Romancing the Legends…
When people find out that I write paranormal romance, they often ask me where I get my ideas. No words of wisdom on that one, I find ideas everywhere but the one place I usually look when I’m not sure what I want to write about is the legends of my Cherokee ancestors. I have countless websites on my favorites list, along with several books on my bookshelves, and every time I go to a library or bookstore I look for more books on Cherokee legends.
Some of that probably comes from the fact that I grew up hearing stories from my Great-aunt Bessie about her mother Lucinda, who was half Cherokee. Being fair-skinned with light hair, it always fascinated me to think that I had that blood running through me—and to this day, it irritates me that I didn’t inherit those cheekbones. I remember once when I remarked that the blood must have skipped me since I had blond hair and didn’t look Cherokee, Aunt Bessie told me that it didn’t matter how much Cherokee blood you have, one drop was enough to make you Cherokee.
Aunt Bessie’s stories stayed with me and when I finally did start writing seriously, it didn’t take long before they came to mind and I began actively researching and seeking out the legends of my ancestors. It helped that about the time my first book was released, my publisher announced a paranormal romance contest and they really wanted stories about shape-shifters. Also around that time my dad sent me a copy of Trail of Tears, The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle. That book, and in particular, one story in the first chapter, set the wheels of my imagination spinning like crazy.
“According to one of the tribal accounts, once long ago a few Cherokees had forgotten their responsibilities to their clansmen, and as a consequence hair grew longer on their bodies and they began to move about on all fours. They ignored the warning of their priests and even failed to revenge the death of fellow clansmen. Eventually they forgot the Cherokee language. In this way the bear was formed, and the bears were ever after made to serve the needs of the Cherokee, their distant kinsman, and to provide meat and fur.”
One short paragraph about an ancient legend was all it took to get me started writing my Eternal Shadows series—and of course to get me searching for more legends, many of which are included in my books. Eventually my fascination with Cherokee legends gave me my tagline and the name for my website: Romancing the Legends…
The second book in my Eternal Shadows series, Storm Shadows, was just released and as with the first, the story is based on an the Cherokee legend of the bear but it also brings in another Cherokee legend about reincarnation and the amount of lifetimes or time a person is given to live. I also have another paranormal romance coming out later this year, Winds of Fate, which is based on the Cherokee legend of the Blowing Rock in North Carolina. I’ve played around with the reincarnation legend in that one too and I’ve also brought in the Cherokee Wind Messengers, particularly the North Wind Messenger.
The point of all my ramblings here today is if you’re a writer and you’re stuck for an idea, find something that interests you, something that incites your passion, and then start researching it. Like me, I’ll bet you’ll find more ideas than you can ever possibly write about.