The quick commercial—head over to the Susannah Sandlin website for today’s stops on the blog tour for Omega, and more chances to win big tour-wide prizes.
Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Alayna Williams to Preternatura! As Alayna Williams, she is celebrating the release of Rogue Oracle, the second in her series following Dark Oracle. Many of you know her as Laura Bickle, author of Ember and Sparks. Alaya has degrees in criminology and has worked in the criminal justice system for the past fifteen years. Although she does read Tarot cards, she’s never used them in criminal profiling. She lives in central Ohio. You can read more about Alayna/Laura at her website. She’s also atFacebook,and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.
ABOUT THE ROGUE ORACLE: Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around – and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn’t need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way….Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards – and Tara’s increasingly ominous dreams – suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi’s Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…
Now, let’s hear from Alayna…
The Dark Side of the Priestess
by Alayna Williams
I use Tarot cards a good deal in my writing, to give me ideas about creating characters and develop plot points. Sometimes, I pick cards on purpose that catch my eye, but more often, I deal them out at random. I let my imagination roam over the pictures to generate situations and connections.
One of the cards I used frequently in writing the ORACLE books is the Priestess. The Priestess sits on a throne, surrounded by the moon and shrouded in white robes. The black and white pillars to her right and left hands represent good (mercy) and evil (severity). She’s about goddesses, mystery, intuition, and the subtle power of the moon.
In my stories, the Priestess represents a secret order of women, Delphi’s Daughters. They are the descendents of the Oracle of Delphi. The title of Pythia, the leader of the oracles, is handed down through generations of women, all oracles with their own unique talent for foreseeing the future. Delphi’s Daughters are a secret organization, nudging world events and gathering information through vast networks of helpers. Their behavior is sometimes sinister, sometimes pure, but always secretive. No one but the Pythia herself knows how the puzzle of world events fits together, and her priestesses are often left in the dark, guessing at her motives.
Tara Sheridan, estranged from Delphi’s Daughters, uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. Her relationship with the Pythia is contentious. She often feels the Pythia’s hand in her cases, interfering, moving people around like chess pieces. Whenever Tara draws the Priestess card, I wanted her to see both the light and shadow sides of the card.
Interpreted in the upright position, the Priestess is the card of secret, supernatural power. She represents all the psychic talents Delphi’s Daughters: cartomancy, astrology, pyromancy, geomancy…she is mistress of all the hidden arts. Used for light, as represented by the white pillar, they can be a force for immense good in the world. The Priestess can reveal secrets by the moon’s light and teach magic to the initiated.
But the Priestess can also be a force for evil, twisted by her own power and shadows. Reversed, the Priestess represents keeping secrets and abusing power. She can lean too close to the black pillar of severity, becoming ruthless. She can forget the compassion of her intuitive teachings, amassing power for its own sake.
Tara questions these things about Delphi’s Daughters. She sees that they are a force for good, sheltering the weak and seeming to work toward mankind greater good. But she also sees their shadow side…the ruthlessness, the ends justifying the means. She knows the brutal tests that Oracles must endure, has seen the Pythia kill in a cold, calculating fashion.
Not only will Tara need to fight to solve her current case – a spy killer who’s selling nuclear secrets on the international black market – but she will also need to look over her shoulder. The Priestess can be her greatest ally or most devious enemy, putting Tara and those she loves in harm’s way, seeking to sacrifice them all in the service of a larger goal.
Thanks, Alayna! I have to admit to being kind of creeped out by the Tarot. I blame it on seeing The Exorcist at too young an age (yes, I’m creeped out by Ouija Boards also…and tea leaves…and crystal balls…and…). Are any of you readers of cards, or familiar with the Priestess?