Years ago I bought a story collection called, The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World. One of the stories in this collection, “The Twelve Huntsman”, captured something in my mind and would not let go. It was filled with such vivid action and compelling themes that my imagination fired into full roar. So, I began writing a novel-length retelling of it.
But I soon saw that a literal retelling would become incredibly difficult given that there are twelve female characters, who all look almost identical. I decided to take a more figurative take and reduced the number of women down to three – two sisters and a cousin. And then the story kept taking very dark turns – turns into child abuse, neglect, suicide, abandonment, and public shaming. From this quagmire of material, one of the characters emerged and outshone the rest. Ottilde. From then on, I wrote just Ottilde’s story.
It might surprise some who have already In the Blood, that Ottilde began life as a very different character. She was, in fact, the product of her mother’s rape. As such, she was hated and shunned by her mother’s husband, who Ottilde believed was her father.
Anyone given access to that early material might say I hated Ottilde because I piled crap on her that would have made Job finally throw in the towel. But out of all her suffering came greatness. She, in her own tragic story, was a central figure in the world I created, a mythic warrior crippled by her own humanity. One could have called her an anti-hero since, despite her many gifts and the fact that she was much sought after by those in power, she hated people in general and wanted nothing to do with serving her god or country.
I made her into a bitter loner, tormented by her past. The only people she allowed near her were her adopted family, people who took her in after her birth family and community cast her out – and they had to work damn hard to gain even the most rudimentary trust from her.
I actually had a complete novel out of that story. But I put it aside because it was an incredibly dark book and I wasn’t sure anyone would want to read such a depressing story (although it did have a really triumphant ending).
Then, I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time and completed a 50,000 novel (that I’ve yet to do anything with). The following January, my husband challenged me to write ANOTHER novel in a month in exchange for a prize. I just love people bribing me! So, I did it. I wrote a novel called The Witch’s Bargain about a young woman who is thrust into a perilous situation when a new overlord takes over her family’s ancestral estate. This was Oriabel’s story. She and her story have remained very similar to this original prototype, though I gave Oriabel a stiffer spine and a lower tolerance for hanky-panky from certain disreputable persons. In this version, Oriabel is forced into becoming the new lord’s concubine by her scheming stepmother in exchange for keeping the secret of her witchbreed nature.
I put this novel aside for over half a year. When I opened the document at last and read through it, I fell in love with the characters once more and decided to make something of it. But I felt that a novel confined to just one location might drag a little, so I tried to think of a way to introduce new locations into the plot. It was then I struck on Ottilde’s story, or at least part of it. I changed Ottilde to a tough but loving and loyal person rather than my embittered anti-hero. The rest… you’ll have to read the novel to find that out.
In the Blood
R. L. Martínez
Publisher: Lakewater Press
Date of Publication: March 21, 2016
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: app. 122,000
Cover Artist: E. L. Wicker
The war between Dosalyn and Roanaan has ended, but a new battle begins for prisoner-of-war, Ottilde Dominax. Dreams of her witchbreed twin sister are visions of death and betrayal. Driven by their grim warning, she escapes her captors and races across nations to save her sister.
But she may arrive too late…
Oriabel Dominax has kept her healing magic secret while she cares for her family's struggling estate. But the arrival of a new lord with secrets of his own, the discovery of a dark and addictive magic, and threats from a cruel blackmailer push Oriabel closer to disaster.
Through it all, the Witch’s Tree calls…
Blood slid down Oriabel Dominax’s arm and dripped into the three brass dishes set on the floor. When each was a quarter full, she knotted a strip of cotton around the cut above her elbow. She gripped the counter next to her as a wave of dizziness swept over her. She closed her eyes and sucked in an unsteady breath.
“You take too much, little apple.”
Oriabel opened her eyes and grimaced at the old woman crouched by her side. “It’s nothing, Jacind.” In answer, the old woman slapped her on the shoulder. Oriabel made a face but did not protest the reproof. Instead, she refocused on the Seeing spell. After sprinkling each pool of blood with purplish-grey powder consisting of diamiana, jasmine, and mugwort, she touched a lit candle to the center of the dishes. She squinted as bright blue flames sparked and spat in response. Once the flames died, Oriabel bit her lip and inspected the patterns left on the surface of the blood, Jacind peering over her shoulder. In the first dish, the powder had melted into a swirling black mass that solidified into a long wavy line. The snake. Her eyes moved to the next dish, where the powder had formed a pinwheel with a line running through its middle. She pulled back sharply. A return? She leaned closer to the dish but it remained the same. Ottilde.
About the Author:
R. L. Martinez writes fantasy and science fiction with dark edges and corners. She began writing when she was in the seventh grade when her teacher assigned a creative writing project. She lives in Norman, OK with her husband, two young sons, a mouse-killing cat, and two naughty pooches.
Website - http://robinlmartinez.com/
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