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Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post "Spiders" by Inge-Lise Goss

Please welcome Inge-Lise Goss to the Willow Tree. Inge-Lise has written a gripping mystery "The Tengen Cave" and has honored us with a guest post. Welcome Inge-Lise.


After running from her boyfriend’s powerful organized crime family, Sara Jones starts a new life in
a new town. But when people around her start dying from poisonous spider bites after she receives
a mysterious package with a spider concealed inside, she worries that the family has found her. Life
takes an even more bizarre turn when she seems to be not only immune to the spider venom, but also
surrounded by a sinister group of people she suspects is a spider cult. Even her new boyfriend starts
acting suspiciously. Just who can she trust?

About the Author
Inge-Lise Goss was born in Denmark and immigrated to the United States at the age of four with
her family. She was raised in Utah and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of
Utah. She is a Certified Public Accountant and has audited numerous companies. She has four
grown children. She now lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their dog, Bran.

Inge-Lise was kind enough to write a guest post about spiders for us.

Why I chose to use spiders and fascinating things I learned about them.
Unlike other creatures that have the potential to harm humans, poisonous spiders can move about silently and unobserved in the dark. They can scurry under the smallest opening at the bottom of a closed door or window. They can climb up walls and disappear into a sliver of a crack. When chased, they can scoot under furniture, appliances, clothing, and even, a child’s toy. The possibilities are endless. They can easily join you in bed without being noticed. Only a light sleeper could feel one crawling on their bare skin. And, if it is a poisonous spider, can strike without warning.
William Hazlitt’s (1778-1830) essay “On the Pleasure of Hating” (c. 1826) began by describing the movement of a spider: “There is a spider crawling along the matted floor … he runs with heedless, hurried haste, he hobbles awkwardly towards me, he stops—he sees the giant shadow before him, and, at a loss whether to retreat or proceed, meditates his huge foe—but as I do not start up or seize upon the struggling caitiff, as he would upon a helpless fly within his toils, he takes heart and ventures on, with mingled cunning, impudence and fear. … I bear the creature no ill-will, but still I hate the very sight of it.”  Even today, that same sentiment exists—most people hate the very sight of spiders. The feeling is often intertwined with fear.
People rarely consider the benefits of having spiders on our planet. Spiders help control the insect population. Without them, insects would flourish into pest proportions. Yet, often when a spider is spotted it is crushed without remorse. Sara Jones, the protagonist in “The Tegen Cave,” appreciates and loves the delicate creatures. She attempts to protect the poisonous spiders that appear in her bed, and mourns when she fears some have perished. 
The spiders in my novel are mutant hobo spiders, Tegenaria agrestis. That name is the basis for my novel’s title, “The Tegen Cave.” Tegenaria agrestis is one of a small number of spider species whose bites are painful and medically significant. The venom is so strong it sometimes causes necrosis, the death of cells and tissues around the injected area of the body. 
Hobo spiders are known to be aggressive and vary significantly in appearance. A microscopic examination by an arachnologist, or someone knowledgeable in that field, is required for positive identification. Since Sara has been exposed to spiders all her life, she suspects the arachnids in the hotel are hobo spiders, but she can’t confirm that identity without a close examination under a microscope.
In doing preliminary research for my novel, I discovered some fascinating facts about various spider families’ predator abilities. Ordgarius magnificus, the magnificent spider, sets silk traps with a pheromone that mimics a moth’s. Believing a female moth is close by, male moths are lured to the trap. The spider subdues the pursuer, and the moth becomes a nutritious meal. Ant spiders of the Zodarlidae family imitate ants by using their front legs to mimic antennae. A trusting ant is soon devoured. Female flower crab spiders, Misumena vatia, can blend with flowers by changing their colors from white to yellow. They spread their sticky web and wait patiently for pollinators.

In my urban fantasy I wanted a creature that had the ability to enter a room undetected and, while there, poison targeted humans. After they accomplished that task, they needed the capacity to come when summoned along with some additional talents. The aggressive nature and toxicity of the hobo spider matched some of the desirable characteristics. Since no spider species possessed all the qualities, I expanded the hobo spiders’ skills and made them a mutant species in “The Tegen Cave.”    


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