|© Mike Corley|
"Kalfu, the ultimate evil-twin and Voodoo Loa of the afterworld and crossroads kicks off his plans for possession of the Southern Mississippi corridor. Dark half of Papa Legba, Kalfu sets off events that cripple New Orleans, tries to take control of the over 9 million visitors to the Big Easy a year, and seeds his Hoodoo mafia, the Guédé, across Louisiana and the world. If the fire, category HUGE hurricane spawned by magical means, and roving mobs of mayhem-inducing zombi astrals don’t get you, the angry goddess and nuclear meltdown might. Laissez the End Times Roulez, y’all. The Apocalypse just came to the South."
Kim is here today to tell us more about her book. Welcome, Kim!
EEG: Tell us about the inspiration behind Hoodoopocalypse and the Hoodoo mafia.
KW: Hoodoo is basically the "Southern US version" of Voodoo, which is actually a pretty legitimate religious practice in Haiti and some other Caribbean islands. Not at all like what you see in movies, usually. It's based on ancient African practices that were brought over to the New World during the slave trade.
With Voodoo (more properly spelled Voudou, actually, but the other spelling is better recognized) you have a lot of ancestor traditions, folklore, and probably spiritual figures who were gods and goddesses in the ancient traditions. They got changed when the slaves had to go somewhat underground with their beliefs, and nowadays, the Loa are kind of like Catholicism's saints-- the Voodoo practitioner will appeal to them for daily favors or help instead of bothering the "Big God" named Bondye. In Haiti, it used to be said that 100% of people are Catholic and 99% are Voodoo. So Hoodoo is more the version that sprang up in the Southern U.S., mixed with magic and folklore from the rural south, the Appalachians, the islands like Gullah in the Carolinas. Hoodoo usually doesn't really reference the Loa as much as the more formal Voudou, and that's why I decided to call the book and the magic in it Hoodoo, to try to avoid any religious disrespect in my own story. However, the Loa and the Voudou still kind of got into the story. I guess they just wanted to be part of the fun.
The Hoodoo mafia, called the Guédé, in mythology are spirits of the death & fertility family of Voudou. There are a whole bunch of them and one of their big bosses is Papa Ghede, who wears a top hat and smokes cheap cigars. They're very chaotic, but they have really important jobs. They eat hot peppers and drink a lot of rum, too.
They do various things like escort the dead to the afterlife, or guard the graves of those who die too soon. I sort of envisioned them as these ultimate trickster figures. They honestly can be both good and bad-- in Voudou, it's all about the balance, and almost all Voudou figures can be either good or bad depending on the circumstances.
So Kalfu is this demon of Possession, and he has taken a tiny piece of the souls of regular people, and he's using them to create this big army of bad guys who will go out and collect others. We don't know exactly what he's going to do with them, yet. But I can't imagine he's up to anything good.
EEG I love the magic in your book: did you have to do some research to get the traditions and myths or is it something that's native to New Orleans and you just absorb it?
KW Well, the general vibe of New Orleans is something that I think you absorb when you're there. This laid back atmosphere of great food and drinks and the heat and jazz and all of that just gets into you the instant you step on the streets. There are these awesome little Voodoo shops there, and honestly, they aren't really tourist traps, and the people there tend to take the religious practice seriously. That vibe of real belief system and the Tarot & palm reading in Jackson square are pretty big parts of my story.
I have done quite a bit of research on Voudou-- I have a whole chapter in my PhD dissertation on it, and its representation in pop culture and literature. I hope that I did a fair job representing it, even while it is all fictional and my imagination, too. The Voudou research was part of my greater study in the dissertation of witches as a form of magical feminism, where the magic is a type of empowerment. So yeah, the novels that I read and analyzed for that meant I learned a lot about the culture and the religion. And I just love it-- that idea of possibility, of balance between good and evil, and the folklore and history that goes with it. When I was asked to pitch a story, and I thought of the region I'd like to do, it just seemed natural to work Voudou into it. And that really shaped the story, too. I really love it-- it's one of my favorite things to have written so far.
I think I'll be writing about witches and magic-users as long as I can come up with something people will want to read because I'm fascinated with magic and folklore, and the stories have so much fun potential as a writer. I mean, if you make magic possible, you can do anything, and you can explore so many ideas with it from social justice to gender to all the fun parts of speculative fiction and sci-fi. It's my favorite kind of story to read, so I had to write it.
EEG Introduce the main characters from your book. Kalfu in particular, I love how he gets things done with his charming smile. :-)
KW Oh yes, Kalfu, in spite of (or maybe because of) being the ultimate bad boy is very sexy. He's young, and brash, and muscled, and that wicked smile and his eyes trick you into thinking he's not going to harm you. But he is totally bad news, and he wants to rule the world (or at least the Southern Mississippi corridor.) I imagine he's everyone's bad boyfriend, the one you knew you should resist but just couldn't help sneaking out at night to meet.
Marie is the white-magic witch, and she doesn't get nearly enough screen time in this story-- all these other characters came in and had all the real fun. Marshall, her boyfriend, came in and found his story in the Superdome. But Marie is a real magician, and she's going to go on this quest in book two and become very powerful. I hope she'll be able to fight off the bad guys in New Orleans and maybe even in the ultimate apocalypse. In spite of what one reviewer called a very dark imagination, I really do want the good guys to win.
Most of the stories in the Apocalypse Weird group have been more science-based, and while my story has some slipstream elements of science in it, it's more magic, obviously. Which I think is important-- if you have this mutli-layered universe, you're going to have a lot of possible worlds out there. Including magic. And boy, can you imagine Kalfu coming across the science military bad guy in your story? They would surely have fun clashes.
EEG Do you have a sequel in mind and if so, what's in store next for Kalfu and Lee Lee?
KW I do have a sequel in mind where Marie goes on a Steamboat up the Mississippi river and eventually ends up in Memphis, Tennessee. They're escaping the chaos that I unleash on New Orleans at the end of book 1, but then they're going to find all kinds of problems in Memphis, too. Some good guys will be there, and some bad, obviously. And Lee Lee is going to be set upon Marie's trail-- eventually I hope they get to square off, magic-user versus evil Soccer Mom.
The thing I'm most excited about for the sequel is that I hope to actually take a trip up the river on this great cruise Steamboat for research purposes and get some great Memphis Bar B Que and visit Graceland and all that.. you know. For business purposes.
Kalfu is going to keep trying to gain control over the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the trouble is, his cousins, some of the other magical entities, will start getting wise to his plans and start causing him problems. So he's going to be fighting the good humans as well as some of the other Loa. It's just not going to be what he had in mind, and he's going to blame Marie for most of it. Marshall will be stuck in New Orleans for a while, and things are just going to get insane in the Superdome. And wait til you see what the nuclear explosion is going to do when it gets mixed up with all that magic.
EEG Thanks so much Kim! And to all Apocalypse Weird fans: come to the Facebook the launch party on March 20. Eric Tozzi's book Phoenix Lights will be launching too!
Apocalypse Weird Books:
The Dark Knight by Nick Cole continues the story begun in The Red King as survivors band together to build a modern-day castle against a tide of dark forces overrunning Southern California. While Frank and Holiday struggle for power, Ash ventures into the night to rescue a lost special needs adult who has unknowingly glimpsed a horrifying future: a future where man is on the verge of extinction and a new predator rules the planet. The Apocalypse Weird is beginning, and it might just be something bigger than anyone ever imagined ... or feared.
Scorched by fire and the longest drought in recorded history, survivors flee the Land of Enchantment to escape a mutated flu virus that turns ordinary people into mass-murderers. In E. E. Giorgi’s Immunity, few resilient scientists remain, gathered in one of the last national laboratories still working on a vaccine. Then the disease starts spreading within the soldiers guarding the laboratory, bloody carnage reigns. Immunologist Anu Sharma pairs up with computer geek David Ashberg to find a cure and escape the massacre. Outbreak meets World War Z in the deserts of Apocalypse Weird.
The Thing meets The Core in Jennifer Ellis’s Reversal, where the isolated International Polar Research Station on Ellesmere Island becomes an incredibly dangerous assignment for Sasha Wood. Stalked by killer polar bears, Sasha and her partner, Soren, search for their missing colleagues in the frozen tundra as their compass reveals an incredible truth: a magnetic pole reversal—fabled and feared in the scientific community for years—has occurred. The North Pole is now the South and vice versa. Psychotic scientists and giant methane-venting craters are just the beginning of a terrible and strange new reality.
Chris Pourteau’s The Serenity Strain finds Houston, Texas, at the epicenter of an apocalypse both natural and unnatural. Three hurricanes wreak unprecedented devastation on the Texas Gulf Coast. Amidst the anarchy left in the wake of the storms, six prisoners—the genetically altered test subjects for a viral strain known as Serenity—escape the state prison in Huntsville. Their hunger for murder and destruction gorges itself on society's survivors. One being of immense power and wanton appetites, a member of the demonic 88 named Id, arrives to oversee the destruction of mankind and morality. The Stand meets 28 Days Later in this epic tale of genetic manipulation gone awry.
Lord of the Flies meets Mad Max in Texocalypse Now by Michael Bunker and Nick Cole. It’s a gritty tale of survival set in the post-Apocalyptic West Texas Badlands. Packs of feral, cannibalistic humans called “hordes” and other psychotic groups threaten a band of children led by Ellis, a boy barely a man. Ellis and the children make a home for themselves in a hidden valley atop a mysterious mesa. But when a member of the 88, a Man in Black simply known as Mayhem, arrives in the Badlands, Ellis and his small “family” of orphans are forced underground to survive.