Friday, May 13, 2011

Guest Blogger: From Suffragettes to Snickering Witches to Jaguar Addams by B.A. Chepaitis, Author of The Fear Principle

Now that Blogger is back online, I would like to welcome our special guest, B.A. Chepaitis, author of The Fear Principle.

On Prison Planetoid Three, Jaguar Addams and Alex Dzarny rehab the worst criminals by telepathically making them face their fears. Their current case is hitwoman Clare Rilasco, emotionless, beautiful, and part of a death machine plot that threatens to take over the world.

Jaguar can’t tell who the bad guys are anymore, as she’s dragged into her own terrifying past by Clare’s telepathic tricks. While the search for the man behind the mirror continues, Jaguar and Clare are enmeshed in a relationship of seduction and trickery that makes Jaguar face her own deepest fears.

From Suffragettes to Snickering Witches to Jaguar Addams
by B.A. Chepaitis

For many years I had a storytelling trio, The Snickering Witches, and we three women got up on stage together to tell the old stories and make up the new ones. Our specific mandate was to tell stories of strange and/or powerful women, stories that often went untold, stories that were lost and needed to be found. We told goddess mythologies like Innana, Celtic tales like Dame Ragnell, Innuit stories of Skeleton Women, La Befana, the Christmas Witch and more. One of my favourites was the Spider Grandmother story of The Squash-Blossom women, who had the unfortunate disadvantage of having teeth in their vagina. Fortunately, Spider Grandmother helped them out of their dilemma in the best possible way.   

Moving from telling such stories into writing the stories of Jaguar Addams in The Fear Principle and the novels that follow was a natural transition. She’s a powerful and strange woman, a character who lives just this side of the spirit world. Primal and powerful, she deals with the criminals she’s assigned to by using her considerable psi capacities, and she does so in spite of the fact that such capacities are still both feared and ridiculed. More than once she’s called a witch. More than once she’s called much worse.

So Jaguar is in many ways an inevitable outgrowth of the old stories, and my interest in such characters is an inevitable outcome of the strong women I grew up with. My Italian immigrant grandmother bobbed her hair and marched with the Suffragettes, and bobbing her hair was considered the most scandalous of the two acts. She also snuck in to see the Pope when she went back to visit Italy, and stole a rosary for him to bless. My mother tells me every Hail Mary is worth four, but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s stolen, or because it’s blessed. 
Knowing my mother, it’s because the rosary is stolen. When I started the Snickering Witches she approved what I did, but said to me, “Just remember – I’m the real witch in the family.”

So whenever anyone gets twitchy around the strong women who people my books, I refer them to her and my grandmother, who will have , I’m sure, some interesting responses to give. 

Barbara Chepaitis is the author of 8 published books, including The Fear Principle featuring Jaguar Addams (Wildside Press), and the critically acclaimed Feeding Christine and These Dreams. Her first nonfiction book, Feathers of Hope, is about Berkshire Bird Paradise and the human connection with birds. She’s writing a sequel about Eagle Mitch, a bird she helped our US troops rescue from Afghanistan. Barbara is founder of the storytelling trio The Snickering Witches, and faculty coordinator for the fiction component of Western Colorado’s MFA program in creative writing.  

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