I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback about my covers, especially my first book Path Unchosen. The solitary raven perched on a gravest
one is such a strong symbol of otherworldliness. A suggestion of a connection with live after death.
I’ve always liked birds. The ravens at the Tower of London with their intense stares and sharp beaks frightened me a little as a child, but now I find their antics fascinating.
After the research I did for my Daughter of Ravenswood series, I understand the folklore
Ravens are smart, great mimics and very playful. They’ve also been both feared and revered through time and across cultures. From being seen as the souls of dead people who weren’t properly buried, to being heralded as messengers of the gods.
One curious thing that I learned about ravens as I researched, is that when the teenage birds leave their parents, they join gangs of young birds who flock and play together until they find a mate, and mate for life.
As Meagan is a necromancer, and works with the dead and at cemeteries, there is nothing subtle about a connection with ravens. Nightwing is a special Raven. He’s Meagan’s spirit guide. I loved writing him into the story, and hated writing him out. But he’d served his purpose, she didn’t need him any more, she had to learn things by herself.
My favourite scene with Nightwing from Path Unchosen is in Chapter 31 when Meagan decides to try and save her spirit friend Evie from the Shadow Glades:
“Be afraid if ever you cease to be afraid,” that’s what Nightwing said once. Little chance of that happening. Spikes of pure panic radiated from my chest.
“Nightwing,” I whispered. “Help us.”
My shoulders slumped. What could I connect to? I focused on Evie’s grave, surrounded by weeds, rocks, and her bones. I concentrated on the sunlight glinting off her marble stone and the lush green of weeds pushing their way through the soil. A flash of sooty black broke my concentration. Nightwing landed on the corner of Evie’s grave marker. His iridescent wings stretched out in the sunlight.
“You know what you need to do,” he murmured into my head.
Breath left my lungs in a rush. “I knew you wouldn’t desert me.”
He gurgled low musical notes. “They will not want you to leave. Focus. Use your power, feel what is real, and pull yourself toward it.”
A single, stretched thread of silk was the only tie that held me to all living creatures. The mist around my feet churned like black molasses. I waded through it toward Nightwing’s voice, all the time whispering to Evie, begging her to hold on.
My feet barely moved. I felt like I was hauling three grown men rather than one small ghost. We weren’t going to make it.
One strange thing happened one hot night this summer. Billie, my old Cocker Spaniel, is normally very tolerant of all the birds who feed in my garden. But she can’t stand a beautiful black crow (we have crows rather than ravens in Australia) that visits us in nesting season. Just before Christmas, Billie spotted the large black bird splashing in the bird bath and she dashed out the door so quickly she jumped right through the fly screen!!
I really have no answer to the question: why a raven? Except that it felt right, Nightwing was in the right place at the right time to guide a naive orphan girl on her first steps towards claiming necromancy as her birthright.