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Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Kelley Heckart

The Dark Goddess

My trilogy revolves around an Irish king/his clan, an ancient curse and a vengeful dark goddess.

The first book, Cat’s Curse, introduces this dark goddess as Cat Anna, a frightening witch that likes to roam the highlands as a black cat. But she is more than that. Cat Anna is another name for the Cailleach, a winter goddess of death and destruction. She is complex—a destructive deity but also one of creation, as she is credited for making numerous mountains and Loch Awe.

'The Cailleach' is believed to be a pre-Celtic earth goddess. She is one of the oldest and most powerful goddesses who personifies the cutting winds and harshness of the northern winter. She was worshiped by the ancient Celts as a winter goddess and a goddess of sovereignty. Her name means ‘veiled one’ and she ruled the winter months. In some stories Cailleach is the Crone. I chose her because she is a Celtic goddess known in Ireland and Scotland, which corresponded with the settings of my story. She is usually an old hag, but there are Irish myths that show her as a beautiful young maiden. In legends, she appears to the hero as a hideous old woman in her aspect of Sovereignty to test his heart for kingship. The one who kisses or mates with the old hag is rewarded—she changes into a beautiful maiden and bestows sovereignty on him. Only a true king is not fooled by appearances and can see beyond into one’s heart.

The third and final book in this trilogy, Winter’s Requiem, belongs to Cailleach. Winter’s Requiem will be out in 2011, but here is a sneak peek. In this excerpt, a spell has rendered Cailleach weak and trapped in enemy lands.

Blurb: An ancient curse is revealed, leading Domelch, Brigit and Cailleach into certain danger amid a web of deceit. Can they break the curse and put the shattered pieces of their lives back together?

Cailleach looked down at the large tunic she wore and realized it belonged to her captor. It still smelled of his manly scent of wood smoke and leather, sending a tingle through her lower regions. She recalled their kiss, her cheeks warming at the pleasant thought of how his hard male lips caressed her with force and tenderness, coaxing such exhilarating sensations. She shook the thoughts from her head. Her body’s reactions to the man sickened her. If she ever felt anything for a man, she had no memories of it. Brigit was the weak one who felt love.
A shadow moved in the doorway. “You are awake.”
His deep voice and strange, captivating accent tugged at her heart, filling her with unwelcome warmth. “I have rested quite enough. I must be leaving now.” She acted indifferent as if his presence did not make her heart thunder inside her chest with the force of pounding hooves.
“I wish you would reconsider and stay a few more days,” he said, stepping inside the room.  
“Why?” His request startled her and she looked up at him in surprise. She could recall no man ever catching her off her guard.
“Because I feel we have unfinished business.” Aethelfrith strode across the room to the bed. He stood before her and took hold of her hands in a confident manner that left her in awe.
A thrilling spark rode through her body at his touch and his nearness. She recalled again his bold kiss. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t rid it from her thoughts. It angered her how her strength of will dissolved in his presence. Cailleach brushed the feelings away and gave him a hard look.
“You are clearly mistaken.” Yet she could not pull her hands out of his grasp.
“Your decision disappoints.” He let go of her hands. “You are free to go if you wish. I know I cannot keep you here against your will.”
Her gaze rested on the wall hanging of Thunor, the great thunderbolt he wielded gleaming in the dimness. The war god emitted an aura of power. A flicker of light reflected off the god’s fearsome weapons. She turned to her tall, golden-haired host. Bronze axe and hammer amulets hung on gold rings from a leather choker around Aethelfrith’s neck. The amulets glittered with might. “Perhaps I have spoken with haste. I will stay a few more days,” she said, glancing back at the wall hanging. Aethelfrith’s likeness to the war god, the flickering light…a compelling urge to know more about the young noble overpowered her decision to leave.
He smiled, looking pleased. “I will leave you to rest some more. Tomorrow I will take you for a ride if you feel strong enough,” he said, backing out of the room and shutting the door behind him.
She couldn’t help feeling a sense of disappointment that he would not be staying in the room with her. Listening to the muffled sounds down below, she fell into a dreamless sleep, an expectant smile tugging at her lips.
Kelley Heckart
'Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic'

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