Since most of you who follow me insist that I write horror, I have a nice treat for you this week, Cindy Lou Hernandez, her take on the world of witches, via her dark novel, A Jar of Fingers.
As usual, I have updates on The Witch's Lair, #3 in the Inquisitor Series, which should be available on Valentine's Day 2016.
Deegie Tibbs is an independent young witch with a funky little shop that sells magical items, a crazy collection of magical friends, and a brand new (haunted) house. It comes complete with ghosts in the walls, a jar of human fingers in the basement, and its very own demon. It’s a complicated life…and things are about to get really weird.
A long wooden table sat at the far end of the basement, and Deegie saw that it held row upon row of what appeared to be canning jars, each with a paper label. The table and its jars were covered with a layer of dust and grime so thick that Deegie's hands immediately turned a sooty black the minute she picked up the first jar and began to look it over. The label was yellowed and peeling, but there was just enough light for her to read what it said: Golden Chain. The jar was empty, but she could see some sort of milky white residue at the bottom. Strange. Golden Chain was once used in ancient medicines and magical spells. It was highly poisonous.
The next jar was labeled Roots of Both Hellebores, another poisonous magical ingredient no one used anymore. Deegie frowned, wondering just what she'd discovered here in the freezing cold basement of her old house. Any magical practitioner worth their salt knew better than to mess with this stuff. Anyone practicing white magic, that is.
I think that old drunk was telling the truth! She remembered the pages of her father’s Book of Shadows, which she’d accidently found one day as a child and read in secret every chance she got. Poisonous herbs and roots were always used in spells for summoning demons.
She put down Roots of Both Hellebores and reached for another jar at random. This one was even filthier than the others, and it bore no label. When she gave it a gentle shake, something rattled and clinked against the glass. The lid was rusted tight; she was unable to wrench it open, but when she stood directly under one of the hanging light bulbs and wiped away some of the grime, she was able to see what was inside.
Five severed human fingers, withered, gray, and nearly fleshless, lay in a cluster at the bottom of the jar.
"Holy crap!" Deegie nearly dropped the jar and its gruesome contents in her haste to return it to its spot on the table. What kind of weirdo kept dried severed fingers in a jar? Not surprisingly, the basement was now the last place on earth she wanted to be. She backed away from the table, casting her eyes around the dim basement. The shadows loomed in long-forgotten corners, as if they were indignant about having their space invaded by this ordinary human who eschewed severed fingers and the Roots of Both Hellebores.
Main character’s motivations:
After leaving her cheating boyfriend, Deegie Tibbs discovers that her new home comes with a nasty entity in the basement. Not wanting to abandon the house she’s always wanted, she resolves to defend what is rightfully hers and comes up with a plan to eradicate the creature. She’s sick of having her already complicated life upheaved and she’s not about to let anything stop her from starting over.
Main character’s strengths/weaknesses:
Since Deegie is a witch, she naturally has an obvious strength albeit an unusual one. Having been hurt throughout her life in a variety of ways, she comes off as bit stand-offish and indifferent, and she doesn’t put up with a lot of b. s. from people. But her tough demeanor is actually just a façade—she does care deeply about people, and she’s quite sensitive,
Her main weakness is something she rarely talks about. She has a rare disability found only in natural-born witches. It’s called Witch’s Cramp, and it prevents her from using her magical abilities to the fullest extent. While other witches can handle repeated magical expenditures with no ill effects, Deegie cannot. She can perform only a few small acts of magic—or one big one—at a time. If she attempts to do too much, she is beset by tremendous, debilitating headaches.
There are several philosophical issues in A Jar of Fingers. The most sensitive one would be that of religion. While this issue is an important part of the story (Deegie has a tendency to say “Thank all the Gods!”), I tried to address it as gently as I could. Deegie is a Pagan, but I’ve made sure she is an open-minded one. She even participates in a Christmas celebration at the end of the book.
Metaphysics and morality are two more issues Deegie faces. Along with the creature in the basement, there is also a timid ghost “living” on the upper floors of Deegie’s new home. When Deegie discovers the unconventional place where the ghost’s earthly remains are interred, she struggles with wanting to move the bones to a proper resting place and trying to understand why the ghost wants her body to stay where it is.
Any off-beat, obscure, or 80’s references?
Not really, and I’m surprised by that since I, myself, am offbeat and obscure. I loved the 80’s, too.
When did you start to write this one and why?
I dreamed up the character of Deegie Tibbs when I used to participate in writing-based online role-play games, also known as Rp. I wrote stories with other players, using Deegie as a protagonist. When I quit doing Rp and started focusing on writing books instead, it just felt natural to take Deegie along with me. The title, A Jar of Fingers, came to me one day when I was struggling to open a jar of gherkins, and I thought they looked like little green fingers. This led to a “what if” moment, and I started writing A Jar of Fingers in September of 2014.
What’s next in this series?
Book two, The Witch War of Fiddlehead Creek, and book three, Seven Deadly Ghosts, have both been written and published, book three just recently. My readers are already asking me if there will be a book four. I have a few ideas for the further adventures of Deegie Tibbs, so we’ll see how far I can take it.
I haven’t started writing book four yet, but I’ll share the general idea here. I don’t have a title yet, but book four will have Deegie trying to solve the mystery of a haunted ring. This book will be a little darker than the previous three.
When will it be available?
I’m not sure yet, but I plan to have the book written by autumn of 2016. From there, it’s up to my publisher, but I will be sure to let everyone know.
I'm Cindy Lou Hernandez from California, U.S.A. I am the author of the series The Complicated Life of Deegie Tibbs, (Winlock Press) and the novel The Curious Case of the Tuscan Plague Doctor, (Barking rain Press) which will be released in 2016. I've also self-published two short story collections, Cobwebs and A Half-Dozen Horrors. My stories have been featured in the anthologies Happy Little Horrors, Dead Harvest, Deathmongers: Where the Light Dies, and Blood Moon Rising 2.
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/clhernandez
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The Witch's Lair #3 in the Inquisitor Series
“Sebastian,” whispered Brother Malachi, I hadn't heard him move up from behind me. “Have everyone collapse in on you. We need to move fast and prepare.”
“Fall in on me,” I radioed out and quickly I was surrounded by the remains of my team.
“What is it?” asked Brother Tristan nervously looking back at the sound as it was louder and closer.
“Bone spiders,” replied Brother Malachi.