What if a mystical object was thrust into the life of a stunted modern-day woman? What if that woman began to believe in the will of that object? These questions, inspired by the history of an ancient Javanese keris, a dagger with a wavy blade, became the driving force behind the plot of The Last Will of Moira Leahy—a tale of twin sisters, what happened between them, and how the keris affected them both.
The keris is not only a piece of unique weaponry, it was once considered a revered spiritual object. The design of the swirled metals—some meteoric—was said to determine the intention of a keris. If during the creation process, the empu—a keris blacksmith—lost the tether of a blade’s intent, the keris earned a talismanic reputation; these blades were fated, with a will all their own. How they might affect a person’s life was anyone’s guess. Some kerises were thought to bring good luck, others bad. Sleep with one under your pillow, and if you have nightmares, you have your answer.
The number of curves possessed by a blade—its luks—were also influential in establishing what that particular blade was meant to do. Luks were supposed to be odd-numbered, though there were rare exceptions. The number twelve, for example, was thought by the Javanese to represent “unity within diversity,” which happened to dovetail with this story of twins.
Are these blades truly willful? Once upon a time, the Javanese people thought so. It was believed that a keris would bond with its owner, fight for him, and do what was necessary to return to him if lost. A true modern-day story of a lost keris who found its owner is chronicled in Reflections of Eden by Birute M. F. Galdikas.
I enjoyed using the Javanese keris to enrich The Last Will of Moira Leahy, and I enjoyed learning about the unique history of the blade and its contemplative people as well.
Therese Walsh is not only a debut author, she is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of genre fiction. She has a master’s degree in psychology and was formerly a researcher with Prevention Magazine. Her book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was recently published.