I’ve been planning on trying to coax… I mean invite Teagan
over to my blog for a nice little chat and a coffee without spilling the beans
(I know, can’t help myself) about my intention to spread some gossip across the
globe afterwards. The problem I had was exactly how to go about it. I mean, we
all know that Teagan is er, kinda, well… Ooh, what’s the word?
special, peculiar… (The list
goes on and on into the night.)
UNIQUE! That’s it! As I was saying, Teagan is very unique. (In the nicest way possible of course.) Er, where was I anyway? (Reads back over what he started to say hours before…) Ah yes, my dilemma of how to go about it? Well, I dithered and dathered… (so unlike me, I know.) in so far as even contemplating opening a magical vortex kinda gateway to send my cats through and abduct her. But, after discussing it with my beloved Rico and Aragorn as I stretched with my side on the floor, head supported by hand to be at eye level with them as I often do, they simply looked at me with looks only cats can make, and left me with no doubt whatsoever as to their exact thoughts on the matter.
“Alright, alright, I’ll send her an email instead and politely insist that she come.” Their purrs and heads rubbing against me (Which almost knocked me off balance by the way) confirmed I had managed to mind-melt with them successfully and receive the correct translation of their thoughts and instruction.
As per usual, my cats proved their worth. Teagan was delighted to hear from me and accept my proposal… to be a guest on my blog that is. 😊
Mm… Where to begin? So, Teagan, Atonement Tennessee. I drove all over Tennessee using google maps and I still couldn’t find it… Even my satnav let me down. Then I tried using an ancient language that sounded a bit like jibberish to open a portal, but that didn’t work either. In the end, I simply buried myself in my kindle and found it there just waiting to be explored. Where exactly is it though?
Kev, you have me figured out ― I do enjoy talking about the town I created, Atonement, Tennessee. That would also be why your satnav let you down. It’s purely fictional. Atonement’s location lies somewhere between the Tennessee cities of Nashville and Knoxville. Here’s a map, courtesy of Google. Other cities I mention are real.
(Phew! We’re safe guys; It’s not a conspiracy.) Tell me more about Esmerelda’s house in Atonement.
Ah yes, the old manse, as Gwydion calls it. That’s a little difficult because certain things about the house would be something of a spoiler. At the beginning of the first novel, Ralda Lawton, the heroine and narrator of the story, has won the property at an auction. That included a large, but rundown estate house ― and a cemetery.
One of the things about Atonement which I really like is the idea of having a graveyard as part of Esmerelda’s back garden. What inspired you to use a graveyard?
(I probably should clarify. Esmeralda is Ralda’s given name. The odd nickname is actually a thread in the first novel. I won’t go into that here.)
Hmmm… Kev, I really am not sure why I first thought of adding a graveyard to the property. It was just part of the story, just like Ralda, or Lilith, or Gwydion. Not to give away any secrets, but Ralda learns things about herself there… Although I could just as easily have had her find out some other way.
However, the family cemetery turned out to be useful to me as a writer. The novel is written in the first person, and as I mentioned, narrated by Ralda. That limits the storytelling to only what she can see. There were all sorts of things going on that she wouldn’t be able to witness. So, I wanted to add a part-time second narrator. Yet who or maybe what could tell the rest of the story?
I toyed with the idea of a person who for whatever reason hangs out in the graveyard, but that didn’t work for me. Then I moved on to what instead of who. I considered a spider or a mouse. Finally, I gave Ralda a cat, Lilith.
Did you think I digressed and forgot the cemetery? Now I’m getting to it. The cemetery came in quite handy as a place where all sorts of things could happen, and it was right next door, so the cat could conceivably get there to witness those things.
How did you come up with the names of your magical characters such a Gwydion and Cael?
Someone once called my Atonement stories a “mythology mash-up.” I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that’s a good description. The entire series is rooted in leftover research I did for an epic, “high fantasy” novel I did years before, but never published. Those leftovers were the Welsh/Celtic myth of Gwydion fab Don. Many of the characters are, as I like to say, loosely inspired by that myth.
Cael Adriel is not part of that mythology. Arianrhod refers to him as Keeper of the Hall of the East Winds. That comes from research I was doing in the Kabbalah. His name was inspired by various research I did on angels.
(I do love a bit of research!) My cats wanted to know more about Lilith. Could you expand upon Esmeralda’s relationship with her and anything else that makes her special?
How could a cat be other than special? Although I’m glad you asked because a couple of people have misunderstood. Lilith is not psychic, nor is she some other kind of being, disguised as a cat. Lilith is an ordinary cat ― although, to me, all cats are extraordinary. She’s clever, but I’ve had cats who were that smart.
Yet she continues to be sort of an enigma. Ralda got Lilith as a shelter (or rescue) cat. She already had the name Lilith when the rescue people got her. Ralda doesn’t know how or why she came to have that name.
Without giving anything away, something very special happens to Lilith at the end of Atonement in Bloom. Are we to expect more from her in the future?
Lilith is my eternal cat. She will at minimum be in any book that includes Ralda.
That’s great to hear and actually leads into my next query: I couldn’t help but think that Atonement cannot possibly end with Atonement in Bloom. Especially when you mention lovely things like beef stew and cornbread. (God it’s been years since I had cornbread! Takes me back to my Kentucky days.) I even started to think about another title for you like, Atonement Forever. After all, I couldn’t possibly think of anyone ever wanting Atonement to end. Do you have any other plans for the Atonement series?
Haha. You are so very kind. I have always planned a third novel. I want it to be Ralda-Esmeralda’s backstory. Or that of her ancestress. Yet it needs more than that for a novel. As you can see, I’m still uncertain about the overall story. Not to mention how I want to present a story that has both past and present. People would recommend several ways… and I’m not satisfied with any of them right now.
I’ve also wanted to include my love of the desert southwest with Desert Atonement. Maybe one day…
It’s been great having you over for a chat, Rald.. er, Teagan. Thanks ever so much for the company!
The pleasure is mine, Kev. I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed the Atonement stories. I’m grateful that you are sharing them.
Links to learn more about Teagan and her books are listed below folks:
Amazon Author Page
Atonement in Bloom
The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee
(includes the prequel to all the Atonement stories)
Expiación y Magia
(the Spanish translation of Atonement, Tennessee)