Friday, July 12, 2013

On Writing Half-Mortal: Who is Lola?

When I began writing Daughter of Light series, I fell in love with the concept of half-faeries, or mortals with faerie blood. I imagined these people as more attuned to the intangible realities that surround, vibrate, and penetrate the mortal plane. I also imagined (inspired by existing faerie literature) that as humanity has progressed through the industrial and technological age, mortals have become unable to see full-blood faeries. However, that isn't the case for half-faeries.

Half-faeries in the mortal world—beings with a mix of mortal and faerie blood—can see faeries just fine in the 21st century.  They're the only ones who can. What a divide. To see faeries and be the only one among billions on our planet to do so. I imagined full-blood mortals would suspect and, perhaps accuse, insanity.

This is the root of the symbolism of one of the characters I'm developing for Half-Mortal. Lola is a half-faerie, the daughter of Gabriela and mother of Jade. Each of these women has come to terms with their ability to see full-blood faeries in a distinct way.
Gabriela, abandoned by her full-blood faerie mother and raised in a rural Texas community in the early 1900s, grew up isolated from anyone who might have helped her come to terms with her ability to see creatures from another realm. She shuns the faeries she sees as evil spirits. However, as we shall see in Half-Mortal, her daughter Lola takes a very different path. As will her granddaughter, Jade.

Years ago, I stumbled on this song by Leonard Cohen, "Suzanne." I heard it as the mourning of a love lost. A man fell in love with a woman who carried him to another plane of existence. In the moment, the transportation thrilled him, but he ultimately rejects both her and the journey she might take him on.

Whenever I hear the song's lyrics, I can't help but imagine a husband or lover who can't reconcile the magical perspective his love brings him with the limitations of his own ability to perceive. Thus he abandons her, even as he will always long for her. This particular version performed by Cohen in 2008 is so perfect, the old man reflects.

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever...

And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind