YOU ARE WHAT YOU . . . RIDE?
There’s a small sign that hangs on the wall in my office which reads:
Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “Hey, is there room in your head for one more?
It’s the perfect answer to the question that writers are often asked: Where do you get your ideas. Well, for me, that sign says it all. In moments of quiet, I sometimes become aware of a mysterious new voice whispering the back of my mind. That’s definitely how my fantasy romance series, WARRIORS OF THE MIST, started off. Captain Gideon “introduced” himself to me, explaining that he and four of his fellow warriors were sleeping beneath a river. He wanted me to do something about that. Seriously? What was he doing there in the first place?
As it turned out, he and the others were cursed to become the avatars of their gods. And as part of the deal, there was another whole set of characters who started clamoring for attention–and this bunch wasn’t even human. It seems that some of those voices who whisper to me at night have feathers, fur, or scales!
While I’ve had animals in some of my other books, there’s never been as many as there are in the world of the Warriors of the Mist. The first group to appear informed me that the Warriors each have an avatar of their own. Captain Gideon has an enormous gyrfalcon, a fierce raptor named Scim, who fights at his side. They share a special bond that allows Gideon to see through Scim’s eyes.
Murdoch, the quietest of the Warriors, owns a mountain cat–or maybe Shadow owns him. It’s hard to tell. You know how cats can be. This one looks a lot like a lynx, but with much longer fangs. Duncan, the scholar of the bunch, has a large owl named Kiva who swoops down to join his master in battle. Young Averel has a pair of battle hounds. Like their owner, those dogs can be playful, but they are also deadly when the occasion calls for it. Shadow doesn’t much care for the dogs, but again, she’s a cat.
The most interesting of the avatars is Hob, who belongs to Lord Kane, the darkest of the five Warriors. Who else would have a gargoyle for a lifelong companion? Don’t tell the others, but Hob is my favorite. Despite being scaly and kind of reptilian, Hob likes to sleep on the bed at Kane’s feet. How sweet is that?
About the time I came to terms with the avatars, another group of animals showed up. You see, Lady Merewen, the woman who called the Warriors from the river to defend her people, has a gift for communicating with horses. Part of the deal is that the horses get to decide who they will and will not agree to carry on their backs. Who knew? It definitely came as a surprise to me! I spent hours studying the stunning photographs in a book called The Beautiful Horses (ISBN978 1 4054 8053 6) to picture exactly which horse would choose each of my warriors.
I love the scene where these five fierce warriors stand in a semi-circle and wait to see which horse will pick one of them for a rider. It sort of reminded me of junior high dance where the boys are afraid a girl will ask them to dance–and equally afraid that no girl will. The lead stallion chose Captain Gideon, no surprise there. Murdoch, the largest of the warriors, was picked by a large draft mare. A high-stepping beauty picked Duncan, the most chivalrous of the group. A young mare picked Averel.
And then there was Lord Kane. In the past, if a horse was calm enough to bear a warrior marked by dark magic, it wasn’t spirited enough to carry him into battle. But this time, Kane finds a kindred spirit in a scarred stallion named Rogue. Like Kane, the horse might look a little scary, but he’s brave, honorable, and fiercely loyal.
I love how animals in the Warriors of the Mist series help to reveal the character of the Warriors and the women who come to love them. It might be madness, but I can’t wait to hear that next special voice starts whispering.