Werewolves vs. Skinwalkers, or Things You Don't Want to See in the Woods
When I first imagined "Cry of the Banshee," it was just a vague idea in the back of my head. I thought it would be interesting to have a banshee who somehow became human. I knew that she would be female because of the original Irish legends of the Bean Si (banshee), and I wanted her to be in high school because I have more experience in that milieu than any other. Oh, and she would face the horrible choice of either wailing the death of a friend or trying to go against her nature to save them. That's all I knew.
As I finished my first novel, "Dust to Dust," I pondered the possibility of a followup to it, with the protagonist coming back to America and dealing with American fairies and myths. The New Jersey Devil, chupacabras, and the like. I'm not ready to write that book. It needs to cook a while longer. Yet, I'm still submerged in the fairy world. That's when the idea of the Bean Si returned. I felt that I could bring Ireland to east Texas, just as I brought Fort Worth to Drumkeeran, Ireland. That's how "Cry of the Banshee" was born.
Back to Texas I came, and I was a little disappointed about the lack of fairies we have here in the Lone Star State. Yes, we have chupacabras and ghosts, maybe even a wendigo or two (I'm working on a screenplay about that), but we didn't have the variety of folklore that exists in Ireland. I thought about werewolves, since they can exist in any country. However, their origin story is based in Europe, so they didn't feel uniquely American. If I was going to have to import a monster to Texas, I at least wanted it to be from America.
Enter the skinwalker. According to Navaho legend, the skinwalker is a witch that wears the skin of an animal in order to transform into a nightmarish version of that animal. It's similar to the werewolf but scarier. Skinwalkers aren't relegated to the full moon; they can skinwalk at any time, day or night. Werewolves, in the original legends, are simply men who turn to wolves. While in wolf form, they are capable of being harmed. Some legends make them impervious to bullets unless they're silver. Still, they are killable. Skinwalkers? Not so much. Some sites say they can be killed by a knife dipped in white ash. Others try to steal the silver bullet idea from werewolf legends. Only the Navaho know for sure, and they keep their information to themselves. I hope to give myself a little creative license with the creatures and still be sensitive to the Navaho people.
Hopefully, a little more research into the Navaho people will make the Native Americans who have emigrated from Arizona to Tyler, Texas come to life. I find Native American mythology fascinating and beautiful. It's tied to the land, as the Native Americans were before my ancestors came here and committed ungodly acts of torture and murder in the name of God. While I can do nothing about the past, I hope to bring this amazing tribe to life (a little) in "Cry of the Banshee." Back to work!