Friday, January 11, 2013

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood - An Excerpt

My novel Witch Hunt was first published by Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books in 1990. It's the tale of 300+ years in the history of the Hawthornes, a family of hereditary witches. The novel takes the family from the Salem Witch Trials into a modern-day witch hunt. My publisher wanted to market it as a horror novel and insisted I add an abundance of gratuitous sex and violence. I was young, naive, and did what I was told. It was a decision I always regretted. So, I petitioned for my rights to the novel, rewrote it, and published what I like to call "The Director's Cut" edition. Since its release in 2010, it has become my bestselling novel ever. Over the course of time, the novel has been translated into German and Turkish, and there was even talk of a TV mini-series. 

Since its initial release, fans have requested a sequel. It took a long time before I was inspired with a plot good enough to complement the original novel. I'm planing a 2013 release of that sequel: Witch Hunt: Resistance. It's the story of the Witches' Underground Resistance Movement and begins right where Witch Hunt left off.

In the meantime, I thought it would be wonderful to address the many fans who requested to learn more about some of the historical characters from the first novel. I selected writers whose work I admired, asked them to choose a character from the original book, and write a novella about him or her. The result is Witch Hunt: Of the Blood. This anthology also serves as a bridge to the upcoming sequel.

Regarding my own contribution to this anthology, when I was a child I learned about the role the British witches played in preventing the Nazis from invading England, and I always wanted to write a novel about it. Unfortunately, sidetracked by other writing projects, I never got around to it. When the idea for this anthology arose, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to tell the story via Vivian, the young English witch brought to America during World War II to marry into the Hawthorne family.

Please enjoy an excerpt from my novella, "Of the Blood of Witches,"  wherein seventeen-year-old Vivian Eldon and her magical circle work to stop Hitler. The story is a prequel to Vivian's appearance in Witch Hunt.


Dylan charged into the room without knocking. “Quick! Come quick! Rhonda’s got an astral visitor and it’s awfully serious.”

Vivian rushed to follow Evelyn and Dylan.

“A little Gypsy girl named Lala, who used to be a friend of Rhonda’s, appeared asking for help,” Dylan told them as they hurried toward the far wing of the mansion. “From what Lala’s said so far, she and her family are in one of Hitler’s prison camps. There’s a big ditch filled with burning petrol and the guards are pushing the Gypsies into it: men, women, children, old people. They’re burning them alive!” Dylan’s shaking voice broke. “Lala saw her parents pushed in and the trauma caused her to come here. Father says the girl’s manifesting astrally, but all of us can see and hear her so I think the extreme circumstances made her bilocate. Lala and Rhonda have a psychic connection and used to work magic together before the family returned to Europe.” Dylan turned to look at them with anguish. “You know how the Gypsies are hated here in England. They thought they’d be safer in Europe.” Tears exploded from his red-rimmed eyes. “I’m so ashamed to be English. Shame on us. Shame.”

They arrived at the bedroom Morgana and her daughter were using. A small crowd of houseguests gathered outside the door, quietly listening to what was happening inside. Vivian pushed her way through the bodies to the threshold where she could see Morgana and Rhonda sitting on the bed with a little girl about Rhonda’s age perched between them. Lala had fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes—common among the Romanichals who lived in Britain—and yes, their people were greatly discriminated against. Vivian cringed when she recalled seeing the signs outside business establishments that read, NO DOGS OR GYPSIES. She suddenly shared Dylan’s shame.

Lala whimpered. “I’m next! I’m trying to hide behind bigger people, but the bad men are going to throw me in anyway.” Her whimpering morphed into inhuman shrieks of abject terror.

Morgana grasped Lala by her arms and drew her close. “Do what I say! Right now! Look in my eyes, right now, and don’t look away!”

Lala continued to shriek and Morgana gave her a fierce shake, repeating her command. Rhonda leaned into Lala and whispered something no one else could hear. Almost immediately, Lala settled down enough to allow Morgana’s magical eyes to seize hers.

Morgana said, “You’re swimming in the sea with me. We’re together in the cool, fresh water. Do you feel it?”

Lala didn’t respond, so Morgana shook her again. “Do you feel the water, Lala?”

Rhonda grasped Lala’s hand. “I’m swimming with you too! Do you see the dolphins? They’re swimming with us, taking us far away from the shore.”

“Look deep into my eyes, Lala,” Morgana said. “They’re green, just like the sea. Dive into them.”

Lala quieted down and managed a tiny, little nod.

“That’s it,” Morgana said. “The water is so cool and soothing.”

Lala jerked, coughed, and uttered a brief shriek.

“Oh! The dolphins are singing to us, Lala!” Rhonda shouted. “Do you hear their squeals? That’s their song and they’re singing it just for us.”

“Cool, refreshing, life-giving water,” Morgana said, grasping Lala more tightly. “Such cold, wet water all around us.”

“The water feels so good,” Lala whispered. She looked away from Morgana’s eyes and stared into Rhonda’s. “I love you, but I’m going to swim far away with the dolphins now. Let me go.”

“I love you too, Lala,” Rhonda managed to say through her thick veil of tears. “Go play with the dolphins and be happy.”

Rhonda and Morgana released their holds on Lala at the same moment and she disappeared, the ghost of a hopeful smile lingering for just a few seconds. A faint whiff of smoke followed. Then there was a moment of terrible silence before Rhonda’s screams filled the air. Morgana drew her daughter close and gently rocked until the screams faded. “I am so proud of you,” Morgana said. “You’ll never know how proud.”

Fighting back tears, Vivian quietly closed the bedroom door, turned, pushed her way blindly through the crowd, and raced back to her room. She changed into her riding clothes and ran out to the stables where she mounted Epona bareback, urged her into a gallop, and headed out toward the distant meadows.

“Oh Goddess,” Vivian murmured. “Oh Goddess.” She chanted it over and over again like a mantra, hoping it would dull her horrified reaction to the travesty she had just witnessed. “What has Hitler unleashed upon the world? It is beyond evil. We have to stop him before he does worse things. Oh Goddess!”

Perhaps the Divine Lady took pity on her, or perhaps Vivian’s bond with Johnny was stronger than she knew, but through the pounding of her blood and Epona’s hooves, she heard the distant roar of an aircraft engine. Vivian scanned the skies until she saw the plane—his plane. Johnny had previously flown over Hollywood Manor while headed across the Channel on sorties, but that he would appear right at this moment was nothing short of miraculous.

Johnny dived as low as he could safely fly and tipped his wings to her, back and forth and back again—a special salute he had greeted her with before. Holding onto Epona’s mane with one hand, Vivian used her other hand to pull a red scarf from her head and wave it high in the air. She shouted to him at the top of her lungs, knowing he couldn’t possibly hear the words but hoping he’d capture the message.

“Stop them, Johnny! Don’t do it for England. Do it for humanity!”


Witch Hunt: Of the Blood

Five novellas based on Devin O’Branagan’s bestselling novel, Witch Hunt!

You’ve closed the cover on Witch Hunt, but the story isn’t over … yet! Devin O’Branagan has handpicked writers to take up her characters’ stories and explore what happens next.
The anthology begins with O’Branagan’s own novella about Hawthorne matriarch, Vivian. Vivian and her fellow British witches work together to prevent a Nazi invasion during World War II. Then there is Colonial maiden, Bridget, who struggles with the guilt of failing her family in Salem, 1692. Her younger sister, Prissy, mysteriously disappears and finds another magical world. Julia, torn by family loyalties, love, and her spiritual quest, pays a huge price to continue the bloodline. And Miranda uses her powers against the great influenza outbreak of 1918—but finds the ultimate foe is prejudice against her kind.

Discover what was left out of Witch Hunt and revisit your favorite characters with these exciting novellas. The story isn’t done until the battle’s lost and won.

This anthology contains novellas by Devin O'Branagan, Suzanne Hayes Campbell, Keri Lake, K.L. Schwengel, and Krista Walsh.

All five authors of the anthology are available for discussion at Devin's writers' forum. This is the link to chat with them: Chat With The Authors!

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood is available in both print and eBook formats and may be found at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords. (Smashwords provides copies compatible with almost all types of eReaders including Sony, Apple, Kobo, etc.) It is also available internationally via Amazon worldwide!

Two of the stories in this anthology are bridges to the upcoming sequel, Witch Hunt: Resistance, which will be released in 2013.

 The original novel, Witch Hunt, is available as both a paperback and an eBook. It is available at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords. It begs the question, "Could it happen again?"