How could I resist such an absolutely cool theme? I mean – anyone who knows my writing will be aware that I love nothing more than tackling a widely used idea and spinning it in a different direction. Thus, when I saw that Ticonderoga were putting together an anthology of stories hung on the idea of blood…yeah, there was no turning back.
Yet there were so many ways to approach the theme! One of the alternatives that came up – and I’m still working on the story for future use – involves Heracles’ tunic, which is the instrument of his death. Soaked in the poisoned blood of the vengeful centaur Nessus, the tunic is given to Heracles as a gift by his wife Deianeira, who realises too late how the centaur has tricked her. Now there’s a blood story, eh?
Then there’s the infamous Elizabeth Bathory and her penchant for bathing in the blood of maidens. Room for a tale or three, at least. And what about the Old Testament? The Nile turning to blood; blood of the lamb over the doorway to ward off the death of the first-born…lovely stuff.
In the end I went for a double-tap. The villain of my piece is a creature out of Celtic myth, a nasty bit of work called a Redcap. They’re evil bastards from the border regions of Scotland and England. Appearing as gnarled older men, they’re often naked except for a set of iron boots and a scarlet cap. The cap is kept red by being dipped in the blood of the Redcap’s victims, and the creature must kill often to keep the cap from drying out: absolutely perfect for a collection themed around blood, eh? And of course, it gave me the chance to visit old Celtic mythology, which is some of my very favourite storytelling territory.
There’s more, though. ‘Blood’ also refers to family connection or genetic heritage…and beyond that, all I can say without giving too much away is that the protagonist of the story is more than she seems.
Oh, while I remember: I actually managed to work a third ‘blood’ item into the story. Check it out and see if you can spot it!