Saturday, 30 November 2013

This Wicked Game Blog Tour - Guest Post & Giveaway

Title: This Wicked Game
Author: Michelle Zink
Publisher: Dial
Format: Kindle & ebook
Release Date: November 14, 2013
Claire Kincaid’s family has been in business for over fifty years.

The voodoo business.

Part of the International Guild of High Priests and Priestesses, a secret society that have practiced voodoo for generations, the Kincaid’s run an underground supply house for authentic voodoo supplies. Claire plays along, filling orders for powders, oils and other bizarre ingredients in the family store, but she has a secret.

She doesn’t believe.

Struggling to reconcile her modern sensibilities with a completely unscientific craft based on suspicion, Claire can’t wait to escape New Orleans – and voodoo – when she goes to college, a desire that creates almost constant conflict in her secret affair with Xander Toussaint, son of the Guild’s powerful founding family.

But when a mysterious customer places an order for a deadly ingredient, Claire begins to realize that there’s more to voodoo – and the families that make up the Guild – than meets the eye.

Including her own.

As she bands together with the other firstborns of the Guild, she comes face to face with a deadly enemy – and the disbelief that may very well kill her.

Outside the Voodoo Box

After writing about ancient prophecies, demons, and angels, voodoo seemed like the just the thing for my next book. I’d heard about the paranormal slowdown in publishing, but the truth is, I love all things supernatural. Maybe it has something to do with the utterly inexplicable nature of it all, but writing is most fun for me when I’m exploring the “what-ifs” of our world. 

And voodoo was a “what if” I couldn’t resist. 

I started by doing a ton of research on voodoo, New Orleans, and Louisiana. It made for fascinating reading, not to mention good eating (can you say “beignets”?!). I knew I wanted to do something with Marie Laveau, the most famous voodoo queen in history, but I also wanted to do something different by taking my “what ifs” to the next level. 

I started thinking about what Marie’s ancestors might look like today. Louisiana has such a rich cultural heritage, with immigrants from France, Haiti, Ireland, Africa, and just about anyplace else you can imagine. I didn’t want to write a book that fed on the stereotypical aspects of voodoo, its practitioners, and its culture. Instead, I wanted to focus on the fact that Louisiana is a point at which all of these different ethnicities and cultures come together. 

Enter the Guild, a secret society of old world voodoo practitioners living in today’s New Orleans. I imagined that Marie’s ancestors might have gone on to marry wealthy Southern landowners, because voodoo wasn’t only practiced by those of African or Haitian lineage. Inevitably, it was adopted by others, and it only made sense to me that over a hundred years, these bloodlines would cross. Therein lay a challenge; authentically represent voodoo culture and bloodlines while allowing for the changes wrought by modern day society. 

Some readers have commented that Claire is bi-racial rather than African-American (which they seemed to expect), and that while there are plenty of African-American’s in the book, there are also bi-racial characters and even white voodoo practitioners. I’ve been surprised by this criticism. To me, Claire and Xander and Sasha and Crazy Eddie and all the Guild members represent what easily could have been a merging of cultures over the past hundred years; wealthy white landowners with respected voodoo practitioners of African and Island descent. 

The other challenge was accurately representing voodoo. Often misunderstood, voodoo is commonly seen as a form of black magic. I’m pretty sure most people think of voodoo dolls when they think of voodoo! But in reality, real voodoo was typically used to heal, to protect, and to bring about luck and good fortune. The kind of black magic most often associated with voodoo is actually called HOUDOO, and while the two do sometimes meet, voodoo typically shuns black magic, relies heavily on herbs and roots, and features a lot of Catholic iconography (thanks to Marie Laveau). In fact, many practitioners of voodoo were also practicing catholics. 

Now that the book is complete and in the hands of readers, I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorites. I’m proud of the cultural detail (although I try not to overdo it at the expense of pacing), the dark, Guillermo Del Torro-esque (one of my favorites!) nature of the story, and the message the I hope shines through in the end.

In short; anything is possible, and there’s never any harm in believing.  

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