Patricia A. Jackson’s debut novel Forging a Nightmare immerses the reader in a world of menace—fallen angels and demigods whose history of alliances and resentments stretch to the beginning of time. Jackson puts a fresh spin on biblical characters like Gabriel and Lucifer by turning them into FBI agents, a parish priest, a homeless preacher and other seemingly ordinary folks who pursue ancient vendettas in modern day New York City.
On the surface, the story is about a series of grisly murders. But underneath, it is about much more: a son grappling with his father’s abandonment, the persecution of “the other” and the revelation that maybe Hell isn’t the unremittingly evil place we thought it was.
The hero is Michael Childs, a Black FBI agent who competes in jousts (at the opening of the book, he shows up at the scene of a grisly murder clad in medieval armor) and who (unbeknownst to him) descends from divinity. His sidekick is Anaba Raines, a Black former Marine and the eponymous Nightmare, whose transformation into a fierce and hellish horse makes her a formidable foe to angels seeking to do Michael harm.
Like Childs, Jackson is an experienced equestrian. “I think every character is an extension of the author, and I am Michael Childs,” Jackson says. “I would go to horse shows and I would be in my boots and my breaches and my show jacket, and I would go to the mall or I would go to the bank, or I would go to the jewelry store dressed in my duds, sometimes with odor of horse upon me. And people would just kind of look around. And it wasn’t just because you were dressed in horse gear. You are a Black girl dressed in horse gear, and they had never seen that before.”