Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Canada”

The Great Divide

Today’s Brew:  Not enough

by Kristen

Raised as an American, I was taught to believe that Americans do everything better than everyone else in the world.  As America goes, the rest of the world goes.

Go ahead, foreign and well traveled friends, snicker.  I’ve traveled a lot in the US, had dalliances in Canada and a strange afternoon in Tijuana.  But last weekend was the first time I had a chance to use my passport.  Traveling as an adult is also different that traveling as a kid.  This time I wasn’t chasing rock stars or margaritas.

While I was in Canada, I wanted to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.  I had no point of reference, I simply picked Canada since I was there.  I had expected it to be a little isolated and a national park similar to The Grand Canyon.  It couldn’t be more different.  The main road runs right along the falls, just like it would with a regular quiet stream.  Unfortunately, I’d spent all my Canadian money before I got there and couldn’t pay to park.  I could see plenty from my car, but I just couldn’t take any pictures.

After I finished marveling over the falls, I needed to go find the bridge to bring me back to the states. Along the road to the falls, there was a Sheraton hotel and a Hard Rock Cafe.  Even though I don’t eat meat anymore, seeing a HRC sign always makes me crave one of their cheeseburgers.  I turned left to follow the one way street and my mouth dropped open.

The entire little village was an entertainment wonderland.  Games, a Dracula village, restaurants, stores.  Fun.  I was sad I couldn’t park, because this place looked worthy of exploration.

I crossed the bridge than spans the falls and was excited to see what I would find on the other side.

A high rise casino tower boasted Drew Carey was coming in two weeks.  I drove a block or two further, following the signs to the highway.  Abandoned store fronts greeted me.  A forgotten factory.

What the fuck?

Niagara Falls is spectacular from all angles.  Why the hell is the Canadian side a boom town and the American side a ghost town?  It made me so sad.  How did this happen?  Was it poor decisions?  Was it better financial deals for the developers in Canada?  Was it simple American arrogance that we didn’t need no stinking fun to attract visitors?

Whatever it was, it needs to change.  Besides visiting two museums, I didn’t do any touristy stuff in Toronto.  I saw a lot of the city, and I never saw anything that was bonafide ghetto.  I’m not naive enough to think it doesn’t exist, I just never found it.  The highway leading to Toronto was full of vineyards and businesses, many of them new.  The New York highway showcase many closed factories and abandoned farmhouses.  In all fairness, there were many beautiful farms that looked fully operational and miles of untouched rolling countryside as well.

I’m not anti American at all, if anything the experience made me want to strive for more.  The manager in me always wants to take over and succeed.  But it was an eye opener for me, as all travel should be.  Like in so many other aspects of the world, if you don’t change you get left behind.  I don’t want my country to be left behind.

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Another Country Heard From

Today’s Brew: There is not enough coffee in the world to keep me awake today. It’s 6:30 and feels like midnight.

If you are here as part of the #gutgaa blog hop, welcome! Click here for our pitches and first 150 words.

Immortal Dilemma didn’t start off as much of a dilemma at all. It started as a simple paranormal love story. My only dilemma was how I was going to make it interesting. I needed Callie to find Tristan. I had no intention of making it easy on her. Realistically, how could it be? She has little money, no close friends or allies, and has no idea what she’s up against trying to infiltrate a paranormal rockstar underworld.

Like Janelle suggested, Callie needed a few practice runs out in Vegas before she tried to approach Tristan. When Callie, Janelle, and Amanda went to the party after going to the Bite Marks night club, my only real intention was to show the gritty underbelly of the rock scene. My friends never wanted to go home after the club closed, and I found myself at many strange impromptu parties in the early hours of the morning when I was Callie’s age. The after parties were usually the best part of the night, where the action really happened.

That was true for this party as well. I had no idea Blade would show up and sit down next to Callie. But boy, am I glad I did.

Blade is just as pivotal to Immortal Dilemma as Tristan is. Tristan may be Immortal Dilemma, in every sense of the story, but Blade is the one who added the real conflict. He gets overshadowed by his undead opponent, just being a mere mortal mechanic from Canada, but he is the one who shaped the plot and solidified Callie’s inner conflict. Sure, Tristan isn’t what she expected, or how she last saw him, but without Blade, she might have been able to accept more easily. Blade is the one who shows Callie what she really wants, even if it’s not hers to have.

As feedback on Immortal Dilemma comes in, many readers have questions about Blade. What does he look like? When I first pictured him, I was thinking of him in more Bill and Ted terms. Just a goofy, nice, fun guy Callie met at a party.

But as Blade revealed more of his personality, it was clear he was more than that. I had such a crush on Blade as I wrote the book. I started to picture him more as Casey James from American Idol. Casey never particularly excited me on the show, but he was all I could picture while writing. He just happens to be playing in Boston tomorrow night, and I can’t go because I’m working on a movie this week. The hours are way too brutal to squeeze in an extracurricular trip to the city in the middle. Even if it’s for my book boyfriend.

Vampires, Eh? What’s That All Aboot?

TODAY’S BREW: haz-el-nut! haz-el-nut!

As an ode to the great land of the north, and its many wonderful people that bother to read our blog constantly, I wanted to explore Canadian vampire mythology. While writing Running Away, I am doing a boatload of research into vampire myths from different countries, and because Canada has been so supportive of our blog, I am actually going to have a Canadian vampire in the sequel to Running Home!

The majority of mythology surrounding vampires in Canada stems from the oldest Polish settlement in the country…the Kaszubian settlement in Wilno, in the heart of Ottawa Valley. It is an area rich in heritage, pride, and old world charm, and as it turns out, scary stories.

In the 1969, writer Jan Perkowski was employed by the Canadian Centre for Folklore Studies to research Kaszubian legends. A few years later, he published an 85 page report, “Vampires, Dwarves, and Witches Among the Ontario Kashubs,” which received a lot of attention. The sensationalism of his findings was very distressing to the Polish community, and was actually denounced on the floor of the House of Commons.

Some of the more disturbing highlights of the report, at least for this old-fashioned village, included a photo of a grave surrounded by a picket fence. It was captioned that “if a vampire is not destroyed before he is buried, he rises again and carries off his relatives.” He goes on to say that this occurred in Wilno. “They had to dig it up and cut off the head while he sat in the coffin.” Tactful.

Folklore also tells of vampires called vjeszczi or wupji. Destiny decides who these vampires are at birth. Infants born with two teeth are said to be destined to become wupji. More alarming, babies born with the common condition of “cradle cap” are said to be fated to become vjeszczi. Becoming one of these vampires can be averted by drying the cradle cap (yuck), grinding into dust and feeding it to the child at age 7(double yuck). In Perkowski’s study, he interviewed residents of the Kaszubian settlement, one of which stated that “Mother said that I had a cap on the head and that it was burned. Such a person is supposed to be lucky, but I don’t know.” I would say, yes, you are lucky, friend, that this other option was chosen for disposal of the cradle cap, and you did not get it for dinner.

If we miss the seventh birthday party somehow, the vampire can still be prevented from rising by using one of these methods: 1. Forming the sign of the cross over the body’s mouth. 2. Placing a crucifix or a coin in the mouth. 3. Putting a block under the chin of the body so that it cannot reach its body to eat it. (More on that in a moment.) 4. Placing poppy seeds or sand in and around the coffin, as it is said that the vampire must count every grain before rising. There were also trails of seeds from the grave to the homes of the family members. 5. Put a net in the coffin, as the vampire must untie all the knots before it may rise.

Even with these methods of prevention, still vampires were said to rise and prey upon the village. If this occurs, the tomb should be opened and a nail driven through the forehead. The preferred method, however, is decapitation to free the soul, and then place the severed head between the feet of the body in its coffin. When this was done, blood from the wound would be given to those who had suffered from the vampire’s attack and was believed to help recovery. This, of course, also ties to the modern folklore that vampire blood has healing powers for humans and that vampires heal rapidly, themselves.

The vampires are believed to awaken at midnight, when they then eat their own clothes and flesh. They then visited relatives and sucked their blood. (I love this part.) The vampire would then go to the local church and ring the churchbell. Those who heard it were destined to be the next victim. (Side note: I think this is so eerie and oddly romantic. I know, I’m a creep. I do have to mention that before I knew this, I formed my own vampire mythology in Running Home; where fate decides who becomes vampires, and who becomes victims. I wish I had known about this amazing churchbell story then!)

I also found a legend of an undead spirit in Canada named Mara. She was an unbaptized girl who “visited” people at night, oppressing and crushing them. She is also known in Slavic and German legend, supporting the idea that she is a world-traveling immortal. One of the stories about Mara is that she once drank the blood of a man, and fell in love with him. She returned night after night, plaguing and draining him while he slept, until he eventually died. Other tales tell of her drinking the blood of babies, solely.

I was so pleased to find these fascinating legends in Canadian history, and hope to find more. And once again, thank you, our Canadian friends, for your support.

Hungry for more Vampire history? Check out Bonjour! French Mythology and Sightings.

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