Author Feature: Yelena Lugin
Looking for something new to read and short on money? You're in the right place, where I'll be featuring aspiring authors and their (free!) work!
This month meet Yelena Lugin, writer of In the Crossfire!
An angelic halfling, thrown into a brutal war - not her own. Can she survive, can humanity?
Angels or Hellion, Sky hates them both, hell, she even hates half-breeds like herself. She has only known this war, waging long before her birth. Because of it she has been running all her life, leaving behind a trail of bodies - being chased by both monsters and forbidden secrets. The secrets of what she was - of who she was. Her mother's warnings always loud in her mind, propelling her to care about nothing but survival. And to keep moving was to survive.
Until one day she has nowhere left to run and everything she has been fleeing from swallows her whole. She finds herself held in a cell alongside humans, made to fight or die as if their lives have no worth. Unable to run, she is forced to face 'them' head on for she will never bow to the beings who never belonged on Earth to begin with.
To survive in this world she will need to adapt - learning that sometimes those deemed untrustworthy may make powerful allies and those she had given her heart to may have always been the biggest threat of all.
Meet Yelena and read an excerpt below!
Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
"Where it all began… I wanted to draw a little fantasy comic from my boyfriend at the time. (Him being a lover of anime and manga, I thought it a cute idea). The more the story was developed, the more complex it got, the more I realized I could not draw the whole thing. I also didn't want to just throw the idea away, so I began writing instead.
I am a person who HATED language arts in school. I did not develop an interest in reading until college (late bloomer). English was not my first language. So, never did I think my little idea would propel me into truly writing stories. Yet here I am!"
Why fantasy specifically? Is it something you write often, or is this your first venture into the genre?
"Fantasy is simply something I love to read and think about, so naturally, I gravitated to writing it. I want a story to take me away from my world and throw me into a new one. We get one true life, but we get to explore thousands of them through books. I want to experience new lands, magic, danger, love, all of it. Take me out of the mundane and give me fantasy!"
What are your goals for your writing?
"I just want readers to enjoy exploring new worlds through my stories. If I can capture someone's attention and keep them entertained for a time, then that is all I want. I hope that people can relate to the struggles of some of the characters, perhaps feel inspired by them. If a positive impact can be left in someone's life due to one of my stories, then that is amazing and something I cherish having the opportunity for. These past few years have been so difficult for so many people. We as a world have struggled. And I hope that stories can give people an oasis where they can retreat and recharge.
Sure, it would be cool to get published by a big publishing house or have a story made into a show or movie. But down at the core, I just hope to give people an adventure they can enjoy."
What inspired In the Crossfire?
"You know, that is a great question, and I really have no idea where it originated. The story, in essence, is classic, angels vs. demons. Where it gets more interesting is how they are viewed. Not in a biblical sense but more so as aliens that have come to Earth, sparking a dystopian story. I suppose inspiration came from the thought that life is not all black and white. A knight in shining armor (or, in this case, an Angel) is not always good. At the same time, we can not assume an entire race is evil just because we do not fully understand them. A desire to tell a story of how an imperfect person may change from experiences while also changing those around them is what led to this story."
Who is your favorite character in it and why? Tell me a little about them.
"Barakiel is my favorite (or one of my faves). He is an angel who is a ball of sunshine, bright, warm, and welcoming. The typical cold exterior the other angels have is missing when it comes to Barakiel. He is unapologetically himself, holds no grudges, and bears no judgment based on where someone comes from. When he steps onto the scene, it is a breath of fresh air. Who knew a side character would be a favorite!"
What was the most challenging part of writing the book?
"Everything. Writing a book is not easy, nor does it ever feel finished. The story is over now, but there certainly are things I want to go back and improve upon or adjust to make the storyline clearer. Especially in the first book. How do we weave the story together so it makes sense? How do we create characters that people care for, root for, feel for? All of it is a learning process, and I am thankful for the feedback I have gotten over the years that has helped me and is still helping me. Perfection doesn't exist, at least not for my work, and it can be challenging coming to terms with something like this. At the same time, I am happy to continue learning and growing because I certainly never want to be stagnant."
Do you have anything else you'd like to say to the readers?
"Whether or not you read my stories, I say thank you. Readers breathe life into the characters. They come alive and are given voices and souls because of you. It's a type of magic that a reader possesses. And I thank you for casting your spell. I hope you keep reading, fill your life with journeys and adventure."
Two superior species came from a different world, descending on Earth like an inevitable disease. They were a flood of liquid fire, drowning and scorching all the same, destroying everything they touched.
Most of us perished, trapped within the crossfire of a war that was not our own.
Hellions were the first to come, nasty demonic things. Their bodies were twisted, made of death and darkness. They thrived on the destruction and the pain they caused. Some used humans in various horrid ways before ultimately taking their lives while others simply killed people for their sadistic pleasure.
In the beginning, some believed this to be the biblical Revelation. Believing that we would be saved from the demonic plague which moved through our world. They were wrong. No one was saved.
What came next was far worse.
Back then people called them Angels. They were gloriously powerful entities, sparking hope in all humans; they were believed to be our saviors. Angels had enormous wings, some made of glowing light and pulsing energy and others of feathers. Their hands, feet, faces, were like looking in a mirror, matching the humans, only far more beautiful. Everyone wanted to believe they were protectors for the human race, it was a common hope. But they did not care for the humans, they only cared about exterminating the Hellions. Their war was just that, theirs. They had no concern regarding what or who stood in their way. They were the Seraphs, brutal and unyielding monsters.
In the beginning, the humans worked to fight side by side with the angels, their believed saviors. Unfortunately, people were nothing more than simple casualties for the seraphs, worthy of miserable grunt work and nothing of value. And so, mankind eventually turned away from those they had placed their hope in. Their attempt at independence failed and the Seraphs turned their weapons on humanity. They destroyed anything that could have been used against them- metal, technology, and many natural resources humans would have needed to survive... gone. All of what mankind had shared in good faith was taken away by the very beings they had put their trust in.
The Seraphs were a proud species, relying on nothing but themselves, thinking of only their own wellbeing. They turned the world into what it is now - a toxic wasteland littered with Hellions and Seraphs fighting each other.
I, on the other hand, get by living in the nooks and crannies of the entire mess.
Humans are hunted. Both demons and seraphs have established their territories where they live here on earth and both have evolved to use humans as their errand dogs. They catch us, trap us, train us, and eventually, we die in some horrific way. This is what is left of us.
There are a few free people who have survived in the shadows of the woods but those numbers are slowly dwindling to nothing. The humans have resorted to traveling in small parties which are more difficult to track. If caught, they are never seen again.
As for me, well my father was human and my mother one of them, an Angel. I am what they call a halfling or Nephilim, and I try to survive in this God-forsaken place.
This is my world now, or what's left of it.
Read In the Crossfire for free, or follow Yelena on Wattpad!