Fantasy author Alicia McCalla has released her Origins of an African Elemental, the boxed set of her Supernatural Thriller series, Soul Eater. The book is centered on three women who grow into their strengths as mothers and warriors as they wield elements of war swords to save this universe from an ancient evil.
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Twenty years ago, McCalla became enamored with the West African earth mother, Mawu. As a librarian, she loved researching her character and digging into West African mythology. In the world she created, there is a West African pantheon comprised of gods and goddesses who have found their names uttered in the Africana Diaspora. She also became excited about Norse mythology. When the idea came to her that she should mix up the various pantheons, she was thrilled. So she enjoyed immersing myself in African and Norse mythology as well as African American folklore.
Interview with Alicia McCalla
How would you describe the elemental magic in the Soul Eater Series? Did you develop a system for spells?
Initially, my characters who are descended from African elementals don't know that they possess magic. Their magic is intuitive and they wield it more like an ability than a caster. However, the "Children of Loki" have Viking witches who often cast spells using a staff of power and a cauldron.
Could you tell us more about the "Paranormal serial killer"? What makes him "Paranormal"?
The Priest is a “Child of Loki” who has taken a blood oath to the twin soul or Master/Mistress villain in the series. He’s survived over several centuries and is a “Soul Eater” who survives by killing the Priestesses of Mawu in a heinous ritual. When the magical souls try to rise, he absorbs or steals their elemental magic for evil purposes.
How do you portray the gods and goddesses in your series? Are there religions in the world that worship them?
In my series, the African gods and goddesses have been killed and will be reincarnated in America. They are mostly forgotten and the main characters must reconnect with the lost history.
In what way did West African mythology influence your work?
I’ve done a tremendous amount of research on West African mythology. It has helped frame my entire series. I’ve enjoyed making the connection between West Africa and Blacks in the United States.
So in a way, the pantheons are like the United States with their 'melting pot' diversity?
Yes. That’s exactly correct and what I hope readers will take away from my series, though, I would say a “salad bowl” over a “melting pot.” Smile…
You said that the Soul Eater series deals with issues of Trokosi slave wives, female genital mutilation, ritualistic sacrifice and domestic violence. Why do you think these are significant issues that need to be addressed in your series?
In the news, recently, there have been terrible atrocities committed against African American males. But the connection between race and gender, brings another level such as the girls who were abducted in Nigeria and the countless number of women in Africa who suffer from female genital mutilation or who are forced to become slave wives. Not to mention, the many black women who suffer from domestic violence. These issues are very often ignored in the mainstream media and are generally not spoken about in many circles. When I considered the idea of creating a horror story with a Black woman protagonist, these issues screamed to be shared.
What's the most challenging part of writing this book?
Origins of an African Elemental includes two difficult stories. This Soul Eater boxed set deals with issues of Trokosi slave wives, female genital mutilation, ritualistic sacrifice and domestic violence. These stories were painful to write but I felt it was necessary to show controversial issues that impact African American women mixed with supernatural thriller elements to truly create a Black woman's horror story.
Friends and family members tell me that I have a "dark gene" when it comes to telling stories but I want readers to become up close and personal with the atrocities committed toward women. Some readers may find the serial killer's violence against female victims to be disturbing and well they should. My goal is to spur understanding and encourage action against these abuses. Readers who enjoy sword and sorcery stories highlighting strong women warriors will enjoy this series.