Thursday, October 18, 2018

Halloween is for Radioactive Mutants


So, what's this oil supposed to do?

It's time to start talking about oil. Midnight Oil that is. The color of the font is close to the color of the magical oil that can be used at midnight on the day of summer solstice. What's it for? Probably a lot of things. It's the WD-40 of magical ointments. However, in the YA fantasy of the same name, it's for healing ailments that cannot otherwise be cured.

Let's take a brief hop to the island Novaya Zemlya (and another important place described further down in this post) which is the extension of the Ural Mountains into the Barents Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Kara Sea way above the Arctic Circle. I wonder if this is the only island surrounded by three separate seas? Hm. Have to look that up.

The occupants are the Nenets, an indigenous tribe of hunters similar to the Eskimo and Inuits of North America. Their close cousins, the Samis, are also in the vicinity stretching across northern Siberia, Finland, and into the Finnmark region of Norway.

The Samis make up the paternal side of my heroine's family. If you read Bad Spelling, you'd also know that Kat's boyfriend is a Sami (formerly a troll changeling).

The unfortunate Nenets have a problem, a big problem. Russian nuclear testing in the 1950's left about as much radiation spread about as the explosion of Chernobyl. The Cold War certainly made major nations do some really stupid things.

In Midnight Oil, the radioactive has caused the Nenets' children born after the nuclear period to mutate. No, they didn't change into giant spiders. However, they were deformed and sick. The Nenets didn't get a lot of help from the former Soviet Union. Left to their own devices, they worked out that only one thing would save them; return them to normalcy: The Midnight Oil.

Therein lies a part of the tale. It's up to Rune (Kat's smarty-pants younger half-brother, who also happens to be half-vampire) and Ivansi (Kat's Sami grandfather) to first ask the Nenets gods where the oil is. The gods reside on a small island south of Novaya Zemlya called Hebidya Ya. You can see why it is called the Easter Island of the arctic with shrines to the various gods (illustrated on the map). Rune and Ivansi have to find the right god's pyramidal altar. The afflicted Nenets supply a totem to lead them.

After that, they have to steal the Midnight Oil from the forest elemental who happens to have it stored in her root cellar. Ajatar, however, is not a kindly elemental who'd be happy to help the distraught Nenets. Oh, no. Her mind is set on destroying her sister, another elemental spirit. In the meantime, Kat has been lost at sea along with her frozen father's block of ice. Yes, that's a bit odd, but it really does have a logical explanation.

You might be thinking that this plot is worthy of Days of Our Lives in complexity. Not really. Nobody has been married more than twice. Nobody has an identical cousin, and very few people have died and been resurrected (well, one).

Okay, maybe it is as complicated as a soap opera. But it's a lot more fun and filled with puns. I hope you'll want to read it when it's published next month.

Rune gazed toward the island the Nenets called the Home of the Gods. He noted, with some discomfort, that it teemed with people. This wasn’t going to be an easy drop-in, say hi to the gods, and ask where the Midnight Oil might be found.

“Ivansi.” Rune pointed to a small inlet further south on the shore. “Head that way. Fewer people around.”

Ivansi complied, steering the motorboat southward, angling in toward the land. He ran the boat up on the beach. Here, at least, there were some low-lying shrubs. Rune jumped off the bow with the mooring line and pulled the rope toward a sufficiently large, although ragged, bush. He grabbed the main trunk and tugged. It seemed firmly rooted, so he lashed the line close to the ground. Sucking on his finger scratched by the nasty bush, Rune swore under his breath. His own blood didn’t tempt his vampiric hunger. It just plain old hurt to get scratched by thorns.

While he was doing that, Ivansi left the boat, too. He held the Nenets totem high in his right hand and slowly turned, waiting for the totem to show him the way to go.

“Like a water witch, eh?”

Ivansi nodded and continued the slow scan of the island. The totem pulled his arm downward. Ivansi nodded in the direction it pointed. Rune joined the older man, and they set off across the rocky, barren landscape.

They walked about a hundred yards inland, when Ivansi stopped, looking puzzled. The totem pointed in a different direction. He held it up and tried the slow turn again. The totem pointed; Ivansi followed. Again, the totem changed direction. He tried a few more times, but the totem kept pointing a different direction every time he took a few steps.

Rune extended his hand. “Let me try. Maybe I can get a feel for what it’s trying to say.” He held the totem up as Ivansi had and turned. When it pointed, he pulled it back upright and turned some more. The totem seemed to be telling them the gods were all over this island, not just in a single spot.

“Oh, great. Now which way should we go?” Rune scratched his head with the totem. It slipped from his hand, and he grabbed for it, but the totem took off. Rune jogged after it. “Hey! Wait up!”

* * *

MIDNIGHT OIL - Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Traveling with her newly-found grandfather, a raging storm catches them unawares. Kat is tossed into the icy seas, while her brother and grandfather travel on to find help. Kat is rescued by an unlikely creature, and Rune is captured by mutants. Only the magical Midnight Oil can save her brother, but an evil forest elemental is trying to stop her.

No comments:

Post a Comment