by Mimi Sebastian
The second book in my necromancer series, The Necromancer’s Betrayal, is set to release this coming week and in anticipation, I’d like to revisit why I chose to write about a necromancer. I never thought my first paranormal story would involve zombies and demons and, when I’m asked about my necromancer protagonist by family or friends, I’m not always sure how to respond without sounding more bizarre than they already think I am J
I have a five year-old son and two older step kids, and wonder, what would my younger son think? He’s already discovered zombies, and they still scare, somewhat fascinate him.
Ultimately, my necromancer, Ruby, started speaking to me, and what really fascinated me was this story about a supernatural individual who has this very dark power, and the idea of exploring her journey intrigued me. She’s not a kick-ass vampire. Her strengths lie elsewhere. She’s seen lots of tragedy, yet she perseveres and values her independence, her own sense of identity beyond the supernatural community. To that end, I wanted to ground her character, make her somewhat relatable. She’s a professor. How does the necromancer power affect her professional career? Her love life? Her approach up until the events of book one was to basically disavow her supernatural side. But things change, as they always do, and once she becomes embroiled in supernatural affairs, she faces some difficult decisions.
I also enjoyed writing about her necromancer power, and knew necromancers could reanimate people, make zombies, but I hadn’t read a whole lot about them. I’d encountered a couple of minor necromancer characters in a couple of urban fantasy books. Neither went into much detail about the mythology for necromancers, so once the idea struck, I became fascinated with researching necromancers and developing my own mythology.
In reviewing literature, Greek mythology, and even gaming, necromancers have the ability to bring to dead back to life, but there are multiple classes of the undead. This is an important distinction for my Necromancer Books. At times, Ruby simply reanimates a corpse to get information, then puts it back down, or she makes zombies or revenants. Both are fun to write. Revenants are interesting in that they are basically zombies with their soul restored. They come alive with their minds and emotions intact and can be powerful and, of course, struggle with an insatiable appetite for flesh. In The Necromancer’s Seduction, Ruby creates the revenant Adam, a slain witch. The best part of Adam’s character was exploring how he dealt with returning to life and realizing he was now a nightmarish creature. He was pretty pissed at Ruby, and controlling him proved to be quite a test of her power.
Some other interesting necromancer abilities I’ve come across include: ability to communicate with spirits, travel to the underworld, curse or hex the living, extracting disease from the dead and inflicting them on the living, even remove living souls. Necromancers have created undead armies, and at times, have joined the ranks of the undead themselves, which leads me to my next point. In much of the gaming world and movies, necromancers are bad, which I get. Wielding the power of the dead probably warps a person.
The Hobbit includes the necromancer who Gandalf battles and turns out to be Sauron. One of my favorite necromancers is Evil Ash from the Army of Darkness movie. Evil Ash himself rises from the dead and raises an army of “deadites”. And I can’t discuss necromancers in movies without mentioning Re-Animator. I don’t plan on writing any scenes with reanimated, decapitated heads, because you just can’t top Re-Animator! Their take on reanimation was interesting in that Herbert West is a scientist who invents a serum to bring the dead back to life. (Re-Animator was based on the H.P. Lovecraft story titled simply, Herbert West-Reanimator.)
All of this leads to the best part of Ruby’s character and why she spoke to me so strongly. How does she use her power for good without losing her humanity? Not easily. Her power is almost a character unto itself. It sometimes urges her to use it in ways she knows is wrong, and when she does use her power, it gives her a rush similar to a drug induced high. In my mythology, many necromancers turned evil, succumbed to the temptation to use their power in negative ways.
Ruby is going to stumble quite a bit, especially in Necromancer’s Betrayal, and be tempted by the “dark side”. But it’s that struggle and how she transcends it, that makes for a stronger heroine and more interesting character.