Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crafting a Monster: The Makings of Red-Woman

In the second book in my Shamans of the Divide series, Fall into Fire, I had to come up with a bigger, badder antagonist than the shambling, ogre-demons (called dzoavits) in book one.

The whole idea behind the series was to take local legends and sort of morph them into these intelligent, nasty forces our heroes have to deal with a la Supernatural or Grimm.

In that first book, Ghosts of July, the monsters were more animalistic and not very human in their targeting or violence. They roared a lot...they basically held up a convenience store...but they weren't intelligent in the manner that they could monologue a decent threat against July and Renn.

 So in the second book, I needed more...

I toyed with the idea of a vampire (I know, I know...forgive me.) and somehow, I stumbled upon a website full of Crow legends. There was a very small entry for a being known as Red-Woman who operated out of jealousy--basically killing a woman because she had won the heart of the tribe's heartthrob. In the short legend I found, Red-Woman take's her victim's unborn twin sons and tosses them in a river and  behind a hut.

The legend goes on. The twins actually outsmart the Red-Woman and resurrect their mother. Happy ending, right? Unfortunately, nothing was mentioned about whether or not they actually got rid of the demoness permanently.

I can't say that I actually liked Red-Woman (how can someone actually like a jealous, psychotic baby thrower?) but I saw so much potential with her.

The fun part of fiction is that you can use things like legends as vehicles--a shell for you to use to create something specific to your needs.

In Fall into Fire, I mostly stuck to Red-Woman's roots and gave a tiny not to her beginnings in a scene where my heroine, July, is doing book research. But because the legend was so sparse, I had an open canvas to create my monster.

In the book, Red-Woman feeds off of negative emotions--especially jealousy. The stronger she gets, the more powerful she becomes and eventually, she begins manipulating the emotions of the book's teenage characters. (Probably not such a long shot, there. Having been a teenager many moons ago, I can attest it didn't even take a jealous spirit to incite crazy emotions in me.)

So from this small website, I created intelligent, terrifying entity who knows how to play up insecurities and feelings of isolation and regret to manipulate humans.

I did something similar as I write this third installment in the series, but I'll have to tell you more about that after publication. No spoilers!

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