We’re happy to have Tam MacNeil here at It’s About The Book to talk about some of the things that went into the writing of her new release, Salt and Iron.
I spent a lot of time on road trips as a kid.
Where I grew up in Canada I was close enough to the US border that my family made regular weekend trips to Spokane and longer trips further afield – the Oregon Coast, to California where my uncle lives, and to Nevada. Something I realized when I was sitting in the crinkled white leather seat of an old Cordova with no AC as we tried out the Grapevine was how much folklore there is about American highways.
I mean, at the time I didn’t think about it like that. I just thought about all the stories of phantom hitchhikers, and that guy who got his hook-hand stuck on the car door at the look out point, the phantom rest-stops, and the exits that disappear and I thought the highway was a pretty creepy place. And as you drive, from one end of the country to the other, you see little shrines and memorials to those who didn’t get to their destination.
Now that I’m a older, I’d still say the highway is a pretty creepy place, but I’d call it liminal. It’s a place where anyone of any stripe can come and go, alive, dead, human, nonhuman, whatever. As long as they have the means to interact with somebody who’s got a car and a soft enough heart to pick them up (or smarts enough to get the heck out of the look out parking lot when the scraping sound starts).
We’ve always had stories of places where the supernatural rule, even in the mundane world (think of the haunted houses of your youth, the local cemetery, heck, even a darkened bathroom when somebody says the words “bloody Mary!”) In Salt and Iron, the whole world is one of these liminal places. Gods and monsters and folk saints and spirits all exist in the same space as your average, garden-variety human. It makes for a bit of tension.
In a world absolutely full of supernatural beings, having the job of Monster Hunter isn’t so weird. In fact, it’s a job title held by James van Helsing, the youngest son of a lesser branch of that illustrious family. When it comes to finding liminal spaces where the paranormal collect, well, that might be the one thing James is actually good at. That and finding trouble. He’s very good at that. Might have something to do with the fact that he doesn’t seem to belong in the human world at all.
James has spent his whole life giving everything he had to partition the human world from the spirit world, but when a monster that’s been terrorizing New Glamis takes the man James loves, he has to dive into the realm of faerie to get Gabe back. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but I will tell you this: They spend a fair bit of time at a seedy motel on the side of the highway. It’s called the Summer Court. And if you’ve ever been on an interminable road trip, you know time’s a funny thing, especially when it comes to little no-name towns and seedy roadside motels. And if you know anything about the faerie, you know they’ve got a vicious sense of humor.
Blurb: James van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster-hunting family—and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, his oldest friend and son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most—a magic user.
He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing James can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.
Salt and Iron is available at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon as well as other retailers.