Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Archive for the tag “witches”

Julie’s Version of a Strong Female Character

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Mint until my heart grows legs and runs away

By Julie

joss whedon quotes

This quote from the almighty Whedon makes me swell with pride. That strong women are on the radar, that we’re moving forward. Also, like Joss, IT INFURIATES ME AND MAKES MY INSIDES BURN LIKE A FOREST FIRE.

I’m overjoyed–OVERJOYED–to be writing fresh words again (ahem, the mark of a strong woman), on the sequel to a book that I finished (strong). The main characters are five witches. I’m going to account for here, what makes them strong, and there probably won’t be anything about magic.

  • they’ve all faced oppression, abuse, questionable (gently worded) parenting methods, and still face every day
  • they make lots of mistakes, and keep moving forward
  • they learn to support each other despite coming from a place where they were taught to hate each other
  • their sexuality and identifications. Enough said.
  • they’ve been called failures and fight to prove to themselves that they’re not–even when they fail
  • they break rules that don’t work and make new ones, that sometimes work but often don’t and they keep making more
  • the way they fight their Big Bad has yes, a lot to do with magic, but a lot more to do with overcoming their fears and thinking outside the rules set for them
  • they get back up
  • they all have vices, none of them are solely “good,” and none of them are “the bad girl with a heart of gold,” or the villain. They’re all more than one thing.
  • they’re seventeen–and hold a world together out of necessity. They’re afraid and they still do it. They do it because they’re afraid. They look for answers to find a way out of it. They screw up a lot, sometimes irreversibly. They move on. All traits of what strong adults do, and what strong adult women do. It starts somewhere.

None of them know karate. None of them are trying to prove themselves to a boy. Some of them have body issues, some of them have drug problems, some of them are smart-mouthed but it’s not the only thing that defines them. They’re more than one thing. I didn’t write them with the intent of being “strong female characters,” I wrote people. I wrote people I’d want to know, people with thick stories, opinions, journeys within themselves to take. I didn’t write them “as teens,” I wrote them as people.

IT’S TRUE, TEENS ARE PEOPLE AND THAT’S NOT THE ONLY THING THEY ARE.

The thing about each of these young women that I think is cool is that if you were to ask them what makes them strong, their answers would be widely varied, if they thought they were strong at all.

What we think of them is not necessarily what they think of themselves. Not everyone will agree on what makes a person strong–or a girl strong–or a woman strong. One thing that is true without question is that it will be questioned whether or not they’re strong female characters.

To that, I say, I don’t have to prove a thing to anyone.

 

 

 

The Stories Inside the Stories: Research with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Anything I can get my hands on

By Julie

BIG NEWS at least for me. I finished editing THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, the young adult novel I’ve been working on for a long, long time. You guys, I’m so ridiculously proud of and in love with this story, I hope you all are too when it finally sees the light of day. Next step, it goes out to a select few readers, I query it to a few places, and I bounce in my seat until I can’t breathe with excitement.

There’s a theme of morning glories in the book. I had a lot of fun doing research on them, their symbolism, how they grow, stories about them. Here is one story that I fell in love with, that felt a lot like my characters, Celeste, the Witch of Stars, and Lux, the Demon Prince of Lust. I had no real opportunity to use this folklore in the novel, but wanted very much to share it.

The Morning Glory in Chinese Art

The star-shaped morning glory is symbolic of a single day each year in which the Chinese lovers, Chien Niu and Chih Neu, are allowed to meet. According to Chinese lore, Chien Niu was a boy start who was entrusted to take care of water buffalo in the heavenly kingdom. A girl star named Chih Neu was put in charge of seamstress duties. They fell in love, and the romance caused them to neglect their duties. In anger, God forced the young lovers to be separated on both sides of the Silver River and allowed then to meet only once during the whole year.

morning glory black

morningGlories1

Between the morning glory growing in the driest dirt, harshest light, against all odds and the star-crossed lover theme that doesn’t quite work for Celeste, who refuses not to grow, and the silver river and silver is ALL OVER THE PLACE in this book, and the star shaped blooms and the colors of the flowers which symbolize love and reaching for the unreachable, and what Celeste has to do with her coven of Witches whose mothers are doing all they can to prevent them from growing AAAAAHHHHHHH INSPIRATION OVERLOAD.

I luck out a lot and things that I’ve already worked into my novels turn out to have these amazing stories behind them that weave right into my story. It happened a lot with RUNNING AWAY, with the stories of Izanagi and Izanami, the mythological creators of Japan. Izanagi, god of death fit right into my needs in the sequel, as did the “shadowy land of the dead,” Yomi, where the god’s wife was trapped, for which Izanagi was much at fault. The end of their terrible story, where Izanami in her fury promises to take a thousand lives every day and Izanagi promises to create fifteen hundred more, gave me all too much material to create a fresh new vampire story in RUNNING AWAY.

Izanagi

Anyway, it just goes to show you how much I overthink my writing and how every goddamn word has probably too much meaning in my books. Enjoy.

Kristen’s Supernatural Stamp Of Approval

Today’s brew:  Seasonal Nog.  It’s soy “egg” nog and quite delicious. It’s amazing with Kahlua, but it’s Monday for the love of God and I have to be up at 4:30 AM. You need to know when to say when.

Since Julie told you about all the supernatural things I hate yesterday, I thought it might be wise to to follow up with the supernatural creatures that send my heart pitter pattering, or at the very least, don’t make me roll my eyes in disgust and say “not again!”

1.  Vampires.  Big surprise here.  I will never get my fill.  I prefer my vamps to be dark and a little scary. For me, some of the lure of vampires is that they are those dangerous creatures you just can not resist.  There are so many different legends to pull from, but at the core they all hold certain similarities.  There’s also many unique ways to interpret these legends while staying true to tradition.

2.  Witches. Let’s face it, witches kick ass.  It helps if you have some supernatural talent, but anyone can learn to be a witch.  Get a spell book and the proper supplies, and believe.  It’s like a religion.  I would love to see a witch who really just sucks at her witchness, and watch the mayhem and foolishness ensue.

3. Gods.  Greek Gods, Roman Gods, Chinese Gods.  All fascinating.  I recently read Kylie Chan’s White Tiger and found the Chinese mythology to be far more intriguing that the romantic plot.  Just because of that, I would be interested in reading the further in the trilogy.  I’ve also read some of Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord which is rich a thick and fascinating.

4. Historical Figures.  File under the same category as Gods.  Education was wasted on me when I was young.  My mind wasn’t ready.  Set any of these figures in any historical period and I’m interested.  I admire anyone who tackles the historical research needed to get it right.

5.  Astrology.  No one loved Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series as much as I did, and that’s your loss.  I loved the thought of the astrological signs holding powers and having significant events shape the signs of the Zodiac.  I was so sad when these books ended after only six signs of the Zodiac.  I was down for twelve of these books. Are you listening Vicki?

6.  Rock Stars.  Sigh.  Okay, so I know they’re mostly mere mortals, but they have the ability to hold us in a supernatural spell.

7.  Real People.  If you can get me to fall in love with a character who’s just plain old human, then you, dear author, posses super powers all your own.

 

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