Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

Novel Magic: Inspired by Welch Legends

Novel Magic guest Alice Renaud talks about the inspiration behind her latest release, the award winning paranormal romance Mermaids Marry in Green, and her favourite Welsh monsters! You know how I love legendary critters–especially those who are said to loiter about in ‘this blessed plot” which I (in typical American fashion) think of as including England, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Wales, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man…and you get the idea. Alice gives us a peek into her process and how she weaves folklore into her tales. Read on for an excerpt and don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end.

Welch Inspiration

by Alice Renaud

Today I would like to share some sources of inspiration for my latest novel, Mermaids Marry in Green, in the Sea of Love series. Both this book and the series won their categories in the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Caltha is a secondary, but important, character in the first and second books of my Sea of Love series, A Merman’s Choice and Music for a Merman (each book in the Sea of Love series is a standalone story featuring a different couple). She is a feisty shifter mermaid, who is the leader of all the mermen Clans. She helps the heroes and heroines of the first two books achieve their happily ever after, so I always wanted to tell her story. But I struggled to think of a man or merman who would be a match for her… until the idea came to me that he could be a warlock. So I created Jonty, a man of power with a dark secret in his past, who soon falls for Caltha but has to overcome his guilt and regrets to find happiness with her.

But what brings my hero and heroine together? Enter the afanc! I love Welsh myths and legends, they’re a big source of inspiration for me. The afanc lives in lakes or pools. He is part crocodile, part beaver. Folk think he’s a terrifying monster, but in Mermaids Marry in Green, he is an intelligent, magical, lost creature. Caltha teams up with Jonty to find the afanc. Once she has found him, however, she has to rescue him, which brings her in conflict with the warlocks who want to capture and study him. I made the afanc small and rather cute, more like a strange pet than the monster of the legends. Some scenes are even written from his point of view.

A few of my other favourite creatures are listed below!

The Water Horse (Ceffyl Y Dwr)

The Water Horse is a spirit who takes the shape of a horse and offers unwary travellers a ride on his back, only to throw them off and try to drown them in the marshes. In some stories he can also take human form. He can live in any body of water: the sea, rivers, ponds, even baptismal fonts in churches. The Water Horse features in the second book of my series, Music for a Merman.

Torrent Spectre

This malevolent spirit haunts mountain torrents and streams high up in the hills, and often takes the shape of a terrifying, evil old man. He can cause flooding and chaos and revels in it. He is related to the mist hag, a fearsome old woman who hides in thick fog and shrieks the names of those who are about to die. Both are villains in the new series I’m working on, Conjuring Love, about time travelling witches and warlocks.

The Giant Cat of Anglesey

This needs no description! I just love the idea of a giant cat roaming an island, chasing horses as if they were mice. King Arthur captures him in one of the legends. I haven’t fitted him in any of my stories yet, but his time will come!

Mermaids Marry in Green by Alice Renaud

Caltha Dooran is the toughest, fiercest shape-shifting mermaid in the western seas. She has three Clans to rule, and no time for romance. But when a warlock, Jonty, turns up and asks her to come with him to London to capture a water monster, she can’t say no. In London, away from her duties, her attraction for Jonty grows… and they soon fall under each other’s spell. But will his past and her responsibilities pull them apart, or can they find the only true magic, the one that binds two souls together?

A Sip of Mermaids Marry in Green

A pile of twigs shuddered and slid to the side. Two yellow eyes peered at her out of the tangle of wood and litter. Excitement exploded in Caltha’s chest, rocking her whole body. She’d found him! But she strove to keep her voice low and soft.

“Afanc?”

A reptilian head that looked like a crocodile’s, but smaller, pushed through a plastic bag. The mouth opened, revealing a row of sharp teeth. “Morwenna?” the creature hissed, in Caltha’s language.

She tried to repress the trembling in her body and appear calm so the creature wouldn’t take fright. “Yes, I am a mermaid.” She lifted her webbed hands to show him. The afanc extended a furry paw, tipped with powerful claws. Caltha brushed the damp fur with her fingers. “I’m Caltha.”

The afanc let out a sigh. “Morwenna Caltha,” he said. He stared at her with shining eyes full of hope. “I am lost. Can you help?”

Caltha’s mind went blank with surprise. She’d expected a powerful water monster with awesome magical powers, not this vulnerable animal pleading for assistance.

The afanc stretched his neck towards her. “Please?”

Compassion engulfed Caltha. “Of course I’ll help you.”

The question was how. She’d been so focused on locating him, she hadn’t really given any thought as to what she would do when she found him. She studied his reptilian head and large, furry body. No way would he go unnoticed in a city full of humans. And dangerous warlocks were on his trail. Her mind worked overtime, searching for solutions. Would he follow her willingly, or would she have to trap him? He seemed friendly now, but he might panic if she tried to lead him away from his familiar surroundings. And how could she keep him hidden?

“Can you swim underwater?”

“Not for long. I cannot breathe underwater like you.” The afanc was shaking, from cold or fright. His vulnerability tugged at Caltha’s heartstrings. She’d do anything to save him.

“Don’t worry; I’ll think of something.” She started to scramble up the slope, but the creature shrank back, trembling. Caltha stopped. “I won’t hurt you. You need to come with me. I’ll take you somewhere safe, away from the humans.”

The afanc sighed. “Thank you, Caltha.”

Her chest contracted as she realized that she had no idea where she would take him, or how she’d get him there. She’d spoken too fast, thinking only of reassuring him. Now she’d made a promise, and she didn’t know how she’d keep it. Where could they go where he would be safe? She didn’t want to leave him in London, at the mercy of the warlocks. Even the nice ones would seek to use him. She’d heard of their fascination with magical creatures. They’d want to study the afanc, to figure out how he made the waters rise. She couldn’t let him become a laboratory exhibit. He needed to be with his own kind, except he was one of a kind.

Meet Alice Renaud

UK Office Staff Portraits

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, A Merman’s Choice, was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second and third books, Music for a Merman, and Mermaids Marry in Green, are out now. Alice has also contributed short stories for the BVS anthologies Mystic Desire, Desire Me Again, and Cowboy Desire, all available now. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

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