As the seeds for The Age of Apollyon were taking root in my imagination, I read Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In addition to being a fantastic story, that book opened my eyes to the breathtaking marvels of Gothic architecture. I’d always been a casual fan of cathedrals (who isn’t?) but after finishing Hugo’s masterpiece, I was determined to incorporate the Gothic church and all of its accompanying melodramatics into my own writing.
The Age of Apollyon doesn’t aim for the same heights as The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I never intended to write a massive, sweeping epic to ring throughout the ages – I just wanted to create a rip-roaring horror/action novel with all of the creepy, gothic-y goodness I could muster. So I chartered the Good Ship Google and set out on a virtual journey through dozens of cathedrals and churches, searching for the proper settings for my scenes. It was quite an endeavour, because I had to find several churches that fit descriptions I had already written. But with the power of Google Images and Wikipedia at my fingertips, I was able to find everything I was looking for.
A total of seven churches are featured in The Age of Apollyon. Not all of them fall under the umbrella of Gothic architecture, but they all contain rich history and dramatic atmosphere. Three of them, St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and the Milan Cathedral, are quite famous, while the others are less well-known. And, I must confess, not all of them emerge from the book unscathed. Yet each church plays an important role in the story, and though I’ve never visited them personally, I strove to capture what I imagined their unique personalities to be like. It was a tiring ordeal that devoured countless hours, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had doing research. Sometimes just staring (and drooling) over photos of these architectural masterworks was enough to inspire entire passages of writing.
My love affair with historic churches continues in the sequel to The Age of Apollyon entitled Black Sun, which I am currently writing at a feverish pace. These books aren’t only about churches and cathedrals of course, but for my money, it doesn’t get any better than a ferocious gun battle in a soaring candlelit sanctuary.
Or maybe I’ve just watched too many movies.