Friday, May 30, 2014

What’s up with that weird golem creature anyway?

Rabi Loew and Golem by Mikoláš Aleš
Image in Public Domain (Thanks, Wikipedia)

Continuing the celebration of the countdown till THE SOURCE's June 3rd release, here's another insight into the creation of the Witching Savannah series.

I don’t read reviews. At least I try not to. I have been told that reviews are intended for readers, not writers, so to preserve my sanity, I have subscribed to this view. Still occasionally a stray review slips through my defenses. One that made me chuckle had a comment than ran something along the lines of “What’s up with that weird golem creature anyway?” I’m sure it was intended rhetorically, but it made me reflect on my golem, Emmet, why I created him and why he grows into a major character in the Witching Savannah series.

To begin with, the golem comes to us from Jewish folklore. It is an inanimate body, usually formed from clay, that is brought to life brought to life through magic. Unlike Adam—the biblical one, not my handsome detective—who also, according to tradition, was formed from clay, the golem does not possess the essential spark of a soul. Emmet’s first name is derived from the Hebrew word for truth (emet), a word that plays an important role in some versions of the golem story. His last name, Clay, should be a bit more obvious in its origin.

In THE LINE, the character count jumps up quickly when Mercy’s cousins arrive for the drawing of the lots that will determine Ginny’s successor. Still, I wanted to include the other nine main loyal witch families in the affair, but I didn’t want to introduce nine new characters at that point. I found myself considering different ways to allow them to be present without actually being on scene. I found myself wishing there were some kind of vessel to carry them all in. For some reason, the way my brain is wired,  when I hear the word “vessel” I associate it with the word “clay.” I blinked as the synapses fired, then realized I could house the awareness of the families’ representatives in a golem.

So I began writing the scene where the golem rises from Savannah’s sandy gray soil. It was to appear in a couple of scenes, then dissolve back into the earth. Then—out of nowhere—the golem started flirting with Mercy. I kept writing with one hand poised on the delete key. It was odd, but I could sense fire between Mercy and this artificial man. That alone would have merited keeping Emmet around, but I realized what a perfect mirror he would make for Mercy, if something were to occur to turn him into a “real boy,” and he has to learn about being human while Mercy learns about being a witch. So at the end of THE LINE, I wrote it so  that the magic of the line molds Emmet into a unified personality. Just like with my other “toss out” character, Mother Jilo Wills, Emmet, pushed himself onto the page, and I fell in love with him.  

In THE SOURCE, we see how Emmet (and his devotion to Mercy) grows.  I’ll leave it there for now as any more than that would be heading into spoiler territory.  So that, dear reader, is what is up with that weird golem creature.