Monday, April 14, 2014

The Devil in Midwinter guest post with Elise Forier Edie

It's a bit of a late start today, for a blog post anyway, but I'd like you all to welcome author Elise Forier Edie to our little corner of the blogosphere as she shares with us her inspiration for The Devil in Midwinter. Happy Monday! ~Anna


Would you believe one of the inspirations for “The Devil in Midwinter” is a college drinking game?

In the town where I worked as a university professor for eight years, the students had (and probably till have) a tradition for celebrating their 21st birthdays, called the “21 Run.”  In this decades old hazing ritual, the celebrant was taken to the town’s five bars, and forced to drink “every single drink bought for them, until they totally passed out.”  The horror stories told about the ordeal used to make me sympathetically sick to my stomach—shots of tequila, followed by a Sex on the Beach, followed by a double Cuba Libre, followed by a Long Island Iced Tea, followed by puking in the alleyway and then after that, a few more shots. Needless to say, many mornings I entered my classroom, worried that the inevitable had finally happened, and one of my beloved students had expired of alcohol poisoning, just as his or her life was beginning.  (That never happened, by the way, but I always worried about it).

And of course, the symbolism of being “forced into unconsciousness,” and “drinking to black” on the very day one is finally free to choose one’s own destiny was never lost on me.  Actually, I thought about it the whole time I was writing “The Devil in Midwinter.”  

In the book, I put my heroine Esmeralda through her own harrowing 21 Run, although not a single Long Island Iced Tea crosses her pretty lips.  Instead, for her 21st birthday, she has to solve a mystery, fight a fire- breathing demon, save her family and claim, once and for all, her true love.  In doing that, she chooses not to fall into unconsciousness, but instead runs into her destiny with her eyes and arms wide open. She uses all of her wits and all of her skills, rejecting convention, turning down the easy offer, and risking everything for love.

Now that’s a 21 Run!

Okay, not really. I’m not actually asking that my university students conquer dragons on their 21st birthdays.  But dammit, I would so like to see that frigging“21 Run” replaced by something totally awesome. I long for the day that one of my students tells me, “It’s my twenty first birthday and so I’m fulfilling a cherished dream of riding in hot air balloon at sunset with champagne,” “It’s my twenty first birthday, and my friends and I are going river rafting and then cooking a feast on the beach,” “It’s my twenty first birthday and I’m taking my parents out to dinner to thank them for getting me here,” “It’s my twenty first birthday, and I’m collecting checks for a year-long trip to Australia.” Whatever. But something that says, “It’s my life now and I’m living it fully.”

In the meantime, I cross my fingers every time one of my favorite young people bows to the inevitable Central Washington ritual.  After all, one can always get to the dragon conquering after the hangover is gone.

Book Description:

A handsome stranger, a terrifying monster, a boy who burns and burns…
Mattawa, Washington, is usually a sleepy orchard town come December, until a murder, sightings of a fantastic beast, and the arrival of a handsome new vintner in town kindle twenty-year-old reporter Esme Ulloa’s curiosity—and maybe her passion as well. But the more she untangles the mystery, the more the world Esme knows unspools, until she finds herself navigating a place she thought existed only in storybooks, where dreams come alive, monsters walk the earth and magic is real. When tragedy strikes close to home, Esme finds she must strike back, matching wits with an ancient demon in a deadly game, where everything she values stands to be lost, including the love of her life.


“You’re trying to remember who you are.” Idly, he reached down and broke off a stem of lavender, brown and withered from the cold. “Watch this,” he said. He blew his breath on it and the stick burst into flames, like a little torch. He dropped it on the frozen ground where it burned, giving off sweet smoke.
“Are you a dragon?” I asked, only partly joking. “Like Quetzacoatl?” I added, thinking of the feathered serpent I had just studied about for my test.
He gave me a sharp look out of his gray eyes and reached down, breaking off another branch. “No. Not Quetzacoatl. Now you.” He handed the stick to me.
“Now me, what? You want me to light this on fire?”
He shook his head. “That’s not what you do,” he said. His arm squeezed my shoulder. “Do you trust me?”
I turned the dead branch in my hands. I looked into his face. “What do I do?”
“Blow on it and see”
I blew on the stem and watched it turn green and then burst into purple flowers. It was like watching a stop motion film, only I could smell the leaves and the fresh clean scent of lavender blossoms. I laughed with wonder as little purple flowers rained on the step we sat upon. The wind picked them up and blew them around the frost-covered ground.
“Doesn’t matter if its Ashmead Kernals, corn or poinsettias. Or lavender flowers. This is you. Just like the fire is me.” He suddenly kissed my cheek and nuzzled my ear. “Wake up, preciosa. Before you get stolen again. Please?”
“I don’t want to wake up from this,” I said, as little tingles of pleasure shimmered down my neck and I turned the blossoming branch in my hands. “This is the best dream ever, Xavier.”
“No, cara,” he said, suddenly serious. His other hand reached for my shoulder, so he could turn me to face him. “You have to be more careful. Yesterday, I told you to choose, and you didn’t. And now he is one step closer to having what he wants. And this is what he wants.”
I pulled a little away. “What are you talking about?”
“Yesterday. Your uncle sat in his office and drank with the devil—”
“Justin Colter is just a vintner from Italy—”
“And the devil asked you what you wanted—”
“That was a casual conversation—”
Xavier shook his dark head. “No. There are no casual conversations with him, Esme. Every word he says is a trap.”
“What are you talking about?” I thought back to yesterday afternoon, my uncle’s office, the two of them sitting with their cups of cider. Colter’s blue eyes twinkled up at me; Uncle Oscar gazed into his glass. Colter had said, What do you want, Esme?
“We were talking about college,” I said to Xavier. “That’s all.”
“That’s what he makes you think, every time,” he said, voice cold. “That’s how he always makes it seem. The stories have you signing a contract in blood, with this big ceremony, but really, he makes it seem like nothing, you understand? Like an afterthought. Like ordering a cheeseburger in a restaurant. When the whole time it’s your soul you’re giving away—”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying your uncle could have set you free, if you had asked. But now he can’t help you—and I cannot either, not without your—”
I sat up, my sleeping bag slipping down. “What do you know about Uncle Oscar? Where is he?”
“He’s gone, Esme. And you missed—”
“Where did he go—” I jumped to my feet.
Xavier ran a hand through his thick hair, standing. “It doesn’t matter. He’s gone. Listen. You have to listen, Esme. Do you understand? Because if you don’t choose yourself—”
“No!” I cried. “I don’t understand! I only know you come here and tell me what to do and I don’t even know who you are!” I was suddenly furious. “Where did you go? Where did you go all this time and why did you leave me here all alone?” I put my hands on his chest to push him away, but he grabbed my wrists, his fingers so hot they seemed to burn into my skin.
“Nothing in this world kept me from you, I promise,” he said. “And everything you do from now on will determine whether or not we can be together.”

Author website and blog can be found here. Publisher info for World Weaver Press can be found here

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