I think one of the fun and frustrating parts of being a writer is that the idea you start out with is often not the story you end up with (or is that just me?). BLOOD WITCH is a prime example.
Lola Guntram is used to being an outcast. She’s the only blood witch in Fort Rosser, mistrusted by other witches and happier working solo. But when her dark practices make her the prime suspect in a brutal murder investigation, she’s forced to turn to others for help. Not that she has many allies – her ex-girlfriend thinks Lola is the killer, and the local coven leader thinks Lola will corrupt them all if she gets too close.
Help comes in an expected – and alluring – form. Tristesse is a demon on the run, beautiful, enigmatic, and suspiciously keen to assist Lola while she chases down the real killer. How can Lola refuse? With the police breathing down her neck, accusations flying, and inhuman monsters on the streets, Lola needs all the help she can get. The killer is angry, desperate, and determined. But so is Lola Guntram. And she doesn’t care how dark or bloody the magic has to get – she’s going to stop them.
This novella started out as a way to keep myself occupied during my Christmas break last year, and turned into a labor of love. It’s also turned out to be a bit of an exquisite corpse, in the sense that it’s a patchwork of ideas and characters from other projects I started and abandoned in the past. Some facts:
1. The opening scene is an adaptation of something I scribbled in a notepad before work one morning. A witch (then called Lilah) was being interviewed by the police. At that point I had no idea why and I never wrote any more. I did steal that opening and turn Lilah into Lola for BLOOD WITCH.
2. The start of chapter two, where Lola visits her ex-girlfriend, Rowan, started life as an urban fantasy parody I was writing to amuse myself. It was supposed to be part of a really OTT cliched UF story, but I ended up taking it too seriously (as I am prone to do) and decided to make it part of BLOOD WITCH.
3. One of the side characters, Caleb, was originally a secondary character in a paranormal romance I was writing a few years back. I got about 20k in before realizing I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I liked Caleb and decided to work him in somewhere else.
BLOOD WITCH has come a long way from my initial idea of a short story about a witch falsely accused of murder. That core idea is still a big part of the story, but the world has grown beyond my plans and I now see this as the start of a series instead of a stand-alone mini project. I’m so glad my original plan changed so much because now I get to explore and share a whole new bunch of ideas and characters with you!
Once home, she returned to her books. Now she had a definite symbol to look for, she was able to narrow down the search of her considerable library. In a battered tome called Symbols, Sigils, Signs and Seals, she finally found it. She barely remembered buying the book; most likely she’d picked it up secondhand somewhere, mentally added it to her “to-read” pile and forgotten about it. She’d always bought far more books than she’d ever get round to reading.
Still, there it was in plain black ink on the yellowed page. The same sigil she’d seen on Isako’s floor. It wasn’t alchemical, as she’d first thought, although it shared the typical sparse lines and deceptive simplicity. The language of alchemy was really just a form of shorthand, indicating herbs, liquids, and equipment. This sigil, according to the text, could be broken down into several smaller ones, but combined together like this, it meant just one thing. A word. A name.
Lola rubbed her scars, tracing the lines of countless spells cast, immeasurable energy drained and used. She’d cast spells for self-confidence, spells of attraction. Spells for good luck, spells for decision-making. Once she’d spent almost twenty-four hours casting a spell that wove together blood and fire magic to help a client take revenge on her rapist. That was dark magic, made of dark intent no matter how worthy the cause. That was the only time she’d broken the “harm none” rule, and she didn’t regret it. That was the kind of magic the Choir thought was just the tip of the iceberg with Lola. It was the hardest spell she’d ever worked, the grayest, and absolutely the most satisfying.
It was nothing compared to this sigil and what it meant.
Gehenna. There was only one reason, the book stated, that you would write this symbol as part of a spell, and that was to open a doorway. Write it in freshly-spilled blood and you weren’t just opening it, you were kicking it down. With someone else’s freshly-spilled blood…
Lola set the book down, stomach churning. She had to tell Yvette.
But what could Yvette do? This was way outside the Choir’s comfort zone. Fuck that, it was outside Lola’s comfort zone. This was bigger than elemental magic, bigger than blood magic, and bigger than motive Lola could have guessed at.
This was demonology.
Murder was just the beginning.
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About the Author
Naomi likes writing, perfume, fancy tea, and unfathomable monsters from the dark spaces between the stars, not necessarily in that order. She has been writing stories ever since she learned how to write, but is still trying to master the art of biography writing. When she’s not dealing with werewolves, demons, or sea monsters, she’s hanging out with her cat and probably watching a documentary about Bigfoot. If the cat isn’t available, she’s with her fiancé watching cookery shows and silently plotting her next book.
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