I responded a bit on Twitter but I thought I’d post here too. Christine was intrigued by the title of the short story I’m working on, “Ritual Ink.” The idea came from an interesting/weird place…
The monsters love Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney channel, and I have to admit, out of all the goofy shows they sometimes watch, Wizards is one of the least annoying. If you’re not familiar with the show, Alex is the middle child and is always getting into trouble, breaking the rules, etc. (Gee, who does that sound like?) She’s abrasive at times and doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is. As a result, her only “true” friend over the years has been Harper, a goofball character with a terrible sense of fashion but a heart of gold.
At some point, Harper comes to live with them, and is sort of the daughter the Russos never had — because Alex isn’t girly or sweet in any way. Alex has no problem lying, even to her best friend. I forget how the episode unfolds, but Alex decides to be a cheerleader with Harper, but the only way she can swallow down that much girly silliness is with a spell. This one has to be painted on her skin.
With the spell, she’s actually…likeable. She has friends, she’s popular, her parents are amazed. Of course hijinks ensue and eventually the spell washes off, bringing back the abrasive but fun liar.
The episode is supposed to be funny, but I was left saddened by it. Just think how it would feel if you could only be likable if you had a spell put on your skin. If that was the only thing holding back your darker side. That image has haunted me awhile but I couldn’t figure out the story around it.
Until Ritual Ink.
The general premise is a heroine carrying something very dark, even evil, inside her. The only things holding that creature at bay are the ritual spells permanently stamped into her flesh as tattoos. As the years go by, she has to get another and another, chains on the creature trying to break free. Not just anyone knows the secret of these tattoos, though. It’s not like she can just go down the street and have a regular artist do it, no matter how talented he might be. No, it takes a very special warrior monk with the right magic and skill for this ritual.
Too bad he’s supposed to be celibate.
You do know me better than that, right?
This short story is planned for the All Romance E-Books Just One Bite PNR short story contest. If it doesn’t get picked as a finalist (or goes too long, which is a distinct possibility), I’ll give it away here on the blog as a free read.