Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I have a special guest joining me today on the blog. Please welcome (back) my very fabulous agent who also happens to be an absolutely amazing writer, Lucienne Diver!
Turning Myth to Magic
Every once in a while in life, someone will say something that really makes you think and becomes incorporated straight into your personal perceptions. I remember one of those moments in college, when an acquaintance informed me that, “When someone asks how you’re doing, they don’t really want to know.” From that moment forward, I pretty much stopped sharing, unless I knew the person truly cared about the answer, and it really separated out for me true friends from, well, everybody else. But the most pivotal of those moments probably came in high school with a friend who lived on the next block. I remember visiting her house and noticing that the bookshelves in the living room held, among other things, a statue of Vishnu, a common picture from Christianity (I forget now but think it was Jesus with the sacred heart), and art from various other religions. Coupled with the saint metal she always wore around her neck, I had to ask. Her response, “They’re all just different conceptions of the same God.”
This blew me away. It was like the universe suddenly snapped into place. Of course! If all the people of the world would just realize this and think of the various religions simply as different paths toward the same goal, Earth would be a much happier and certainly less violent place.
Which brings me to my book blog and relevance. When I set out to write Bad Blood, I knew I wanted to use Greek mythology. I knew that I didn’t want to exclude the other mythologies, cultures and traditions. Still, I did need to focus, because trying to do everything would accomplish nothing. As a result, I started researching. Ever since that day at my friend’s house, I’d been fascinated by comparative religion. I’d gotten a bit of this in Latin class, which I took in grade school, because we discussed the Greek and Roman pantheons, but that didn’t go far enough. I got a bit more in college when I took my anthropology classes, especially those that dealt with folklore and myth. Do you know how many cultures have world-ending floods? Or resurrections?
You won’t see a lot of my research in the book, which is what happens so often with research. You do it so that you don’t get anything wrong, but there isn’t room in a novel to fit in everything you’ve learned…at least, not without it sounding like info dump. So, you may not realize the work that went into matching up the Greek gods with their counterparts from other cultures, like Hermes being connected not only to Mercury in the Roman pantheon, but to Iemisch, Loki, Coyote, Spider (Unktomi) and all the other trickster gods. Or the research that went into the backstory of one of my secondary characters, which led me to the story of Liu Lei, the legendary dragonkeeper from Chinese folklore.
Diving into these old tales was a tremendous amount of fun…almost as much fun as actually writing my heroine Tori Karacis and her death-defying adventures. It brought me back to my college days, except that turning folklore into fiction is so much better than turning in term papers!
I hope, if you’re inclined to read, that you enjoy my completely non-academic rendering of myth and magic. If so, help me spread the word!
Bad Blood, first novel of the Latter-Day Olympians
Available June 28, 2011 from Samhain Publishing