I’m knee deep into my fourth Muddy River novel that I’ve been posting here. My fictional supernatural town is populated by witches, vampires, a fire demon, shifters, a siren, Fae, and Succubi, among others. Part of the fun of writing them is the background that goes with each of them. I’m a fan of myths and legends, old tales and beliefs. Demons were often described as incubi, the infamous creatures who supposedly entered women’s dreams and led them astray. Vampires, of course, have all kinds of baggage that go with them. In some stories, they drain mortals dry while “nice” ones sip from them, but they leave two bite marks on their victims’ necks. Sunlight was their enemy. And writers tweaked how they described them to suit their needs. Almost everyone agrees they were sexy and alluring and could glamour people. Witches have been shown as everything from old crones with wild gray hair and warts on their noses, who offer young girls poisoned apples, to mortals gifted with magic who can use it for evil or good.
In Muddy River, my witches are all good. They have to be with Hester as the leader of the town’s coven. Those who resort to the dark arts are punished or banished. As a matter of fact, every supernatural in my southern Indiana town has to obey the rules or Raven, Muddy River’s enforcer, will banish or incinerate them. And anyone foolish enough to interfere with the town’s citizens will face Hester and Raven, who’ll hunt them down.
In this book–TATTOOS AND PORTENTS–the story takes place in December leading up to Christmas, so I wondered how a witch would celebrate the holiday. And that led me to Yule or the Winter Solstice. For witches, it’s the time of year when the days begin to grow longer and Light returns to the world–a time to celebrate. Yule logs are lit in the fireplace, and candles glow on mantles and window cases. In the books, I’ve put a Druid settlement close to Muddy River, and the witches and Druids share some of the old Celt practices. Aengus and his fellow Druids collect and sell mistletoe. I’ve also put a voodoo village, run by a high priestess, just across the Ohio River. Their religion, too, is based a lot on Nature, but their magic differs from the others.
Occasionally, I’ve bent beliefs and legends to suit my story, but I try to give a true feel to each supernatural. In the chapter today, I introduced a man who’s half Phoenix, half warlock–Cein. Since supernaturals had to scatter and hide to avoid being hunted by mortals, it’s common for them to intermarry, mixing one gene with another. He got lucky. His combination of strengths made him very powerful. But it’s not just genes that have mingled with one another. Over time, supernaturals adopted some of the customs of the mortals they have to deal with so often. So gift giving has become a happy tradition to celebrate friendship and love.
For the holiday season, Muddy River’s streets are decorated with evergreens and lots of lights. Hester’s baking cookies and making candies for when her coven comes to her house to celebrate. Troubles don’t disappear at holidays, though, so Hester and Raven have to find a voodoo priest who’s kidnapping witches, even as they struggle to finish up their holiday chores. And just like them, I hope you can juggle the busyness of the season with the joy it symbolizes. Happy writing!