Bestselling author Eric Nylund told Tor.com that his new novel, Mortal Coils, was inspired, in part, by his experience writing the HALO video game tie-in novels—specifically the parts about the young Spartan super solders as they overcame impossible odds, which he very much enjoyed writing.
“After those novels were published, I got thousands of letters and emails from 13-15 years kids (and their parents) saying they especially enjoyed those parts, too,” Nylund said in an interview. “I knew I’d stumbled onto something universally appealing about being a kid or young teen and kicking some serious butt, so I started thinking: How far can I take this?”
Mortal Coils follows Eliot and Fiona Post, who think their parents are dead, but on their fifteenth birthdays they find out their mother was a goddess and their father is Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. “Both sides of this estranged family want the children, so to decide who they belong with the gods fashion three heroic trials for the twins to endure...while the fallen angels concoct three diabolical temptations for them to survive,” Nylund said.
Eliot and Fiona are fifteen-year-old twins and have genius IQs. “They’ve been raised in the overly strict household of their grandmother and must abide by a list of 106 rules,” Nylund said. “Although half divine and half infernal—they are also nerds and extraordinarily socially awkward.”
Nylund said that the novel required quite a lot of research due to the scope of its mythology. “I had to assemble a cast of characters that stretches across all of history (and well before history) through several mythologies, religions, as well as fairy tales,” he said.
An interesting thing happened as Nylund researched a dozen or so mythologies and religious: connection quite naturally appeared across cultures. “Loki in one story did the same things as Coyote in another,” Nylund said. “From these interconnections was just a short leap to spin stories wherein Angels and Valkyries fight the forces of evil in one battle...and then after the victory celebration drunken Valkyries brawl their divine counterparts and cause a rift between Norse and Christian religions! There’s a mytho-historical synergy that I think my readers will enjoy.”
When asked if the novel was personal to him, Nylund replied that anyone who is part of a family knows what kind of a Mexican soap opera of a drama that can be. “This novel is like anyone’s family...only magnified to larger than life proportion by a few orders of magnitude,” he said.
Although Moral Coils is the first of five novels in a new series, Nylund promised that it stands alone, and has a nice solid ending, so those with a series phobia should have no fear.