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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Magical Realism

by Rain Trueax

Writers generally, I believe, start with a genre where they feel more natural writing. If they are fortunate, it's one that resonates with readers. If they continue to love writing in it, they can do it for their entire careers. I know writers like that and have enjoyed books by some of them. I actually envy them.

It didn't work that way for me. From the first book I wrote, back in my mid-20s, I would vary between historical and contemporary. I'd write what caught my interest. Since I wasn't trying to publish, sales didn't matter. I could and did follow the muse, wherever it took me. When I began to publish, that changed and I did think whether something would appeal to my readers. I can't say I wrote for getting readers, but I did think about that end of writing. Historicals definitely were more liked than my contemporaries. I might not meet the genre expectation where it comes to contemporary romances-- or I haven't found the right place to get them seen.

What I was not expecting was another change-- that my inspiration would turn to the realm of fantasy for those contemporary romances. The idea for books about witches came from driving around Barrio Viejo in Tucson. It's an old, historic neighborhood and has a strong feeling of mysticism about it. How could it not with El Tiradito, a wishing shrine dedicated to a sinner, in its heart? 

That year, as we drove its streets, I thought what if there were witches here, women who were dedicated to protecting their community and using their powers, women who were very human in all ways other than their ability to apparate, throw plasma bolts, communicate with other beings, etc. In front of one of the homes, I saw a motorcycle parked and it brought it to the physical world.

What if it was four sisters, their widowed mother, and their grandmothers? Committed to their family, these women would work together on all the dangerous things they faced. Although they had powers, they would be perfectly normal in all other ways with needing a job, wanting a purpose, finding a mate, and having a normal lifespan where they could be killed. I kept their powers to the ones I've heard mystics and others have when they are open to receiving earth energies-- things like communicating with the other side-- seeing what others cannot. Now, I have not heard of mystics throwing power bolts but why not if they needed them, since the plasma is from the earth.

Two of the books came pretty fast-- Dangerous Match and Vislogus. I put them out. The inspiration slowed down as I waited for the next ones. The romance of the youngest sister was Complicated Bargain. It took longer to find the last sister her mate, Unfinished Business.  

All along, I knew the mother had to have a romance, but who would be the man at her side? That took another year. Ever as Before went in a direction I had not expected, always fun. It came out end of January, right before Imbolc, when it is set. (I hadn't expected that there would be more in that family's story but there are going to be-- novellas though as these were all full-length novels).

When you are a writer and change genres, which although these are romances, they are also different from the historicals for the plots-- especially the magick, you hope to bring your readers with you. It doesn't always happen. I brought a few but for many, who prefer historicals, a witch is a bridge too far. 

What I've thought about recently is what drew me to write fantasy romances-- especially since I know that historicals are what my readers have wanted. It has to take a strong motivation, and I had it with my desire to tell a story of a mystical family's dedication to community. I saw that they wanted to protect humans, who did not have their powers from enemies they could not see.

I was attracted to the idea of 'spiritual/magical' powers due to the times in which we live. We see so much random violence. We have times we see things going on that we wish we could change. What if we had the power to do just that? How would we use it? Sometimes short-term bad can lead to a higher good..maybe. It would take a family dedicated to teaching a wise use of those powers.

When writing a fantasy, which I also call paranormal but it doesn't really fit the genre's requirements today, it's fun to be able to control the world, to determine which fantasy creatures make the cut. In my books, it's often gnomes, but also elementals, ghosts, and monsters. Not all fantasy creatures are on the side of humans, but some ghosts can be,as they repay a karmic debt. My information on mysticism and especially monsters came from researching prehistoric peoples and the beings they saw and believed were out there. How did their shamans deal with them?

I've written now 7 books in Mystic Shadows. They are not all connected to the Hemstreet witches. The first, Sky Daughter, was written in the '90s where I first explored the idea of a world beyond our normal senses and what witches might actually be. As I wrote that one, I debated whether there would be something 'out there' or was it all the heroine's imagination. The second, Diablo Canyon, in 2014 came as a result of a spiritual dream that led to a desire to share it in a romance. Then came the Hemstreets finally concluding (I thought) with the mother's story-- which went a direction I had not expected.

Little by little, I came to better see the world I had created, where I am currently writing a sixth about the witch family (eighth in the Mystic Shadows series)-- It is more though about being 'different' while it explores family dynamics. What happens when one doesn't fit with the others? 

My books come because of the muse/Muse. And what is the muse? I don't know, but it comes through to me with dreams, coincidences, and being open in my own life to new influences. I follow it to keep it coming.

Following inspiration where it takes me may not make me a lot of money. It does satisfy my creative desire to share what comes to me. I also believe that fantasy will be what readers will come to want as the zeitgeist changes (and it always changes). My stories are more whimsical than violent. These stories of magical realism are set in a world that I'd like to think is out there even if I don't see it. 

Fantasy writing can be exploring imaginary worlds or our own. I don't plan a long ways in the future for my writing (only two stories are lined up). I could go back to historical (I had some in mind for that) but for now, I like setting myself into romantic fantasy with what might be...

For now, these books are exclusive to Amazon for purchase or to borrow in Kindle Unlimited. That will change at an uncertain date, later this year, when they go wide. If you are in KU, you might want to give them a try now.

Ever as Before 

Blurb for Ever as Before:

Widowed for 16 years, Maria has devoted herself to fighting evil, using her powers under the authority of the Light, and raising her daughters. Now, she has an empty nest, with the last one married, and soon to have her first grandchild. For many women, that would be more than enough, but something new is threatening Tucson, created by a ranking demon with the intent of destroying Maria's family. She uses her degree on psychology to start a talk radio program in order to draw the new risk to her and keep her daughters safe. It won't be enough. She will need help, and it is coming from the other side-- She won't welcome it.
Looking for a new read for Imbolc with a vibrant older woman. How about throwing in a few of the living dead as a threat? A particularly determined demon, and a 'surprise encounter' as the seasonal veil is drawn thin before the new light?

Natural born witches, of course as this is 7th in the Mystic Shadows series stories that move beyond what we consider physical reality to something else— something that might be possible says quantum science. With gnomes, warlocks, shamans, and an alchemical aspect to how evil can be fought and contained? A mix of physical reality and what might be?


  1. I always find it fascinating on how writers select genres. Sometimes, the genre chooses the writer, and that seems to be what happened with you! Good luck with Mystic Shadows. Why not have a character take their "talents" to the past? Then you can combine the historical and the fantasy.

  2. There is no magic in it but I have a historical romance, Echoes from the Past, where the heroine is troubled by dreams and takes an archaeological dig into Central Arizona to try and find the answers in a dig site where she thinks she might've lived and where the man she meets in the historical could have been her lover-- and it always ended badly. No real magic but definitely mystical for how dreams can take us to past lives.

  3. So interesting to see the evolution of a story- great post!


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