Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Growing Up Paranormal

Now that I think about it I was probably a weird kid. From a very young age I was fascinated with the paranormal, especially horror movies and books. I remember staying up to watch the late night scary movies hosted by various strange hosts like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My favorite movies were the classic horror movies, the black and white Dracula and Wolfman, and the 1970’s Dracula movies starring Frank Langella.

My d├ęcor in my bedroom included glow-in-the-dark models of Dracula and Wolfman. Not really normal for a girl, right? My collection of books included Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, collections of short ghost/horror stories and Ann Rice’s vamps and witches. I was into vampires long before they became trendy and sparkly. I still have a fascination with skulls and keep my macabre collection out all year. It’s Halloween all the time for me.

Growing up a horror fan, it would seem natural for me to write horror. Not exactly. I did write some short horror stories way back when I became serious about writing, but they were never published, and for good reason. Somehow I ended up writing romance, which is strange because I didn’t read much romance growing up. I think what changed my mind was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. It was a romance, but it wasn’t the usual formulaic romance. I decided to try writing romance and adding the elements I like—Celtic mythology, fantasy, paranormal, magic and otherworldly creatures like faeries (not the tiny, sparkly good kind), gods and goddesses, shifters and ancient vampires. All that time spent watching horror movies and reading horror stories was well worth it.

With my love of the paranormal, horror and Halloween, it was natural for me to be drawn to the ancient Celts, the founders of Samhain/Halloween and a people linked with the mystical realm. This is how I came to write Celtic historical romances with paranormal/fantasy elements.

In the following excerpt from Cat’s Curse, Samhain is a night of terror for my heroine because that night belonged to Cailleach. Cailleach, or Cat Anna, was known as a dark goddess; possibly she was a pre-Celtic earth goddess, for her aspects are similar to that of the Hindu goddess Kali (a goddess of creation and destruction). To the ancient Celts, Cailleach was a winter goddess, and a goddess of sovereignty. In my Dark Goddess trilogy, Cailleach is a winter goddess that awakens at Samhain. To gain her strength and shed her ugly ‘winter face,’ she has to make a sacrifice. In this excerpt she has chosen my heroine for her sacrifice and my hero has to save his love.

Cat's Curse, Book One: Dark Goddess Trilogy, Celtic historical romance/fantasy
Blurb: Cardea is cursed to live an eternity as a blood drinker. Aedan mac Gabrain, prince of Dal Riata, trusts no one after suffering a curse that keeps him from touching any females. Can two tortured souls find love while battling a dark goddess determined to destroy them? Available from Awe-Struck.

Excerpt from Cat’s Curse:
A harsh wind tore through the grove like a brief tempest scattering leaves and pine needles. The mighty oaks, with their thick branches, swayed in the unnatural wind, creaking eerily.

Cat Anna appeared before them. “Well, it seems you have been busy.” She noted the swell of Cardea’s stomach. “That child will never live to see the bright light of day,” she hissed.

Aedan pulled Cardea into his arms, holding her tight and giving Cat Anna a fierce look. He stared into Death's one eye, the other eye an ugly, gaping hole that could only be an entrance to the Underworld. He shivered at the frightening thought, avoiding that luring tunnel into darkness. Her hideous, blue-black skin resembled that of a long-dead corpse, making his stomach lurch.

“We shall see if you are still holding her that tightly at the end of this night,” she sneered, her one eye blazing. Uttering words of enchantment, Cat Anna waved her arms in the air.

Cardea's body shifted in Aedan's arms into something spongy. Looking down, he saw a grotesque blob of oozing flesh. He held her tight, remembering Cardea's words. The blob transformed into a huge serpent with gleaming, dripping fangs. Holding down his fear, he held on tight, knowing the serpent could not harm him. The serpent changed into a one-eyed demon covered in sharp thorns, which stabbed into his skin. He held on tight, knowing it to be an illusion and nothing more.

He gasped in shock when he looked down and saw his dead wife in his arms, staring up at him with sorrowful eyes. Badly decomposed, the smell of rotting flesh emanated from her, choking him with nausea. In desperation, he embraced his God for the first time since his wife’s death and uttered a quick prayer for inner strength, holding on tight.

Cardea transformed into terrifying demon after demon and still he held on tight, hanging on to his faith. As dawn neared, she changed into a searing piece of metal, burning his skin. She slipped from his grasp, but at the last second, he grabbed on, ignoring his burning flesh and flung her into the wellspring.

Fear hammered at his heart. What if she drowned? He paced before the well, clenching his fists, impatience and dread striking at his gut. It seemed to him too much time passed with her still in the well, his instincts warning him she would drown. He stared at the well, uneasiness choking him, wanting to go to her, but knowing he must wait.

Kelley Heckart
'Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic'
My book page at Awe-Struck
My author page on


Lindsay Townsend said...

Exciting excerpt, Kelley! Sounds amazing!

Fascinating blog!

StephB said...

Kelley, great excerpt. I was on the edge of my seat!

I grew up with "Creature Double Feature." It was probably too scary for a 6-8 year old, but it was one of the rare time my family would sit around the tube watching TV. I grew up with horror and still write a short or two today.


Savanna Kougar said...

Wow! Excellent excerpt. That was horrific. And I adore that kind of mythology/culture.

Celtic Chick said...

Thanks for having me on your blog for paranormal week.
I posted this excerpt somewhere else and someone called it 'grotesque.' I thought that was funny and true. This part of the story was inspired by a dark ballad called Tam Lin.

Happy Halloween!

Bekki Lynn said...

Wow! His love is the ultimate. I don't know many men who wouldn't have flung her away and ran.

Great excerpt, Kelley!