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Shadow Bound started with a scream. Literally. My heroine is a banshee. Up until I began writing, all I knew about banshees came from the movie, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, which I saw as a kid. Even now, I can still hear a young Sean Connery (serious eye candy) singing about Katie. “For she is my dear, my darling one…” Anyway, a scary banshee appears as Katie is dying, and her father does his best to get rid of the specter (don’t worry, the movie ends well).
The banshee in Darby O’Gill and the Little People resonates much more with traditional banshee folklore than mine. In many folktales, she’s old, with white hair that she combs as she wails. In some versions, she’s the washer woman by the ford, terrifying passersby by informing them that the bloody clothes she washes will soon be their own. One tale says if you manage to suckle from her breast, she’ll consider you a foster child. In a contemporary context, a lot of this wasn’t useful to me. What I took was her white hair (my heroine is a pale blond), her scream, and the idea that her scream heralds death.
What I loved about using a banshee was that she offers the same kind of pathos as vampires, who are huge favorites of mine in paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I placed her at the edge of the mortal world and the fae Shadow world. My banshee, Talia O’Brien, is a half-breed. Her mother is human, an artist, who died delivering her. Her father is none other than the dark lord of the fae, Death. Yes, as in the Grim Reaper. Of course, it might put her fears at ease if she knew that the terrifying being that emerges when she screams is her dear ol’ dad. She knows she’s got a dark heritage, but not that dark.
And then I wondered about immortality and what some people would do to get it. In a nutshell: If the ultimate selfless act is to give up your life, then the ultimate selfish act is to give up your death. If you give up your death, you become a wraith. Immortal, yes, but soulless, too. In order to maintain a semblance of humanity, wraiths must feed on the souls of their human victims, or else risk slavering madness.
Enter my hero, Adam Thorne. His big brother has turned wraith and murdered their parents, preferring Forever to the life of wealth and privilege to which the men were born. Some people are greedy that way. Adam has a tremendous sense of responsibility and has dedicated the family fortune and his life to finding either a cure for his brother or a way to kill him. These days, it’s the latter.
See, Adam is on the verge of monsterdom himself. His six years of searching for answers has turned into a blinding obsession. He’ll use any means possible to be freed from the constant torture that is his brother’s care. When he finds a mention of Shadowman, aka Death, in Talia O’Brien’s PhD dissertation, Adam dedicates his resources to finding her, and he does in this excerpt. If anyone can embrace Death’s daughter, it’s him.
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