Mondays Friend – Sonya Clark
Today I welcome urban fantasy writer and fellow Lyrical Press author Sonya Clark to my blog.
By Sonya Clark
My new urban fantasy release MOJO QUEEN features a heroine who can see auras and spectral energy. Roxanne Mathis uses that ability in her work as a paranormal investigator, cleansing homes of unwanted hauntings and helping people deal with various supernatural problems. Even with that handy ability, when I first conceived of the story Roxie was using an EMF meter and pretty generic methods to evict ghosts. Unsurprisingly, the story felt like it was lacking something.
Sometimes when a story is having problems I take a detour and write something else about the characters. I wrote a short story about Roxie and her best friend traveling on a particularly interesting case that completely changed how I looked at my main character and the story itself. I wish I could tell you this was planned because it would certainly make me look smarter but the truth is, I wrote it just to amuse myself. Roxie and her BFF Daniel are fun characters for me to write so I wrote a short story just for fun. Titled Goofer Dust Blues, this little detour took them out of Nashville and down the Blues Highway into Mississippi. Because this was all about amusing myself and not working on the book, I gave Roxie my own love of music, especially blues. The case took her to all three of the gravesites of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, something I myself have done though not to collect graveyard dirt. (I swear, all I did was take pictures.)
Robert Johnson is one of the great myths of American music. My favorite part of the myth is how he supposedly sold his soul to the devil to be able to play the blues. In truth he put in hours and hours of practice, alone in a graveyard at night where no one could hear him and complain. As I wrote of Roxie visiting some of the iconic sites in Mississippi that hold great many for blues lovers like myself, I had a very clear image of her as a teenager. This strange, confusing ability to see auras and spectral energy has manifested and she’s trying to get a handle on it. There’s no one yet in her life she can turn to for advice. Who would believe her? So she tries on her own to learn how to deal with her new second sight – by sneaking out and going to cemeteries at night. That time alone in the dark with ghosts as her only companions helps Roxie learn to cope with her ability and to train herself how to use it.
With guidance from my editor Nerine Dorman, I realized Roxie didn’t need that EMF meter or those generic ghost-evicting methods. Everything she needed was right there in the blues lore she knew like the back of her hand – hoodoo. Roxie became a hoodoo root worker as well as paranormal investigator, using natural magic to deal with supernatural problems. Once that happened everything fell into place: spells with herbs and roots, dangerous hexes and counter-jinxes, feeling the rhythm of magic deep in the land. Then with a little help from Ike and Tina Turner the book had a new name – Mojo Queen. I think it’s a title that suits Roxie quite well.