Monday, March 3, 2008

It's Not The Potatoes

This week at the Diner, the staff, in honor of St. Patrick's Day March 17, is setting the mood with a series of posts about leprechauns, Celtic mythology, faerie rings, Ireland and incorporating cultural histories into your paranormal romance writing, if anyone is feeling so inspired. As usual, it should be interesting to see how the staffers make this topic their own.

For my part, I’m going to springboard with the fact I'm about to return a contract to Samhain for LIAM'S GOLD, a novella about leprechauns. It's set in the same general world as my July 2008 novel, SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST, and features a leprechaun hero who's been on a sojourn in humanspace as the final segment of the testing process for leprechauns who want to be part of their government. Both the fairies in SOTF and leprechauns in LIAM'S GOLD live primarily in their own Realm but visit humanspace in order to be tested. The fairies' tests last two weeks and the purpose is for fairies to learn to get by without magic. The leprechauns' tests last a minimum of three years and the purpose is for leprechauns to prove they can outsmart the individuals who prey on them both in humanspace and the Realm.

So why did I choose to populate my story with leprechauns? Is it some instinctive love for all things Celtic? Is it my Irish ancestry? My affection for potato products? Nope, nothing so deep. I wanted my premise to involve a paranormal being I hadn't encountered much in the romance genre but one that would be easily recognizeable, which ruled out lesser known fairies such as the nuckalavee, amadán or firbolg.

Once I established the paranormal "element", I researched it online and in books. I kept a list of common leprechaun characteristics readers would be familiar with as well as interesting ones they might not be familiar with. Then I decided how I'd incorporate them, or explain them away, in my story.

When working with widespread mythological tropes, such as vampires, werewolves or other "mainstream" paranormal creatures, you aren't in any way compelled to stick to existing canon (except your own, if it applies), but you do have to take into account reader expectation. If your vampires aren't harmed by the sun, for example, this has to be accounted for somewhere in your story. Otherwise readers might feel your research or worldbuilding are missing a certain something. And if your leprechauns aren't knee-high tricksters with a fondness for pots of gold and rainbows, you have to take that into account as well.

Mine aren't. Dunno about you, but I didn't think knee-high tricksters would make very appealing love interests for the human everywoman who is the typical heroine of the paranormal romance. Trickster qualities, yes; knee-high stature and kitschy green outfits, no. In fact, the similarities between my leprechauns and leprechauns of legend are few, but I hope they're fully developed in their own right and readers will enjoy my unique take on leprechaun mythology.

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Available now from Samhain Publishing *

PS. I would like to go on record as stating that the existence of this novella and the choice of biweekly blog topic are unrelated, cross my heart. Also, I promise not to overtly pimp again for a long time. Top of the mornin' to ya, and don't forget to sample our Irish Apple pie! It's the special this biweek.


  1. Well Jodi, I love a good leprechaun hero. Mind you, it's a tough sell since people automatically think caricature-type guy. But, with talent and imagination you can take someone clever and mischievous and turn him into a hunky hero that the ladies will love.


  2. Nice post Jodi, great way to start the Irish festival!

  3. Kudos Jody,
    A story about leprechauns sounds fun.

  4. How about a Were-Potato! Multi-eyed and bristling with tuberous growths waiting to sink into the grounds around your morning? Horrible creatures - you chop 'em up and they grow back many-fold. They wither and turn black when coldness comes. Irish APPLE pie? How about Pomme De Terre Pie???
    (Please excuse the mis-spelling - my last jaunt to Paris was in the back of a hover craft...)