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Friday, May 20, 2011


Multi-published author Misa Ramirez, who also writes under the pseudonym Melissa Bourbon, is our Book Club Friday guest today. Misa teaches creative writing at Southern Methodist university-Cape as well as online and has contributed to The Writer’s Guide to ePublishing. Learn more about Misa at her website. You can also find Misa stripping down characters at The Naked Hero, giving away free books at Books on the House, and writing about Killer Characters. Find Misa's books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. -- AP
The Inspiration Behind A Deadly Curse

Inspiration is all around us, and as a writer, I never know when it will strike…or how long after I’ll apply that inspiration to a novel.  This is true whether I’m writing my Lola Cruz Mysteries, my new Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, or my romantic suspenses (A Deadly Curse, available now, or A Deadly Sacrifice, coming in late May). My ideas usually stem from something I’ve read, heard about , or have in my memory banks. From there, it develops, often requiring research to flesh it out.
This was especially true when it came to writing A Deadly Curse. It’s based on the legend of la Llorona. My husband, Carlos, grew up hearing the tale. His parents, tias, and tios, and every other adult around, would tell the kids the story of the Crying Woman. Their purpose? To frighten them enough so they wouldn’t wander off alone.
La Llorona was the Mexican boogyman. I first learned about the legend of the Crying Woman after I met Carlos (we’ve now been married 20 years and have five children, so la Llorona has been part of my consciousness for a long time).
We’d go camping with his brothers and sisters and their spouses, sit around the campfire, and invariably, the stories would begin.
Before long, a low, haunting sound would float through the air. La Llorona. It was as if the ghost was right there, her wails drifting up from the banks of the river through the trees, circling around us as we huddled together.
It didn’t take long to figure out that it was my husband making the haunting sounds, but the legend itself was spooky and stayed with me from the first time I heard the story. A woman kills her children by drowning them in the river. After she realizes what she’s done, she drowns herself. Legend has it that the woman has been haunting riverbanks ever since, looking for her children. Kids are warned to stay away from the rivers so la Llorona doesn’t steal them, thinking they are hers. Creepy. Yet fascinating.
Slowly, the idea of la Llorona being the central element in a romantic suspense plot began formulating in my mind.  Before too long, it took hold completely and I began plotting A Deadly Curse.  But I needed to learn more about la Llorona.
Where did the legend start and why did she drown her children? These things, I figured, would inspire my plot. Little did I know that the legend of la Llorona was far more complex than I’d ever imagined.
What I learned was that there are actually four different stories behind the legend. My husband’s family knew only one of them. Everyone I’ve talked to since then has only known one, or possibly two different versions. No one has known all four of the stories.
The woman in each story was called something different: La Ramera (the harlot), La Bruja (the witch), La Virgin (the virgin), La Sirena (the siren). Needless to say, learning about the four different stories sent my plot in a new direction. The knowledge created new opportunities and obstacles for my characters.
My research into la Llorona opened doors for me, helping me take A Deadly Curse in fascinating directions I couldn’t have created if I’d tried.
I’m so proud of this book, thrilled to have used a piece of a culture I love, and I hope all of you will enjoy it, as well.  I’d love to hear from you.
The legend of la Llorona was new to me. What about the rest of you? Had you heard of it? If so, which version were you familiar with? Let's hear from you. -- AP


Misa said...

Thanks so much for hosting me at your site, Lois! I'd really love to hear who knows about the legend of la Llorona. Happy Friday!


Caridad Pineiro said...

I'd heard of the curse many years ago and always thought it would be a great basis for a story. Congrats, Misa!

Linda said...

I've never heard of this legend.
Isn't it strange what parents will tell their children to keep them safe.

Linda Burke

Misa said...

It is strange, I agree, Linda. But it makes a great basis for a romantic suspense book!

Janel said...

I had never heard of this legend until I saw touches of it woven into a book I read last year. It certainly is creepy. How interesting that there are so many different versions.

Dru said...

I've first heard about the legend when I read your book, which btw was great.

Patricia said...

I loved that you turned a legend like that into a book! That's inspirational to all of us. And I love the title of your book "Magical Dressmaking Mystery". I want to read THAT. I'll have to see if it's on Amazon.

Misa said...

What book did you read last year, Janel? I can't say that I've seen another fiction book with la Llorona in it. I'd be curious!

Misa said...

Dru! My favorite reader! I'm so glad you liked A Deadly Curse!!

Misa said...

Thank you, Patricia! The series is the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries. Book one is Pleating for Mercy. It is available for preorder anywhere you buy your books!


Misa, thanks so much for guesting today!

Misa said...

It's been fun...thanks for the invite!!!

Janet Spaeth said...

I'm from New Mexico--definitely heard of La Llorona! I'm for sure going to get this book.

jeff7salter said...

Sounds fascinating, Misa!
in my 2nd ms. (un-pubbed so far), I used a real-life experience from my wife's family during the Civil War ... but there were multiple variations of it. One soldier, two soldiers; how long they stayed, how soon one died, where the other went, etc.
I had to sift through all of them before I could decide how I was going to 'call' the one true version in my fictional account. I enjoyed every minute of it.