Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Hags and the Gullah
I wrote in the additions to the seamstress scene to draw comparisons between Anika's hag and Maum's hag. I see I'll always be trying to balance on this blog between sharing my writing experience and avoiding spoilers. But I think I can tell y'all what a hag is without spoiling. A hag is a woman who sheds her skin at night and dives into a sleeping person to haunt that person with nightmares. A hag is often someone people know and don't suspect. Being a hag is a malicious thing and the woman's secret she hides from her community. There are ways to rid a victim of the hag's visits. The seamstresses paid Anika to rid their Maum (mother/grandmother) of a hag. The three novels in my trilogy are historic paranormal, set in South Carolina in 1789 and the plots revolve around Gullah culture. The Gullah region in SC was populated with Africans who were for the most part isolated for hundreds of years and so their African culture and dialect survived intact until recently. (The term Gullah may derive from the word 'Angola'.) The Gullahs have their own folklore, which sometimes mirrors universal archetypes. I encourage you to explore Gullah. Two excellent sources are Lorenzo Dow Turner's book, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, and Alphonso Brown's Charleston Gullah Tours (and his book, A Gullah Guide to Charleston). Anyhoo, last night's writing: I wound up writing into the seamstresses' scene, Anika's internal reaction to Maum's descriptions of her nightmares and Anika's feelings about being possessed by a hag. I like how it turned out. It really gave the scene humanity, depth, and reality. Plus explained things for readers (this scene is early in The House of the Apparently Dead). So, I consider the scene finished and can move on.
Posted by Naima Haviland at 6:54 AM