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Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Author’s Inspiration ~ Erika M Szabo #amreading #fantasy @MultiGenreBooks
Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to fantasy author, Erika M Szabo.
Writers can get inspiration anywhere, and any time.
The idea to write this novella came to me when I found an old letter from grandma in my drawer where I keep precious holiday cards and letters. I saved that yellowed letter because I loved her neat handwriting.
It doesn't take much to trigger a writer's imagination, so I started thinking. What if... what if this letter was written by and ancestor who lived hundreds of years ago? What if it would contain information that could save someone in the present? From that moment, the story started to form in my mind.
I imagined Emily as a med student who is planning to spend the summer in Hungary with her brother who is an archeologist. On the flight she meets a man who turns out to be her puppy love from long time ago.
Jayden finds a leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. If it remains unbroken, the curse will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries.
Can they find the way to break the curse? Could Emily find happiness with her long-lost friend?
When I had the rough outline of the story, the words started to pour, and I added a lot more secrets, historical facts and legends as well as suspenseful moments to keep the readers at the edge of their seats.
I included the ancient Hun writing in the book, called Rovasiras, which is still used in Hungary, and I imagined what the Shaman’s book would look like.
A short excerpt from the book:
They chose a secluded corner table and ordered coffee and pastries.
“It was weird, you know,” Jay began. “When I saw this woman, I could swear it was you. She had the same wavy dark hair and it was even parted on the left, just like yours. She was a mirror image of you, her face, body shape, and everything. The only difference was that she had this crazed look about her that I can’t explain… It was like she was mad at me or something.”
“That is odd.” Emily paused a moment to wonder about what he’d said. “But they say everyone has a twin somewhere in the world.” She tried to justify their unexplainable meeting and hush the dark thoughts that started forming in her mind.
“She disappeared so fast that I couldn’t take a closer look, but she really seemed like a spitting image of you. Weird, and I have no idea what she was doing there. I haven’t seen her before or ever since.”
“What was she wearing?”
“I dunno, like clothes,” Jayden replied with a confused look on his face.
Emily huffed, “You’re such a typical man. Be more specific.”
Jayden tried hard to remember. “I think it was a light-colored shirt and long skirt with maybe flowers or something. Yes, it was like those gypsy girls when they dress up to dance at festivals. I called out and ran after her, but she was gone as if the earth swallowed her. I couldn’t find her anywhere.”
“Well, maybe Aunty Julia knows her. We’ll ask when we get home,” Emily speculated.
“Yeah, she knows everyone in town.” Jayden laughed and then turned serious.
“So, what’s with Daniel? Are you meeting him for dinner?”
“Yes. Can you believe it? He transferred to medical school to New York because he found out I’m going there too. I thought about him a lot and I missed him when we stopped vacationing at Grandma’s.”
“I guess he missed you too, a lot.”
Jayden’s phone rang, and Emily rolled her eyes. “Really? Must you have those chipmunk mating sounds as a ringtone?”
Jayden gave her an apologetic smile and answered his phone. He started a conversation with a college about an artifact, which didn’t really interest Emily.
While sipping her coffee, Emily thought about Jayden’s meeting with the strange woman. It made her remember the dark times when she was twelve, and Jayden was fourteen years old.
My baby brother, Aiden... she thought. Her mother’s scream woke them up, and the entire family rushed into the nursery. Before her father could grab Emily and Jayden to rush them out of the room, Emily saw her mom holding the tiny baby’s limp body. Amelia, her twin sister, was standing by the crib. Emily remembered the strange expression and cold smile on her face as she was singing, “Baby don’t cry no more.”
A chill washed through Emily’s body every time she thought about that early morning. Her father rushed them over to the neighbor’s house. They didn’t know what was going on and their parents gave them the sad news that baby Aiden went to Heaven. Jayden and Emily didn’t understand what had happened and they were further confused by the reactions of the adults around them.
When Jayden finished the phone call, he noticed Emily’s sad expression. “What’s wrong Ems?” he asked.
“Do you remember when mom told us that Amelia was very sick and they had to leave her in the hospital? We never saw Amelia after that morning.”
“Yes, we kept asking for a long while when she was coming home, but they gave us the same answer over and over— ‘She’s too sick, and the doctors don’t allow visitors.’ It was a sad time in our lives. What made you think about it?”
“Laughter and happiness became scarce in our family after that,” Emily remembered. “Mom and dad were sad all the time, and it reflected on us too. Jay, what if… okay, it’s a crazy thought, but what if Amelia…”
“You’re right, it’s crazy thought. Don’t you remember? For about a year, they visited Amelia in the hospital twice a week and refused to take us with them. They said seeing healthy kids would upset Amelia too much and it would be a constant reminder of what she was missing because she was so sick. But when she passed away, we went to the funeral.”
“The casket was closed,” Emily replied, taking a deep breath. “What if…?” She gasped when a thought occurred to her. “What if she didn’t die and was sent to live in Hungary? It’s possible, isn’t it? Could it be that you saw her?”
“Well, I don’t know… maybe… We never found out how Aiden died and what happened to Amelia. Mom and dad refused to talk about it, and eventually, we stopped asking. That tragic day remains a mystery and a family secret. I never told you, but I tried to find something in newspaper archives, but the only article I’ve found was Aiden’s obituary and it only said that he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”
“Why didn’t they tell us anything? Why is it such a big secret? I asked grandma too when she visited us, but she refused to say anything.”
“Maybe Aunt Julia knows something.”
Jayden started fidgeting, “Are you done? I’m itchy to get home.”
“Yes, let’s get going.” Emily stood up. “I’m not surprised you’re itchy,” she said with a laugh. “You look like a homeless man who hasn’t seen a shower for weeks.”
“I know,” Jayden giggled. “Sorry about offending your sensitive nose, but I was so absorbed in the work at the dig that I forgot about time and didn’t have time to shower and change. I had to rush and speed a little to be on time at the airport.”
“It’s okay, I still love ya.” Emily hugged her brother holding her breath.
They paid the bill and when they got back in the car, Emily took the book out of the duffel bag and started reading.
Altona and Zala rode back to the cave in silence, and they led the horses inside. Altona collapsed to her knees on the sandy floor, and uncontrollable sobs erupted from her chest. “How could they do this? They attack a peaceful village, kill most of the people, and they take everything. What kind of monsters are they? Why didn’t the chief leave some hunters to protect the village?” She looked up at Zala for answers as tears rolled down her face.
“They are the scum of humanity,” Zala whispered. He knelt beside Altona and hugged her to his chest. “We can’t do anything now, and we must wait until sundown.” He gently stroked Altona’s shoulder. “We will take revenge! You are an amazingly accurate archer, and… I’m not so bad myself, thanks to your lessons.”
“We have to go!” Altona tried to squirm out of his embrace. “We have to know what happened to my mother. Maybe we can help them.”
Altona, we can’t help now, but we can find out what is happening. I have a plan. I never told you about my ability…”
Altona pushed Zala away with hope shining in her eyes. “What is your plan, and what is your ability?” she urged.
“The horde will not leave the village until they gorge themselves and rest. Therefore, we have the entire night. We will become their worst nightmare and hunt them from the shadows until the last one of them is dead.” The determined look in his eyes depicted a warrior instead of the gentle Shaman apprentice that he was.
Altona raised her voice, getting impatient. “Zala, what is your ability, and why did you keep it a secret?”
“It will come as a shock. And I didn’t tell you because it is forbidden to reveal the secrets of the Shamans.” Zala bowed his head and continued, “But now that I have very little hope that the Shaman is still alive, I will show you. Keep an open mind, though, and don’t get scared.”
“What is it, Zala? Tell me already!” Altona commanded.
“Okay,” a heavy sigh escaped Zala’s chest, “but I… I’m afraid you will not look at me the same way ever again. I’m afraid you will be afraid of me and you won’t want to be my friend.”
Altona shook her head sadly. “Zala if you think that, then you don’t know me at all. You will always be my friend, no matter what happens, even if you turn into a wolf or something.” She cracked a tiny smile.
“About that…” Zala looked away.
“What? Do I have to beat it out of you?”
“Okay,” Zala decided. “Here it goes. The bloodline I was born into has the ability to connect with the minds of animals. We can see what they see, and we can feel what they feel.”
“No way! Really?” Altona’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “How come you never told me about this?”
Zala sighed and continued, “The Shaman saved me and adopted me when I lived only three seasons. My family and my clan members were butchered by nomad hordes, just like the one that attacked our village. The Shaman wandered for a long time before he found your village. Your clan’s Shaman and his apprentice were mauled and killed by mountain lions when they were meditating deep in the woods, and your clan accepted him as their Shaman. So, now you know, I’m a Link between the human and animal world.” He glanced at Altona with worry in his eyes.
“That’s… I admit it’s unexpected if it’s true. Prove it!”
“I will summon my hawk friend, and through her eyes, I will see what is happening in the village…” He choked up.
Altona turned to Zala. “The hunters were due back by sundown. Maybe they’re back already and took revenge. My mother… and maybe my father and brother…” She sobbed as the possibilities ran through her mind.
“If they hurt them, we will take revenge. Luckily, we have enough arrows stored in the cave. Are you sure you’re ready? You have never killed anyone before. Can you do it?”
Altona leaned forward with a determined look. “Yes, I can. I never told you this, but I did kill a man.”
“My father took me to visit my uncle’s family not long ago. They live on the other side of the mountain.”
“Yes, I remember that.”
My father forbade me to tell anyone, that’s why I didn’t tell you, but we were attacked by two men close to his brother’s village. We were talking, and we didn’t pay as much attention to the surroundings as we should have. The men jumped out of the bushes and pulled both of us off the horses. One man threw me on the ground and he had that look in his eyes that my mother had warned me about many times.”
Zala’s chest was heaving as he leaned forward, “Did they…,” he asked.
Erika M Szabo
I became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to my dad who introduced me to many great books. I write alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.