Building Paranormal Ideas from Legends
Paranormal stories rely on the author's ability to create a world that encourages the reader's suspension of belief.
I don’t do a lot of plotting, but making sure your characters paranormal abilities (and inabilities) are clear and consistent requires some planning. You don't want to get halfway through the book and have to explain how/why a character suddenly gains a new ability or inability (unless of course you have a good reason to do so). That's like knowing that the character has a cell phone in his/her pocket, but when they are locked in a room, they can't figure out how to call out for help. Likewise, a vampire who can suddenly "glamour" a victim two-thirds of the way through the book when he's never had/used/mentioned that ability is equally problematic.
When I need inspiration for paranormal or supernatural characters, I look for old myths and legends to see where the creatures originated. Creating a basis for supernatural occurrences within historical beliefs creates credibility with the reader. There is a reason certain stories survive, and a reason why certain supernatural elements - ghosts, vampires, werewolves - are so widespread. And understanding when and why legends originated may give you hints into how you can adapt the legend for your own purposes.
The paranormal entities in Fractured Legacy aren’t derived from one particular legend. But there were some old myths that influenced the decisions I made while writing. For example, there are a number of legends that reference the vengeful spirit of a mother who lost her child. In Japanese folklore, the Mu-onna has been known to protect children, but she may also try to merge with them—to do so she must put the child’s soul to sleep. You’ll have to read Fractured Legacy to see what aspects of the legend made it into the story.
Don't just set out to be original or do something different—give your mind a few pieces of kindling and let it do the rest as it tries to make sense of the legends and stories. The originality will follow as your imagination fills in the gaps.
INTERVIEW WITH JONAH:
Skye: Hi Jonah, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.
Jonah: I don’t recall having much of a choice in the matter.
Skye: Um… well, tell us a little about yourself.
Jonah: I’m originally from Minnesota, I moved around a lot and now I do research for Aicil and manage the office in Ohio.
Skye: Can you be more specific? Tell us about some of the creatures you’ve tracked down for Aicil!
Jonah: *Grimaces* I’m not at liberty to openly discuss our work.
Skye: Fine, are you at liberty to discuss your tattoos?
Jonah: You’ve been talking to Kaylyn again, haven’t you? You shouldn’t listen to everything she says.
Skye: Hah, I’m the one person in the world she can’t lie to.
Jonah: We’ll see.
Skye: (He looks like he’s holding back a smile, but I can’t really tell. Hmpf) You’re just as bad with cryptic statements and secrets as Kaylyn.
Jonah: Yes, but unlike Kaylyn I’m willing to concede when I know a secret could get people seriously hurt. Any more questions?
Skye: *pauses* Are you ever wrong?
Jonah: *smirks, then his face hardens and becomes unreadable* Yes. I was wrong to let Kaylyn take the Teague Hotel case, and because of that, I risked both of our careers and her life.
Skye: Any thoughts on what will happen with you two?
Jonah: I’m sure we will continue to berate each other for the foreseeable future. She and Cole seem to have a knack for attracting trouble. Whoever decided that assigning those sisters as partners should have his head examined.
Skye: Wasn’t that Carlisle?
Jonah: Case and point. Are we done?
Skye: Fine. Go back to work.
INTERVIEW WITH SKYE:
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Right after I learned to write my name. I've always loved creating stories and fantasy lands—they were usually complete with ghosts and vampires and heroes on motorcycles. My family was lucky to drag me out of the library most of the time, and I always had a pile of paranormal stories waiting to be read--I remember R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Bruce Coville the most. It wasn't long before I started writing similar stories.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Outside of my family, the biggest support has come from my beta readers. I never imagined meeting such wonderful (and often crazy) people. They've all been helpful in getting the finished product together and motivating me to write and edit when I need to.
What is your writing process?
I just write. I've never done a lot of planning or outlining in the technical sense, I leave it up to the characters to lay out the details. First drafts are normally handwritten with a fountain pen in my journal, then, I begin typing it up, putting things in the right order, adding details, etc.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Description. I nearly fall out of my chair every time someone compliments my "knack for description." If asked, I can layout every detail of the locations, characters, etc, down to the color of the carpet in the trunk of Kaylyn's car. But when I'm writing (and reading) those details never seem as important as what the characters are saying and doing.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work in a non-profit business consulting office doing everything from research and writing, to marketing and event coordination.
What project are you working on now?
The next book in the Darkness Bound Series. Kaylyn's sister, Cole, finally gets to take center stage for a while in this one, so we'll get to see more into the relationship between the sisters. And Jonah... well, he's not doing so well.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
You can either write or aspire to write. If you want to be a writer sit down, get rid of unnecessary distractions (like the word aspiring), and write. My next bit of advice would be to find a good support group--online or in person--having other writers around to critique, offer suggestions, and sometimes just chat about life in general is the most valuable resource you can find.
Kaylyn pulled the covers over her head as if they could block out the ruckus threatening her sleep. After another series of knocks on the front door, she was left in silence again. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
She held her breath.
Sure enough, a floorboard creaked, then her sister’s voice rang out. “Come on Kay. You can’t avoid me when I have a key. We’re going to be late.”
“Go away, Cole. I’m sick.”
“Bull shit. If anything you’re hung over.”
“I haven’t had a drink in weeks.” Although at the moment, she thought, I’d kill for one…or several. “We’ve worked for Carlisle for more than three years, he won’t—”
“We have a meeting. Mr. Edwards. Historical Society. Wooden box engraved with occult symbols. Ring a bell?”
Oh yeah. Kaylyn groaned as she flipped the covers off her head. Her younger sister stood over the side table, leaning against the inside of the doorway. A crisp pink collar peeked out from the top of her dark grey pea coat, paired with matching grey slacks.
Always overdressed, Kaylyn thought, especially for a job that often had them crawling in dank and dusty places. She pulled herself up, balancing precariously on the edge of the bed before forcing her body to move toward the closet.
“If you don’t hurry up, the cappuccinos will get cold.”
“You know I prefer it that way.” Kaylyn said as she pulled some moderately business-casual clothes out of the clean clothes pile and headed into the bathroom.
“Weirdo,” Cole called after her.
Kaylyn was thankful for the brief moment of silence as she pulled on a pair of black jeans and a blue long-sleeved V-neck. She smoothed out the wrinkles in the shirt then focused on her matted hair, sweeping it up into a low ponytail.
“Come on, sis, we’re supposed to be there at 9:30,” Cole yelled, smacking the bathroom door.
Three days until the weekend, she promised her reflection. Then nothing is stopping me from sleeping as long as I want.
Nothing except the dreams.
Book & Author Details:
Fractured Legacy by Skye Callahan
(Darkness Bound #1)
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Kaylyn Anderson's fascination with abandoned places and dark creatures kindled her work as a paranormal investigator. But when dreams begin to distort reality, she questions what is real and pulls away from everyone she trusts. The opportunity to investigate the Teague Hotel--a long-abandoned landmark that has always piqued her curiosity--provides a chance to redeem herself. Unraveling the hotel's secrets won't be easy, but Kaylyn soon finds herself the target of a dark entity that has been trapped in the building for decades.
If Kaylyn stands any hope of defeating the spirit, she'll have to accept that her fears are real and convince fellow investigators that she hasn't lost her mind.
Skye Callahan was born and raised in Ohio and has seen enough unbelievable stuff to feed a lifetime of paranormal stories. When not writing or working at the dayjob she hangs out with her ethnomusicologist husband and pet ferrets, reads, and takes long walks through the cemetery.