Monday, November 6, 2017

The Tokoloshe - cute name, not so cute beastie.


In celebrating the release of my latest novel "The Magician's Keeper", I am indulging in one of my favourite past-times - researching mythological creatures, in the hope that I may find time to incorporate it into my latest work in progress.

Today's creature is the Tikoloshe, also known as the Tokoloshe. This creature hails from Zulu South African mythology.

There are (as always) conflicting descriptions of the creature depending on who is describing it. So I'm going to go the most common one.

Image courtesy: Citizen ZA
The Tokoloshe is said to be a small hairy hominid. This creature closely resembles the European Brownie, a small, often mischievious creature commonly connected with a household. They can torment people, break things and otherwise be a nuisance. It is said that they can even become murderous. People who believe in the tokoloshe often raise their beds on bricks so that the creatures can clamber around on the floor at night without bumping their heads on the bed, which makes them angry and likely to cause a problem.


The Tokoloshe has a unique feature, that being a single buttock. I'm not quite getting the mechanics of that single buttock, but hey, whatever, this is mythology after all. The Tokoloshe also speaks with a lisp and is generally invisible to adults. To maintain its invisibility it holds a pebble in its mouth. It can, however choose to be visible to whomever it wants.

There are a few news articles from South Africa about the Tokoloshe, which, to be frank are quite fascinating if not a bit rude and bizarre.

One article is an interview with a man from Johannesburg who has a female Tokoloshe visit him in the bathroom while he bathes. This man has grown very fond of his attractive yellow-bone Tikoloshe so much so he wishes he could "take her to the mall to show her off." Incidentally he is also having an intimate relationship with the mythological creature.  What is even more fascinating about this
Image courtesy; Daily Sun
article is not only that it was only written last year, but the comments following the story. They range from asking what kind of drugs the interviewee is on, to condemning him, stating that being in a relationship with tokoloshe will prevent him from ever having a real human girlfriend.
If you want to read the article it's here: Daily Sun, Yellowbone Tokoloshe in my bath.
If you want to read more articles like this (some are more explicit) just google "Tokoloshe news", and you'll find them.

There is however, a darker side to the tokoloshe. They can also be the familiars of bad people. If you feed a tokoloshe it may be indebted to you hence it will do your bidding.  If you are wickedly inclined, you may use that debt to ask the tokoloshe to bother and torment people. However, there is however a way to prevent a tokoloshe bothering you, and that is by using salt. You can also use traditional charms and spells known as muthi given to you by a sangoma to try and rid yourself of trouble some tokoloshe.


In an article from 2013, it is said that special Tokoloshe salt was for sale in an entrepreneurial supermarket in Hazyview Mpumalanga, to control Tokoloshe problems.

So there you have it, a mythological beastie that still has significant resonance in modern society. I don't really know what to make of it, but it certainly makes for an interesting read.

Have a marvellous week.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Magician's Keeper - Review!


Would you like the opportunity to review an ARC of my upcoming release?

The Magician's Keeper is up for review via Net Galley, contact me at nicolae.sheridan@gmail.com for the details!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Magician's Keeper - Coming November 2017



It is with much excitement that I am announcing, finally, a new book coming out in November.
Previously known as "Big Girl", the re-worked title is "The Magician's Keeper"



A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.
Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.
Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited  as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.
But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life – and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

This one has been a long time coming, so I'm really pleased to be releasing it with Harlequin's Escape publishing. I'll keep you posted!
Have a magic week.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Gory Richards, Necromancer Nerd - PART ONE



I was never a popular kid. Even growing up in a small country town with kids I’d known since I was old enough to crawl. I had no friends. They’d always said I was weird. Was it my red hair? The millions of freckles that threatened to join together and make me the only tanned ginger in the world? Maybe my obsession with Star Trek? No, more likely it was because I saw dead people. Not in the cute little blonde kid whispering that he sees dead people way either, more in the gangly pubescent ginger guy telling blank air in the school yard to leave me alone kind of way. I cringe thinking about it now. I really should just have ignored them; maybe tell people I was playing a game. I didn’t though, and my weird outbursts had a lasting effect on my social life. No one ever wanted to come over to my place to hang out, and I never got invited to go to anyone else’s either. Parties? You can forget about them too. No one wants a crazy guy at their party. In a small town where entertainment is at a premium, that’s a real slap in the face. It didn’t help that my mum and dad were simply too busy with the property to notice either. We had cattle and canola farm. They were busy. I get it. They put my lack of friends down to their own busy farmerly schedules, and they felt guilty, heh, they probably still do.

So, I did what I’d always done, chatted to dead people and watched DVD’s of Star Trek.  I was ok with my lot. It wasn’t until Bertie died that shit hit the fan. Literally.

Bertie was my blue budgerigar. My parents bought him when I was six, because they thought they worked too much and I must be lonely. I wasn’t, but it’s all about perception. I was perfectly OK with my own company and that of the occasional transient ghost. Still, that little bird became my best friend through the long lazy hot summer holidays, chilly winter evenings and the endless weekends of my childhood. He was just about as tame as a budgie could get. Rarely in his cage, he’d fly around the house, crapping and chirping merrily. When I had breakfast, Bertie would chew on my toast. When had my shower, he’d sit on the shower rail, occasionally flittering into the water for a little bath himself. When I got older and my parents bought me a PlayStation, Bertie would sit on my shoulder and watch me play, chattering happily all the time. I loved that bird more than I loved anything else. So, when I was fourteen and he flew into a glass window  and broke his neck, I was devastated. I was more devastated than I’d ever been in my life. Nothing else mattered. Bertie was dead.

I buried him in the garden bed, the same day. I lay his broken little body on a bed of daisies and dahlia’s that I’d picked from the flower bed. I cried while my mother and father hovered nearby muttering concernedly to themselves. I stared at his vibrant blue feathers, his warm yellow beak and felt like my heart would break.

Eventually Dad said I should cover him up. I hadn’t realised how long I’d sat beside that tiny grave. It must have been hours as the summer day dragged into a balmy evening. Mosquitoes were already buzzing around my exposed arms and legs. I swallowed, whispered a final goodbye and gently pushed the dirt to cover him.

I don’t remember much after Dad wrapped me in his big arms and guided me inside. What I do remember is waking up the next morning, to a sick coughing chirp.

My eyes sprung open at the unfamiliar sound. I stared at the ceiling for a second, memories of Bertie’s death and burial punctuating my thoughts like a nail gun.

“Chirrup?”

The chirp sounded dry and scratchy. I glanced towards my window. It was open, and the fly screen was torn. I frowned.

“Chirrup?” My heart gave a little hammer as I realised the sound was coming from closer than the window. It sounded like Bertie, but different.

That was impossible, right?

Slowly I turned my head towards my bottom bedpost.

There was Bertie.

My heart filled with joy, and thumped with excitement.

Bertie!

His head was still twisted slightly left and up, a beady eye staring benevolently down at me. Vibrant blue feathers were coated with dirt.

I gave a startled cry and lurched up.

It was Bertie all right, but Bertie with a broken neck.

This was impossible.

 Bertie took my cry as a greeting and fluttered from the bedpost towards me. Clearly, he couldn’t see well and hit my cheek with a sandy thump as he missed my shoulder entirely.

He fell down into my lap feathers akimbo.

I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe.

“Mum!” I eventually yelled. “Dad!”

There was a clatter of heavy footfall down the corridor and my bedroom door exploded open.

“Cory?” my mum cried. Then stopped when she saw the dishevelled bundle of feathers on my bed covers.

“You can see him?” I cried when her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open.

“What have you done? Oh Cory! What have you done?” She squeaked. I stared down at my budgie who was now hauling himself up my pyjama top hooking his beak into the fabric and crawling with his feet.

“I haven’t done anything,” I yelled, “I just woke up and he was here.”

It was crazy, it was impossible, it was a miracle!

Mum didn’t seem to be able to find words, her mouth moved mechanically but no sound came. The world had turned upside down, it was mad, nothing like this had ever happened to me before.

She eventually found her tongue again. “Did you dig him up?” She asked sharply.

Did she really think I’d do that?

“No, I just woke up and he was here.” I snapped, gesturing to the filthy little parrot with the twisted head who was now nuzzling into the collar of my pyjamas sending little showers of sand over my bedclothes.

“But, how?” Mum asked bewildered.

“I don’t know,” I whispered. “I don’t know. He died yesterday.”

Mum stepped closer, bent down and peered at the budgie. He was nattering happily to himself in that strange dry way.

“Maybe we should take him to the vet,” she said her eyes widening as she re-registered his twisted neck.

I reached up and gathered him into my hand, he chuntered happily. “Mum, I don’t think he’s…he’s… alive.” I said after a minute. “I think he’s come from the dead… but not... quite right. Once in this Star Trek episode, they...”

My mother’s brow furrowed above her tired, deep set eyes. “Cory...” She interrupted as I tried to tell her about the Star Trek ideology of dualism. She wasn’t listening, so I fell silent and looked down into Bertie’s little face. His eyes weren’t the shiny black jewels they used to be. They were crusted with sand, dull, and as dry and scratchy as his chirp.

“Cory...” Mum said again.

At least he was back. What did it matter if he was a little rougher than before?

“Mm?” I answered and scratched Bertie’s dirty twisted neck.

“You know how you used to always talk to your imaginary friends as a child?”

I felt my cheeks redden.

Where was this conversation heading?

 I’d never told my parents about the ghosts, and as I’d hit puberty, I’d found fewer seemed to bother me. Maybe ghosts didn’t like to follow teenage boys. I can’t imagine why.

“Yeah, I remember,” I muttered.

“Were they really imaginary, or were...”

My heart skipped a beat.

“Were they what?” My voice sounded tight even to my own ears.

“Ghosts?” She asked her own hollow cheeks turning red.

I stared at her.

 She was asking me this now? When my budgie appeared to have returned to from the dead?

After all these years of an apparent lack of interest in my ‘imaginary’ games why the sudden interest?

“It’s important, Cory, have you seen ghosts?” Her eyes dropped to Bertie who was attempting to preen himself, and failing because his neck couldn’t move that way anymore.

“Mum...” I found myself not wanting to tell her. Not wanting to admit that her suspicion was true. “What does it matter?”

She released a heavy, world weary sigh.

“You know your Aunt Ivy?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said. Aunty Ivy was one creepy lady. She was my mum’s sister, though we only ever saw her at family gatherings up in the city. She was tall, thin with deep auburn red hair that never seemed to grey like my mum’s. She had a way of looking at you as if she could see into your very soul.

“She’s a necromancer,” Mum said. “I think maybe, you’re one too.”

It was at that moment, a whole lot of weird things seemed to slot into place. The word itself resonated in my very bones. It seemed Bertie could sense it too. He stilled and cocked his eye at my mum.

All my life I’d thought my family was about as magical as a walnut. We were farmers, we lived on a farming land where you didn’t see any magical creatures, and those that you did, you pretty much wished you hadn’t.. I went to school in a small town where the most mysterious thing was what colour scrunchy Mrs Hartford was going to wear each day.

Me a necromancer?

“I don’t see...” I began but then I did see. A necromancer could see the dead, couldn’t they? A necromancer could raise the dead.

I stared down at Bertie.

“Cory, darling, yesterday did wish that Bertie wasn’t dead?”

Had I? I couldn’t really remember details of the sad hours I’d spent over Bertie little grave. Maybe I’d wished he wasn’t dead. Maybe I’d hoped that I’d wake up in the morning and he’d be back. Chirping on my bed post.

Chirping on my bed post. That’s exactly where he’d been when I woke.

I swallowed.

I didn’t need to answer her. She knew.

“I’d better call Ivy,” Mum said, and moved to stand, “before this gets any worse.”

I didn’t really think it could get any worse, then again, when Bertie followed me to school the next day I realised just how mistaken I was.

~

I hope you liked Part One of Gory Richards, Necromancer Nerd.
Part Two will be posted 23rd July 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gory Richards, Necromancer, nerd.


So I've been out of action for a while, waiting for a response from my publisher whilst chewing my nails to stubs... so in the meantime I've decided to write a fun short story series for my blog.
I'd like to introduce you to;




I guess I realised I was different when my dead budgie wouldn't stay dead. Don't get me wrong, I loved that bird, I didn't want him to die, but when he did, I just wanted him to stay that way.

It was bad. I was fourteen and in addition to sprouting pubic hair and volcanic acne, I also developed a bad case of ‘Budgie Undeadicus’, an unsightly rotting blue budgie that wouldn’t leave me side, or rather, my shoulder.

I’m Cory Richards, by the way, but mostly people call me Gory, a nickname that stuck after the non-dead budgie incident, and this is my story…



Every fortnight come on over to the blog to get an update on the undead antics of Gory Richards, Necromancer, Nerd©

I am just writing this for pleasure, Gory is a sub-character in my latest WIP, who I think deserved his story told. The first instalment of his story should be posted on the 9th of July 2017 - I hope you like it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The awesomeness that is Crazyhead...

 I know, I know. It happens to me all the time.

I've found a new series that I've fallen in love with, but this time its not because of the manspiration aspect, in fact it's rather the opposite.  Crazyhead is a paranormal, comedy, horror, chicktastic series with some of the most engaging and amusing female cast I've seen in a long time.



Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobald as Raquel and Amy, are hilarious together as the oddly matched demon hunting duo.

I've not laughed out loud watching a TV show in ages, and Susan Wokoma had me laughing regularly at their inappropriate banter and the general craziness they endure and propagate.

Basically the story is this; Amy stops taking her medication (presumably an anti-psychotic medication) that suppresses her ability to see demons. Since her early teens, doctors thought she was having disturbing hallucinations of people with fire inside them. In fact they're not hallucinations at all, but rather Amy has the rare ability to see demons. This is when she meets the brash, lonely Raquel whose social awkwardness and frank personality make it hard  for her to keep friends. Raquel is also a 'seer' who uses her unemployed time to go and hunt the demons she sees.

Together they discover a plot by the demons to bring Hell on Earth at Halloween, using Raquel as the bridge between both words. It may sound like a standard story arc, but it's far from standard.

Series One even involves exorcisms in which the excorcisor needs to urinate on the excorcisee. Really. It's not what you expect when you read the 'blurb'. Seriously it's worth watching for is scene alone.

Image result for Crazyhead quotes


 I really can't recommend Crazyhead enough. It's on Netflix and was produced in conjunction with UK's Channel Four.

Watch it!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The tragic Rusalka


The Rusalka come from Slavic and Eastern European folklore and mythology.
Image Courtesy: Anna Vinogradova

The Rusalki in my opinion, are tragic figures. They are the spirits of women who have died tragically via suicide or murder. For example women who gave birth out of wedlock, or become pregnant with another man's child may be violently drowned or commit suicide. These unhappy spirits are then damned to return to Earth for a stint as the unhappy and murderous Rusalka.

Image Courtesy: Russian MythologyEncylopaedia.

Once turned into the Rusalki, their primary objective is to lure people into the water and drown them. They predominantly target young men - as revenge for their own unhappy deaths (largely caused by men). The Rusalka will seduce the man in much the similar way to a Greek Siren, using her voice and /or looks. So entranced by their inhuman beauty the men stupidly swim into the haunted waterway where the Rusalki will tangle his feet with her hair and drown him. Often the men would put up a fight, gripping the Rusalki and trying to haul himself to the surface. However it is said that the skin of a Rusalka is slippery, and no one can hold onto one.  There are also reports that the Rusalki will tickle their victim to death, so that the man will ironically die laughing.

Some sources report that a Rusalka can only exist whilst in water, and so a Rusalka appears with always one foot in the water, retaining her connection to the waterway at all time. Though others suggest that as long as the forest surrounds them, they may take form from the trees.

According to the Singing Bones Podcast (great resource by the way!) the Rusalki is described as "beauteous maidens with full and snow-white bosoms, and with long and slender limbs. Their feet are small, their eyes are wild, their faces are fair to see, but their complexion is pale, their expression anxious. Their hair is long and thick and wavy, and green as is the grass. Their dress is either a covering of green leaves, or a long white shift, worn without a girdle. At times they emerge from the waters of the lake or river in which they dwell, and sit upon its banks, combing and plaiting their flowing locks, or they cling to a mill-wheel; and turn round with it amid the splash of the stream. If any one happens to approach, they fling themselves into the waters, and there divert themselves, and try to allure him to join them. Whomsoever they get hold of they tickle to death. Witches alone can bathe with them unhurt.

Punishment of the wayward female is very common theme in Slavic mythology, and so it little surprise that a sinful female would be punished in such a way. It is interesting to note however, that the Rusalka does have a male counterpart, known as the Vodyanoy. This creature however is not suffering some sort of undead torment / punishment like the poor Rusalka. It is a mythological
Image courtesy: Ivan Bilibin 1934
creature in its own right. Vodyanoy is basically naked old man with a froggy face, green beard, and long hair. His unattractive body is covered with black scales coated in algae and mud. He has webbed paws, a fish tail and red burning eyes.

Hmmm, toad man, versus beautiful suffering woman. Don't you love mythology?

I am not sure if the tradition has continued to modern times, but there used to be a dedicated "Rusalka Week." During this week the Rusalka and Vodyanoy were said to be especially active and it was considered unwise to swim or spend much time near water. This used to occur in June.

In some mythologies, the Rusalka's mood also affected farmer's cropping, and so there were particular times of the yea rwhen the farmers and their wives tried to appease the Rusalka to insure a good crop. During these times the Rusalka would dance, but humans should be careful never to get too close to them, lest they turn murderous and vengeful.

I haven't read anything about what happens when the Rusalka complete their term as a water spirit. One hopefully presumes that when the term of their punishment end and their spirit would finally be at rest, and free, but I haven't read anything to suggest it.

On that rather sombre and disappointing note I shall leave you. 
Enjoy your March, whether it be Autumn or Spring in your hemisphere!