Some Folklore That Inspired The Night Weaver
Those scary stories that’ve been passed down from one generation to the next are the ones I enjoyed the most as a kid. We’re talking Dagon (not the H.P. Lovecraft version, the one Afrikaans parents use to keep their kids in line), Headless or Legless Anna (the ghost who apparently haunts every Afrikaans primary school in Pretoria), and the Match-Maker (demon? ghost? Hell if I know what the game’s about, I just know I was scared senseless the couple of times we played). I have always been drawn to obscure folklore and mythology and have always been fascinated with darkness. That’s just who I am, so, while I was writing The Night Weaver, I instinctively knew I needed to put in something that would’ve both scared and captivated me as a young adult.
My problem was finding a boogeyman that would frighten a teenager back then and right now.
I mean, we’re living in a world where teens have a much higher scare threshold. Back in the 00s, R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series hit all the right buttons for me, but things are different now, realer to some degree. Still, there are things out there, fantastic things that can’t possibly be real, that can frighten us—if not the monster, perhaps the allegory …
It took me about a week of research, but eventually I found the perfect creature to be my antagonist—the Black Annis. The reason I decided on this specific figure from English folklore was mainly to try and recreate the chills I use to get as a kid when I read horror novels. After all, what’s scarier than a cannibalistic hag stealing children from the safety of their own beds? Even today, few things can top that on the “fear-o-meter”. Even today, there’s a spark of realness in the legend.
So, I changed her up a bit, made her fit my story, gave her a backstory that’s not necessarily accurate to the legend. I turned the Black Annis into The Night Weaver.
But what could possibly push the Black Annis’ creepiness over the top? What would make her a force to be reckoned with, I wondered?
That’s when I realized I already had the perfect “alteration” to the legend: Darklings.
Darklings are completely made-up creatures, shadow-like beings that actually inspired the entire book. People think I lie when I tell them that one night, while I was wandering around the house in my sleep deprived, somewhat depressed state, the shadows spoke to me, but that’s exactly what happened. The shadows grew and moved and danced on the walls, and I listened to their story.
In some ways, these Darklings were the ones who chose the Black Annis as the main antagonist, not me, because they have a mind of their own. They work independently sometimes, but other times they work with a hive-mind. It’s this characteristic that made it possible for The Night Weaver to feed on darkness without ever being near anyone, to trick adults into giving up children without her ever having to leave her lair. The existence of the Darklings also made it possible for me to change up the Black Annis’ mythology and turn her into a dark Fae (or rather a Miser Fae).
There are other things about the Black Annis that needed to be changed to turn her into my perfect boogeyman, the one that could scare a teenager back then and now. We’re talking personality traits and a certain magical object, amongst other things.
And although I would love to explain everything in depth, it would take away a lot of the mystery that surrounds her. Also, spoilers would start appearing, and we certainly don’t want that.
But, in some ways, I feel I was able to give an obscure folktale a second chance at life. Perhaps one day, when my readers are all grown up and have children of their own, they will remember the Black Annis—or rather The Night Weaver—and recall the chill they got when they read about her.
Or maybe the Darklings will visit them now …
About The Night Weaver (Harrowsgate #1)
Shadow Grove isn’t a typical town. Bad things happen here. Children disappear, one after the other, and nobody is doing anything about it. Parents don’t grieve, missing posters don’t line the streets, and the sheriff seems unconcerned.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel Cleary lives on the outskirts of Shadow Grove, next to the creepy forest everyone pretends doesn’t exist. Usually the forest is filled with an eerie calm, an unmistakable graveyard solemnity. But the trees have started whispering, forgotten creatures are stirring, and the nights feel darker than ever.
Something is stalking the residents of Shadow Grove, changing them into brain-dead caricatures of themselves. It’s up to Rachel to stop the devouring of her hometown before all is destroyed and everyone she loves is forever lost.
About Monique Snyman
Monique Snyman’s mind is a confusing bedlam of glitter and death, where candy-coated gore is found in abundance and homicidal unicorns thrive. Sorting out the mess in her head is particularly irksome before she’s ingested a specific amount of coffee, which is equal to half the recommended intake of water for humans per day. When she’s not playing referee to her imaginary friends or trying to overdose on caffeine, she’s doing something with words—be it writing, reading, or fixing all the words.
Monique Snyman lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her husband and an adorable Chihuahua. She’s the author of MUTI NATION, a horror novel set in South Africa, and the Bram Stoker Award® nominated novel, THE NIGHT WEAVER, which is the first installment in a dark fantasy series for young adults.
Visit Monique Snyman at www.moniquesnyman.com or follow her on:
Copyright © Monique Snyman 2019