By Don DeBrandt
Angel’s dark side, the monster with the beautiful face. When
I was preparing to write Shakedown (the fifth novel in the Angel series), I knew my portrayal of Angelus would be critical. I had to capture not only his ruthlessness, but the exuberant joy he took in his cruelty. I also knew it wouldn’t be a problem, because Angelus was already a character I was all too familiar with.
See, I went to high school with him.
I grew up in a small town; too small, in fact, to have its own high school. It was decided that the students from my community–and a few other, nearby small towns–would be bused to a central, slightly larger town, where we would all learn together. I don’t know about anyone else, but I learned a lot. Some lessons took longer to sink in, but it’s amazing what repetition will do.
I learned to always carry the book I was reading with the back cover facing outward and the spine toward the floor; it made the book harder to identify, giving them less fuel with which to mock me. I learned that ignoring someone who’s abusing you will never make them go away; it will only make them try harder. And I learned that adults, no matter how well-meaning, can’t protect you from a determined predator.
Not that I was any stranger to bullying. I was always bright, already reading by the time I hit first grade; in a school populated mainly by …