Today, M. Terry Green, author of the Techno-Shaman series, has stopped by to tell us about the inspiration behind the world of Olivia Lawson. For my reviews of this series, go to yesterday’s post. Now, I will hand it over to Ms. Green.
Shaman, Healer, Heretic and Shaman, Friend, Enemy are urban fantasy novels but I think many readers either know or sense that shamanism isn’t all fiction. When I’m asked why I write about techno-shamans, the easy answer is that nobody’s done it before. The hard answer, also known as the better answer, has to do with shamanism in the real world.
I first became aware of shamanism as an archaeologist. My earliest notes about a shaman story are about fifteen years old at this point. Even as a researcher, trying to understand changes in ancient religion over time, I was struck by the potential of shamanism for fiction. In indigenous cultures around the world, shamans have acted as physical doctors, spiritual leaders, psychologists, counselors, and even political go-betweens. They are the ultimate boundary players: of the group but not in it, held in esteem and in fear, courted and rejected. The drama and tension of shamans in the real world hardly needs to be embellished and I bring much of that deep history into the novels. It might surprise people to know, for example, that there is rock art in Central California that is attributed to the Water Baby. A powerful if diminutive helper of shamans, he left traces in the form of small footprints pecked into the rock.
But stringing together facts doesn’t make a story–characters do. In a very real sense, shamans have always been at the crux of life and death and that’s exactly where I put my heroine. Livvy and her friends (and enemies) are forced to deal with some of the toughest questions that we face–about family, love, right versus wrong, and even life beyond death. She sometimes makes mistakes–because we all do. And she sometimes triumphs–because her compassion pushes her above and beyond.
That was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to write about shamans but I didn’t want to advocate drug use, especially in books that are YA friendly. The real world of shamanism has almost always included, at the very least, a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of plant use. Beyond that, though, shamans have traditionally made use of hallucinogens as part of their spiritual practice. Although I touch on mind-altering substances and activities in the books, I’ve brought shamans squarely into the modern urban world and updated them with goggles as their mind-alterer of choice. And, just as with shamanism, I’ve grounded that technology in reality. Most people are aware of 3-D gaming goggles but the God Helmet, mentioned in Shaman, Healer, Heretic, was also real.
As always, though, technology and shamanism are only the springboards. They are the entrance into a fantastical world where anything canand does happen. Livvy and SK are at the beginning of their odyssey. Six books are planned in the series and there’ll be some challenges and changes for the lightning shaman and her intercessor before their arc is complete.
What do you want to know about Ms. Green or Livvy Lawson? Ask away!
M. Terry Green is a full-time writer and budding minimalist. Her debut novel, Shaman, Healer, Heretic
, is a 2011 Semi-Finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Terry has a Ph.D. in archaeology and a B.S. in physics. Her nonfiction, under a different name to dispel confusion, has been published by Simon & Schuster and Penguin and her articles have appeared in the NY Times
, among others. She and her husband live in Los Angeles with several computers where, apart from occasional beeps, they live happy and quiet lives. Visit her online at mterrygreen.com