A wonderful agent from a publishing house replied to me about The Sylph's Tale here is my partial and anonymous response:
I so appreciate that you truly wanted to like The Sylph’s Tale and after reading comments by your acquisition department I felt great shame and was going to trash the book but realized that it’s because I haven’t come to terms with some of the issues they brought up so, I am immensely grateful that they did and that you shared their comments with me.
I was brought up a Catholic and in a convent for my early education. Prayer and mass was a daily event and I was truly devoted. Before that, poliomyelitis limited what I could do so many of my days were spent in the attic of my grandparents store where they kept books no one bought. Sitting on a crate by a small window under a lightbulb strung from the ceiling I slowly poured over their pages - I am also dyslexic so I don’t read fast. All kinds of stories interested me but my favorites were novels and books about saints. That Jesus was born from a virgin mother always fascinated me but at the time I didn’t know much about sex.
Why am I telling you all this? Not sure, but its like I’m trying to say that morality is not something I take lightly, I’m not a prude and have lived at times a risky life, but that was then, this is now. Please excuse me taking so much of your time but I just started to submit my book, the first in my series, and other than the usual “not interested” I haven’t received comments that will serve me as immensely as those you have shared with me, thank you.
Now, about The Sylph’s Tale: it has rocked me to the core and when I started the journey with Ayekah it was so impactful that it almost ruined my marriage. It came to me in dreams and apparitions that plunged me into confusion. Gerona, a leading protagonist in book two, VIRGINS, experiences my turmoil. However, even though my career was not related to anthropology or history (I retired after almost three decades of working for the government, the last 20 as a research analyst), studies of past human cultures through investigation of physical evidence is my favorite subject.
Because of Ayekah, the relationship between angle/humans and religious themes, including Jesus, dragons and other mythical beings, as well as paranormal events and terror are prevalent throughout my Immortals series.
Book three, ROLO is a mix of science, and horror. There are sexual parts in every one of the books — but not more than in The Sylph’s Tale - that shame me even though the angle/humans myth is in the Bible and Torah. The rape scene of the tribesmen was hard to write but such things were part of primitive clans. Please know, I'm a tenacious advocate of women’s rights. And excuse me for taking so much of your time, but like I said this is also an exercise for me to take the shame or dealing with the reality of what the series is: very provocative and maybe scandalous and can I cope with it?
The words of a dear friend, an author who first read it years ago still give me chills, she said I see a cult forming from this. I should have stopped writing it then but it had stopped being a choice as I was taken into other realms by Ayekah. I truly don’t feel he is evil, he doesn’t rape virgins, he and Haya helped end such rituals. He uses his light for the firstborn from every virgin to be an angel/human. They liberated pubescent girls from forced mergers. Because he, Haya and the Mardi (Haya’s invisible guide) women in the clan become “emancipated.” Do things, only males could, also learn to free their sexuality and choose partners.
Comment I respect and will use some of it in my warning: “I don’t recommend because of the touching upon this fictional ancient tribal (?) practice of pubescent girls being raped by the male leaders as a rite of passage.” I put a warning in each book even though readers point out that "begets" in the Bible is about sex between “close” relatives; how else did Adam and Eve populate the earth? The comments from your publishers are right on target and I will use them to describe my book and warn others of the subject matter for I don’t want anyone reading them without knowing what's involved.
Some comments I love: “this is a story of an angel fallen from grace. He becomes fascinated with human feelings and procreation. He is tempted into having sex with Haya and falls in love with her. The Almighty damns him to be soulless, a sylph, retaining much of his powers as an angel but unable to die. While she is alive, she and other very young females are impregnated by the Sylph, and the resulting children are smarter, stronger, etc., than human children. He makes a life with Haya but when she eventually dies of old age, he wishes he could die. In anger, he turns his efforts to tempting other angels to do as he has done. The Almighty sends the great flood to try to exterminate the progeny of the fallen angels.”
After your email I asked myself what novelists do I like that deal with sex and primitive clans but not in a porno way and they include: Jean M. Auel, Arthur Golden - Memories of A Geisha, Mary Mackey - Earth Song series, James Clavel - Shogun, George RR Martin - Game of Thrones, and Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid’s Tale. Controversial novels about religion that have become top-selling movies include Jesus Christ Super Star and The Last Temptation of Christ.
Immense thanks for: "That said, this is intelligently and generally well-written in the style of storytelling that reminds me of mythology. However, the first third of the story in particular felt pretty filled with the angst and lament of whether he was following the Almighty’s wish and shouting/pleading for guidance.” I can understand and agree with: " I am uncomfortable with the use of Bible stories and background being used so thoroughly in fiction. Noah’s Ark and the flooding of the earth, Jesus teaching followers and being persecuted/crucified, it feels strange, and I believe may be offensive to many readers."
Also the care that the reviewer took in writing: “the author wrote sparingly of those things, and it is to her credit that she could flesh out those scenes with few sentences.” I am asked by others to write in more detail about the sexual elements but refuse because the series is not about sex it is: “Granted, it is understandable for readers to be shown the background of such stories to give weight to this tale. In the way of myth”
I truly would love to get more understanding about this: “ found that I sometimes was mildly lost in the logic.” So glad for the: “here was plenty of interesting detail and explanation of the mundane activities of the human community/tribe”. Because I’ve been asked to write more on this and I agree that there's enough. Understand, even though I would love for that not to be the case: “Still, I don’t believe there would be an adequate readership for this tale and do not recommend offering a contract.”
It is evident that the acquiring editors who made these comments are: “highly seasoned readers, reviewers, critiquers, etc. and we trust their judgement.”
Last but not least, dear xxxxxx, thank you for "But, know that what our house feels isn’t what all houses will feel so I encourage you to submit the story to other houses. I’m certain there is a house that would be willing to publish Sylph’s Tale.” I apologize for taking so much of your time with my explanations and comments.
Thank you to the readers for taking the time to make very helpful comments. I will continue to submit and if you think of houses please let me know.