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The Immortals is a series like none I have ever written before or since, and it is only right this moment that I realize it came from more places than I used to think.

Of course, there are no original ideas, but the Highlander films and TV series thrilled me straight to my marrow, and right then, I think, is when the idea took root. The idea of a race of Immortals who were not vampires. A different sort of Immortal. I even named the hero of book 1 “Duncan,” but only for inspiration. I intended to change it in the final, but the editor loved it and wanted me to keep it. So I confess, book 1 is derivative. It's an homage, really. But the mythology of my Immortals is my own.

My Mythology

There are two distinct types of Immortals in my world, and they come by their powers in very different ways. They are known as High Witches, the Dark and the Light. Light are born with the gift of Immortality, the Karmic reward for having saved the life of another in a previous incarnation.The Dark gain their power by carving the still-beating hearts from the Light Ones. The Dark Witch keeps the heart in a carved wooden box, where it will go on beating for ages, until its power runs dry. The body from whence it came goes dormant, neither dead nor alive, but preserved. If the heart is returned to the body, the dormant Immortal returns to life.

I can't remember the song and it's driving me crazy!

That part of my mythology was clearly and fully inspired by one thing only, a music video. I can no longer remember the song. I thought I knew it, but the video isn't the one I remember so I'm hunting. In the music video, in the early days of music videos, a fantasy like scene plays out as a women rides one of those big-footed, shaggy-maned white horses. She digs in the earth, digging a man up from his grave, and I specifically recall her pouring water over his face to rinse the dirt away.

That's all. That just settled into my psyche and started to grow into an entire book. Book Two of the Immortals, INFINITY.

There's another input source. A movie, Independence Day, Will Smith. There's a scene where a supposedly dead alien being is being examined by a poor unfortunate scientist. Main characters are observing through glass. The alien comes around, wraps a tentacle around the scientist's neck, slams his face up against the glass and says, through the scientist's lips, “Release… Me.” It was the way he said it. It was the implied threat underlying the words, ringing as clear as day. You heard those two words and knew that the creature was really saying, “Release me or I'm going to unleash all manner of hell on your ass.”

Nidaba speaks those words very early in book 3, DESTINY. And like the alien, she is presumed dead by the hapless mortals transporting her body, until she isn't.

The crown of Queen Puabi

The sign said, “Do Not Touch”

The villain of DESTINY is Queen Puabi of Ur. She was a real Queen of Ur. I was fascinated by her, because she was the only queen listed alone on the unearthed tablet known as “The Kings' List.” That is, every other queen is mentioned as “Wife of King” so-and-so. Only Puabi is listed merely as Queen Puabi. She is shrouded in mystery. Not much is known about her. But during my research, I visited a traveling exhibit called The Royal Treasures of Ur, which include the crown of Puabi. They wouldn't let me try it on. Little did I know way more than a decade ago, as I gazed in abject awe at the crown, and put my hand on the actual bricks of an actual Ancient Sumerian city gate, and got yelled at by the museum staff for touching it despite the do not touch sign, and touched it again as soon as they looked away….little did I know how deeply effected I was, and how it would resurface in me all these years later.

IMMORTALITY was a very short novella in which my editor challenged me to redeem the irredeemable villain Puabi. I wrote a short story. I figured out how it would end, how she could be saved, how she could reclaim her life, but while I had the end, I didn't really have the beginning. The story was all present day, short and sweet, no real digging. To tell her story right, I had to start at the beginning. To tell it right, I needed a full novel.

When I dove back into Puabi's past earlier this year, I found a treasure trove of untold stories. It took a lot to bring her out of the darkness. She was an Immortal High Witch, one of the Dark. She had lived for 4000 years on hearts stolen from her victims. She had tried her best to destroy the hero and heroine of the previous book for Goddess sake!

I wasn't prepared for the onslaught!

I really didn't understand what a big task it was until I was in it. Never before in this series had I told a story from the perspective of a villain. Oh, I'd done a scene here and there from villains' points of view. It's a frequent method of mine in my thrillers. But to write a whole book from her angle, this was brand new. I learned a lot more about these beings, about what happens to them when they take their first heart, how their very soul is the price they pay, and how it's painfully torn from them.

I fell in head over heels, all the way back to the palaces and splendor of Ancient Sumer, and its city-states of Ur and Lagash. I revisited the twin rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, and the gods and goddesses and mythologies of the time. And the magic too. I spent months immersed there, and the resulting book was every bit as long and lush as the original 3 stories, and is finally worthy to stand beside them. And so very much changed, I altered the title. This way you can tell if you're finding an old used copy of the 90-page novella or the novel it always should have been.

The ending however, the WAY Puabi is ultimately healed and redeemed was already perfect. That ending has not changed. If you have read the novella, you already know how it wraps up. It is the perfect ending. The only ending possible, in fact.

More Books to come?

Yes. If you read this series, including IMMORTALITY, A DARK WITCH'S EPIC TALE then you might have picked up on a few clues.

Clue #1: Bela's last words to Arkan.

Clue #2: One of the tablets Puabi finds in Bela's special trunk.

Clue #3: The final scene.

Clue #4: There are potentially 12 more books.

I don't know when I'll get to them. I have other things at the top of my to-do list. So many series that are ongoing. Wings in the Night, Brown and de Luca, Bliss in Big Falls, and now, The Immortals. Fiona. I also have a story or two to add to the By Magic series. And I really want to novelize the story of my 8th great grandmother who was tried for witchcraft in the lesser known Stamford Witch Trials. So much inspiration! It is flowing very strongly right now, and I love when that happens.

Anyway, that's a pile of back story for you. I'm still planning a booklet with images background info. Stay tuned for that.

For Videos, excerpts, reviews, awards, and all the buy links, click below.THE IMMORTALS

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Will you PLEASE have the books made in Audio Format? I read the books when they came out and fell in love with them. However, I no longer have room to keep all my favorites and have found that Audio books are the solution. Listening to the Immortal series while knitting or working a puzzle would be my idea of heaven.

Thank you for being such a wonderful storyteller.

Maggie Shayne
Maggie Shayne

Audio-rights are available and being shopped around to sub-licensees as we speak. Doing it myself is just cost-prohibitive.

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