For those who don’t know, my novel Paradisa entertains the concept that all gods are real – all religions of the world have truth, and lesser gods/angels are not actually sure who is the true Creator. They simply know that THEY exist and their purpose is to serve humanity.
Religion is a touchy subject. I have to be careful about how I personify these gods. I have to be careful to keep continuities straight and cultures accurate. Sure, compensating for the existence of ALL these dieties requires some acrobatic logic, as well as slanted interpretation, but I aim to stay faithful to the holy scriptures of billions of people.
That being said…this is fantasy. Stargate did this. American Gods and Supernatural do this. Mythological fantasy is a subgenre all its own, and never have I heard anyone get offended by the fictionalization of Pagan gods, or even Christian angels. I think most people accept that, so long as the gods and faiths are not portrayed in a negative light, speculation of their origins via fantasy is a non-issue.
All six of my betas come from different faiths, including Catholicism, Methodist, Pagan, and perhaps even agnosticism. Only 1/5 Christian betas attends church (my boyfriend Austin, for reference), so this was not the most fundamentalist group of people. Still, if anyone was to take offense to my portrayal of angels and saints, it should have been Austin. He did not.
Rather, it was my lapsed Catholic beta who worried “if someone as pious as Austin” would find it sacrilegious, and who insisted that no creative license may be taken with religious figures…and that because world mythology is so vast, my inability to know every bit of it means I should limit myself to only one or two mythological characters total. He already thought that the slight twists of personality I offered my characters was far too deviant.
I disagree, of course. Mythology is only as vast as the parts I care to include, and those parts are well-researched. This is a crowded market, and no agent will buy yet another Persephone book, or a vindictive Aphrodite, or a mustache-twirling Lucifer. Something new has to be brought to the table to keep the gods true to type, yet fresh.
As for those who would still call this book blasphemous…let them. J.K. Rowling paid no attention to whackos who burned her “evil” books. Just from my own beta pool, I think most readers are smart enough to distinguish between a speculative work of fantasy (which paints religion in a nice light, might I add), and a holy scripture.
I am careful with these borrowed sandboxes, handling the characters as of they’re another kid’s toys I have to give back. That’s all anyone who writes in this genre can do.