There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in. The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.
This week we have:
Fantasy author Philippa Ballantine
Talking of Magical Mythical Mermaids and Deadly Water Horses.
As a writer, myth and legend are fruitful ground to draw from. At school, my favorite classes were always the historical ones, and I loved it most of all when I had a chance to learn about other cultures and their stories.
Another resource was my Nana’s a collection of these old, leather bound books, which contained plenty of Hans Christian Anderson, and I recall spending many rainy days reading through them sitting in the sunroom.
I never realised that I was in fact doing research for my future career. I just thought I was escaping to other worlds for awhile.
Now looking back on my writing so far, I can see all the places were myth and legend have left their mark.
In my Books of the Order series (Geist, Wrayth, Spectyr and Harbinger) there is a huge cat who has his own plans that might run counter to the humans. The Rossin, as he is called, is terrifying at first, but later in the series we begin to see other sides of him. He is a beautiful creature, with his beginnings in the cats of mythology. Being a Leo, I have always been a cat person, but the Rossin owes much to the Nemian Lion of Greek myth; the terrifying and impervious beast that Hercules eventually bested. That kind of wild terror the Rossin also inspires. However, the way the Rossin would like to be viewed is like the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet—but then all cats probably think that way. To the Rossin, humans really are just there to serve, and if they are lucky not end up as lunch.
In my Shifted Worlds (Hunter and Fox, and Kindred and Wings) series there is the nykur, which is essentially the largest nastiest horse you might ever want to see. He is a direct descendant of the water horses (the kelpie, the nykur, and the nuggle) which prowl the lakes and waterways of Europe. All of them plot to find clueless humans who willingly climb on their back. However, once on, it is impossible to get off, and the water horse returns to its lake drowning the poor soul on its back. I simply loved the idea of something so powerful and beautiful, that people cannot resist, even if they may suspect they shouldn’t touch it.
The Shifted world is populated with all sorts of other creatures from myth and legend; centaurs, nagi, and griffons. I had a lot of fun taking the whole world of legend and mixing it up.
However, recently I have begun working even more directly with myths and legends. The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite stories growing up—as dark and disturbing as it is. Maybe it was the underlying thread of yearning, or the bravery of the mermaid who though she has legs went through pain for her dream, but it was always something I wanted to play with myself. When my husband, Tee Morris produced a novelette about Aladdin in a steampunk setting (Aladdin and His Wonderfully Infernal Device) I couldn’t let him have all the fun. So I set to, and wrote A Little Clockwork Mermaid in the steampunk genre. The transformation the mermaid goes through is accomplished with the help of her grandmother, and is entirely mechanical, but it still inflicts the same amount of pain on the poor creature.
Later this year, I have another novelette in anthology called Clockwork Fairytales. I’m very excited that my steampunk take on the Wild Swans story (also by Hans Christian Andersen) is going to be in collection with luminaries like KW Jeter and Jay Lake. The Wild Swans, is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s lesser known tales, but like the Little Mermaid deals with the themes of loss, strength of characters and redemption. In my retelling the city of the swan princess is a floating one, and the way she saves her brothers involves just as much bravery and determination as the original, but also a little more engineering skill.
I think that is why readers and writers keep coming back to myth and legend so often; it is a deep well of gathered human consciousness. The tales examine our own problems, and the realities of life are transformed into magical monsters that we can defeat—or ride off on depending on their nature.
Personally, I would chose the unicorn or the Pegasus rather than the kelpie, but then perhaps the water horse would show you some interesting things too….
Find Philippa Ballantine at:
Her blog: The Worlds of Philippa Ballantine
Facebook: The Ministry of Peculiar Occurences and Official Group Page of Philippa Ballantine's Writing
Goodreads: Philippa Ballantine
Shelfari: Philippa B
Interested in purchasing, or look into, the books Pip mentions in her post:
Harbinger is preorder now, due to release July 30, 2013.
Kindred and Wings is a preorder now, due to release August 6, 2013
Clockwork Fairy Tales is available for preorder, due to release June 4, 2013