Ghosts & Carpet Sharks #4: Greywalker’s Kat Richardson [INTERVIEW]

If you’re just tuning in to our interview series with Greywalker creator and author, Kat Richardson, you’ll probably want to start with the first part of this five part series here, where we covered the basics of the series and the new upcoming novel, Possession.

As we continue our interview, we discuss with Ms. Richardson the secrets she has hidden in the Greywalker books in association with colors, dance, and guns!

Color of Emotion.

Kat Richardson kindly shares some of the special abilities Harper has in Greywalker.

Kat Richardson kindly shares some of the special abilities Harper has in Greywalker.

One of Harper’s abilities as a Greywalker is to see people’s emotional states and magical influences in the Grey, which I think is a great trick. With that said, I haven’t seen a precise list of colors and what they mean. Would you mind sharing the color/emotion list with us?

Oh my… My chief minion, Thea Maia—whom we call “Thing One”—asked me that once.

Oh, you’ve got a minion? Remind me to ask you where you get those! My wife’s been looking for some ever since Despicable Me! (We’ve been trying to raise two, but they’re really just not minion material. Far too much self-will and far too likely to stay up too late at night to be of use as minions!)

[Editor’s Note: Since this section deals with color, color formatting conventions shift based on the coloration being described.]

Thing One actually volunteered, but as to the rest of them we’ll have to discuss that when you’re not recording, because my minion supplier is a trade secret and, well, technically I’m under NDA. You understand?

Anyway, it’s a little hard to codify the color thing because it’s subjective to Harper’s view. What she sees is literally her perception, colored by her own notions of what a color “feels” like. This is the rough run-down:

Red is usually strong emotions or violence. As it trends toward the darker side, it gets tied to blood and death, but as you can imagine, it’s also associated with romantic and sexual passion, so not all of the red trends are “bad.” And there are, of course the “pink sparks” that Harper sees around lovers—because she is, essentially, a romantic.

Yellow is the energetic neutral running north/south, but it can mean other things as the color gets richer.

Gold is a particularly strong magical color that usually indicates a strong, positive magic at work.

Blue is the energetic neutral running east/west. As the magic is pushed in various emotional directions it may grow more green (often a sign of something “unwell” or some water elementals at work) or as it gets deeper into certain types of magic, it will trend to indigo and dark blues, still essentially neutral, but leaning toward particular types of work and occasional death magic that is not particularly violent or tied to blood-letting. You won’t see a lot of red around the ghost of someone who was drowned, for instance.

Green is most often indicative of “sick” emotions/states or magic that is tied to nature in certain ways. The trend of the color and the darkness will usually indicate which it is. The more “balanced” the shade, the “healthier” the magic or emotion. As it trends toward olive and avocado green, things aren’t so good.

Orange indicates frustration and some rather odd states of complex emotion and magic that blends several elements. Deep orange, especially as it trends toward brown and gold are associated with earth elementals.

Black is Death and things associated with it, but it’s also an element in any darker color of energy as the use/emotion gets more complex. And as things accrete, then tend to get stronger or darker, so the quality of the darkness is also important.

White is very raw, pure magic/energy that has no alignment. It may indicate a power overload as well, since it’s just the directionless flush of energy. It’s also associated with air elementals and, in Possession, you’ll see it associated with… well something else. Keep an eye out for it.

 

The Great Wheel is a theme from Possession that started as an inspiration from Kat's camera.

The Great Wheel is a theme from Possession that started as an inspiration from Kat’s camera.

Purples are usually hybrid magics. For instance, the violet strands in SEAWITCH that indicated a particular strain of magic that was associated with water creatures who were also shape-shifters and the deep indigo color that was associated with Bryson Goodall in LABYRINTH, indicating that he was influence by more than one source of magic.’

Sparks and bolts are modifying indicators and as you can imagine, a lot of the secondary colors are hard to read, since they can be either a blend of two primaries or a trend of another color as well as having a “pure” manifestation.

Confused? I sometimes am. I actually keep all this stuff written down in a “Series Bible”—although I’ve fallen behind on keeping it up to date recently.

Might I suggest that you have a fan contest for all your artist fans to create a lovely graph of this? Then you could include the color chart in the front cover of your books, just like many fantasy authors include maps. (And, while you’re at it, let’s bring back the little dictionary of Greywalker terms in the back of the book! I liked that!)

Hmmm… I’ll have to consider that. I wonder if I can talk my editor into interior color pages….

Power of Dance

Dancing is a major component of Harper’s dysfunctional childhood. How does it factor into your own past?

No one has ever asked me that before. How interesting…. I tried to get into the dance thing when I was little—the usual tiny tots ballet and tap stuff—but I was too lazy and miserable and let it slide. I was also kind of pudgy and awkward at that stage (wait a minute… I’m kind of pudgy and awkward now. Hmmm…).

At least you weren’t a boy! My mother insisted that I do the ballet thing from 5 to 8 as an awkward, pudgy boy! But I digress. Please continue!

As I got older I became involved in casual ballroom, as well as English Country and Scottish County dancing—which are pretty stylized and I actually taught them for a while, so I guess I got over the awkward thing. Mostly I find dancing—like singing which was my major before switching to Journalism—to be an uplifting and joyful exercise, even when I’m not doing a great job of it. It’s just fun. For Harper, it’s discipline and there’s an element of past pain—emotional and physical. I also wanted to show her as someone who appears “ideal” but is actually very deeply broken and scarred and working hard toward curing herself. She’s slim, but not always in a healthy way—which is actually very common for professional dancers—and although it’s seen as a joyful activity, it’s not a source of joy for her.

That’s a nice way to explore that concept!

Some of the professional dancers I met in the course of working in theaters and so on were obsessive, anorexic, and sometimes self-destructive. They lived in fear of gaining weight, some took drugs to stay thin, most starved themselves, were bulimic or anorexic, and had the worst body image you can imagine. They rarely saw themselves as attractive or thin enough. They often had emotional problems because they were convinced, even when they were unhealthily thin by anyone else’s standards, that they weren’t thin enough, that they weren’t pretty enough. One female dancer I met—who had a distinctly boyish figure—was convinced she needed a breast reduction so she’d be less “lumpy!” And that’s the background I gave Harper—a woman who has had to fight hard to change her perceptions of herself, to become more healthy and whole and to believe she is valuable and worthy regardless of her outward appearance. Yeah… it’s a bit of an issue of mine….

I can totally understand that. When I work with models as a photographer, the concerns are often very similar to what you see with dancers. Fortunately, with the Gothic community we serve with DarkestGoth, there’s a greater acceptance of individuality and it’s very fulfilling for us to be able to showcase models of all shapes and sizes, showing the beauty that’s present within them. Growing up with my own self-image issues, I’ve always hated how much people buy into the lies our culture vomits out about beauty. (Possibly one of the reasons Fight Club is one of my favorite films!)

And that’s one of the reasons I love the Gothic community—they embrace difference. (And I love Fight Club, too!)

Guns.

While most of the bad guys in Greywalker are decently bulletproof, Harper’s gun is almost as much a character as Chaos. I seem to recall that Harper’s got an H&K and my brain is wanting to fill in 9mm USP, but I don’t think we’re actually told. So, without further ado, what is Harper’s Gun?

Harper has just the one gun: an HK P7M8 in 9mm. It’s an unusual pistol that has a squeeze-cocking lever on the trigger-facing side of the grip. Releasing tension on the front of the grip “decocks” it and it makes a distinctive “clack” when cocked or decocked. It’s just one of those odd little things that I thought added a bit of color to a character who might have been very bland otherwise. It’s also a fairly rare gun that was designed to be easy to use, extremely safe, and concealable—a pretty good thing for a female PI and eccentric enough to stand out a bit from the usual Berettas and Colts. Have I mentioned that I like things weird?

H&K P7M8 is the gun that Harper Blaine uses in Greywalker.

H&K P7M8 is the gun that Harper Blaine uses in Greywalker.

Once or twice, but we find that charming! In the Goth community, weird is your badge of honor. So be sure to let your flag fly high and you’ll get nothing but respect…at least from us! (I once wrote a character with dual FN Five-Sevens for a similar reason…unique, interesting, and strangely powerful weapon.)

So, obviously, that leads us into the next part, since I understand you’re a target shooter, as well? (Btw, might I say how refreshing it is to read an author who uses “mag” instead of the “clip” that so many writers mistakenly believe is the “kleenex” of ammo holders.) So, what’s your personal gun of choice?

Thank you. I guess I’d qualify as a “gun nut” by some standards. I’ve always been fascinated by elegant mechanical things and, to me, that’s what a well-designed firearm is. I have a former-military husband reading over my shoulder to make sure I don’t make an ass of myself, and I’m not afraid to ask when I’m not sure of a term or technicality, too. I’m frankly amazed at how many people get gun information wrong in books (and film/TV) because it’s a really easy subject to get first-hand research on. Any police or serious sportsman’s gun range or website will be glad to help a writer out, but I guess too many people believe that what they see in the movies and hear on the news is true and don’t bother to check. Which is funny when you consider how many other things they know are exaggerated for effect or outright wrong in films and TV. But guns…? They just don’t ask.

I know what you mean. It’s aggravating when people don’t avail themselves of common sense resources to make things more authentic. When I did a post-apocalyptic film a few years back, we had a police officer in the cast and I made sure to chat with him and arrange for him to take my whole cast out shooting, so they could learn proper form for that very reason. (Interestingly, a buddy of his was the firearm instructor for the Academy-Award winning film, The Hurt Locker, and he kindly volunteered to teach our actors the basics, which was really cool.)

That’s very cool. With respect to my own shooting, I’m out of practice at the moment, but I used to shoot plates and standard paper targets at “combat” range, which is to say, fairly close and fairly fast. I don’t rank, but I enjoy it. I find the necessary calm and concentration to be very zen-like. I’m sure there are a lot of folks cringing right now at that statement, but it’s true: shooting is not a violent sport; it’s a very focused and balanced sport. You have to be mindful and centered or you will perform poorly. I’ve used several guns—the P7 being one of them—but I started out with an old .38 caliber police revolver and it’s still one of my favorites. It’s slower than a properly-tuned automatic, but it’s balanced and elegant and very reliable. I also like 1911-patterns in .45, but they vary by manufacture from “that’s fantastic!” to “holy shit, don’t ever hand me that again!” You really have to be choosy with the 1911-type. I also like the Browning Buck Mark .22 target pistol better than my Ruger Mark II—which is a maintenance monster with crap sights—it looks damned cool though—very James Bond. I’ve been trying to get into rifle shooting, but my distance vision has been deteriorating as I age and it may be a lost cause. Totally different school of shooting, though.

Actually, I think the only people who would cringe about the use of guns being calming are those who haven’t ever used them. My wife (who’s dad and brother are both Marines) and I will go on shooting dates from time to time and it’s clear that getting into a calm state is the only way to reliably and predictably hit what you’re aiming at.

Thank you so much for coming in and sharing with us, Kat.  In our next interview, we’ll discuss your work with ferrets, bonus questions about your series, and chat about where you see Harper going in the future!  Before we adjourn for today, would you mind sharing again where our readers can find out more about Greywalker, Kat?

If your readers want to know more about Harper, they can always visit my own website or FaceBook page and I believe there’s a fan-maintained Wiki about the Greywalker series too.

Author: JT Hanke

J.T. Hanke is the founder and former editor of DarkestGoth Magazine. Stepping down as editor in 2019, he currently serves as it's technical adviser and a contributing writer.

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