Warning: Halloween Imminent
So, how many of you look forward to Halloween every year? I do – not that I usually go all out to decorate the house or costume-up (unless there’s a really irresistible party to go to). Most times I just stock up on lollies and sweet nibblies in case there are trick-or-treaters out and about, and celebrate in my own quiet way.
It’s a festival that has certainly grown in popularity over the years, and for many people, has become their favourite cultural celebration of all.
From misty (and perhaps rather obscure) beginnings in ancient times, a number of similar practices from around the world have grown and amalgamated into the celebration we know and love (or hate) today.
I’m not here to give you a history lesson – for anyone who’s interested, there are many and varied sources online that can give either brief or long, involved discourses on the origins and development of Halloween and similar practices over time.
So why am I writing about it? For one, because it’s fun!
And for two, because the first book of Atomic Goddess starts halfway through October, and Halloween happens along at a time when Ange is just starting to find her feet as a goddess.
Not to mention, on this particular night, she happens to be in a city that loves Halloween. No spoilers, but if you can think of a city not far from Florida that celebrates Halloween, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, loves a good festival, and has a long and spooky history connected to ghosts, Voodoo and witch queens, then you’re likely well on track.
That’s three days and nights of spookiness as Ange goes on her way. There are so many entities and creatures she might encounter at such a time. And for a girl travelling, alone, on such a road trip, that means *DANGER*.
Of course, I set the story at this time of year for more than just a cheap grab at some atmosphere. There are some deeper themes at play than just a scare or two at the expense of a popular festival.
Traditionally, Halloween is a time when the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest, making contact much easier than at any other time of the year. So there are those wishing to contact the spirits of loved ones who have passed away, seeking comfort at some contact from beyond the grave. Those who wish to make peace with and to honour their ancestors. And those who use this time of year for magical purposes, whatever they might be.
But, of course, the door swings both ways. Less well-inclined entities can take advantage of the opportunity to cause much chaos and destruction – negative energies, ghosts and ghouls, tricksters, were-creatures, vampires and other bloodsuckers, soul-sappers and life-destroyers and many other things that we would consider at the very least to be in the realm of the supernatural or unexplained.
Naturally, there are those who believe in the existence of such things, and those who are sceptics. I’m not interested in debating the truth or fiction of them in this forum. But as a writer of fantasy, I must admit, I do find them very interesting.
Which is one reason why I have set the story around Halloween. Ange runs into a variety of entities – good and bad – and has to learn how to deal with them accordingly. Some are globally well-known creatures, and some more specific to the region she lives in. This is to help her prepare for later on, when she has to deal with much more powerful entities – gods and goddesses.
This is also a time of soul-searching for Ange. She is forced to confront the darker aspects of herself, and to learn to accept herself as a whole person, both good and bad. For how can she expect to effectively deal with the dark aspects of the world around her until she comes to peace with her own negative traits?
This is one part of her learning curve, and the one that will drive her to make the greatest changes in herself for the betterment of all. She is forced to examine the deepest, darkest corners of her soul, and name and own every fear – large and small – that she finds there. Only when she has done this will she have success in her quest.
I feel there is a sort of poetic license in having Ange go through these things at this particular time of year. Perhaps a case of ‘as within, so without’. Events in one sphere (internally) reflecting – and perhaps influencing – events in another sphere (externally).
It certainly ramps up the challenge level for Ange as she travels from point A to point B in the story – both physically and metaphorically.
Another way of expressing this is in the weather she encounters along the way. Many people are affected in some way by climatic conditions around them, some quite profoundly. Like the entities and creatures Ange meets on her journey, the weather has its part in reflecting and amplifying the darkness and uncertainty of her soul-searching and the Halloween period.
So yeah, in other words, the weather during this particular Halloween period is not exactly tourist-friendly. Dim, dark and dusky might be a more fitting description. And there’s nothing like ghoulish weather to bring out the ghouls, of course!
All of this builds up from the opening chapters of the story, and especially after Ange leaves her parent’s house before heading to New Orleans on the last day of October. This symbolic step takes her away from the safety implied by the family home and thrusts her out into a strange and alien world full of threats she has never experienced before. Leaving behind everything familiar, she must now learn and grow – quickly – or be doomed.
Luckily, Ange has reserves of inner grit, determination, and badass pluck that sees her take at least a step-and-a-half forward to every step back. She tries her hardest to rise to every challenge – sometimes confidently, sometimes a tad shakily (well, there are a LOT of challenges. Hey, I can’t make it too easy for her, can I?)
What else can she do? After all, she is a goddess!
Keep a smile on your dial until next time, and peace and love in your heart
From Lana Lea and her time-travelling muse