Manannán mac Lir
Mac, hero of The Crossing has a real tongue-twister name. What's up with that?
The Celtic god Manannán mac Lir appears in Scots, Welsh, Irish, and Manx legends. Manannán is the son of Lir, the Celtic sea god. He's associated with the Underworld and the Isles of the Dead. In Irish lore, he's is one of the Tuatha De Dannan, the semi-divine race that settled ancient Ireland. He's associated with the faerie world and is sometimes said to be married to a Faery Queen.
There are many legends about the mythological Manannán. For The Crossing, I borrowed the name and some elements of the myths. Mac is indeed the son of Lir, and his mother (not his wife!) is Queen of the Sidhe.
Niniane would much prefer her only son spend all his time in Annwyn, the Celtic Otherworld. But Mac, like many Sidhe, is fascinated with the imperfections of humanity. He lives in the human world, where he acts as guardian to the Faerie race.
As The Crossing begins, a faerie village is under death magic attack. Mac rides to the rescue—and encounters a mysterious witch.
As the son of a sea god, Mac has vast water magic powers. He’s also inherited Sidhe magic and traits from his mother.
In Celtic mythology, the Sidhe (pronounced “shee”) are talented musicians. Mac’s an international Celtic alternative techno-rock star, known for his unique blend of traditional Celtic instruments, natural sounds, and computer synthesis. Sidhe are also known for their strong sensual appetites. Mac’s no exception! His easy smile, good looks, and natural charisma means there's never a lack of pretty lasses battling for a place in his bed.
A recurring theme in stories about Sidhe is the race's simultaneous fascination with, and disdain of, the human race. Humans are inferior, short-lived beings and many Sidhe, like Niniane, scorn them. But the Sidhe are also drawn to what they can't fully understand. Human love falls into that category.
Though Mac longs to experience human love, he’s afraid his Sidhe nature is incapable of the emotion. His mum wants him to forget inferior human women and settle down with a nice Sidhe girl. But Mac knows he'll never do it.
Mac doubts the human woman exists who can handle him, but he's searching for her anyway. He finds her in the person of Artemis Alexandra Black, a mixed-race witch with the rare power to balance life and death magic. Artemis is skirting disaster, casting spells against peaceful faerie villages. When Mac hunts her down he finds the one woman capable of standing up to him and his magic. He’s not about to let her get away!
Halloween / Samhain
Samhain, also known as Halloween, is a night when the veil between life and death thins, allowing beings from either side to cross what is usually an impenetrable barrier. Artemis's mission must be completed on this night. Mac, pursuing her for her crimes against the faeries, has no idea why Artemis is so desperate.
Trick-or-treat is a largely American custom that has gained popularity in Scotland in the past years, much to the disgruntlement of traditionally-minded Scots. In The Crossing, you'll hear Mac muttering about a “sodding American jack-o-lantern” in a shop window!
Dante Alighieri, the world's first popular horror fiction writer
The Crossing moves from the real world into Hell. Many stories have been set in Hell, but the most famous is the Inferno, a portion of the fourteenth-century Italian poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I first encountered the Inferno in high school English class and never quite forgot it.
When Dante wrote the Divine Comedy in the local Tuscan dialect, it became the first work of Western Literature accessible common people. The narrator descends nine circles of Hell, encountering demons and damned souls. Many of the "damned" souls were Dante's contemporaries—talk about an author's revenge! (No, sorry, I didn’t write any real people into The Crossing!)
Each level of Dante's Inferno punishes a specific category of sin, starting with mild transgressions and progressing to the heinous evil. The punishments fit the crimes, often in hilarious ways. It was fun creating my own version of Hell using Dante's nine circles.
Mac and Artemis pass through circles punishing the same sins as in the Inferno. The punishments in The Crossing, however, are my own! Storms, freezing slush, and flaming tombs are all very well and good for Fourteenth Century sinners, but the modern-day damned need something a little more relevant. Like, say, an eternal deli-counter line. Or being trapped for all time in the mall bikini department!
To Hell and Back
Things get dire for Artemis and Mac as they descend into the deepest depths of Hell. Artemis is being emotionally manipulated by a pair of nasty demons, and as for Mac, he finds out his vast life magic doesn't work so well in the land of death. For the first time in his long life, Mac's facing some inner demons of his own, and he'd wondering if he's finally gotten himself into trouble he's not going to be able to get out of.
Immortals: The Crossing–it’s one hell of a journey!
© Copyright 2017 by Joy Nash. All Rights Reserved.