The Sensual Power of Voodoo by Brenda Gayle
One of the best things about being a writer is you can legitimately
waste spend time exploring subjects that interest you. The big challenge comes when you try to meld what you need for your story with what you learn from your research.
I’ve always been fascinated by voodoo. It makes me think of mystery and sensuality, passion and heat–perfect for a sexy romance. But most of what I knew about it came from popular culture, television and movie portrayals of zombies, voodoo dolls, love potions, and magic spells. Do people really believe this stuff? I wasn’t writing a paranormal, so my dilemma was how best to weave elements of voodoo into a contemporary romance. It turned out to be much easier than I thought.
In SOLDIER FOR LOVE, Major Julie Collins heads a military unit sent to a Caribbean island nation to stabilize the government. Almost as soon as she arrives she’s confronted with a mysterious symbol (a vèvè) outside her office, which seems to have terrorized the local staff. When the hero, Lieutenant Matt Wolf tells her it’s voodoo, she scoffs at the notion. But Matt’s Native American heritage has made him more sensitive to the mysticism of the island.
Julie learns that voodoo is, in fact, a real religion that combines the beliefs of the island’s indigenous Indians with the animal spirits brought over by the African slaves in the 1700s. And just to make things really interesting, bits of Roman Catholic liturgy were picked up from the missionaries and plantation owners. Vèvès are used to invoke specific spirits–lwas–and the locals make sacrifices and offerings to them.
Suspicions are raised when a second vèvè (see graphic) is discovered in the military compound. This is the vèvè to Ogoun, the lwa who presides over fire, iron, hunting, politics, and war. He gives strength through prophecy and magic, and is said to have planted the idea that gave power to the slaves for the Haitian Revolution of 1804. In SOLDIER FOR LOVE, the Hougan attempts to use Ogoun to incite the islanders to overthrow their government.
When Julie is kidnapped by the Hougan, Matt journeys to a remote section of the island to rescue her. Here, away from the influences of modern western culture, the power of voodoo is strong. Whether it was the miraculous healing of an injury or the seductive drumming and erotic dancing at the carnival (or maybe even what happened with Matt afterwards), Julie is drawn deeper into the island’s voodoo culture. Although she remains somewhat skeptical, she can’t explain much of what she witnesses nor can she discredit the commonplace acceptance of voodoo as a normal aspect of island life.
Oh yes, there are zombies, voodoo dolls, love potions, and magic spells in voodoo, but they’re not part of the day-to-day aspects of the religion. For most practitioners, voodoo is a belief system that focuses on nature and ancestor spirits. But it sure does raise the level of sensuality in a sexy romance.
Do you have experience with voodoo or have you ever encountered something you couldn’t explain? One of today’s commenters will be chosen at random to receive a copy of SOLDIER FOR LOVE.
Although fictional, the setting for SOLDIER FOR LOVE was inspired by the geography, history and culture of Haiti. Brenda is donating 25% of book and eBook royalties to Haitian relief and reconstruction as a way to give back to the men and woman who allowed her to share their world during the researching and writing of the book. For more about Brenda, visit her website at www.BrendaGayle.com or follow her on Facebook (Brenda Gayle) and Twitter (Brenda_Gayle).
Thanks Brenda!! For a chance to win Soldier For Love, just answer Brenda’s question above! Contest open through Wednesday March 10th and I will announce the winner March 11th. Open to Us/Canada.