The Necromancer’s Betrayal‏ by Mimi Sebastian

Mimi Sebastian raised herself on books and the strange and unusual, and an unhealthy dose of comics and movies. When a career as a punk guitarist failed to materialize, she completed her degree in urban planning, spent two years in the Ivory Coast with the Peace Corps, and another three years in Brazil. By day, she debates the merits of transport oriented development, by night she writes about necromancers and pirates. She’s convinced she could live off coffee, ice cream, and comic books, but is sure only one of those is good for her health.

She's a member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA. A transplant from the beaches of Florida, Mimi now wanders the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and attempts to balance writing with a day career, fantastic family, and household diva: her Amazon parrot.

Her powers have been hobbled. Her enemies are growing stronger.

Old loves challenge her. And her worst betrayer may be herself.

Necromancer Ruby Montagne is battling for her life in the realm of demons. Unfairly branded for the death of a fellow necromancer, she’s got to prove her innocence without the full use of her magic. And the real culprit is still on the loose.

While someone is stalking her friends among the witches, Ruby searches for answers inside the dark intrigues of both the demon and necromancer worlds. Ruby must confront this new, sinister threat while reconciling her feelings for her former lover, a demon warrior. Only it’s difficult . . . because a sexy vampire is making it clear that he’d like to be a lot more than just friends.

The competition for Ruby’s trust heats up as the enemy pushes her toward a dark side that could threaten the entire realm. Yet what can Ruby do when she’s not even sure what she is? With the fabric separating the realms at stake, she must decide whom to trust. But will the ultimate betrayal be her own?

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My Voodoo Connections

In my second necromancer book, The Necromancer’s Betrayal, I explore a little bit of voodoo albeit a more fictional approach. I debated whether to include voodoo in my books because my representation of necromancers and their power over the dead is very different than that of a fictional voodoo practitioner, but once I started writing about my voodoo priest or Bokor, I realized the interaction between Ruby, the necromancer, and the Bokor created some interesting fodder for comparing how the different supernatural characters manipulate and control the dead.

But real voodoo isn’t about raising the dead and is often misrepresented in movies and literature. Sure I loved The Skeleton Key, Serpent and the Rainbow and a multitude of books, including a great read, Darkfall, by Dean Koontz. How did voodoo become so maligned? An unfortunate book was published and widely disseminated in 1884 called Haiti or the Black Republic (it was published after a Haitian uprising against the French in which it was perpetrated that voodoo gave the Haitians power to win the uprising). The book described voodoo as evil and influenced some of the beliefs held today

In reality, voodoo is a complex cultural practice, a religion, and still practiced around the world. Most of the voodoo practiced in Haiti and New Orleans are syncretic religions that evolved from the West and Central African Vodun traditions. The slaves brought to the new world had to hide their religions and used the Catholic and Christian religions to disguise their practices and their deities.

When I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa, my fellow volunteer and I took a whirlwind trip on cramped mini-vans from the Ivory Coast, through Ghana and Togo to Benin. While wandering around Ouidah, the spiritual center of voodoo, we stumbled upon a Vodun dance. While unsure exactly the nature of the ceremony, we likened it to some of the mask dances we’d become familiar with in the Ivory Coast. The dancers wore brilliant costumes with intricate beadwork. We also walked the slave route to a beach captured Africans took where they were imprisoned on slave ships. Called La Porte du Non Retour, or the path or door of no return, the four mile stretch is lined with amazing statues, Vodun symbols, like the one pictured here. 

My parents are Brazilian and I lived in Salvador, Brazil. Salvador is a beautiful coastal city heavily influenced by the Portuguese settlers and African slaves they brought over. The slaves and their ancestors developed their own version of Vodun called Candomblé. The slaves came from different parts of Africa, including Benin, Togo and Angola, and blended their different gods to create the polytheistic Candomblé. You see a lot of reference to the Orishas (or Orixas), the dieties, in Brazilian music and art. In December, in Salvador, people gather at the beaches and make offerings to Yemaya or Yemanja or Iemanjá, the Orisha, or diety representing the essence of ocean. Iemanjá was born from a syncretic blend of the Catholic Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Seafaring) and West African Vodun and is often represented in Salvador as a mermaid. I was fortunate to observe the ceremony as people loaded boats with flowers and candles and set them afloat in the ocean.

Music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies and heavily influence Brazilian Carnival. I experienced three carnivals during my time in Brazil and unlike the parade spectacle in Rio, Carnival in the Northeastern cities are more like huge streets parties. Sure in many instances you feel like a human sardine, but the energy, the music and food and alcohol…there’s nothing quite like it. One important Carnival troupe is the afoxé, a group that draws upon Candomblé percussion rhythms and song. One famous afoxé, The Filhos de Ghandhy, or Sons of Ghandhy, formed in 1949 in Salvador to promote peace and fight discrimination. They appear during Carnaval dressed in white flowing robes and sing songs with multiple references to the Orishas, sometimes in in the Yoruban language.

So while I can still enjoy my zombie scares, I can rest assured and appreciate the beauty of voodoo and its influence across cultures without worrying about said zombie rising from the grave. Have a great Halloween!
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