The Taken

, which launches the Celestial Blues supernatural noir series, pairs an intrepid rockabilly girl reporter and a hard-boiled flawed former PI turned low-ranking angel, and pits them against a Las Vegas child prostitution ring.

How did you arrive at this unusual combination of leading characters and setting?

I had two great things going for me when I conceived of Celestial Blues: I write slowly, and I was finishing up an existing series. So I had ample time to pick through my ideas for those elements I was sure could sustain my attention. My gumshoe detective, Griffin Shaw, arrived first and sat simmering for years. Then one day, desperation, impulse, and kismet combined to drive me into one of those cut-your-hair-for-five-bucks salons, where a rockabilly hairdresser gave me both a lopsided haircut and, finally, an idea for my female lead, Kit Craig. My setting, cast of characters, and plot grew from there.

What attracts you to the rockabilly lifestyle?

I find it fascinating that there are people who devote their entire lives to living nostalgically, demanding authentic, vintage-only clothing, furniture, cars, and homes. For them, these things are tactile reminders of a time when things were well-made, American-made, and seemingly simpler. Personally, I find this kind of lifestyle commitment intriguing, almost ascetic. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that after writing such a dark first series, I was drawn to a protagonist who takes a lighter view of life.

How did you develop The Taken’s unorthodox angelology, where the original angels are not God’s children but merely “winged monsters” in divine service?

I’m a recovering Southern Baptist, so the idea of a demanding theological system is not a new one to me. Beyond that, once I knew angelic creatures were going to play a part in the series, I simply asked myself how I’d feel or act or think knowing that I was powerful, important, and necessary to the deistic system, but that the One I served merely thought of me as a creation, a tool, yet never a beloved. As an angelic human, Grif knows how the pure angels feel, and that’s what he’s reacting to when he calls them monsters.

What led you to portray Grif as a “lone wolf” in “a new time of connectedness”?

The beeping and ringing and constant interruption to a person’s inner life is a worry for me as a creative person, and as a mother raising children who won’t ever know a time before screens. How much more jarring, then, would it be for someone like Grif, born of that Mad Man era, but who missed the gradual technological advances? He’s an observer, and very literally an outsider, who keeps his own council and needs to be left alone for vast amounts of time in order to work through his mysteries. I admire this, and indeed aspire to the same.