Monday, May 30, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger: Erin O'Riordan

“Season of the Witch”
Guest Post by Erin O’Riordan

If you’re a Charlaine Harris/Southern Vampire series addict like I am, and you also enjoy the televised version of Sookie Stackhouse’s paranormal adventures, you’re anxiously waiting Season 4 of True Blood. Season 3 introduced some witches to Bon Temps, and from the previews it appears the witches will be an essential part of the upcoming season. The coven may even have the ability to raise the dead.

In Charlaine Harris’ fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, being a witch is no big deal--you’re sharing the town with telepaths, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and the occasional Maenad. Even set in a more ordinary world, fictional witches are a lot of fun to write. Magic can be portrayed in big, bombastic displays of power, like the wizard duels in Harry Potter’s world. Magic can also be a more subtle force.

In the Pagan Spirits novel series, I portray the magic practiced by twin witches Allie and Zen Van Zandt in a subtle way. The sisters brew potions and cast spells the way real-world witches do. Zen does have a special power; she feels what other people around her are feeling. In the first two books, Beltane and Midsummer Night, Allie doesn’t seem to have a supernatural ability. She’ll start to discover her innate gift in the series’ third novel. As the series continues, the sisters’ magical powers will grow.

True Blood introduced viewers to the witches slowly. At first, the new Merlotte’s waitress and Lafayette’s new boyfriend were subtly witchy. Over a few episodes, evidence of their hinky powers began to emerge. The new season promises to kick the magic up another notch. This reflects the experience of real people who practice The Craft: the more experience a witch gets, the more confidence she has in magic, and the added bit of faith makes the magic stronger. A witch’s powers naturally increase over time, with experience, wisdom and practice.

I’ve been a devoted paranormal fiction reader for about six years now, and a writer in the genre for almost as long. I can’t get enough of the stuff, whether it’s the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, the new season of True Blood or the next movie in the Twilight saga. I love giving back by putting my own witches, werewolves and vampires out there for the world to see. The give and take of storytelling makes the real world a much more magical place…and it’s a pretty magical place already.

The following excerpt is from a short story I wrote called “Handsome and Regretful,” a spin on the classic European fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel. In my novels, I like to firmly ground my witches in reality as well as magic. In this stand-alone short, I had fun writing about scary, fairy tale witches:

“They fed him blueberry pie, peppermint ice cream, chocolate milkshakes, peanut butter fudge, and devil’s food cake. They boy ate until he was stuffed and sleepy. The sisters led him to their bed, a bed which they seemed to share. This didn’t seem right, but by then he was too full and sleepy to protest.

“This is the part, he said to himself, where the dream becomes a nightmare. The boy lay on the soft pink blanket of the big bed. The sisters lay beside him, one on either side. They began stroking his hair and kissing his chubby cheeks. Now the boy was confused. He wanted to stay, but everything inside him was telling him that he should go.

“As if they were reading his mind, the sisters said to him, ‘Don’t be afraid, boy. Lie back and relax. Stay here with us tonight. We won’t hurt you.’

“The boy did relax a little. The sisters took turns kissing his mouth. Then they kissed him both at once. Their lips moved down his chin, down his throat. They unbuttoned his shirt and kissed his chest. Their fingers reached down and played with his plump little belly as their tongues and lips sucked and licked at his chest. All of his fear of these two strangers disappeared in a haze of satisfaction.”

The boy is an 18-year-old high school graduate, and he should have trusted his instincts, because horrors lay in store for him. Like the fairy tale, though, it has a happy ending. “Handsome and Regretful” is published in a multi-author anthology called Revealing All Your Dirty Little Secrets (

Readers can find the Pagan Spirits series, and my other writing, at My book blog is also called Pagan Spirits, and you can find it at

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