Author Takeover: The Power of Possession

August 7, 2015

Move over, Tom Marvolo Riddle, and throw out your diaries. For this week’s Author Takeover we are delighted to host Dawn Kurtagich, author of The Dead House. In this blog she discusses the perils of possession, exploring the darker sides of Potter in relation to her own debut novel.

Dawn writes psychologically sinister fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and adults may have something to hide. She lives in Wales but grew up all over the world, predominantly in Africa.  The Dead House is out now in the UK and will be in stores September 15 in the US.

You can find her on Twitter @dawnkurtagich, and her website can be found at www.dawnkurtagich.com.

 

 A Tale of Two Possessions

Hello, MuggleNet readers! *dances around* Wow. You guys have a hell of a place here. Where’s my bedroom?

As a very proud Ravenclaw, who was very nearly sorted into Slytherin, I know all about possession because: Smart and Wyly. *grin*

The actual idea of possession has always been a part of my life. A child reared on horror films and then Harry Potter pretty much guaranteed it.

Harry Potter has managed to engage so many different kinds of readers, and if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. What J.K Rowling did was to cast a spell over the entire world. For me, it’s the darker aspects of the book that Rowling doesn’t shy away from that had me hooked. Harry’s losses, his wounds, the temptation of evil, fighting for his life and his friends—all of it was profoundly and bravely faced.

Including Ginny’s possession.

I wanted to be brave like that with The Dead House, which tells the story of Kaitlyn and Carly Johnson, two sisters of a different sort. They share the same body. Carly comes out during the day, and Kaitlyn has the night. Kaitlyn has only ever known night. She’s never seen a sunrise or a blue sky. Because of this, her character is a dark one (she’d like to think she’d be in Slytherin, but the truth is, she’d be in Gryffindor). When Kaitlyn’s sister, Carly, vanishes from their body without a word or whisper, Kaitlyn has to face the very real possibility that she is possessed by the very thing that dragged Carly away.

Possession is not a fun thing to think about. I mean, something or someone else just taking over your body and mind like that? Talk about violation.

Yet it’s fascinating, isn’t it? Our control is the one thing we have the most faith in as humans. The idea of losing it, for most of us, is an impossibility. Not for Ginny, though, and not for Kaitlyn either.

My interest in the idea of possession specifically came from a childhood experience involving an African witchdoctor casting bones at me when I was about eight years old. It sparked a life-long interest in tribal cultures, in particular, different kinds of voodoo. Voodoo has links to possession culturally and within pop culture, and I found that fascinating. Within Haitian Voudo, it’s an honour to be possessed by a Loa, a type of deity. Even in pagan culture and tradition, types of possession exist—I had to know more. My teens were spent obsessing over things like this, reading different historical testimonies and modern day tales, until I was well and truly hooked.

Back to Ginny’s possession by Tom Riddle, AKA Lord V————————— (yikes! I almost said his name…). Here is an eleven-year-old girl, who gets in the way of a diary/Horcrux, which leads to her possession, which in turn leads to the flooding of a bathroom, the painting of a bloody message on a wall, and the opening of the Chamber of Secrets! None of this was in her control. She even mentions losing time.

But how can we know that? Well, we know it because Tom Riddle himself materializes and tells Harry this. But what if that didn’t happen?

In The Dead House, my debut YA novel, Kaitlyn and Carly share the same body.  In a way, you could say that they each possess their own body for half of the day. But on one not-so-special day, Carly suddenly isn’t with her anymore. Kaitlyn is alone. And there is no Tom Riddle cackling about his master plan—not even a note! And what’s worse, in the empty space that Carly left behind, something a little more insidious may be trying to snake its way in . . . I should send Kaitlyn to Ginny for some advice.

And let’s not forget poor Harry with his link to Volde———— (I nearly said it AGAIN! Whew.) Harry himself shares a mental link with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, which might be equated with possession too. I mean, just look at what happened in the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort did possess Harry for a while—a very painful experience for them both. Again, this scene in the book was very iconic for me. Dumbledore, the mentor, was unable to help Harry, could only stand and watch on, and the battle commenced. I think what I love about this is the idea of direct good-vs-evil contact. Harry, a beacon of good, linked in one body to his arch nemesis, in a split-second battle that Harry wins because he has the ability to love.

And it’s the same for Kaitlyn. A battle within her own mind, her own skin. I can’t think of how a battle between good and evil could get any closer than that. But if one thing is true, it’s this: the idea of facing an enemy inside your very own skin is horrifying.

Kudos, Harry, Ginny and Kaitlyn. You’ve got guts. You go, Glen Coco!

 

P.S: Kaitlyn: Ravenclaw (Gryffindor leanings)

Carly: Hufflepuff

So that’s Raffinpuff in one body. 🙂