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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ring around the rosaries

Authors do strange things sometimes to get in touch with their characters. A lot of us become so close with the people whose lives we write that we end up talking to them in our heads — or even out loud. Yes, I've done that, and when it happens in public it's a bit embarrassing.

When I start a new novel, I try to find ways of invoking those special characters, of bringing them closer to me. I always create a playlist on i-Tunes that evokes the "feeling" of the novel and its characters, but there's more. When I wrote Carnal Gift, I burned a Virgin Mary candle, saying the novena on the back and lighting it each time I sat down to write in honor of Bríghid's defiant Catholicism. When I wrote Ride the Fire, I had the diaries of the soldiers from the siege of Fort Pitt to bring home the daily experience of my characters. I also had — and still have — a painting of Fort Pitt as it looked that year. (It's visible to the viewer's left of the photos with the Gansgta Bitches taken in front of my desk, posted below.) For Surrender, I used mostly music, particularly Old Blind Dogs.

For Untamed, I knew I wanted something that I wished I'd had while writing Surrender — the little wooden rosary that hung around Iain's neck and which, I presumed, hangs around the necks of his brothers, Morgan and Connor, and a great many of their fellow Rangers, all of whom are Catholic. So I went hunting...

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a plain, wooden rosary with no adornment on it? I finally found one on a website that sells Polish religious goods to immigrant communities in the United States.


The plain wooden rosary worn by the MacKinnon brothers, specifically Morgan MacKinnon.

Of course, in the process of finding Morgan's rosary, I looked at a great many rosary websites and saw some truly beautiful rosaries. I decided I'd like to have Amalie's rosary, too. Raised by the Ursulines in Trois Rivieres in Canada, she is French Métis and very Catholic. The daughter of a French officer, it seemed she should have something a bit more upscale than Morgan's simple carven rosary.


Amalie Chauvenet's rosary. The white fresh-water pearls represent her innocent nature to me.

By then, I had decided these things were very pretty and that I now collect them. Then I saw that Anglicans pray with rosaries, too. This came as a pleasant surprise, as I am officially Anglican. So I looked around to find one I loved, and bought this:


Notice that it has a cross instead of a crucifix. It also has a different number of beads than the Catholic rosaries.

I hang Amalie's and Morgan's together on my computer, and I must say they look good together. The soft pearls and bright crystals contrast nicely with the more masculine wood. I hold them when I'm writing and pondering my words, and I think they do invoke the characters nicely.

I actually use my rosary. Though officially Anglican, I follow the Red Road — Indian spirituality — in practice. The two aren't incompatible by any means, so that's nice. But anyone stepping into my house would be perplexed and confused about what religion I am. And that's fine with me.

There's Bríghid's Virgin Mary candle on my mantle. There's a menorah on my kitchen shelf. There are several bundles of sage and an ear of dried corn from Black Mesa in my kitchen and a Sun Dance crown on my bedroom wall. There's a Celtic cross on the wall near my desk, and three different rosaries — two Catholic and one Anglican — on my computer, next to a necklace of turquoise turtles. A turkey feather, the words of a Psalm, a Bible, Buddhist meditations, and a book of Cherokee spritual writing round it out.

You gotta love the First Amendment. It protects my fiction, and it ensures that I can pray (and write) in any wacky way that works for me.

In other spiritual news, my beloved friend Kat is leaving the Rez and moving back to Denver! Thank GOD, and hurry the hell up, will you, Kat?

Next post: Torture by excerpt!

6 comments:

Debbie H said...

The rosaries are beautiful, even the wooden one (simplicity). I feel anything that brings you to your spirituality is good. What's wrong with a mixture of all religions? It makes you more open to receive what ever may be coming your way.

I'm so glad Kat is moving closer to you. Hopefully you will be able to spend more time with her and her love.

Ronlyn said...

Gorgeous rosaries!! simply beautiful.
I'm peeking around my house to see what religious relics I have...not many. I'm sure there's a Bible or 2 on my shelves. A small Budda statue on my desk. A small sign quoting Mother Teresa. I have more jewlery that has some religious meaning: a crucifix, a plain cross, a celtic cross, a Welsh celtic fertility knot, a Viking design (replica of course) cross...I love jelewry. *G*

YAY for Kat moving closer! It's wonderful to have great friends nearby.

(((hugs)))

Bo said...

Very beautiful,P.C.! The only thing I've got laying around here are some Celtic cross earrings.My Mom has pics of Mother Teresa and Gandhi in her house,in addition to a painting of the Virgin Mary w/baby Jesus,and numerous Jesus figurines,plus I think she has a crucifix on the wall above her dresser or bed.

She used to say she was a Protestant when I was a kid,and my dad was raised southern Baptist,so they told me what they each believed,and that I could think whatever I wanted.

She went to Catholic school when she was a kid,and when she was twelve or so,the priest committed suicide.It really shook her,and it's just been in the last several years that she has renewed her faith,although she hasn't been back to church.I think she's afraid,of what I don't know.

Hubs & I don't follow anything in particular,although everything I've ever researched on both sides of my family tells me I come from a long line of Catholics.Not sure how my Dad's family ended up as Baptists,since I've found that some of his ancestors emigrated from Scotland back in 1745-46,b/c they were Catholics fleeing after Culloden.

Anyways,I've rambled long enough,and whatever works for you is wonderful.

Now,I shall rub my hands together in anticipation of Torture tactic #157,LOL.

Libby Loo said...

The nice thing about talking aloud when there's nobody around is that so many people have the little Bluetooth headsets that nobody can see. And with all your hair, nobody will know better. I say you keep up the convo next time it happens LOL

I think anything that reinforces your religious beliefs--as nontraditional as they can be--is great. Not all of us fall into one category, we're more like a religious collage :) The Anglican rosary is gorgeous! I don't think you had that when I saw you.

And damn you with your tortuous excerpts! Damn you!!!

Thanks, y'all! I think they're as pretty as some jewelry, really. :-)

Debbie, I hope you're feeling better and that everyone else in your family is doing well, also. And thanks for your words about Kat. I'm really happy that she's going to be back here where I can annoy her from close up. Plus now there's a chance I'll go to sweatlodge.

Ronlyn, I hope work went well today! Was it hard to be away from the baby? I was in college when my kids were born, so I didn't have a real job and only had to leave them for class. I cried my eyes out! I love Celtic jewelry, too.

Bo, enjoy your torture! And by that I don't mean the rest of your pregnancy. I mean the excerpt, which I just posted. :-) Sounds like it's quite the mix at your house, too.

Hi, Libs. You know, I think I should get a Bluetooth just for that reason. LOL! Or maybe I can find a broken one and just wear it. Then I'll be safe from the guys in the white jackets.

Sue Z said...

I was fortunate enough to be at Pamela's home when her rosaries arrived. I even got to hold them. (I highly advise you all to schedule yourself in for the "Pamela Clare Reality Tour")

PC - you have some of the most wonderful things around your home. It is like a little museum! I LOVED seeing the painting of Fort Pitt since I had just finished reading Ride the Fire before my visit.

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