory.

Do You Believe? By Michele Lang

Hi Marie and everybody!  Thanks so much for having me J

In gearing up to celebrate here, I've been thinking about angels some more (since they roam in my LADY LAZARUS series, that's nothing new!).  I believe in angels. 

Not just the angels of our better nature, the impulse for people to help each other and to be there for each other.  I don't mean to minimize the powerful human force for good, because other people have saved my life countless times.

But I mean the celestial beings.  Part of this belief is inherited from my family, because my mother only survived the war in Europe by the slightest of chances, and if you count only upon the odds it seems impossible that she survived at all.  Some of it was certainly chance, but numerous times my grandmother received guidance that I can only call celestial, for it led to her survival and my mother's.

Many times I have been nudged in the right direction, given a moment of pure inspiration, and have had dreams that suggested a pathway out of trouble.  Maybe all of these interventions came from my subconscious mind, maybe just a funky chemical synapse.

But these moments had a *personality.* Especially when I go along a wrong path, I get a distinct sense of frustration along with the encouragement, a real nudge!  And that is why I believe that these moments come from somewhere outside my conscious mind.

And that leads my imagination down some pretty entertaining and thought-provoking paths.  What if angels manifest on earth, actually walk among us?  What if they nudge us more particularly, in human disguise?

I make things up for a living, so my hold on reality is rather tenuous! J But maybe they do…it's a fabulous thought!

What do you think of angels?  Do you believe?

In my LADY LAZARUS series, the existence of angels (and demons, too) is never in question -- Magda Lazarus, a young witch living in Budapest in 1939, has called upon her family's guardian, Raziel, in an effort to forestall the beginning of the world war.  And now, in DARK VICTORY, Magda and Raziel seek to master Hitler's captive demon, Asmodel.

Here's more about the LADY LAZARUS series:

DARK VICTORY: The thrilling sequel to the historical urban fantasy Lady Lazarus!

''Michele Lang's Dark Victory is the best entry yet in a
groundbreaking, rich, enthralling series that combines the darkest
days of World War II with magic, very human characters, and stakes
that couldn't be higher. A tour de force!"
        New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine

Magda Lazarus assumed the mantle of her family’s ancient powers only under the dire threat of the Nazi Reich’s supernatural war machine.  But though this young Jewish witch fought off SS werewolves and Hitler’s personal demon, she could not prevent the outbreak of war.

She knows there is still hope of victory as long as she can summon spirits.  Her family’s guardian angel, Raziel, joins her in the battle, and they marshal their own army, a supernatural force that will battle Hitler’s minions to the death…and beyond.

Dark Victory is awesome. Lang just gets better and better.” – Kat Richardson, bestselling author of the Greywalker series

“Lang crafts a creative and tense story as all of Europe awaits the September invasion of Poland. Lang is a writer to watch and is sure to have wide appeal to fans of Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, and other urban fantasy A-listers.” – Booklist (starred review) on Lady Lazarus

“An absolutely unique protagonist in an engaging tale set against the backdrop of the greatest clash of good and evil in human history.  What’s not to love about Lady Lazarus?” - #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher

Download the LADY LAZARUS books!

Book 1: Lady Lazarus
From Amazon  

Book 2: Dark Victory

From Amazon 

"The Magic of Fabulous" A novella set in the world of LADY LAZARUS

From Amazon

"The World of LADY LAZARUS"
A FREE nonfiction companion to the series!

From Amazon 

From Smashwords 

Here is the beginning of DARK VICTORY, the second book in the series.  Magda has indeed captured Asmodel, but the ancient demon causes mayhem even trapped inside a tin of paprika!

Hope you enjoy this abbreviated excerpt from the beginning of DARK VICTORY:


August 30, 1939
Dohány Street
Budapest, Hungary
11 a.m.

My doom was trapped inside a tin of Hungarian paprika.
I rolled the thin metal canister between my fingers and almost dropped it; the tin was hot enough to burn my skin.  In the silence of my dusty little kitchen on Dohány Street, in Budapest’s Seventh District, my pulse pounded in my ears.  I knew that if I could not control the demon I had captured, Hitler would invade Poland.  And the world would explode.
The situation was just that simple and difficult.  I had captured Hitler’s personal demon.  But I didn’t know how to use him.
We simply didn’t have any time left.  Hitler was going to invade Poland in two days, on September 1st, 1939.  As a Jewish witch, I was in mortal danger. 
And on this hot and over-bright August morning losing my own life was the least of my problems.  My breath caught in my throat, and I longed to put the tin down, curl up on my cot, and hide from the demon in dreams.
But I could not rest – not with war so close.  I had warned the diplomats of the Polish embassy of the imminent war.  I also had sent word to the Zionists through my best friend, Eva Farkas, who had joined their number.  But now I had to put this demon, Asmodel, under my power, somehow.
I licked my lips and forced myself to breathe.  It was time to call forth the bound and hidden Asmodel – only he could tell me what September first would truly bring.  Only he could stop Hitler before he unleashed the war.
I had the strength to bind him, but I had to find out whether I had enough magic to compel him to my will.
My little sister Gisele had begged me not to take Asmodel out of the tin; my beloved Raziel, once an angel but now a man for my sake, only shook his head and laughed when I told him I meant to challenge my captive spirit. 
            I sat at my place at the kitchen table and cupped the paprika tin in my hands, my fingertips dancing over the hot metal. Raziel stood behind me, and I was grateful that I could not see the expression on his face.  Only a day or two before, the demon had fought Raziel, an angel of the Lord, hand to hand, and Raziel could only stop him by sacrificing his very place in Heaven…
            The vehemence of his roar rattled me. I rocked back, clutching the tin to keep it from wriggling out of my grasp altogether. We wrestled for a few minutes and I stood up to brace the tin better against the table.
            The white metal grew even hotter in my hands, and his low growl rose from between my fingers.  "See if I speak right, bitch, then know your end is foreordained. Hitler will orchestrate a provocation. He is staging a supposed act of terrorism by Poles on the border, at the radio station in Gleiwitz. Every detail has been arranged. They will dress the corpses in partisan costumes, though the dead men are concentration camp prisoners. . .”
            The demon spoke faster and faster, a litany of overwhelming destruction and misery, echoing like gunshots.   
He unfolded a grim picture of the war to come, Hitler’s plan to crush Poland, to buy time with guns and lies until he could turn his sights to further conquest, richer prizes to both the west and the east.
            Asmodel finished his litany of curses and bellowed with laughter. "You little fool.  It is too late for you to avert the destiny of the world.  You struggle like a fish already on the hook. You are already caught. And every twist and turn only brings you closer to the fishermen's deck. You are already dead!"
I needed to converse face to face with my nemesis.  “Asmodel,” I whispered, “Come forth, still bound by spell, but in your chosen guise.”
Asmodel materialized on the splintery wooden surface of the round kitchen table, in the form of a breathtakingly beautiful youth, completely naked, curled up like a fern frond on the mossy, slippery banks of a hidden stream in Eden. Slowly he lifted his head, and his enormous almond eyes met my gaze.  The breath caught in my throat.
"This is my true aspect, Magduska," he said, in a soft, warm baritone.  So changed, so transformed, yet I recognized him in this guise.
His beauty threw me off-balance, and I struggled to maintain my self-possession.  "Don't say Magduska," I shot back. "Only those who love me may call me that."
His smile was gentle. "You invoke love?  I know of love. Your Raziel fell from heaven the same way as did I, for love of a woman. Naamah was as beautiful as you, her kisses were as sweet as yours. We had many hours of bliss, lying together and knowing love when the world was young and such things were common."
My cheeks burned. In ways of magic, I had few illusions left, but I was still a novice at the sorcery of the love a man and a woman might share.
Raziel drew closer to the back of my chair, and his mere presence cut through the confusion of Asmodel’s words.
"You lie," Raziel said, and though he spoke bitter words, his voice remained kind.  "Brother, you descend not to help humankind in their exile, but to grind them into the dust. You want the earth and all its dominion for yourself."
The demon’s honeyed smile grew jaded.  "What of it? That is no secret, not like your blessed secrets, the secrets of your blasted Book with its elemental magic."
...I returned to Asmodel, my heart cold, an extinguished candle flame.  "What is it like to be so very old?" I said, allowing my thoughts to take flight into words. "Killing humans must be like swatting gnats."
Asmodel sighed in bliss and closed his eyes. "Entertaining and useful gnats. Foolish gnats, with the power to choose the way of the world."
"Do we really? Choose anything?"
The demon's eyes opened and he pierced me with his gaze, speared me. "You could make this world a paradise with your choices, Magduska."
This time I let him get away with the endearment. It was my turn to be silent and consider his words. I was listening, really listening.
"Come with me as I restore the garden," he said, his voice low and beseeching. "You could be the one to do it. The Book of Raziel was first inscribed in the sapphire, its wisdom encased in the structure of the gem. The Book exists, it is a lost treasure, but it is real. We lost it when the Temple was destroyed, but we have our theories of its location, do we not, my brother Raziel?"
"Why do you need the Book, copy or sapphire?" I asked. "You seem to exert your dominion quite well without it."
"Nonsense.  I am in chains, dear sorceress," he murmured. "My dominion has ended -- I went from the great Fϋhrer to nothing, nobody, my prison an old tin of paprika."
"But how did you conquer Hitler in the first place?"
"I already told you before, Magduska, and I do not lie. He invited me in, to augment his puny mortal powers. Had we only preserved the Book of Raziel as it had been transcribed, retained the original geography of the gemstones, no one could have stopped me."
"Not even Hitler himself," I remarked, more to myself than to him.
Asmodel shrugged and, like a cat, relaxed bit by bit against my forearm, the stubble of his cheek scratching through the flimsy cotton shirt that I wore.  Abruptly I remembered his nakedness, and my cheeks flushed with shame. 
The demon pretended not to notice my mortification. "Hitler wanted me to own him. How could he live a thousand years, otherwise?"
"Could you give him a thousand years, demon?" I asked.  My head throbbed and I was shrouded in weariness, dragged into the grave by the hands of despair.
I sat perfectly still, unwilling to betray my weakness.  But I feared that Asmodel somehow sensed it anyway. 
"What does it matter?  There is nothing more to say, my beautiful one," he murmured. “Let me in. Raziel and I will share you, and you will experience such pleasure as you cannot comprehend. Together we will find the gemstone – you will learn to call it from its hidden place. And you would vanquish both Hitler and Stalin, stop this messy war and perfect the fellowship of mankind. You know I do not lie."
Not in the words themselves, but in the totality of their meaning, did Asmodel twist the truth. I tore my gaze away from the demon’s nakedness, his deep, warm, amber eyes, and I looked again to Raziel.
Raziel had cast his lot with me, with Gisele, with all the rest of us cursed by fate to fight and die in the terrible year of 1939.  He would stay with me, even if I chose wrong -- especially if I chose wrong. And he would not rob from me the choice only I could make…
I imagined the cold touch of Asmodel inside my body, possessing my flesh, and I shuddered. 
"I don't have the strength to use him,” I confessed in a whisper.  “And I don’t have time to find that gem he speaks of, not before Hitler invades.  We will have to find another way, at least for now.  Gisele could hold him and not be tempted, but just holding him is not enough."
            I looked deep into Asmodel’s amber eyes, and I could not afford to hesitate any longer. "Go back into the darkness," I said, even as Asmodel’s face fell.
To spare us both another struggle I summoned a cone of silence to descend over the tin like a glass dome over a cake. The white tin with the red lettering looked sepia now, like a newsreel, and Asmodel gave me one last, despairing glance as he disappeared through the sifter into the darkness of his prison.
            The sudden silence thundered in my ears.  I sat at the kitchen table, drenched in sweat, sick with exhaustion, the tin again scorching hot, clenched in my fingers. Asmodel again was trapped inside, the stalemate still between us. 
The demon was bound, certainly.  Unlike most of my countrymen, I knew the time and place that Hitler would strike.
I had tried my best to bend Asmodel’s will to my purposes, as sages and kings had done in ancient time.  But I was no sage.  I had failed. 
It was Asmodel, from inside his tin prison, who maintained the upper hand.

Book 1: Lady Lazarus

From Amazon  

Book 2: Dark Victory

From Amazon 

"The Magic of Fabulous" A novella set in the world of LADY LAZARUS

From Amazon 

"The World of LADY LAZARUS"
A FREE nonfiction companion to the series!

From Amazon 

From Smashwords 

Today, Michele and Tor Publishing are kindly giving away THREE copies of Dark Victory! To enter the draw, answer Michele's question above: What do you think of angels?  Do you believe? The contest will close at midnight tonight, and the winners will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


  1. I am not sure. A friend of mine believes in them very strongly. She gave me an angel that said something about best friends. I had it hanging in my car. We had a disagreement and I found the angel on the floor. There was no reason for it to fall. debby236 at gmail dot com

    1. That is a spooky but still lovely story, Debby :) I often smell cigarette smoke, almost like a warning or a heads-up, when I am about to make a mistake...I think that my angel is a smoker!

  2. Hi Debby,

    That's a bit spooky! Did it lead you to make up your disagreement?


  3. I definitely believe in angels. I believe in guardian angels, those that watch over us and help us on our way. I have had numerous encounters and know for sure that there are celestial beings who are very busy keeping us out of trouble. :)

    in Germany

    1. Valerie, I think sometimes that I must have an entire army of angels watching over me to keep out of trouble :D And that sense of somebody else standing by my side is so strong sometimes...I'm so grateful, whether it's some kind of sixth sense, a guardian angel like my grandmother, or a truly celestial being who has taken on the challenge of watching over me LOL

  4. Great excerpt, Michelle! Yes, I do believe in angels. My grandmother believed in angels and I was raised that these special beings are always with us. Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Angelique -- thank you!

      Since I was also raised this way, I find it comforting and a connection to my family to continue to believe this. So glad you enjoyed the post :)

  5. What a comforting idea, Valerie...

    Hi Angelique - welcome to the party!

    Michele, your excerpt's sucked me in again! Can't wait to read the book. Just wondering - it's a tragic subject in many ways and I know it means a lot to you personally, so do you find you need to write something lighter in between the Lady Lazarus books? What are you working on just now?


    1. Hi Marie -- thank you again for having me here :) And for your kind words, too!

      You ask a very perceptive question. It is a tragic and dark history in these books (though the characters are mercifully spared the worst of our reality), and it wears me out sometimes. I think angels are more likely to show up in such dangerous territory!

      In between I do write lighter books, and one that I've just released was a joy to write -- and the initial response has been joyous too.

      It's a MG book, called the Upstanders. I wrote it as a fundraiser for my kids' school (and has already raised a sizable sum, so success!)

      The idea of it is like a mix between Harry Potter and Little House on the Prairie, in space :D It's the first one in a series about kids on a frontier planet -- they fight space pirates, learn to fly in jetpack formation, and they also stand up and do the right thing, even when it gets them in trouble...

      You can find it at Amazon, Nook, and on Smashwords too. Hopefully it has already made its way to iBooks, if not now then soon. The full title is

      The Upstanders: Silver
      by Michele Lang

      And so far the kids have been enjoying it!

      Thanks again for having me here -- I'm happy to answer any questions that folks do have, and it's so great reading up on people's responses!


    2. Thanks for this, Michele! The Upstanders sounds great fun - congratulations! Hope to read it to my daughter :).


  6. Good morning, All.

    I do believe in angels, though they may not be the winged variety! I think people come into our lives for a reason. To make us grow, to make us learn, to make us become a better person. I consider these folks angels.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Tracey D --

      I believe we can be angels to each other, absolutely. The human characters in the Lady Lazarus series definitely are angels, in that they watch out for each other, and bring out the best in each other. I also believe that my grandmother, who has passed away, is an angel in heaven to me as she was in life. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Yes, I believe in angels as celestial beings that may appear on earth. I sometimes wonder where the popular myth that people become angels when they dies actually came from. Religious sources don't support it to my knowledge.
    Anyways, great excerpt. I'll look for the books.

    1. Hello Carol --

      I think it's that desire to stay connected with the people we love who are no longer with us on earth, maybe? In Jewish lore, the spirit of Elijah is invited to visit us at Passover time, and he's like an angel to the Jewish people, so that's one example of someone who has passed who is an angel, though he's not your average guy!

      Thanks so much Carol!

  8. Hi Michelle,
    Great excerpt. Yes I believe in angels (by whatever name you want to call them). I have seen to many "by the Grace of God" moments. Moments when someone is saved, either by a hairsbreath or by something unexpected to coming up to delay them. In todays world, it is comforting for those of us who believe in angels -
    God Bless
    kcnrhtx (at) charter (dot) net

    1. Hi Kimberley --

      Thank you - so glad you enjoyed it :)

      You and me both w/the moments. Amazing how close we can be to disaster and not even know it until the moment has passed! And I do find it a comfort to believe there is something greater than us out there that seeks the good.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  9. Great excerpt. Definately adding to my must buy/to-be-read pile. This book looks great and would love to win and read. Michelle is a new author for me and always looking for new books and authors to check out.
    Thanks for the chance to win.

    1. Chrisbails, hello!

      Thanks so much for the kind words! ~M

  10. Interesting blog post and excerpt!
    I personally believe angels are the strength of the human spirit inside us.

    1. Hi Robin -- thanks so much for stopping by!

      That is a beautiful way of looking at this question...thank you for sharing your perspective.

      thanks again

  11. i personally am a nonbeliever but i still love reading about them

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      Thanks so much for your comment...I love reading about angels too, all kinds. And I must say that many people I know and love who do *not* have experiences like mine. This is such a case of YMMV!

      Angels are such delightful creatures either way I don't think it matters :D Thanks again for visiting w/me!

  12. Hi Michele, I definitely believe! Angels have saved my butt, and my family's a few times over:) Wonderful excerpt and imaginative historical backdrop. Another to be put on my TBR list. Thank you for sharing. And Marie wonderful Angel and Demon party:)


    (S. Durham, author of The Powers)

    1. Hello Sara!

      Thanks so much for your kind words! And I'm so glad you enjoyed the excerpt...intense story that I had a total blast writing :D

      And Marie's the greatest, isn't she? With the greatest audience! Thanks again to you too, Marie! xoM

  13. I love writing and reading about Angels...and Demons. But do I believe? Not really. But fiction is and always has been my love, and I believe in that.

    1. Me too, Alysha! I love stories, and the amazing creativity writers bring to their stories. Abd stories about angels and demons are among my favorites...

  14. Yes, Angels are real. I don't know about the wings, harps and sitting around on clouds, though. I think there are positive spirits that help guide people towards positive decisions and help ease people from our reality to the next. But, hey, that's just my opinion!

  15. Thanks, everyone - enjoyed reading all your different takes on angels.

    Michele, thank you for being such a great guest of honour at the party!

    I'll be back in a moment with Michele's three winners...


  16. And the winners of Michele's DARK VICTORY are:

    Valerie, Tracey D. and S. Durham.

    Congratulations, you lucky things! Judging by the first book in the series, you're in for a treat! Please contact me Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com with your postal addresses, and I'll pass them on to Michele.

    Thanks, everyone!


  17. Wow, cool!!

    Congrats Tracey D and S. Durham!!

    in Germany