I'm pleased to welcome Sandy Wright as guest blogger today. Take it away, Sandy.
They say write what you know. The idea for my debut paranormal suspense novel, Song of the Ancients (released May 18), came from my own personal evolution. The spiritual paths in the Southwest are so diverse and some are so ancient they've become myths. I had always been interested in nature-based religions, so widening that study to encompass the Native American spirituality of the area seemed a natural progression. Then I blended in Wicca and witchcraft.
It was interesting to introduce the concept of witchcraft, seen through the eyes of an ordinary, non-magical woman, and experience her reactions and disbelief. My main character moves to Sedona, AZ to start anew after her divorce. Instead, she becomes the prey in an ancient power struggle to control the magic hidden in those red rocks. To survive, she has to learn the rules of her new world, and readers get to learn earth magic, witchcraft and shamanism along with her.
While I did a lot of research for this book, the magical stuff I drew from my own Wiccan background and practice.
Sedona is but one earth "power point" in the world. The series will take Samantha and Nicholas, as well as a few secondary characters, to adventures at other sacred sites. The second book in the Ancient Magick series, tentatively titled Fire of the Ancients, takes place in Hawaii and involves Pele, the Goddess of fire and volcanos. Every place of power is surrounded by its own history and myths, energies and sacred practices, but do we really know why these places are so venerated? There's a wealth of material here for a series.
But before I start on Fire, I'm veering away from sacred sites and magic for a murder suspense, Full Moon Crossing. It involves a philandering husband who plots to murder his wife and use the Arizona border's human and drug smuggling conflict as a cover-up. The smuggling topic is so controversial right now, I want to get the book out while the headlines support it. And I'm pulling Rumor Vargas, a secondary character in my first book, and giving her a main character billing in this book.
I just got home from a wonderful readers' convention, AZ Dreamin', last week. One of the most common questions readers asked authors is, "Coming up with an idea is one challenge, but how do you write a whole novel? How do you put it all together?"
I was a journalist before writing novels. I've also been a middle school English teacher. As a journalist, you research, then put your facts in order, and then you write your lead. To write an essay, you follow the same process: Research your information, put it in logical essay order. Then begin writing. So that makes me what fiction writers call a "plotter," as opposed to a "pantster," who sits down at the desk and start streaming thoughts together as they occur. I tend to do additional in-depth research as I go. Often that research changes the direction of the story, or the emotional motivation of a character. So I go back and tweak my plot outline, or my character's reactions, to make them more authentic. I love research!
Sometimes the kernel of an idea for a character comes from unlikely sources. I have J.K. Rowling to thank for my primary male character, Nicholas Orenda. I read her whole series and was deeply disappointed at how easily she killed off Severus Snape. Such a fascinating, complex character, and then…poof! Done in by a snake without the hint of a fight. I started fiddling around with that type of personality, a man who is infinitely talented, but flawed. A character who will consider bending the moral codes to accomplish his goals. Is he a villain? Uhm, no. Can you depend on him unconditionally? Double uhm. Nicholas is the thorn in my protagonist's side. In her eyes—and maybe the reader's eyes also—he looks like that bad boy every mother dreads. He acts like the antagonist, ferreting out Samantha's inner weaknesses. As their relationship progresses, however, when he's satisfied she is worth saving, he will switch sides and root for her. Because really, is love ever straight-up easy?
Thank you so much for visiting with me today!
What would you die for?
Samantha Danroe doesn’t believe in magic. Her ex-husband cured her of happily-ever-after when he cheated on her three days after saying I-do.
She doesn’t believe in ghosts. Until her mother’s ghost rises from a Halloween bonfire with a warning of death from beyond the grave.
And she certainly doesn’t believe in witchcraft. Until she becomes the prey in an ancient war waged between good and evil. A war whose rules she must scramble to learn to stay alive.
In need of protection, Samantha turns to the mysterious Nicholas Orenda, a sixth-generation witch on the trail of a creature who is systematically killing off his family. According to his family’s prophecy, three will be sacrificed to the dark. His mother and grandmother are already dead, and Nicholas doesn’t have time to play by the rules.
What would you die for?
Samantha finds herself in the center of a deadly hunt for a mysterious foe. Can she find the strength to defeat a supernatural killer and prevent the third sacrifice? Or will she be the catalyst that opens the gates to the Underworld?
Song of the Ancients is the debut book in the Ancient Magic series.
Readers interested in witchcraft, shamanism—or just the dark side of the supernatural world around us—will enjoy this paranormal suspense, written by a real-life Wiccan High Priestess. Look for information on the next book in the Ancient Magic series in 2016.
Ms. Wright has been authentic to Witchcraft, blending in real spells and rituals throughout her tale. The landscape and its traditions are strong characters.”
~ Lady Caria Dawn, High Priestess, Circle of the Moon, Fairfax, VA