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Karina Cooper | Not Your Momma’s Witches

June 13, 2011

Karina CooperBLOOD OF THE WICKEDHello, my deliciously fresh fictionites! I’m delighted to see you here among all the other fabulosity that fills this page. And I’m quite pleased to be here! When I was asked to do a blog post, my initial response was, “Sure! … Um, about what?” To which the response — to wit: “Anything!” — left me flailing for a while for subject matter. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that being a writer for a living, I could manage to come up with something, huh? Good fortune! I happen to have something to address, right in this very blog. So, without further ado: Hi! I’m Karina Cooper. I write paranormal romance, and I’d like to talk to you about witches.

Because I love witches. No, really, I absolutely do! As I traveled through the United States, spending a few months to a few years in various locales, I really got to meet a whole gamut of people. Somehow, no matter where I went, I always made the acquaintance of at least one witch. Some were the stereotypical type dressed in black, wearing enough silver to choke a werewolf, with names that remind one of goddesses or constellations. Some were gentler on fashion, leaning towards flowing skirts and pretty hair and quick smiles. Others, still, looked no different than anyone else you’d meet on the street, but who could speak quite convincingly about soul and fate and balance and dreams. Some were men, some were women.

See, when I came up with the concept of BLOOD OF THE WICKED, I really wanted to focus on a broad range of what “witchcraft” could entail. In my books, “witchcraft” happens to be anything that is out of the ordinary: psychic ability, a bit of a knack with glamour, tricks or charms or anything else that doesn’t seem squarely “human”. Witches are anybody who a) displays a unique ability not overtly “normal”, or b) threatens the stability of a world trying very hard to come back from the brink of destruction. Now, I happen to be a generalist, and I find that when it suits them, a lot of people will combine a lot of details into one giant picture just to give it a label. After all, look at the way we American slander each other based on political lines! Despite the fact that not all Republicans eat babies, we will point to them and accuse them of doing just that. And certainly, there are Liberals who don’t actually kick kittens, but we like to say they do. And what about the Democrats, the Green Party, so on, and so forth. We’ll lump everyone under the same banner and call it good. With this kind of precedent, who’s going to tell The Folks in Charge that not all witches are the same? Certainly not the poor men and women struggling to make a living in the lower streets of a city run by the very same Folks in Charge. And certainly not the wealthy ones who live in the sun; they’ve got it made!

Does this sound familiar? Back in 1692, a plague of witchcraft accusations swept through Salem and nearby provinces, culminating in the deaths of dozens of innocent men and women. Over a hundred were accused. Am I saying not a single one was a witch? Well… No. I’m not saying that all. After all, I wasn’t there. I have no idea who these people were or weren’t, and as a paranormal author, I like to keep my mind open. What I can tell you is that as we looked back on those times, we uncovered evidence that many of the accused were victims of politics. Of false witness to lay claim to the victims’ belongings, their status, their wealth. They were used as scapegoats and as excuses. And with that terrible precedent set, don’t you think history would repeat itself, given enough push?

When I first contemplated writing about witches, I have to admit I hesitated. In my head, I kept envisioning sage-smudging hippies with chunks of amethyst and a trilling, “An if you harm none,” motto. Not that there’s anything wrong with this stereotype, when it’s right! But it wasn’t right. Not this time. I took my witches someplace darker. Someplace fueled by fear and anger; by generations of abuse and persecution. And, yes, by the hunger for power and recognition and hatred. All of my witches are different. They are individuals before they are a group. They are walking bombs or ambulatory targets. They’re angry and bitter and fearful. And somehow, in that unique way that we humans seem to hold close, some among them still hang on to a ray of decency. Of hope and optimism and magic that doesn’t corrupt.

These aren’t your momma’s witches, no. But I hope that as you read about them, you’ll come to question who the real witches are. Who the bad guys are. Who the heroes could be, and who aren’t even close. After all, don’t they warn against judging a book by it’s cover? In BLOOD OF THE WICKED, you’ll meet a witch-hunter who might just be too freaking uncivilized to be a hero. And the witch who may be the woman to turn him into one. And I hope you enjoy my witches as much as I enjoy writing them! Thanks for letting me come and play in your sandbox today. Before I go, I want to leave you with a chance to win BLOOD OF THE WICKED. Riddle me this, and I’ll choose two readers who leave a comment to win a copy: Do you believe that there are abilities that could be considered “witchcraft” by the modern world? Whether it’s psychic or supernatural, a strange talent or something more, do you believe that there are aspects of the paranormal that are real?

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