Research for The Witching Moon …Keeping it Believable
A special treat in honor of the day: Loretta C. Rogers talks about the research necessary for the writing of The Witching Moon, a novel that has roots in Ireland and is filled with magic. Loretta is the best-selling author of historical westerns with an unexpected twist. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading and traveling; especially with her husband on their motorcycle. Loretta enjoys hearing from readers and encourages them to visit her website: www.lorettacrogersbooks.com
Loretta C. Rogers
Just because we authors write fiction doesn’t give us license to make everything up. Well, okay, so maybe it does. It’s our story, we can write whatever we want. Right? Not exactly. My personal mantra is to create a story that that draws the readers in–to keep them turning the pages, to see what happens next. I’m talking about writing realistic fiction or fiction that is at least entertaining enough that readers are willing to suspend disbelief.
Often readers ask how do I write stories where the characters and/or the situations seem real? I don’t mean to over-simplify the answer, but it’s called: “Research” coupled with a vivid imagination.
My mother used to say she would hear me having conversations that sounded so real she would look to see to whom I was talking. I probably was as young as three years old, and conversing with imaginary friends. But, I digress.
While writing The Witching Moon, I had a working knowledge about the Salem Witch trials, and throughout the centuries the United Kingdom was fraught with superstition and witchcraft. However, I wanted my heroine to be from Ireland. This begged the question–did witches exist in Ireland?
Before I give you the answer, let me share that one well-meaning reader posted a review stating that everyone knew there were no witches in Ireland. Hmmm, my research revealed that while witches/witchcraft wasn’t as widely spread in Ireland and Scotland, it did, indeed, exist, and as in the opening chapter of The Witching Moon there were incidents of certain Irish women who were burned at the stake as witches, and usually by order of the papacy.
When creating the heroine, Sheen O’Reilly, I didn’t want her to be an ordinary witch, nor did I want her to be someone who conjured up hexes and spells to cast on people. It was my desire to make Sheen unusual, but likable; a heroine readers wanted to know more about, but could also, feel her depths of emotional anguish and uncertainty about a gift she considered a curse. Again, through research, I discovered that every one hundred years, it was believed, that a female child (in Ireland) was born with the gift to communicate with animals, the ability to heal, and under certain circumstances might turn a human into an animal. These women were known as faery doctors.
To make Sheen even more unique, I gave her the gift of ‘second-sight.’ This way, she not only could communicate with animals and spirits, she was able to read the hero’s (Guthrie Tanner) thoughts.
Every good story needs a villain worthy of the heroine and hero. The Witching Moon pairs the rich history of the old west with the mysticism of Ireland. Again, research played an important role in authenticating the historical aspects of the story. What Native American tribes were predominate in 1868 Montana? I also needed the names of mountain ranges, towns and their proximity to a military fort, and weaponry for this time period.
Sheen used specific herbs for healing, reducing pain, and inducing sleep. Once I found these herbs, the question was–which ones were native to Montana? More research.
I did a search of boy names in the Native American culture. “Otaktay” is a baby boy name, and the Native American interpretation is “Kills Many”. Using the name and its meaning gave me the perfect vehicle for creating a ‘bad-to-the-bone’ antagonist.
I have to be careful with internet explorations so it doesn’t become a source of procrastination. After all, books don’t write themselves. I like to put in enough detail so that it doesn’t sound like an encyclopedic regurgitation, or like a destination travelogue, but provides readers with several ‘aha’ moments, and has them emailing to ask if I visited Montana or Ireland.
A final word. Some readers won’t give a hoot about research. They read to be entertained, and don’t let inaccuracies bother them. However, if you, as a writer, don’t care about historical accuracy, you may not continue to reach those pickier readers, and they are the more rewarding audience; the ones who can’t wait for your next story to release.
Tagline for The Witching Moon: When a Native American renegade, a cowboy and a witch are the main characters, readers get a plot that offers unexpected and unique twists of paranormal and western romance.
Blurb: Sheen O’Reilly considers her gift of second sight a curse. Branded a witch, she wears a rope burn around her neck as a reminder of what happens to people who are considered different. Now settled in a remote homestead where she tends her animals and concocts herbal remedies, she knows “he” is coming but is powerless to stop him.
“He” is Guthrie Tanner, who blames himself for the murder of his wife and the kidnapping of his young daughter. After an unsuccessful year of tracking his enemies, he has heard about a witch who lives alone on the prairie. While he doesn’t believe in supernatural nonsense, he is willing to do whatever it takes to hind his daughter. What he doesn’t count on is the effect Sheen will have on his heart.How to find Loretta: * Twitter – Loretta C. Rogers@BooksbyLoretta *Website link: http://www.lorettacrogersbooks.com *Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2993355.Loretta_C_Rogers * Facebook: Author, Loretta C. Rogers aka L. W. Rogers | Facebook https://www.facebook.com/…Loretta–C–Rogers…Rogers/1515247149186…