He stood framed in the doorway of my thoughts, a quiet, solemn elf who looked a lot like Illya Kuryakin … slender, blond, with
eyes the blue of glacial lakes.
Then I noticed the woman beside him –
auburn-haired, dark-eyed, just a little shorter than Tevis' five-feet-eight. “I'm Kat Morales,” she said. She flicked a smile. “We're police detectives.”
Ah. Okay, so this would be a story about
police. But not just any police, not when one of them was an elf …
The backstory came to me fairly quickly – over the course of a few hours at most. With Tevis and Kat prodding me, filling in details, I realized that our good old familiar Earth has a … Well, call it a “counterpart,” maybe in another universe, maybe another dimension. Even after all this time, not all the details are known to me.
But anyway, this other world – the Realms of Magic – is home to elves, wizards, pixies, dragons, ogres … all the creatures of our mythologies and folklore, all the beings that we now think of as “make-believe.” It's always been there, separated from our own world by gateways – the Portals that give my series its name. From the beginning of time,
the Portals were open, and in the ancient days, the days of our human ancestors, beings from the Realms could move freely from their world to ours.
Then maybe a thousand or so years ago, wizards – who began to fear continued intermingling of humans and beings of magic – closed the gateways. So humans of later centuries forgot that myths and legends were based on real creatures.
“But in a future not too distant from your present,” Tevis told me, “the Portals have opened again. No one knows why, or how. But the inhabitants of the Realms now have access to your world again. Some of them are returning, bringing their magic with them, and humans are poorly equipped to deal with magic, especially when it is used to commit crimes. Kathryn and I,” a nod to the woman standing beside him, “are called in to investigate crimes that happen when magic is … misused.”
Then they gave me an image … the body of an ogre, recently murdered, and Kat – Tevis is one of the few people who call her “Kathryn” – watching, occasionally taking pictures while her partner examines the corpse.
That's how Shadow Path, the first book in the series, was born. Kat and Tevis have been in charge every step of the way. Initially, for example, I thought the book was going to be kind of forensics-oriented – like the CSI shows on TV, for example.
But Tevis immediately demonstrated the ability of elves – they call themselves Aalfar – to See how someone's died just by touching the corpse.
Well, it's been a useful talent.
It's been an interesting journey so far with Tevis and Kat. Through them, I've met a host of other interesting characters – Harley, their boss with the Corpus Christi, Texas, police department; Arvandus, the wizard who has become Tevis' mentor; the banshee, Maeve, one of The Morrigan's many daughters; Gairth, Arvandus' half-lovetalker nephew …
And that's all just in the first book!
Five books in – three published, two in the works – and Tevis and Kat still have adventures that they're sharing with me. The Portals series could go for a while yet …
And it all started with an elf in a doorway.
How about you, if you're a writer? Do your books start with the characters, or with a story that you want to tell? Please come share.
About the photo: These are new images of Kat and Tevis, recently acquired by Studio See Publishing LLC, publisher of the Portals books.