Querus Abuttu, who also goes by “Q”, is a writer with a long history of forensic nursing and military service. Much of this experience ends up in her writings. Her alter ego, is the Director of Forensic Nursing in Healthcare for the government. This alone sounds like a novel. Q, as I will call her for this article, took time to talk about a monster that currently has her interest, the Raven Mocker.
The Raven Mocker is a monster from Cherokee folklore. It is truly terrifying. Q describes it like this, “The Raven Mocker, or as the Cherokee called it, the Kâ’lanû Ahkyeli’skï, is a type of witch or demon that kills a human and is able to take the years that the human would have had and add those years to its own life.” Although the
description of what the Raven Mocker looks like varies from legend to legend there is a running theme in all of them, which is “tormenting their prey, consuming the victim’s heart and taking the victim’s remaining years life.” Only a very powerful shaman can even see the monster when it is feeding because it’s invisible when it eats. Any other time, the Raven Mocker may look like a member of the community. Of recognizing the monster, Q says, “One visible sign is that the person is very old, having stolen years from other people and adding [them to its own life]. It makes sounds like the wind when it is near, and before an attack, it can issue a cry like that of a crow or raven.”
Q says that the Raven Mocker caught her imagination because many everyday things steal our “hearts” today. The Cherokee legend personifies those things that kill us slowly. “I think I’m much like any writer who enjoys writing about monsters. I see the legend/mythos and compare it to our society today . . . Monsters we create are often physical synonyms, if you will, to problems we diagnose in our communities,” she says.
Part of the Raven Mocker “mythos” is that it feeds on the sick. Even though it seems that this monster should only terrify those who are ill, Q believes that the story would motivate everyone to stay healthy. “[T]he sick and the old who are not healthy and are often a weakness to the tribe, and a tribe cannot afford to be weak,” she says. Also, Q
adds that getting rid of evil from the community benefits the entire tribe.
Q has conducted a lot of research on this creature recently because parts of the legend are integral to the plot of a novel she is working on. In her story, which she describes as being in the “juvenile phase,” a town in rural Virginia has been flooded in by weeks of rain. They are cut off from the rest of world, which is the perfect opportunity for a crow demon to rise and wreak havoc. I won’t give too much more away, but needless to say, the story sounds terrifically horrifying.
Drawing from real life is an important component of writing for Q. Living in Virginia, a state with a history of the Cherokee, she says she was glad to have discovered the Raven Mocker legend while writing the first few chapters of her work in progress, which she calls Necrow. “The Raven Mocker was a legend a fellow writer and mentor told me about when I was having her critique some of my early chapters of Necrow before I even knew of the legend,” she says. Since the story was in the early stages, according to Q, the legend fit in nicely and added another layer to the plot.
In researching about the Raven Mocker, Q found a few books and songs to help in her create her monsters. “[T]here’s not a lot out there. There are no films that I can point to utilizing this creature legend. There are some fiction novels and myth/legend books on Amazon that exist—and it has become more popular in novels over the past ten years or so,” she says, and recommends, “Some of the music and lyrics I’ve used for inspiration in this novel is from the Plague Physicians ‘The Raven Mocker’ album and from Spook ‘Raven Mocker’ album. For reading, I recommend, Myths of the Cherokee: And Sacred formulas of the Cherokees by James Mooney, and The First Raven Mocker: The Cherokee Chronicles by Courtney Miller.”
Necrow is still in the writing phase, so you can’t run out and buy it yet, but you can check out all things Querus Abuttu (at least writing-wise) here.