Friday, August 7, 2015

How Haunted Bridges and Spooky Legends Became Inspiration for our Mystery Novel Crying Woman Bridge

          The idea for our latest Jeff McQuede mystery, Crying Woman Bridge,  started with a legend, specifically, the legend of La Llorona.  We had first heard about this prominent tale while visiting the Southwest.  The Hispanic stories have several variations, but they all deal with a woman who has sacrificed a child or children by drowning.  She commits this terrible act for the sake of her lover and ends up crazed with regret.  In many retellings of the story, the weeping woman, La Llorona, can be heard along the river’s edge crying Ay mis hijos!  which translates to, Oh, my children!   

          During our research we found that La Llorona wasn’t the only mother weeping for lost children.  Throughout the United States many tales exist about bridges haunted either by weeping women or crying babies.  Another story closer to home also caught our interest, that of Theorosa’s Bridge near Valley Center, Kansas, and Wichita.  Several versions of the Theorosa legend are well-known.  In the oldest version, a baby named Theorosa is stolen by a band of Native Americans, and the mother’s spirit still haunts the creek in search of her lost child.  In a more modern version, Theorosa has an illegitimate child which because of guilt she throws from the bridge.  Later she kills herself by jumping into the river.  In yet another, Theorosa was a witch who was hanged, and her baby drowned in the creek.  “If you say Theorosa, Theorosa, I have your baby,” she will appear and attack you.

                    Our latest High Country Mystery!

          Our story takes place in Wyoming and is a fictional tale with elements of these timeless legends that exist in so many forms.  Sheriff Jeff McQuede and his friend, Professor Dawson, are returning from a lecture Dawson has just given about local haunted places.  He has spoken about one that concerns a local bridge they must pass by, called Crying Woman Bridge, or, by some of the locals, Mirabella’s Bridge.  In this story a young pioneer woman named Mirabella got jilted by her lover and threw her baby over the bridge.  At night it is rumored that you can still hear her cries; if you say her name three times, she will appear and bad things will happen.  McQuede and Dawson are startled to find a modern-day woman standing on the bridge crying for her baby.  Has she thrown the infant into the river in a fit of madness as did the pioneer woman?  McQuede is even more stunned when Rae Harris claims that her baby was stolen--by a woman called Mirabella. 
McQuede discovers the truth through a strange and twisted turn of events which leads to Rae, the woman on the bridge…and a dark secret. 

Further reading: 

Legends of America  Click this link to read one of the more popular versions of the La LLorona Legend. 

Wikipedia: Theorosa's Bridge  Click this link to read variations of the Theorosa Bridge legends.