Stacia Kane's Haunted Weeek
Welcome to Stacia Kane! Author of amazing urban fantasy, and owner of a kickass haircut, the Pens are so glad to have her here today. And the story of the knife fight between her and one of the Pens is not true.
So lately I’ve been having a little bit of trouble blogging. I think it’s because I’m deep in the middle of writing the fourth Downside book, and my blogging always suffers when I’m working, at least when I’m working hard and it’s taking a lot out of me. Which this one is. (Don’t worry, you can’t tell it’s taking anything out of me at all, it sucks so hard.)
Anyway. Not only am I stumped as far as blogs are concerned (bloggedly stumped?), apocalypse has never been my thing. I know there are a few religions out there who keep insisting they know the exact date the world will end, and then when that day passes and everyone is still wandering around alive and everything they sort of pretend they were just kidding and the real date is in thirty years or so. Ha ha! They were just testing us, see? Or sometimes they say that the apocalypse actually has started, it’s just a very slow-moving one, and we won’t realize the world is ending until it’s too late. Stupid us, huh*?
And of course I remember all of the panic around Y2K. My brother was convinced it was going to be anarchy. Convinced. He had stockpiles of food and water. (Yes, he is that guy. But he’s still my big brother.) It was kind of an obsession with him, actually; I remember being over at his house one evening with my husband—he was my fiancé then—and our dad (that would be mine and my brother’s dad, not mine and my fiancé’s dad, because…well, yuck, and illegal too) and actually having to threaten to leave to get my dear brother to stop talking about how all of the bank systems will crash and everyone will need to protect their homes with shotguns because anarchy will immediately fall over the land.
Anyway. I know when people talk about apocalypses, (apocalypsi? No, it is –es, it’s just fun to make that joke), they automatically think of zombies. It’s all about the zombies, which frankly leave me cold (ha!), rather like apocalypsi do. I’m just not enamored of zombies; I don’t understand the appeal. Unless they’re magic-animated zombies, which…well, let’s just say I’ve written those once and totally plan to again very soon.
The people who don’t think of zombies tend to think of The Stand, and a superflu-type illness that wipes out huge swathes of people, leaving a small band of good people to fight the Devil. Or, well, at least the flu thing.
I’ve never really liked that idea, either. I honestly just don’t like the idea of apocalypse. It freaks me out. I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want anything to ever end; I’m furious that it has to, frankly. If someone offered to turn me into a vampire I would take that offer in a heartbeat. Eternal life? I am so there.
So I don’t like zombies, and I don’t like horrible diseases…and yet I write in a post-apocalyptic world. Weird, huh?
Well, yes and no. In my world, right around Halloween of 1997—October 28th, to be exact—something happened. I think I know what happened, pretty much, but you don’t get to yet. Somehow, the veil that separates the land of the living with the afterlife—the spirits of the dead—shattered or was torn or whatever, and the ghosts poured onto the earth, and they were pissed. Largely because people were alive and they weren’t, so they couldn’t enjoy any of life’s pleasures anymore (they couldn’t even really talk, in general), but because they were there to begin with, instead of in their afterlife, which was probably a pretty nice place for a ghost to be.
So because they were so mad they started killing people. Ghosts are translucent, yes—they even glow a little bit, not a lot, but a little tiny bit—but when they touch something they can solidify themselves around it. So a ghost who gets hold of a knife, for instance, can slash and stab a number of people, and those people really can’t catch him to stop him. If they come in contact with magic, like if they pick up a spellbag or talisman or fetish or something, it powers them up and they solidify all the way.
This event, when the ghosts spilled out and started tearing things up like the Who in a hotel room, is called Haunted Week. It ended on November 3rd, thanks to this previously tiny little magical church group called the Church of Real Truth. Here’s a bit of Church history I’m trying to find a way to fit into a book: the Church was formed in 1692 as a reaction to the Salem Witch Trials. Several people who heard about it had been sort of playing with magic themselves and didn’t think there was anything evil about it at all, thank you very much, and any God who wanted them killed because of it wasn’t a God they wanted much to do with, aside from the fact that their magical experiments led them to believe that there is no God (if there were, why would He allow their magic to work, right? If there is a God they shouldn’t be able to influence anything).
So those founding members formed their little magic group, and met in secret while still pretending to be just as pious and proper as all of their neighbors. And now everyone in the Church sort of carries that act on to some degree—Elders wear pilgrim costumes, with knee pants and hose; women in the administrative offices are called Goodys and wear dresses and caps. They usually disapprove of a lot of things, too.
Because of the Church’s three hundred-odd years of studying magic, they had some ideas how to get rid of the ghosts, using magic and psychopomps and the power of the earth. And they did, and it worked, and in exchange the Church basically got to write its own ticket as far as how the world is going to be run. And if you don’t like it, they’re perfectly happy to let all of those ghosts free again and you can just damn well deal with it. (The ghosts currently reside in an enormous cavern several hundred feet below the surface of the earth, called the City of Eternity. It’s not a solid cavern cavern; it has sort of chambers and stuff, but it’s just a big empty space.)
So. Now the Church is in charge—of a reduced population, because the ghosts killed like 2/3 of the world’s population before they were finally sent away—and it’s very totalitarian and dystopian, and that all happened because there was an apocalypse. So maybe you fans of such a thing should think about that next time you squee and clap your hands about zombies, thus putting all of us in danger (hey, who knows what causes zombies, right? Maybe they’re like the Doctor in the Dr. Who episode where the Master has him trapped in a little cage, and he’s all wrinkled and tiny, but Martha gets everyone to think about him at one particular time and it gives him back all of his life and vitality. I don’t really understand how it worked, but it was cool).
So if the zombies come, it’ll be your fault.
*This is a joke, and not meant to seriously denigrate anyone’s religion. I think having faith like that is pretty cool; I don’t, but I wish I did, so rest assured I think your religion is great and good for you and all that.
Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer service representative, a bartender, and a movie theatre usher. Writing is more fun than all of them combined. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings, and is a fervent Ricardian. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband and their two little girls.
And perhaps the rumor about the knife fight isn't completely untrue....