As I paint the finishing gloss on To Charm a Killer, my mind drifts back to its creation. I can’t remember how the whole story came together–there were many edits, revisions, and transformations along the way. But, I do know some things.
In the beginning, a girl was abducted by a priest.
Hollystone Coven emerged as the hook for the series: a coven of witches who solve murders using magic. Not the blink and it’s done stuff, but by manipulating energy through ritual concentration and manifestation. For example, through focussed chanting, they raise power and bend and shape the forces of nature; something, we all have the capability of doing, if only we believed.
One day while hiking at Buntzen Lake, we came upon a large circle of people hidden in the woods. They were chanting “El Diablo” — whether conjuring or banishing the devil, I do not know. But that was the moment, the witches of Hollystone Coven began meeting there for Sabbat rituals.
I fell in love with Estrada, the High Priest of Hollystone Coven–everyone does–and he fell in love with the woods and with faeries.
“I’m serious, Sara. This forest reeks of life, especially after the September rains. Can’t you smell it?” He loved the primordial odour of wet earth; imagined his beginnings in the first fecund ooze…a microscopic amoebic creature, not yet conscious of the magical transformation that would one day occur.
Then I began scouting locations–walking in the footsteps of my characters.
Old Alexandra Bridge in Yale, BC is a real place, though the intuitive path Estrada follows to meet the killer is purely his own.
Drawn toward the killer by some unfathomable force, Estrada took his first steps across the Old Alexandra Bridge with trepidation. He couldn’t help but look down through the open u-shaped steel decking that stretched like rusty metal waves beneath his boots. Resting a leather-gloved hand on the orange railing, he stared, mesmerized by the roiling green-brown river. Beneath him, the Fraser, rife with sediment and autumn rain, funnelled through a canyon of colossal grey rocks into spiralling white-capped eddies. It was deep, cold, and forbidding.
And, when it was decided that the girl must travel to Ireland to escape the priest, I went with her to co-create her experiences. On Shop Street in Galway, I watched a woman performing street art, and she became an inspiration for Primrose, the Irish fey witch.
Draped and hooded in a forest green cloak that dragged upon the stones in folds, Primrose stood serenely, her hands hidden beneath gaping sleeves. Clustered branches of appliquéd emerald and silver oak leaves meandered over the cloak like a shimmering forest. The tiny elfish face beneath the hood was painted bright green, except for the area around her eyes, which was etched in dark spirals to resemble the knots of a tree. Her ever-changing irises glowed with golden iridescence as she smiled.
“You look like a nature goddess.”
“She’s Danu, Matriarch of the Irish gods,” said Estrada.
Primrose leads the girl on a mystical adventure in Ireland.
And when Estrada arrives, he experiences Primrose in a wholly different way.
That is as much as I can say; to say more would divulge too many secrets. This is, after all, a mystery.
Ireland is a magical land, and I hope to see you there one day. If this book is your inspiration, I will be smiling.