Monday, July 1, 2013

Mythical Monday (17)

It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

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.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.


This week we have:
Urban Fantasy author Margaret Ronald
Talking of the Werewolf.

Werewolf?  There Wolf.  There Castle.

Image from Wikipedia
I love werewolves.  I'll just get that out of the way right now.  One of the first stories I tried submitting professionally involved a werewolf who ran a number of scams that played on the vampire craze, and even then I knew which side I chose when it came to fur vs. fang.  Part of it is the shapechanging fantasy, the desire to become another animal if only for a short time; part of it is the exposure of one's id, the dark, bestial side of one's personality bursting forth with a snarl.  It's a powerful image, and one that carries a lot of psychological, symbolic, and sexual undertones.  When I wrote my main character as being a dog of sorts -- a hunting hound -- I knew that at some point, I'd need to have the hound face a wolf. 

The thing about werewolves, though, is that there's about as many ways to make one as there are strains of folklore.  Sometimes it's a voluntary transformation, undertaken as part of a deal with a devil.  Sometimes it's involuntary: "even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night . . ."  Sometimes it's a curse, inflicted by a witch; more often it's a spell a witch works on herself that she may go unnoticed.  If I wanted to introduce lycanthropy into the Hunt novels, I had many sources to choose from, and I certainly didn't have to go with the usual contagion-by-bite approach.

So I chose two options.  I referenced the Volsunga saga as Janssen's own rationale for why he was like this and why, therefore, his condition could be passed to his son.  In the Volsunga saga, Sigmund and his son Sinfjotli find a hut with wolfskins hanging over the door, put on the skins, and run in the shapes of wolves for some time. They compete as to who can kill the most men, quarrel, then remove the skins and burn them.  Because of this, the descendants of Sigmund were known not only as Volsungs but as Ylfings (wolflings).  In the context of Wild Hunt, it made sense that someone who might be a little prickly about his relative social status might use the Volsungs' tale as justification for his own curse.  It made for a great story that a petty man might tell himself: yeah, I turn into a shaggy beast now and then, but it's because I'm descended from heroes, man!

To contrast with this, I chose a very lowbrow method as well to show how the curse could be transferred.  One of the ways I found for turning someone into a werewolf involved being smacked in the face with a urine-soaked wolfskin girdle.  Yuck.  However, given the nature of the story -- and, for that matter, the nature of the werewolf; human and controlled versus bestial and visceral -- it made perfect sense for this to be the underside of Janssen's curse.  Plus, it also said a lot about Janssen that he would be willing to hit his son with something like this. 

I don't know that it's an entirely novel take on the werewolf myth, but it fit nicely into the story that Wild Hunt became, and the berserker (or bear-shirt -- another allusion to skinshifting) nature that came along with the Ylfing curse provided an excellent starting point for some of Nate's story in Soul Hunt.  And it made a very good wolf -- or pair of wolves -- for my Hound to face.

Florence and the Machine's "Howl"


You can learn more of Margaret Ronald and her books:
Facebook:  Margaret Ronald


*Note: Spiral Hunt (the first book) is 99c on Kindle




8 comments:

  1. I really like how she drew from different sources to create her werewolves. It really shows a deep level of thought into the creation instead of the usual I got bitten and now I am a werewolf thing.

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    1. Ashley, I've enjoyed these books and this is such a neat take. :) Thank you for stopping and glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. Oh a skinwalker type of shifter. Hm... I do think I like that better than being slapped with a bladder. LOL Very cool research though! I do enjoy were stories.

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    1. lol. Oh Melissa (B&T) I really enjoyed learning these too.

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  3. Ohh I like any version really of the myth

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    1. :) Me too Blodeuedd. I love seeing how others twist it for us to enjoy.

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  4. So true that werewolves can become this way due to so many different reasons. Love the ideas explored here and the extreme contrast between honor and humor in the methods. Thank you so much for sharing! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

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    1. Jaclyn Canada, It is so neat to see the turning around of mythology. :) Thank you.

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