(Yes, I know I’ve had the countdown before. I am, at times, an unrelenting optimist.)
I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic, lately. Listening to my (admittedly overly-long) playlist. Starting to look at Book Two again, which will pick up two weeks after the events of Book One. I’ve also been searching my boxes of notebooks madly for the original writing I did, seven years ago last month, while sitting with my five-month-old in an uninsulated counsellors’ cabin at a children’s camp, waiting for our house to be ready to move into . . .
Where did this book come from? Why was I crazy enough to pursue it?
Because it demanded to be told. And it wasn’t easy, though so many times I wished it was.
It came out of a memory of a road collapsing in Cobalt, Ontario, sometime after 1989. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any pictures of this event online, though I’m sure someone somewhere has a photo tucked away in an album.
And then, it was fed by my love of romance novels and vampires. The very first romance I ever remember reading was an historical fantasy by Robin Mckinley, called The Blue Sword (still one of my favourites — my first and only copy recently fell apart!), although the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series certainly qualify as bursting with the elements. While I enjoyed the flowery imagery of books about love, I was also drawn to the macabre and the gruesome, the weird and bizarre. I was a big fan of MAD magazine from the age of 10. And the first horrors I read — Salem’s Lot, Dracula, and Tales of the Cryptkeeper — had me hooked on ghost stories and other stories of the paranormal. Films followed, of course: The Watcher in the Woods, Friday the 13th, The Lost Boys, Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (again!), Army of Darkness, The Monster Squad, John Carpenter’s Vampires, and more recently, 30 Days of Night, Twilight, Blade, Underworld, Dawn of the Dead . . .
So when I started working on Wind and Shadow, I was thinking of all of these influences. It reflects and blends some of the qualities of these works, but is also my answer to certain ideas created by best-selling authors. I’m hoping it has the creepiness and sense of doom created by Stephen King in Salem’s Lot, but that the romance carries the reader into loving the protagonists as much as I do. I am a huge fan of the Twilight Saga, even though I don’t agree with some of the choices made by the characters, and so I worked on an opposite scenario. My vampires aren’t, by and large, sexy and stylish at all times. But the allure of vampirism for those whose lives are not ideal is there. What wouldn’t some of us do for eternal youth, rejuvenation, and strength?
A third element of my life and experiences also demanded to bring itself into this vision. I’m Wiccan, and a witch. I enjoy my craft, feel entirely at home in my spirituality, and I wanted a book that embraced it as much as the film Practical Magic. There are an increasing number of fictional books that incorporate Wicca and/or positive witchcraft, as opposed to the wicked witch trope, and I wanted to add to that body with my own work. I’m hoping that fellow Wiccans and witches, and the Pagan community in general, will enjoy seeing some of their beliefs reflected in the trilogy, but also that non-Pagans will enjoy it as well.
Finally, I realized a fourth influence was at work when I was going through the editing process. As a Canadian, I’m well aware that we aren’t always represented in modern romance or paranormal fiction. There are fantastic Canadian authors out there, but I haven’t read many that produce work in these genres. So I found myself guarding my Canadianisms fiercely. After all, the book takes place in Northeastern Ontario, deep in one of the cultural hearts of the nation. It’s almost tempting to make a count of the shout-outs to Canucks near and far!
I’m still in the planning stages for the release party, but I have goodies ready for giving away: a mug, a t-shirt, pens, notebooks, bookmarks, plus some vampire fang necklaces. My heart is starting to pound again with anticipation . . . Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well on June 25th!