Our Spooky Legends guest today is Yvonne Navarro. Yvonne’s most recent release is Highborn, which is the first book in her Dark Redemption urban fantasy series. The second book in the series is Concrete Savior and will hit shelves in 2011.
You can read an excerpt from Highborn here. Yvonne is here to tell us all about the Bloody Mary urban legend. You also have a chance to win a copy of HIGHBORN. As always, details are listed below.
**Visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends Guest blog with Wendy Delsol and a chance to win STORK**
Yvonne Navarro lives and works in the high desert of Southeastern Arizona, in a climate that’s supposed to be warm. Alas, leftover cold from Chicago seems to have followed her there, at least in the winters, and global warming is screwing up the rest of the year. Her novels have won the Bram Stoker Award and a number of other professional journalism awards. So far she’s had twenty solo and media novels and over a hundred short stories published. Her writing includes the genres of fantasy, horror, science fiction, thrillers, and whatever else she can try. She’s accumulated two rescue Great Danes (Goblin and The Ghost), a people- loving parakeet (Edwina Allen Poe), and an author husband (Weston Ochse), not necessarily in that order.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bathroom Last Night…
by Yvonne Navarro
I can’t really say when I started to love the scary stories. I grew up in Chicago, during the age of Creepy and Eerie magazines and Creature Features on Friday nights, and we always seemed to be watching a scary movie on TV. My mother got me out of her hair most weekends by giving me matinee money and sending me to the Music Box theater on Clark Street, where they showed black and white monster movies non-stop on Saturdays and Sundays– Dracula, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and a hundred others. I loved them all. Because I was always on the lookout for a good scary story, a scarier story, it’s no surprise that I was only in the seventh grade when I first learned of the legend of Mary Worth. The version I heard was simple: Go in the bathroom at night, don’t turn on the lights, stare at the mirror, and whisper “Mary Worth” seven times without blinking. I can’t recall precisely what was supposed to happen once you finished that seventh incantation, but I’m sure it wasn’t good, especially given the bloody, terrifying warnings of today’s urban legends surrounding “Bloody Mary.”
Of course I had to try it. I was twelve years old and I already had a kid-sized manual typewriter on a desk in my room next to a wall displaying a year-round Halloween skeleton. I didn’t believe anything would happen… sort of. But in the bathroom that night while everyone else was sound asleep, with the darkness thick around me and weird spots dancing in front of my eyes, each whispered “Mary Worth” felt like it built a denser presence in the air, and each passing second increased my absolute certainty that something was taking shape in that mirror over the sink. I never made it to seven– I don’t even think I made it to five. I ran back to my room and climbed into bed, terrified.
Then I realized there was a big mirror attached to my dresser.
And there was a full length mirror hanging next to the closet.
And there was a wall mirror hanging over my bed.
Because, you know, this was the sixties and mirrors were in.
It was the only night in my life that I went to my mother’s room and told her I was too scared to be alone.
Did something really happen that night? Would more have happened had I been brave enough to finish out the ritual? Or was it just the power of suggestion on a young mind? I have no idea. Not too long ago at a writers’ retreat in a secluded mansion in the mountains outside San Francisco, I learned that paranormal investigators have a name for thinking you see something in darkened room. They call it “pareidolia” or matrixing, and it has to do with your mind trying to make sense of and arrange the random light molecules or particles in front of your eyes, literally creating an optical illusion. The enormous house we stayed in for the retreat has a history of incidents that involve everything from doors closing unexpectedly to inexplicable lights and apparitions seen and felt over the years by countless people. Matrixing is a logical explanation for what most people think is an illogical reaction to something you can’t see.
But is our reaction really illogical?
As an adult I’ve always maintained that there are two truly frightening things. The first is people. I’m often asked how I can write the things I do, all that scary stuff about monsters and vampires and various creatures of the night. Folks want to know if these things scare me. My answer is simple: No. Do I believe a zombie will suddenly claw at my door in the middle of the night? Or a vampire will climb the side of my house and crawl through an unlocked second floor window? Not at all. Do I think there’s a chance a couple of criminals might drive by my house and think “Hey, let’s knock on that door, and if someone answers, we’ll just barge on in and help ourselves to _______ (you fill in the blank).” You bet I believe that might happen. If you don’t think so, check out the news reports.
The second really scary thing is the unknown. What I can’t see, I can’t control. Sure, being able to see something doesn’t mean I can necessarily control it, but at least there’s a much better chance I can respond appropriately. If I can’t see it, I have no idea (a) what it is, and (b) what to do about it. This is why I don’t like camping. That comforting little circle of firelight is just that– little. Outside of it is a huge area, a universe of way too many things I just can’t see. My house has a nice tall stone wall around it, and we keep the front driveway gate closed. My fear of whatever lies outside the circle of light, the circle of safety, also applies there. When I have to get out of the car and close the gates behind me at night, that’s when I start to think there might actually be zombies out there. Just like I started to feel there were a lot of unseen things in the seemingly endless rooms of that chilly, echoing mansion.
And when I get up in the middle of a moonless night and there’s only a bit of starshine coming through the skylight high overhead, I remember that night in the bathroom when I was twelve. And I start to think there might really be a Mary Worth in that enormous six-foot expanse of mirror that’s the first thing I face when I tiptoe through the bathroom door.
Synopsis (Product Description):
From a Bram Stoker Award finalist and acclaimed fantasy author—a thrilling story about a fallen angel who returns to human form to gain her redemption.
Once an irresistible, soul-destroying seducer of men and women through the ages, Brynna Malak has fled Hell to seek redemption. While dodging the brutal Hunters sent to retrieve her, she must also battle her own kind to save the life of a young teenage girl fathered by an angel—whose destiny is to complete a preordained task. At Brynna’s side is Eran Redmond, a Chicago police officer who is fighting his undeniable attraction to her. Brynna would rather die, for eternity, than return to Hell or give up her quest. Yet to continue, she must begin the long and difficult journey of learning to embrace both the joys and the tragedies of being human.
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