Everyone please give a warm welcome to author Diana Pharaoh Francis!
Hi Everyone! And thanks for having me today.
My latest book is called Bitter Night, and it’s about witches and both the warriors they create—called Shadowblades and Sunspears—and an array of other magical creatures, like angels, red caps, witches and a calleach bheur (blue hag).
In writing this book and the rest of the series, I wanted to be able to tap into the vast array of folklore and mythology that exists in the world, so while the red caps and the blue hag are Scottish in origin, the angels come from a larger world mythology.
Before I tell you about my paranormal creatures, you should know that different sources disagree about what they are and why. I arrived at a general understanding of them and tried to stick with the best descriptions that I could find. I also want to mention that the book had a kelpie in it, but he had to go for various reasons. I liked him very much, however, and intend to bring him back.
Red caps are violent little creatures from Scottish folklore. They inhabit castles mostly and they are vicious, bloody little man-like creatures. They kill visitors and travelers on the road and they drink their blood. Their hats are red because they dip them into the blood of their victims. If the hats dry out, the red caps will die. Some descriptions give them orange, pointed conical teeth with sharp claws and little hobnailed boots.
The Calleach Bheur—the blue hag—has a blue face and long white hair. Some versions of her story have her with one eye. She’s a winter witch, and frequently guards a particular well on top of a mountain in Scotland and is in charge of some rivers and streams. She wears rags and carries a staff topped by the head of a crow and sheathed in ice. She’s the mother of winter and commands the winter storms. At Beltane, she flings her staff under a holly bush and turns to stone. At Samhain, she returns to her female form. She carries a pouch of hailstones around her waist that can grant wishes to those she gives them to.
For those two creatures, I had to invest them with personalities and motivations and involve them in the larger plot of the book. But the angels were a little trickier. The Christian Bible only mentions two by name. The pantheon of angels is older and is drawn from a broad variety of sources, as are their histories and backgrounds. All the same, I didn’t have that much to work with. I didn’t have descriptions at all. Mostly names and their part in angelic history. Xaphan was a fallen angel who proposed burning heaven in the war. He was very smart. Tutresiel was an angel of the sword. Angels of the sword are warriors, dispensing justice with violence and brutality.
I had to give both of them descriptions and personalities to go with them. This is the first meeting of Xaphan:
The angel was nearly seven feet tall. He wore ragged blue jeans and his feet were bare as was his chest. Sprouting from his back was a pair of wings, the feathers black and irridescent. Glimmers of blue and orange flickered along the bottom edges of his primary feathers. Where his wingtips brushed the floor, charred scores appeared, matching those on his pantlegs where he had not been careful enough. The smell of Divine magic rolled off him, mixed with the stench of burning feathers. His eyes were red and his white hair was cropped short, his face and body chiselled like one of Michelangelo’s statues. He appeared to be about sixteen, though he was undoubtedly many thousands of years old.
This is the first sighting of Tutresiel:
A sound like clashing swords drew Alexander’s attention. It was the angel of the sword–Tutresiel. His wings were silver, each feather metallic and sharp. Every beat clattered. Like Xaphan, he was albino white with crimson eyes, but unlike the other angel, his hair was matte black and hung to his shoulders. The blade of the sword he wielded was at least seven feet long and it shone with a incandescent white witchlight.
In this book, there is Uncanny and Divine magic. Uncanny creatures are those that are magic, but can’t create it separately from themselves—like the red caps. Divine creatures are magic creatures who can—like witches.
I really liked writing these characters, developing them and fleshing them out. I liked thinking of them as having likes and dislikes, attitudes and feelings. There’s a little bit more I did to the mythology of them, but you’ll have to read to find out. I don’t want to give it away.
Finally, I want to mention the witches. I wanted truly scary witches, but they also needed to be round characters. I didn’t want them to be easy to hate or to like; I wanted them to be driven by conflicting issues, emotions and concerns. I wanted them to be dangerous and powerful. To some extent they grow out of the folklore of witches that we have, but in many ways they are my unique creation.
I hope that if you get a chance to read, that you enjoy.
If you want to try out any of my books, you can read chapters and free short stories on my website: www.dianapfrancis.com
You can follow me on twitter: dianapfrancis
On Myspace: www.myspace.com/difrancis
On facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diana-Pharaoh-Francis-Fantasy-Writer/163098893459?created