Gimme just a second, folks…
BORIS! Scotch and soda…and don’t overdo the rocks this time!
It’s been a busy few weeks around here! Of course, I’ve been pretty well invisible around the bar, but I promise I had some really good reasons. Keeping my grades up at school has been a major concern, but if my calculations are correct, as of Thursday I was pulling down a 3.7 GPS! (Yes, that was intentional…and thank you if you got the joke!) Then of course there’s been the usual frantic final editing, tweaking, assembling a cover (Thank you, Bill Fish and Kierce Sevren!) and other myriad details that go into getting a book ready for release to the general public. Add in the day job, the ever-present problem of trying to get enough sleep, study sessions, and various campus goings-on, and you’re looking at one crazy busy guy!
Oh, yes, and of course the reading on Saturday at Braun Books in Cedar City! I’m really excited about this, because it’ll be my first official reading. Good thing I’m an expert multitasker, because keeping track otherwise would be impossible!
But tonight, the big news of the moment is the release of Wail!
There were two big factors working together to bring Wail into being. First, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo 2010. 50,000 words in one month? Yikes…gotta bring my A game for this one! But I’m pleased to report that I wrote 95,000 in twenty writing days.
The second factor was author Kim Harrison.
After reading White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows #7), I found myself vaguely dissatisfied with the banshee she’d created. Not that Kim Harrison is a bad writer by any means! In fact, if I happen to be at the bookstore with a few extra ducats and I see a Kim Harrison novel, chances are I’m snatching it. (Unless a new Jim Butcher’s in. Then all bets are off.) But although the overall story arc worked, the banshee wasn’t anything like I remembered from what I know about folklore (a considerable if not in fact frightening amount. Ah, the joys of misspent youth…), and, truth be known, left me a little cold. Which is RARE when it comes to Kim Harrison books.
Anyway, this portrayal of the banshee left me with a question, and a mental challenge.
Why were so many authors, who’d gleefully delve into territory that’s already been covered ad nauseum such as vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, ignoring banshees? As a scary legend, the banshee ranks up there with the Headless Horseman in my personal pantheon of horror. Was the banshee, alone out of all the ghouls, monsters, spirits, and harbingers of death, somehow off limits?
If it was, I missed the memo.
So I started doing some research. Heavy, serious research like I haven’t done before or since. I learned more about the legend of the bean’sidhe (properly pronounced bawn-CHAY, as per my brother, an Irish Gaelic scholar in addition to his many other talents) and her Scots and Welsh cousins in three weeks than I had ever known, including the five noble Irish houses which were claimed to have an attendant Fae cry the caioneadh
(pronounced, as best I can make it, queen-YAH) or wailing for the dead. However, for those houses not so fortunate or noble, a village woman would perform the service. Think about a professional singer who performs at funerals and you’ve got the gist.
After I had the banshee down cold, I then had to work out a setting. Boston seemed a logical choice, considering the large population of people of Irish descent there, but then came the task of creating an entire family tree and history. This, of course, entailed more research of Irish history, folklore, and legend running all the way back to Manus Dubh, the Boy Rigan (King) of Tyrconnell. And in my research, I stumbled across the perfect setting to satisfy me.
The pictures I saw of the wild north coast of Ireland called to mind the shrill scream of pipes, the beat of drums, and the cries of man and beast plunged into desperate, doomed combat. The mystique of that land is such, to my mind, that it fired something in my blood, some wild and untamed echo of a Celtic warrior whose blood I may have inherited from somewhere in the dim past. And I knew this was the place for my banshee, and the birthplace of the family she’d cursed. I could no more have not written Wail after seeing those pictures than I could have refused to breathe air. I had to take this amazing, beautiful, unforgiving, blood soaked land and immortalize it as I saw it that night.
Of course, I had a lot of more prosaic research to do, both in preparation and during the actual writing of the story. I had to learn about Ogham script; Aer Lingus departure and arrival times from Boston to key points; the cost of an international flight to Ireland; the in-flight movies that were current at the time; and the exchange rate of the dollar to the Euro. But even at the most tedious, the echoes of the pipes and the stark grandeur of the Northern Ireland headland I kept seeing in my mind more than made up for the otherwise boring task.
Then of course there came the inevitable editing, plucking, tweaking, and assembling the entire mess into something that resembled a professionally formatted book, but I’ll spare you the grisly details. Besides, if you’re reading this, you’re not reading the grisly tale I came here to talk about!
I will say this, however, before I call it a night. I got a wonderful review from Charlie Kravetz, a Goodreads reviewer, off the ARC copy I sent for his perusal. Here’s an excerpt, but you’ll have to go to Goodreads to get the whole story!
Powerful, mesmerizing story that will scare and delight the reader.
Ancient Gaelic writing, banshees, and the Irish combine to create a
mystery for Heather Kelly. Why is she receiving messages? Who is
sending these messages? Can she find the answers before her baby
comes, or will she die giving birth?
I would definitely recommend this to all those who read horror
stories, including the Stephen King audience
Very high praise, very much appreciated!
Wail is available now at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241022 in all major ebook formats, and a paperback version will be forthcoming from Createspace in the next couple of days. As soon as that’s up, I’ll let y’all know.
Well, I’m off to bed. School starts early on Mondays and this manuscript mage needs his sleep if he’s going to keep the spells coming!
Until next time,