When my writing partner John Mendoza and I write books, we don’t invent stories; we discover them.
Stephen King compares writing novels to digging up a dinosaur skeleton. You have evidence that there’s something down there, but you have to keep chipping away very carefully and hope you can bring up the whole thing up intact.
A lot of Alicia’s readers have asked us to tell them more about the history of Alicia’s husband, Carlos Mann. They are happy with their knowledge of Alicia and her background (after all, she explains everything to the ghost of Dr. Sigmund Freud in Alicia’s Sin), but what about Carlos?
Well, we know that he’s three-quarters Mexican and one-quarter Polish. That he’s handsome, brilliant, extremely logical, quite heroic at times and—since Alicia’s murder—very OCD. Where does all that come from, we asked ourselves? It was time to start digging.
We started looking for the spine of Carlos’s genealogy and discovered that his grandfather (Conrad Mankowski) probably came to the Americas about the time of World War Two. That meant that Conrad could have been in Poland when the Nazis invaded his country. It’s well known that thousands of Polish nationals were sent to concentration camps soon after that. And, if Conrad Mankowski was a patriot who tried to organize his countrymen against the conquerors, he might have become a special target of the SS.
That’s the heroic lineage we decided to reveal in ALICIA BEWITCHED.
We knew how our new novel had to start. At the end of the previous book, the FBI captured Carlos’s archenemy: gorgeous, sex-obsessed, flesh-trafficker Tiger Joy, and sent her to prison in a place that became more like a luxury hotel than a place of incarceration. Carlos was so disillusioned with the prospects of her punishment that he vowed to kill the evil woman himself. Of course, killing Tiger in the presence of all her protectors and boy-toys wasn’t easy, and, instead of being the victim, Tiger turned the tables, captured Carlos, and sent him off to be imprisoned in the cave of the great witch, La Bruja.
The witch gave Carlos a mirror, which came to life and showed him some of the key events in his grandfather’s life. Carlos saw how Conrad escaped from the Nazis and led them on a dangerous chase across Europe before managing to stow away on an ocean liner headed for Mexico. On board, a cool, clever, and beautiful Mexican aristocrat, with a crazy parrot and a ghostly grandmother, saved Conrad from would-be assassins. Then, one night when things got just a little too dangerous, Grandma’s ghost spirited Conrad away to the Yucatan where he fell in with the locals and married a shy, sweet young woman named Ixchel (sounds like seashell). Ixchel, it turned out, could trace her own ancestry back to the early days of the Mayan Empire, and equally as important… she was a witch.
For more about our unearthing of Carlos’s story, and something about Alicia’s first revealing session with Dr. Freud, check back here in a few days.