Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oracles in the Cards: Guest Blog & Giveaway with Alayna Williams

Oracles in the Cards
Guest Post By Alayna Williams

I’d been wanting to write a story about a criminal investigator using the Tarot to solve crimes for some time. In DARK ORACLE, Tara Sheridan swore off criminal profiling after narrowly escaping a serial killer who left her scarred for life. By combining Tarot card divination with her own intuition, she must help an intense federal agent find a missing scientist who has unlocked the destructive secrets of dark energy. The agent, Harry Li, draws her out of her self-imposed exile and back into the world.

I wanted Tara to have a deeper connection to oracles, a sense of history. I knew that Tara’s mother belonged to a secret society of Oracles. Research in Greek mythology led me to stories of the Delphic Oracle.

The Delphic Oracle is probably the most famous oracle of the ancient world. The priestess of the Temple of Apollo, the Pythia, wielded a great deal of political influence over leaders who sought her advice and the priestesses who served the temple. The Temple of Apollo was sited over a crevasse in the earth emitting noxious vapors, leading to modern-day speculation that the Pythia’s visions were not sendings from Apollo, but toxic hallucinations. The Delphic Oracle operated from roughly the eight century BC until 393 AD, when all pagan oracles were ordered to be dismantled by the Emperor. After that, no one knows what became of the priestesses.

I decided to pull that ancient society into the modern world, as a secretive group called Delphi’s Daughters. In mulling over how such a society of women would operate, I pulled out my trusty Tarot deck. Throughout the writing of DARK ORACLE, I kept a Tarot deck handy for story prompts and help with characterization. I shuffled and drew a card.

The first card I drew was The High Priestess. The High Priestess wears a severe expression and heavy robes, seated between dark and light colored pillars, representing knowledge of good and evil. She holds a scroll in her hands, symbolizing esoteric knowledge. She’s the embodiment of feminine wisdom. This card was easy for me to interpret. The head priestess of the Temple of Apollo, the Pythia, would have these qualities. As the leader of Delphi’s Daughters in my story, she would be powerful, insightful…and that power might make her inflexible.

I drew another card, wanting to know about the strengths of Delphi’s Daughters. I picked the Four of Rods, which shows two women gathering flowers underneath maypoles, with a castle in the background. This card represents society, harmony, and inheritance. Since Tara’s mother was involved in Delphi’s Daughters before her death, it made sense that Tara would still feel the pull of the fellowship of that group of women. In DARK ORACLE, Tara has excommunicated herself from Delphi’s Daughters, blaming them for her mother’s death.

The last card I drew was to suggest the weaknesses of Delphi’s Daughters. I picked the Moon, which shows a woman’s profile in the moon. Below her, a dog and coyote howl at the moon, while a crayfish rises from the water to gaze at her. Traditionally, this card represents intuition, but also deception and ulterior motives. This suggested to me (and to Tara) that Delphi’s Daughters are not what they seem. They may have insincere and hidden motives that could mean danger for Tara.

And Delphi’s Daughters were built on those cards, representing what Tara wants but can’t have: being part of a larger whole. Delphi’s Daughters, under the direction of the modern Pythia, also draws Tara into danger by drawing her out of her exile and into a mystery involving a missing scientist and shady government operatives. I deliberately didn’t draw a card for the outcome. Will Tara follow in her mother’s footsteps, be reintegrated into the order, and follow Delphi’s Daughters to her death?

Even Tara’s own cards aren’t clear on her fate. But I enjoy watching her search for it.

Alayna Williams has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses. Like the Pythia in Dark Oracle, she's been known to belly dance. Unlike the Pythia, she'd never consider herself a professional.

"Alayna" is also known as Laura Bickle, the author of Embers from Pocket Juno.

Read an Excerpt of Dark Oracle

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I have 1 Signed Copy to Give Away

Just leave a comment on this post

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Winner Announced on Wednesday June 23


Van Pham said...

really want to read this book, thanks for the giveaway!

Fang-tastic Blog follower


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good book.

I follow

13greenducks at gmail dot com

Michelle Greathouse said...

Ms. Williams educational background is impressive.

Please add my name to the hat for Oracles in the Cards.


kweenmg at yahoo dot com

tetewa said...

I've been hearing alot about this one, count me in! Fang-tastic Blog Follower tWarner419@aol.com

Reading said...

Please count me in. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to win this.
I am a follower.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Alayna Williams said...

Thanks so much for the good wishes, folks! :-)

Sullivan McPig said...

I love the way you wrote the story as it gave a great result!

Rosie said...

I've been reading a lot of blogs about this book and it looks really interesting! I'd love to win a copy. Thanks!!

rosie0512 @ hotmail . com

SandyG265 said...

I read Embers and am looking foward to reading her new book.

sgiden AT verizon.net

donnas said...

Sounds great. Thanks for the chance.

I am a follower.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Alayna Williams said...

Thanks, Sullivan and SandyG265! I'm so glad that you enjoyed them. :-)

Hi, Rosie and Donnas! Hope you enjoy.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Just showing my support to the author. Dark Oracle was awesome. There is a side character in the book that had me laughing. It even made my husband go "What are you laughing about." Then seen I was reading "Oh must be the book."

Estella said...

Sounds like a good read!


kissinoak at verizon dot net

Barbara E. said...

This book is on my wish list, so I'd love to win a copy.

I'm a follower

Andrea I said...

I would love to win this book.
It's on my TBB list.



mariska said...

I've been following around the blogs, to get my chance to win this ! count me in :)

- An old follower

uniquas at ymail dot com

Amanda Makepeace said...

My interest is peaked! Please enter me. :)

I'm a follower.



Donna said...

DARK ORACLE is a book I've been seeing a lot of lately. Can't wait to read it 'cuz I like the combination of the mystic of the tarot cards and the Greek Mythology background.

donna[.]locklin [at] gmail[.]com

Donna said...

Oops! Forgot to say I'm a follower of this blog. :)

Bethany C. said...

This looks like such a great book! I'm a new follower.

b dot cardone at hot mail

Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

Ooh I've heard of this one and it does sound very intriguing! Would love to win a copy!

jessbess2505 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Marg @ Clockwork Reverie said...

Love the background info...really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

I've become a follower of your blog.


k_sunshine1977 said...

please add my name to the hat! i am a follower...

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Alayna Williams said...

This was a really exciting book to write, but it was challenging. Part of that was due to the randomness that the cards introduced to the story. The other challenge was explaining the cards in a way that make sense to readers who aren't readers of the Tarot. I wanted to show Tara's use of the cards in a way that would be vivid and illustrate the mechanics of the process.

throuthehaze said...

I would love to read this!

I am a follower

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

As I Lay Bleeding said...

This sounds FANG-TASTIC!!!!! LOL!! I want to read it so badly that I have entered every contest I have seen for it!! I'm crossing everything!!! I hope I hope I hope!!

Thank you!!


EVA SB said...

I have been fascinated by Tarot every since watching 'Live and Let die' as a child.
I'd love to read this.

I'm a follower


Lillie (AliseOnLife) said...

I've been to other blogs where Alayna was the guest, and she had mentioned that she used the cards when writing Dark Oracle.

I like that this interview has revealed how she interpreted the cards and how the choice influenced her writing.

Thanks for the interview, insight, and giveaway!
I am a blog follower.


Steve Capell said...

I found your review to be intriguing and one that I think I would take pleasure in reading.

Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.


Alayna Williams said...

Thanks so much, folks! The cards make wonderful story prompts. For someone like me, who's very visual, it makes it easy to get into the story and let my imagination roam.

Persephone said...

I read Embers, by her other pen name, and you can definitely tell the author is educated.

I would love to check out this series.

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

Julie S said...

Great giveaway. This book sounds really interesting. Count me in.


heatwave16 said...

I've been dying to read this. I love the tarot card inclusion.

i am a follower


debbie said...

I would love to read this book.
I am a gfc follower.

Unknown said...

The book sounds great. Please enter me in the contest.

Momma Told Me said...

Thanks for the chance!
six_one_nine_girlie86 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Unknown said...

The premise sounds really interesting! ^^ If this is international, I would love the chance to win this. Thanks! c:

vesipisaroita [at] gmail [dot] com

buddyt said...

I would be interested in reading more about the use of the Tarot cards.

I have often come across them in other books but have never gone into it very much.

If the giveaway is open worldwide, then please enter me.

I am a Follower.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Meredith said...

I'd love to read this!

I follow your blog.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Alayna Williams said...

I'm so excited that so many of you want to read DARK ORACLE!