Monday, September 16, 2013

Mythical Monday (26)

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 Children of the Sea.

For Those in Peril on the Sea

I learned to read on Greek mythology (and Bloom County collections, but that's not currently relevant), and it stuck with me through a good part of my youth.  I also had a weakness for certain interpretations of the myths: Clash of the Titans (the one from 1981 that always showed up as the Sunday afternoon movie), confused me in that it messed with the myth I knew, but there was so much that was cool to a nine-year-old me that it didn't matter.  Come to think of it, the clockwork owl Bubo is probably one of the reasons I've been writing steampunk lately. 

But when I was writing the Hunt novels, I didn't consider Greek mythology at all for any of the underpinning mythos.  Some of this was because Evie's origins were very clearly Irish, and so I wanted to stick with those sources; some of it was because I preferred to look at folklore rather than myth, since the Greek myths at least have certain canonical versions, while folklore can be all over the map.  And I suppose some of it stemmed from those first readings; Irish mythology and folklore was something I could research, while Greek mythology was something I knew.

So what changed?

Soul Hunt was not a novel that came easily.  I had real trouble figuring out the underlying structure of it, even though I was clear on a few things I wanted.  I wanted to explore the consequences of the bargain Evie had made, I wanted to put her in a place where all her options were gone, and I wanted to explore the nature of dread.  Not fear, because fear can be a survival reflex, but paralyzing dread, the kind that turns in on itself and makes it impossible to get out of the situation.  And I wanted something about Boston Harbor, because I had found a fantastic setting on Lovells Island.  All that added up to a heap of nothing for a good long while, and I could not figure out what would work.

There's a tickle that I sometimes get when I know a solution is on its way, when I can tell my brain is trying to come up with something but doesn't yet have it.  For about a day I walked around with that tickle in my head, as if my hindbrain was turning over a puzzle piece.  And then, as if someone had whispered in my ear, I remember thinking the Gorgons and the Graiae, were both children of the sea.
I went to see if that hunch was right.  The Graiae, the three witches with one eye and one tooth among them, had advised Perseus on where to find the Gorgon Medusa.  But they were also sisters of the Gorgons, children of Phorcys (god of the dangerous deep).  Deino, Enyo, Pemphredo; dread, horror, alarm; they were entities of terror and dread, personifying the white foam of the sea.  I had my villain.  And I had a story that had been told a long time ago, about the downfall of different children of Phorcys, and I knew how Evie would defeat them -- or her, as the Gray Ones were diminished and corrupted over time into one.

I read about sunstones, polarized feldspar, which were used to determine the location of the sun on overcast days and as such were vital for sailors lost on the sear.  And I read about New England's Dark Day, when the smoke from a huge forest fire in Canada blackened the sun for an entire day and townspeople thought the world must be ending.  I thought about how that day, when even the sun was blinded, might be perfect for the theft of a different eye. 

I had my villain.  I had my history.  And when the story veered in one direction so that Rena and Sarah and Katie all ended up together on Lovells to help Evie, I knew I had the right parallel; one guiding trio against another. 

Sometimes it pays to listen to that tickle in the back of the brain.
Image from Wikipedia, Perseus slaying Medusa

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

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


  1. I did not know about the black day, that must have been scary

    1. I didn't know either. This was interesting to learn. Thank you for stopping Blodeuedd.

  2. I do love mythology... even the retellings (Bubo rocks!). I love how you came back to it to really develop the story with other elements. So interesting!

    1. Melissa (B&T) Thank you for stopping! I really love learning these. :)

  3. Wonderful post, and I love how your that one tickle made all of the pieces fall into place!

  4. I am obsessed with Greek Mythology. Lovely post.

  5. I do have a strong background with Greek Mythology but not with Irish myths and folklore and, I must say, I would LOVE to learn more about it.
    A very interesting post and the book sounds fascinating!

    1. Silvia, I think this is so neat to learn the different folklores and such. :) Thank you for visiting.

  6. I tried commenting the other day at work, but that turned out to be a no-go. Silly work filters. My comment was pretty awesome too.

    Anywho, this sounds great. I love Greek mythology. Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies growing up and I watched it all the time. Go Bubo Go!

    It is always amazing how things in our childhoods have ways of creeping back and affecting us. They just linger in the backs of our minds waiting for the perfect moment to jump and shout "I'm awesome! or Remember me?"

    1. Oh no Ashley. Sorry it didn't work the other day. So glad you enjoyed the post!


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