This week for the Dames’ Dozen, we’re going in a different direction.  Instead of interviewing an author, I’m talking with Ted “Mac” McNabb, the main character from my book Unwilling Angel.  For those of you who don’t know the story behind this book, I got the idea for writing it when one of my favorite authors passed away back in 2005.  A couple of months after that, I had what I call an “Elvis” encounter, only instead of Elvis, I saw a man who bore an uncanny resemblance to the dead author.  Being a writer, what else could I do but go home and write about it?

Now that you have the background, let me introduce you to Mac, who came about because of that strange encounter. 

First, Mr. McNabb, tell us a little bit about who you are.

I think we know each other well enough for you to call me Mac, after all, if it wasn’t for you my story wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day.  But for the benefit of those who don’t know me, when I was alive, I was a best-selling author but now that I’m dead, I’m an Angel…

Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a wad, Gabe, jeez.  And keep the lightning bolts in your pants, for crying out loud.

Excuse me, I should’ve known he’d be listening in.

He?

Gabriel, one of the Archangels, and the bane of my existence.  Grumpy Gabe is a stickler for the truth and he’ll nail me with a lightning bolt if I don’t tell you I’m only a lowly Apprentice Angel right now.

What’s an Apprentice Angel?

An Apprentice Angel is sort of an angel-in-training or an angel-intern.  We do all the dirty work and the Archangels take all the credit.

I don’t understand.

See, it’s like this, when I died I went to Heaven, which was a bit of a surprise.  I kinda thought I’d end up in the other direction, if you know what I mean, but I didn’t.  Once I got to Heaven, I had to go through Judgment just like everybody who ends up there.  After that, the Archangels told me I had to complete five missions before I could move on to my Personal Heaven.  I didn’t have a problem with that, but they send you out on these missions from God without proper training.  Just, here’s the client, here’s what needs to happen and bang, you’re back on earth trying to help some poor, sad schmo who doesn’t have a clue who you are or why you’re there.   I mean, you’d think they’d give you some pretty intense training before they send you out to change a person’s life, but they don’t, it’s more learn as you go.  And let me tell you, when you make a mistake, they really let you know it.  About the only good thing about it is you can read the client’s mind so you know what they’re thinking which helps tremendously. 

Can you tell us about the missions you’ve been on?

Yeah, my first was in Maine in the dead of winter, well, really, it was at Christmas so not exactly the dead of winter but you could’ve fooled me.  Snow up to your eyeballs and colder than a witch’s…um, you know.  Anyway, I was sent there to help a woman named Emma Bradshaw get her life back on track.  She was terribly unhappy and thinking about suicide until I stepped in and set her straight.

How did you do that?

Can’t tell you, it’s against the rules to share secrets of the trade so if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you…kidding, I’m kidding, Angels don’t kill people, although the Archangels do everything they can to make the afterlife miserable.  Let’s just say I convinced her she had something to live for after all.  And yes, before you ask, there are rules you have to follow, there’s even an Angel Rule Book, but I can’t talk about that either…unless you’re my next subject and I don’t think you are.  At least, if you are, nobody told me.

Is Gabriel your boss?

No, not really, the way it goes is I answer to a different Archangel with each mission.  Gabriel was my first then Raphael was the second and I don’t have the faintest idea who’s coming up next; Michael, Uriel, or Haniel—one of those guys.

Okay, five missions, each with a different Archangel.  The first one, with Gabriel, was in Maine.  What about the second, the one with Raphael?

That one was in Boston in the summer.  My subject was Val Cortez, a pitcher for the Red Sox.  It was, to say the least, a bit of a challenge for me since I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan but I did what I had to do and got ‘er done.

What happens between the missions?  Do you go back to Heaven?

Nope, I go to some sort of Angel Limbo.  That’s a term I made up for the waiting period between missions.  When I’m there, I’m not aware of anything; it’s sort of like being in a deep coma.  Either that or the Archangels are powerful enough to play around with time, and I don’t go anywhere, they just immediately send me to my next mission.

To tell the truth, I’m still trying to figure out what happens.  My mind’s not geared to sci-fi, I was a mystery writer, you know, so all this space travel and time travel is Greek to me but I think the Archangels know not just what’s already happened but what’s going to happen in the future, and they can send me wherever and whenever I’m needed to complete all the missions that will achieve what they want in the end.

That probably doesn’t make sense but all my missions are tied together and if I’m successful, it means the thing the Archangels want to happen in the future will actually happen.

Let me see if I have this right, if you’re successful on all of your mission it won’t only help your subjects, it’ll also ensure that something that needs to happen in the future does happen.  Right?

Give the lady a cigar.  The Archangels have a plan and I’m the ace up their sleeve because if I don’t get it right, the world’s going to come to an end or something.  I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with an alien encounter sometime in the far distant future, but like I said, I’m not geared for all this sci-fi stuff so I could be wrong.

Okay, so your next mission will involve someone who is connected in some way with your first two subjects, Emma Bradshaw and Val Cortez?

Possibly, but I don’t really know.  Emma and Val never met, hell, they probably don’t even know the other one’s alive, unless Emma’s a Red Sox fan, which is entirely possible since she lives in Maine.  But that’s neither here nor there, the point I’m trying to make is the next subject could be anywhere, at any time.  See, Emma was writing a book which needs to be read by a group of teenagers sometime in the future.  Part of my mission was to make sure she finished the book.  As for Val, he was having marital problems because of some stupid decisions he made pertaining to baseball and my mission was to get him on the right track professionally which would in turn solve his marital problems.  So, my guess is the Archangels needed him to get back together with his wife for procreation purposes, if you get my drift.

I think I do, the Archangels were trying to make sure the Cortez line continued because some future Cortez is an important part of whatever they need to happen

Yep, hey, you’re a pretty smart chickie aren’t you?

Thank you.  One last question and then I’ll let you go back to…wherever you were before the Archangels brought you here.  What do you miss most now that you’re dead?

I think you know the answer to that, writing.  I miss my wife, Carmelita, too, but mostly I miss writing.  Of course, after I get three more missions under my belt, I’ll be able to write again.  I just hope when I get to that point, I’ll leave the clichés behind.  You noticed that nasty little habit, didn’t you?

Yes, I did.

Figured, you’re a writer and any writer worth their salt knows that using a bunch of clichés is tantamount to tattooing “Amateur” on your forehead—or on the cover page of your manuscript, as the case may be.  Am I right or am I right?

I’d have to agree with you on that one.

Okay, so, before I died, I avoided clichés like the plague but since I’ve been dead, I spout them off with a regularity that’s frightening.  I mean, it’s like I can’t say one sentence without throwing out at least one.  It’s frustrating but I can’t seem to help myself and I think it’s the Archangels’ fault.

I noticed you also use quite a few –ly words which is another thing writers shouldn’t do.  Is that the Archangels’ fault too?

Yep, I do.  Hey, wait a minute, you created me, or you brought me back to life after I died so you created my Angel character.  Right?

I did, yes.

So maybe it’s you making me do this.  Is it?

Well, after I saw you, or I guess I should say, someone who looked enough like you to be your twin, I thought it might be kind of fun to give you a few quirks which I was positive you didn’t have in real life.  So I decided to have you do things that all authors know are forbidden, like using a lot of clichés and –ly words.  I can change it in the next book if you like though I’d really like to stay true to that aspect of your character.  It’s kind of liberating for me as a writer, but I guess it can be changed, if you’d really like me to.

Hell, no, it is kind of fun, but if you tell Grumpy Gabe I said that, I’m going to come back from the grave and haunt you till it’s your time to kick the bucket.

Fair enough, I wouldn’t mind having a best-selling author looking over my shoulder.  I’ve enjoyed our talk, Mac, and I look forward to working with you again on your next story.

Hey, do you know where I’m going next?

Yes, I do, but I’m not telling.  By the way, how do you feel about vampires?

Vamps are okay…as long as they don’t sparkle.

Nope, no sparkling, I can promise you that.

Alrighty then, thanks for getting me out of limbo.  Are you sure you don’t have any other questions?  I’d be happy to stay here and chew the fat with you for…oh crap, I guess not.  Excuse me, seems I’m being called home to the angels…

Unwilling Angel is available in ebook at Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise, B&N, and for Amazon’s Kindle, and other online e-tailers.  It is a heartwarming Christmas story along the line of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and and at $2.99–or less, depending on where you buy–it would make a great “virtual” stocking-stuffer!

The second book in the series, Unruly Angel, is finished but I haven’t decided what I want to do with it yet.  Stay tuned…