GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ The Story Behind the Story: Ferren and the Angel by Richard Harland | I Smell Sheep

Friday, November 10, 2023

The Story Behind the Story: Ferren and the Angel by Richard Harland


Having a publisher ask you to rewrite your novel would be the worst thing in the world, right? I’d have said so in the past, and my first publishers has to drag me kicking and screaming into doing any revision at all. But when IFWG Publishing wanted to republish my Ferren books, it was me that insisted – ‘I don’t want a reprint, I want to do a total rewrite’. It was a golden opportunity, and I grabbed it with both hands.

I don’t often tell the long history of Ferren and the Angel, because the book has never been published in the US until now, so it would be confusing to talk about earlier versions that nobody would’ve heard of. So I talk about the dream of a battle between Heaven and Earth that inspired the novel and about all the research into angelology needed to fill out the background behind the angel who was shot down and crashed to Earth in my dream. But I don’t explain how the first version was an adult fantasy written in the present tense, nor about the first YA version (dropping the sex scenes that weren’t working!) published by Penguin Australia and sold only in the Australian market.
Still, Penguin’s a reputable publisher and might have resold the novel to the US and internationally, as Allen & Unwin in Australia did for my Worldshaker a few years later. But I fell into the gap between changing editors at Penguin, and although Ferren and the Angel received rave reviews, it never took off in the way I thought it deserved to. Of course, I’m the author, so you’d expect me to think like that! But I wasn’t the only one. The book gained a following of fans, not big in number but big in devotion and determination. They absolutely refused to let the book die!

So they kept plugging away and plugging away … and twenty-three years later, after Penguin had let the book go out of print, they were still pushing other publishers to do a reprint. Isn’t it great, how people who really believe in something can make it happen? IFWG Publishing took up the idea and made me an offer.

Over twenty-three years, though, I’d come to see that the story could be told better. The worldbuilding was what everyone had loved. In Ferren’s world, a war between Heaven and Earth has been raging for a thousand years, whole continents have been devastated and laid waste, a War Council of great archangels has taken charge on the celestial side, while the armies of the Earth are made up of artificially created Humen. Meanwhile, the original human beings, like Ferren and his tribe, have been reduced to a beaten-down, survival level of existence …

The fans who loved Ferren and the Angel loved that world, and loved the further developments in the second and third books of the trilogy, leading up to the ultimate invasion of Heaven by the Humen armies! And I never wanted to lose any of that – only to make it more tightly coherent, because I’d never planned the trilogy as a whole. Ferren and the Angel was originally a standalone. So that’s one thing I’m doing as I rewrite all three books.

But it's mainly the story that’s growing stronger, I believe. It launches off from the same episode, when Ferren sees an angel crash to Earth, goes out to investigate and finds her lying damaged and unable to fly. The unique friendship that forms between the two of them is still at the core of Ferren and the Angel and its sequels. But I feel I’ve learned to be a better storyteller over twenty-three years! I always suspected there were imperfections in first version Ferren and the Angel – now I can see what they are, and put them right.

My most important motto for the rewrite has been, ‘Not only world, but story too’. It’s not enough to introduce and display all the amazing features of this vast world – I have to keep the story surging forward at the same time. With Ferren and the Angel, the big change involves Ferren’s quest to find out what really happens to the tribespeople that the Humen take away for ‘military service’ – because his own sister was taken away, and he’s never heard from her again. That’s his motive for breaking into and exploring the Humen Camp, and the truth he discovers now has maximum impact – it’s a shock revelation!

The beauty of all the changes I’ve made is that I don’t think I’m importing anything that wasn’t there as a hint or a potential in my first-attempt version. It’s more like bringing out what was always there but obscured – like taking a lump of raw mineral and working away to reveal the statue that was always hidden within. That truly is the best feeling!!

I feel very, very lucky to have been given a second chance with the Ferren books. I wouldn’t want to rewrite any other books, but the Ferren books truly deserved a whole new effort – and the old versions are now far enough in the past that I could feel as inspired and excited as if I was writing them for the very first time. I’ll be forever grateful to to my never-say-die fans who made it happen! 

Ferren and the Angel (The Ferren Trilogy)

by Richard Harland
Nov 6, 2023
Genre: young adult, fantasy, science fiction
IFWG Publishing International
An angel falls from the sky and crashes to the ground!
Miriael, the Fourteenth Angel of Observance, has been shot down in the thousand-year war between Heaven and Earth. Damaged and helpless, she prays for extinction. 
The young tribesman Ferren finds her lying in the grass. She ought to be an enemy, since his people are on the side of the Earth. But seeing her there, unable to fly, his curiosity outweighs every rule and every warning. Ferren knows almost nothing about the terrifying world he's grown up in. Now he's going to learn the truth about the war, the Humen army camp and what military service really means. 
His unique friendship with Miriael is about to change the course of history. Richard Harland, author of the Worldshaker books, creates a whole new world of angels and apocalypse!

About the Author:

website-Ferren website
Richard was born in Yorkshire, England, then migrated to Australia at the age of twenty-one. He was always trying to write, but could never finish the stories he began. Instead he drifted around as a singer, songwriter and poet, then became a university tutor and finally a university lecturer. But after twenty-five years of writer’s block, he finally finished the cult novel, The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, and resigned his lectureship to follow his original dream.

Since then, he’s produced seventeen books of fantasy, SF and horror/supernatural, ranging from Children’s to Young Adult to Adult. Best known internationally for Worldshaker and its sequels, he’s won many awards in France and Australia.

He lives with partner Aileen near Wollongong, south of Sydney, between golden beaches and green escarpment. Walking Yogi the Labrador while listening to music is his favourite relaxation—when he’s not writing like a mad workaholic, catching up on those wasted twenty-five years …

His author website is at and his Ferren Trilogy website is at You can email him at

For all aspiring writers, he’s put up a comprehensive 145-page guide to all aspects of writing fantasy fiction at

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