Unreal City – The Familiar Spirits

In my newest novel, Unreal City, the protagonist’s whole life is changed by a familiar spirit, whom she comes to call Felix.

Matthewhopkins

What exactly is a familiar spirit though? They are a spiritual entity, generally taking the form of an animal, that supposedly help witches or cunning folk to perform magic. They’re somewhere between demons and fairies. The black cat, bat, owl, spider, or other spooky critters that you’ll commonly see accompanying witches or plastered on the sides of buildings at Halloween all get their roots from the concept of a familiar spirit. They are companions to a witch, bonded deeply with them. Traditionally, a familiar will appear abruptly to a witch or magical practitioner. From here they would meet the creature and enter into a pact with it. Another key trait of the familiar spirit was that it didn’t enter into the relationship for nothing. They require payment, most often food.

Witches'Familiars1579

This was the concept I based my familiar spirits from Unreal City off of. However, there’s one little fun fact about my familiars that people who read the book rarely guess. My set of twelve familiars and their owners are all based off of the signs of the zodiac.

 

Leo – The Lion is represented by Felix himself! I wanted to make the protagonist’s familiar a black cat, which is the traditional and most recognizable familiar spirit. So since he was feline, Felix became Leo.

Virgo – The little girl Blanche and her butterfly both represent the sign of Virgo the virgin. Blanche is a child who has experienced an accident that caused her to fall into a coma from which she will never wake. Because of this, she dreams endlessly in Unreal City. She will remain forever childlike and innocent, embodying the ‘Virgin’ from the zodiac. The butterfly is a symbol of innocence. The name ‘Blanche’ also means white in French, further following with the symbol of purity.

Libra – Aodh, Angus’s peculiar companion, is the familiar representing Libra. He takes the form of many things, but he always has the twin flames on either side of him. These two lights are the scales of Libra, balancing him on either side. The name Aodh means fire and is the name of the Celtic god of the sun, which is why the scales have become flames.

Scorpio – Poe’s familiar takes the guise of a vicious scorpion, an obvious reference to the sign.

Sagittarius – Though he only makes two very brief appearances, the man who rides the kelpie horse through Unreal City is the sign of Sagittarius. He and his horse-like familiar are never separate, giving him the suggestion of a centaur.

Capricorn – The man with the garden of diving bells, Ranjit, has this familiar. I described it as a goat with a dolphin-like back end and tail that swims through his underwater realm. This is the goat-fish of Capricorn.

Aquarius – This is Antler-Man (or Elk, if you’ve read the end!) Without giving away too much, the jug that he carries, the water that drips from his mouth, and what he does to his victims all start to make sense now, right?

Pisces – Masami’s twin jellyfish Izanami and Izanagi, named for the two gods that created Japan in myth. Pisces, the twin fish, are connected, as are these two.

Aries – Stella’s ram represents Aries. She is from Louisiana, where Mardi Gras is a very influential celebration. This holiday and the unique aesthetic of it went into how her ram appears. I also named it Mardi, which is French for Tuesday. Tuesday is the day which is ruled by the planet Mars. Mars is also the planet that rules the sign Aries. This also makes it a pun on Mardi Gras.

Taurus – The bull-shaped familiar that Sarah meets toward the end. He belongs to the man who sits on the cliff in the eternal sunset.

Gemini – Gemini is portrayed by Arthur’s familiar Grimoire. Being a man so obsessed with reading and knowledge, he familiar is naturally a book. The book has a face on the front and back cover, representing the twins of Gemini. A ‘Grimoire’ is a book of magic spells and arcane knowledge.

Cancer – This is the monstrous crab that chases Jezebel, the woman with the Mexican village for a garden. She refers to it as ‘El Basero’ the Spanish word for ‘Ferryman’ because she only knows it as the creature that ferries her across realities to Unreal City.

 

So there you have it! Which familiar spirit corresponds to your zodiac sign?

 

If you’d like updates and more fun stuff, please sign up for my mailing list!

 

 

 

 

A Spooky Halloween Author Event With Katie Jennings and A.R. Meyering!

It was a great day!

She Writes With Love

This last weekend at The Open Book bookstore in Valencia, CA, A.R. Meyering and I hosted another fun-filled book signing! This time, we got to show off our nerdiness in Harry Potter costumes (it was Slytherin versus Gryffindor!) and pass out Halloween candy. We featured my paranormal romance So Fell The Sparrow and Meyering’s brand new dark fantasy, Unreal City, as well as the horror anthology we’re both featured in entitled In Creeps The NightWe had an absolute blast and wanted to thank everyone who came by to say hi and grab some signed books. Check out pictures from the event below.

10714315_10203753230325091_871039141956270403_o

65517_10203756174998706_5363851150093461238_n544932_10203756175158710_8602299501689940708_n1779980_10203755605824477_8192123824530113635_n10696224_10203755605584471_1683767731055986803_n

Thank you to The Open Book for hosting us, we were so honored to be welcomed to your store and can’t wait to come back!

About The Authors

alex picMeet A.R. Meyering

A. R. Meyering, author of the steampunk-fantasy series The Dawn Mirror Chronicles, is a…

View original post 148 more words

The Gates to Unreal City Have Opened

Today is the release of my dark fantasy novel Unreal City!

cover

Ebook: http://amzn.to/1wuqM28

Softcover: http://amzn.to/1FMf9K4

 

This is the story of grief-stricken college student Sarah who makes a pact with a familiar spirit after losing her twin sister. This familiar spirit takes her to a beautiful and terrifying place called Unreal City in return for a taste of her blood. In the City all of her most fantastical and secret desires are made to seem real. But nothing is what it seems in this place.

 

1899970_560630127371230_5129024691237182490_n

 

For the next couple days I’m going to be posting some stuff about this novel and the world inside of it. There’s so much of the background information I kept out of the book to keep the story flowing and I want to share some of it here.

 

So to start out with, where did Unreal City get its name? Poetry lovers have probably already guessed it!

“Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.”

The name of the world, the title, and event the inspiration for many of the themes in the book came from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. This poem has always fascinated me with its many subtle symbols, it’s overall feeling of unease, the questions it raises about how to live with authenticity. The opening quote is also from this poem:

“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?”

If you’ve read the book, you know that this line comes to mean something a little more literally. But it also is where the theme is centered. I wrote this book at a very difficult time in my life and the messages in this poem (and also actually WRITING the book itself) helped me work through it.

 

1907914_560258097408433_2338005078989396482_n

 

Another inspiration I had from The Waste Land was Eliot’s many allusions. The poem is so full of them that the author released footnotes to keep track of them all. I also worked this into Unreal City on purpose. The many names that Felix has before, the items written on the wall of Poe’s garden and more were done for this reason. There is also another strong reference from the poem itself, “Fear death by water.” 🙂 Bwahah.

 

There is more about Unreal City to come! For now, please check out the book and maybe sample the preview!

 

Thank you to Blue Harvest Creative for all the beautiful graphics and the book design!