Friday, December 27, 2019

G.S. Norwood--Everyday Magic



DEBORAH CROMBIE: Here on Jungle Red Writers we have few bigger thrills than introducing a friend to our readers. So it is my great pleasure today to bring you G.S. Norwood--or, as our regular readers know her, Gigi Norwood! Gigi and I have not only been writing buddies for many a year, we share a love of urban fantasy as well as mystery. And although she writes in both genres, DEEP ELLUM PAWN hits all my favorite urban fantasy notes. Here's Gigi to introduce you to Ms. Eddy Weekes and a bit of magic.


GIGI NORWOOD: I believe in magic.  Not the David Copperfield, big stage illusion kind.  Not the Harry Potter wave-a-wand-and-say-the-right-words kind.  I believe in the natural kind that arises from the energy shared by people who gather around a common belief.

You’ve probably felt that energy yourself, humming through a crowd of grandparents, parents, grand and great-grandchildren at the start of last movie in the Star Wars triple trilogy.  If you gasped along with the little ones as the snowflakes began to fall at the end of the first act of The Nutcracker, you have felt it.  It’s the energy that whispers amazing things are possible, and Tinkerbell will survive, if only we believe.



To write urban fantasy, as I do, you have to believe that kind of life-force energy hums just under the surface of even the grittiest city.  You have to peel back the layers of concrete and asphalt right down to the dirt, then call on the folklore and fairy tales, old songs and old wives’ tales that have grown up around a place. You weave in history and legend until the story has one foot in reality, and one foot in fantasy.

My novelette, Deep Ellum Pawn, began with that mix of practicality and possibility.  I had an old Charlie Daniels song stuck in my mind.  The Devil Went Down to Georgia is catchy, but I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would want a fiddle made of gold.  Gold is a dense metal, heavy to hold, and not very resonant.  A golden fiddle—particularly one from the Devil himself—would likely sound less than musical.  So, what do you do with it?  Melt it down? Take it to a pawn shop?

The moment that thought popped into my mind a character followed.  That’s how I met Ms. Eddy Weekes, owner of Deep Ellum Pawn.  It’s a dusty pawn shop in one of Dallas’ oldest neighborhoods, but there’s more going on behind the fa├žade than anyone might suspect.

The story flowed quickly, and I began to wonder if I’d made it up, or if some force beyond my imagination was prompting me to write it all down the way it “really” happened.  Every time I paused to research a new plot point, I found not only the answer I was looking for, but reams of additional information that made the whole idea even richer and deeper.

For example, hellhounds make an appearance in the story.  And why not?  The dance halls and street corners of Deep Ellum gave many American blues legends an early career boost.  The district is only a few short blocks away from the building where bluesman Robert Johnson recorded his song, Hellhound on My Trail.  Johnson himself gave me my first clue about how to manage hellhounds when his lyrics mentioned hotfoot powder—a folk charm used to harden the threshold of a home against supernatural invaders.  A bit further down the hellhound trail I learned that to look one in the eye three times means death.  Great stuff for an urban fantasist.

When different ideas, drawn from history, folklore, and my own imagination, all fall together to make a coherent and entertaining whole, that feels like magic to me.

So what about you, Reds and Readers?  Have you ever had a project come together “as if by magic”?  Have you felt the energy that moves through a crowd to make magic seem real?  Do you believe?

 


Deep Ellum Pawn cover art © 2019 by Chaz Kemp
Amazon Kindle Edition Link: https://amzn.to/36Z8GNT
Dance of the Snowflakes credited to the Royal Ballet
Author photo: Marcy Weiske Jordan

G. S. Norwood is the younger of two sisters behind the independent publishing company, Weird Sisters Publishing.  She has spent the past thirty-seven years getting paid to put words on paper, including work as a reporter, feature writer, and composer of program and liner notes for the Dallas Winds.  Deep Ellum Pawn is her first published fiction. 

47 comments:

  1. Gigi, I’m completely intrigued and looking forward to meeting Eddy . . . .

    Although I can’t say I’ve ever had something come together “as if by magic,” I certainly do believe . . . .

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    1. Good morning, Joan! I hope you enjoy meeting Ms. Eddy. Keep on believing.

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  2. Kudos Gigi darlin'! I already have your book in my virtual TBR pile, and this has inspired me to move it up to the top. It was great to meet you at Bouchercon, but I only wish we'd had more time together. As far as magic, what I did with that left over roast beef and mashed potatoes last night was definitely magical. Cooking, yes. Writing, who knows. This is the only place I write and no one has mentioned magical except maybe the fact that they don't take my posts down!

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    1. I love your posts, Ann, and was delighted to meet you at Bouchercon. And, having met you, I'm willing to bet you have pulled off a magic trick or two in your time. I hope you enjoy my story.

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  3. Gigi, congratulations - and how lovely to see what you look like! I've definitely had short stories and parts of book appear to me nearly fully formed. It really does seem like energetic magic.

    All my best for your book! You call it a novelette - is that different from a novella? How many pages is it, and is that an expected length for that genre?

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    1. Since it's in e-reader form and I don't have an e-reader, I'm not sure how many pages. The word count clocks in just over 13,000, which puts it well under a novella's 17,000. Like any other genre, urban fantasy can take whichever form or length it chooses, but there aren't a ton of print markets for longer short fiction anywhere.
      Folks who like a fun, fast read on their phone or e-reader seem to enjoy the novelette/novella length.

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    2. Cool. I've only written one novella and it is 26000 words - much longer.

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  4. Gigi, so excited to see you here when I opened the page! Congrats on the UF--I will be off to order! I could use some of that magic this week as I try to get back into the book I was writing before Christmas (big sigh.) I love the way you describe the book coming together. You are a busy woman, with writing, music publishing--would love to hear more about the Weird sisters...

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    1. Thank you, Roberta! It was great to meet you at Bouchercon. Weird Sisters is an independent press, mainly driven by my sister, Jan S. Gephardt, who was a publishing tycoon in training even when we were little. Our plan is to publish her novels, my novels, and bring back some of Warren Norwood's long-out-of-print novels, then see where the marketplace takes us.

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  5. Congratulations!

    Once I have a fully formed character in my head and sometimes, whatever music she's moving through life listening to, the rest flows. Usually in a short story.

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    1. The music is important, isn't it, Margaret? I recently rediscovered an old Harry Connick, Jr. CD that has dumped me right back into the middle of a novel I had to abandon at least ten years ago. Time to go back, I think! What do your characters like to listen to? Have you found a market for your short stories?

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    2. many stories published. My latest submission is about New Orleans, with the protagonist entering the action listening to WWOZ radio and tapping her fingers on the steering wheel. I heard the beat and took off.

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    3. To Margaret: Can't go wrong with music from New Orleans! To Deb: Mustang Shelley, which is about to get a name change. Still a work in progress.

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  6. Gigi, if I didn't have a cat on my lap, I'd be doing a happy dance for you! Congrats! And yes, I have felt the power of the magic you describe many times in my life. Please tell us more about the Weird Sisters! And can you tell us a little more about Deep Ellum Pawn?

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    1. Thank you so much, Flora! But please don't disturb the cat on my account. I have known the wrath of an unceremoniously dumped cat. As I mentioned above, Weird Sisters is a joint venture with my sister, Jan. To be honest, she does most of the work. You can find out more about us on Facebook, or at www.weirdsisterspublishing.com. And Deep Ellum Pawn is just a fun ride. No spoilers. Jump in fearlessly.

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  7. Hi, Gigi! The book sounds wonderful, and I love the cover! Congratulations!!

    Book coming together as if by magic? I wish. Could you send some of that magic my way, please?!?

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    1. Shhh, Hallie! Of course there's always sweat and headaches when a book comes together. But some of them have less than others. I've only had one full-length novel that flowed so easily. I figured I now knew what I was doing, then the next one was like shoveling mud and pulling fingernails the whole way through.

      I'm glad you like the cover. The artist, Chaz Kemp, does a lot of fantasy and gaming work. My sister and I coordinated with him on it, which was big fun. The result is like no cover I've seen before, but that's fine with me.

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  8. What fun, Gigi! I'm a big fan of strong female characters, and Miss Eddy Weekes sounds as if she fits that description.

    Writing the way you did--with the story flowing so strongly--is magical all by itself. My husband and I were just talking about this, since we are both writers, and he says he has never had that experience. But I have, and there is something completely mystical about it.

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    1. There is, Karen. I've really only had it once before, and I have no idea how to bottle that magic. Here's to more for both of us!

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  9. Oh, wow. Congratulations, Gigi, on your first published fiction. Very exciting —and now on my Kindle for weekend reading by the wood stove. Do tell us more about Weird Sisters!

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    1. Thank you, Amanda! I hope you enjoy it. I know I'd enjoy a weekend reading by the wood stove.

      Weird Sisters was a gleam in my sister's eye long before she could get me to focus on it. As I mentioned above, Jan S. Gephardt was into writing, illustration, book design, and all related aspects of publishing from a very early age. She's amazing. She not only researched and designed a space station for her Weird Sisters novel, What's Bred in the Bone, she created intricate paper sculpture models to work out how the station's levels fit together. In contrast, I drove through Deep Ellum at lunch fairly often, and read a lot of folklore and history.

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  10. Congratulations to you Gigi! Here's to more works from you coming together as if by magic!

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  11. Congratulations Gigi for your first published fiction. I'm curious to discover what the magic and your work brought to Deep Ellum Pawn.
    I'm aware that magic played parts in my life but can't say it did for a project in particular.

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    1. I think it runs through everything, Danielle, if we're aware enough to tune into it. It may or may not boost a particular project, but it tends to make any experience a little richer.

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  12. Congratulations, Gigi! And I agree with Edith, it's fun to see your face after interacting here on this blog for so long.

    Urban fantasy is a genre I had never heard of, but now that I've looked it up I am going to explore it. Your book sounds very good and will definitely be added to my TBR list!

    I have never had a writing experience of magic, but I have definitely felt it in crowds before. I really do believe that there is much more to the human psyche than we understand, and there are situations that seem to allow more of us to tap into those unmapped portions and connect in powerful ways.

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    1. I agree, Susan. I think it's right there, under the surface if we're brave enough to tap into it. Urban fantasy grows out of that idea, and the notion that all the supernatural figures our ancestors warned us not to mess with never went away. I see a lot of vampire romances and other forms of urban fantasy creeping into new genres these days. Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series are urban fantasy mysteries, and very funny. Charles de Lint was the author who got me into it. There's lots to explore out there, from Jim Butcher's good, but very violent, Harry Dresden novels to the much milder fare of Deep Ellum Pawn.

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    2. I am a huge fan of Ben Aaronovitch--in fact have been rereading all seven of the Rivers of London books in anticipation of a new one coming out in February. I think in Deep Ellum Pawn Gigi captures that same sense of place.

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  13. I so agree about the magic running through the world! I have had a book come together through what seemed like magic and it was an unforgettable experience, like being plugged into an idea socket. But I also know that the only way to get there is to be "in" the book pretty much every waking minute.

    As for Deep Ellum Pawn, I LOVE this story. Gigi can tell you that when I read it in draft, I kept saying, "I want more!!" I'm hoping that Ms. Eddy will have another story sometime soon. And I agree on "no spoilers," which is true of most shorter fiction. I think you could just say, "A man walks into Ms. Eddy's pawn shop with a fiddle he very much wants rid of" and the story takes off from there!

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    1. Deb is my biggest cheerleader. And, God knows, she's suffered through enough of my homeless novels to get at least this much payoff. Reds Readers who want a little taste of Deep Ellum Pawn can check out the Weird Sisters blog. Scroll all the way back to November 5 and you can read the opening pages of the story. Which book of yours got the magical buzz, Deb?

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    2. The Sound of Broken Glass. Must have been the guitars, lol.

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    3. Any book that starts with an idea you pulled out of a dream is bound to be magical. It's one of my favorites!

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  14. You had me at Hellhounds! Seriously, I love urban fantasy and I think it’s fabulous that the idea kicked off with the golden fiddle — side note: why had I never thought of all those devilish complications? Brilliant! I can’t wait this read this book!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn. I hope you enjoy it. I'm partial to hellhounds myself.

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  15. Gigi! Standing ovation! Love love love this..and congratulations! It's like The Golden Compass--which I adore--something else is going on underneath what seems familiar. And I do agree..Sometimes, sometimes, something happens, in writing and in life, but you can't make it happen, right? And that's all the more reason it's magic.

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    1. Thank you, Hank! You're right. You can't make it happen. But sometimes, if you give it just the tiniest of openings, you can let it happen, and that's where the magic comes in.

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  16. Congratulations Gigi! I’m a fan of the Rivers of London and Harry Dresden so I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with an old Dallas neighborhood!

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  17. Gigi, I have to admit that I was kind of on the fence about urban fantasy, but by the end of your post, you had me hooked. Ms. Eddy Weekes, Deep Ellum Pawn, and hellhounds! Who wouldn't want to read that? The sense of magic you've already instilled in the description has me wanting more. Congratulations, Gigi, and thanks for creating your magical energy here today. Oh, I need to add that I love the cover, too. Fantastic!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kathy. I hope the magic persuades you.

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  18. When I went to Amazon to buy Deep Ellum Pawn, I mistakenly put in Gigi instead of G.S. Norwood, and nothing came up. I then put in the title, and it did come up. Just a note to those going to Amazon to buy it. I don't want anyone to miss it because they made the mistake I did at first.

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  19. Congratulations, Gigi! And I have to admit, as an East Coaster, I had never heard of the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas, and thought, "Wow, what a mysterious title." When I looked it up in Wikipedia, I thought it was an even better title, because I read the word was a corrupted version of "Elm" - an ordinary geographic word that has become transmogrified into something unique and mysterious.

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    1. When I first moved to Texas I had a job as the host of a live call-in/sell-your-chickens type show on a low-watt AM radio station. A lot of the folks who called in were old time rural Texans, and many of them would give the address of their yard sale or whatever as on "Ellum Street." I had to ask my husband for a translation. When Dallas was a young city, more than 100 years ago, "Deep Ellum" was that part of Elm Street (one of three main streets through downtown Dallas) that went across the tracks into the business district of the segregated part of town. There's an old blues song about it, characterizing it as a dangerous, corrupt, and transformative part of the city. Today it is gentrifying rapidly, but there's still a sense of the old, edgy neighborhood.

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  20. I wrote a (very bad) urban fantasy when I was in eighth grade. I loved the combination of magic and reality back then.

    I have had projects suddenly "click" - where I've been struggling and all of a sudden everything starts flowing. You're right. It is magic.

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    1. Didn't we all write a (very bad) something back in the eighth grade, Liz? Mine was a spy novel. I shudder to think. But I'm glad you have projects now that click for you and make magic by making a good story.

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