Wednesday, February 6, 2013
What's a Pooka and Why Is It in My Pantry?
Posted by: R.L. Naquin
With the first Monster Haven novel, Monster in My Closet, I didn’t have to tell anyone what a closet monster is. Everyone already recognized Maurice’s origins—though I don’t think they expected to love him and wish he’d move in with them by the time they finished reading the book.
Alas, I went a little off the beaten path with book two, Pooka in My Pantry. I’ve had a lot of blank looks. Hell, several of the characters in the book had that same blank look when they heard the word. Pookas aren’t all that common in modern literature.
And to make it worse, Silas, the pooka in question, doesn’t quite follow along with his mythical origins.
From Merriam Webster:
poo·ka noun \ˈpükə\ : a mischievous or malignant goblin or specter held in Irish folklore to appear in the form of a horse and to haunt bogs and marshes
From my research, I learned that pookas often take the form of a black dog or a rabbit, as well as a horse. Mostly, the takeaway is that they’re mischievous members of the fairy family and take on a lot of different forms, or are altogether invisible.
But wait. Pookas aren’t entirely absent from pop culture references.
In the movie Harvey, Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) pals around with an invisible six-foot rabbit. The rabbit, Harvey, is a pooka. My pooka, Silas, absolutely hates this reference, by the way. Should you run into him, don’t mention this movie. It really makes him mad. (But if you haven’t seen it, go watch it now. I adore this movie. I’ve been involved in several stage productions of it, too.)
Another example is the movie Donnie Darko. While Harvey’s mischievous rabbit-shaped pooka is polite and actually helps in the end, the one in Donnie Darko is not so nice, and honestly more in keeping with the dark nature of a traditional pooka.
Silas is a little of both. His very presence is bad luck, and he’s quite proud of it. With the exception of a few seconds meant to prove a point, he does not actually take on the shape of a rabbit.
In fact, in my head, he looks a lot like Danny DeVito. He talks constantly, expects poor Zoey to wait on him as if her house were a bed and breakfast, and he prefers not to wear pants, even when he’s sitting on the kitchen counter. There’s not enough bleach in the world to get rid of the “ew” factor that leaves behind.
Only Zoey can see this hairy, obnoxious little guy, and his constant banter gets her into trouble when she forgets herself and answers him in public.
He once caused a piano to fall on a man walking down the street, just by being near the poor guy. (May he rest in peace.)
Worst house guest ever.
So, there you go. A little insight into the world of the pooka. If you’re interested in a little more information about their history and folklore, I recommend this article: Ireland’s Eye: The Pooka.
To find out more about why Silas has blown into town to “help” Zoey, you can pre-order Pooka in My Pantry, which comes out March 25. If you’re behind and haven’t read Monster in My Closet yet, it’s not too late. You’ve got just enough time to read it before Pooka comes out.
Maybe not all pooka luck is bad.