Lindsey R. Loucks

Author of Romance and Other Scary Things

Research, baby. Research.

There might be another post with this same title, but whatever. It’s summer, and I’m lazy. Anyway, I’ve been doing research lately on superstitions for What Gifts She Carried (book two in The Grave Winner series), specifically on the rhyme “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back” and lilacs.

For example, did you know this rhyme dates back to the late 19th century? According to The Committe for Skeptical Inquiry, it originated when racism was rampant and warned against marrying an African American. The original rhyme went “Step on a crack and your mother will turn black.” Yikes, this is offensive. The rhyme evolved into “break your mother’s back” in the 20th century, and the number of cracks stepped on equaled how many bones your mother broke. Ouch.


Also, lilac is used for protection against evil. That actually worked out well for me since lilacs are a big part of the story. I wish I could say I’d planned it that way all along, but nope. So if evil is crouching right behind you, sighing its icy breath against your neck, break out the lilacs!


Has anyone else run across anything especially interesting in your research?


  1. My mother loves lilacs! I’ll have to tell her about your discovery 🙂

    One neat thing I discovered in researching for one of my novels was that our modern term of ‘bonfire’ actually comes from the old term, ‘bonefire’, which is linked back to the druids and their tendency to eh, burn people in fires as appeasements. A rather gruesome history 🙂

  2. Oh, wow! I had no idea that’s where the term came from. Thanks for stopping by!

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