When William Loving wrote his first novel, “City of Angles,” he wanted to focus on something meaningful to him: the importance of community and recovering from tragedy.

Due out September 15, “City of Angles” follows character Homer Virgil Innes after he loses his job as a journalist after the 2008 recession. The story parallels Loving’s life as the recession claimed his job at the LA Times.

“I based his situation kind of on mine, but everything after [the beginning] is made up,” said Loving, a Pasadena resident.

In the book, Innes faces multiple tragedies, including a fire and the disappearance of his son, Caleb. His trek to find him takes him around Southern California, most notably to Los Angeles.

Jobless and without hope, Innes finds himself homeless for a good portion of the book. His search stalls when a mysterious art collector takes him in.

“The original idea for the novel actually came from seeing homeless people on the streets of Pasadena,” Loving said.

Loving was not expecting his book to hit the public during a pandemic. He spent a year writing it and three years trying to get it published. Heliotrope Books bought the book last December.

Loving has wanted to be a novelist since he was 18, following “an unusual path to a first novel.” He entered Kenyon College to study English but found his “true calling” in journalism.

After the LA Times, Loving landed a corporate gig. However, his original dream of being an author haunted him.

Loving did not just write the book to fulfill his dream.

“I think the book really exists in several different levels,” Loving says. “For me the importance [of the book] is finding meaning in your life by serving others.”

In the book, Innes does find a new focus after suffering loss, by helping others who are in a similar situation as him.

“He has to learn the lesson of other people helping him,” Loving said. “Community and friendship and mutual support with other people is the most important thing. There are plenty of examples in my life where, maybe, I was stubborn and egocentric and had to reach out to other people and consider the effect of my actions on other people.”

His love of novels and classic works shines through in the book. “City of Angles” is inspired by Roman poet Virgil’s famous piece “The Aeneid,” with the main character searching for new meaning in life after tragic loss.

On page 81, he wrote, “He thought again of Orwell, who had said poverty ‘annihilates the future,’ focusing the mind on the present moment, the next meal, eliminating the ability to plan rationally for the future. He understood that now.” 

“City of Angles”
Heliotrope Books