Guest Blogger: Jessa Slade
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Fate—aka destiny, aka doom—plays a vital role in my storyworld where vulnerable souls are possessed by repentant demons and struggle together to earn their way back into grace. In my telling, those vulnerable souls are marked by a “penance trigger.” The newly possessed heroine of SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, Sera, get the explanation from the hero, Ferris Archer:
“When I had the vision of the demon, it said I’d called it.” She fixed her gaze on her hands wrapped around the coffee cup. “It said I was lonely. It said it loved me. How desperate is that?”
Love. The word exploded in an empty place in him, as if that powder had burned to the end of the line. He clamped down until the echo died. “Desperate on the demon’s part? Or yours?” When she glared at him, he shrugged. “It makes a bargain to fill what’s missing in us and then takes what it needs.”
“But why me?” She wilted a bit. “Seems a little conceited to think I’ve had any more tribulations than the next guy.”
“Haven’t you?” He waited while she considered. “But it’s not about the quantity of your suffering. It’s the quality. Demons are quite the connoisseurs of pain.”
She grimaced. “Me too lately, I guess.”
“Exactly. When the demon crosses over, it seeks a matching target, a soul that resonates with its energy. Somewhere in your past is a penance trigger. It defines the headwaters of an invisible fault line in your soul, cutting a path right to the moment when the demon breaks your life in two.”
“A penance trigger?” Some memory brought a hazy glitter to the corner of her eye. “So it was because of me.”
The tear never fell, but his muscles tightened as if reacting to a mortal threat. He held himself still with effort. He wouldn’t reach for her again. “Whatever it was doesn’t necessarily make you guilty, Sera. It just made you vulnerable.”
Despite his soft tone, her instant focus pinned him. Her narrowed eyes left no room for tears. “I still can’t believe any of this. I should have my head examined.”
“You mean your soul.”
For these Marked Souls, their penance trigger made them uniquely vulnerable—fated them—to demonic possession.
Which makes Bulfinch’s Mythology and Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books my penance trigger. I loved those stories: The good and evil, the princesses, the youngest sons, the talking animals, the nasty magicians. My first grade school poems were about unicorns and the Gates of Tomorrow. But in the intervening years, I wrote everything except paranormal. I wrote Regencies, a medieval, a rom-com and a chick lit, even a romantic suspense futuristic. In the end, though, the one that sold? A paranormal going all the way back to my good and evil roots. I was obviously fated.
But then, shouldn’t fate be easier? It took me almost a hundred rejections over more than a decade on nearly a million final draft words to finally get “The Call.” If it was fate, shouldn’t it feel inevitable instead of like really hard work?
Ah, maybe I’m forgetting how fate plays out in the Greek tragedies, where everyone struggles mightily over many years and many battlefields against their fate. They run, they hide, they fight and murder, they bribe various gods, and—eventually—they succumb anyway.
And honestly, I guess that does make the better story.
What do you think, is fate a real force, like gravity? Or is it more like the “gravity” that brings me and the bag of dark chocolates together against our will? Have you ever found yourself at a moment, looked back and realized you were fated to be here?