Monday, October 14, 2013

Mythical Monday (29)

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 & Young Adult author
Lilith Saintcrow
Talking of Vampires.

Revisiting again and again

I’ve often said that any treatment of a folklore/mythological/fairtytale creature says more about the interpreter than about the creature itself.

A good myth is a shapeshifter, or, more precisely, a screen upon which the storyteller projects her own deep-held ideas. Any good monster, mythological or otherwise, can be revisited again and again, each form speaking volumes about the artist and the cultural medium s/he is swimming in.

Take, for example, vampires. They’ve embodied the deep-seated fears of the Victorian era (Dracula and Carmilla, in their different ways), ambivalence about technology (the Horla), wish-fulfillment fantasy (Twilight), sexual transgression (too many to count), raging against mortality and loneliness (Lestat), dreamlike cannibalistic family secrets (the Scarabae), fears of modernity and the paradoxical fear of the past (Don Simon Ysidro), and—well, the list is well-night endless.

In my own books, the vampire ranges from the delicious predatory wickedness of the Nichtvren in Dante Valentine’s world to the mindless, cartilage-boned, ugly scurf of Jill Kismet’s. There’s the noir-ish detective in A Standup Dame and the small, fragile, imperiled child of the upcoming Fireside Magazine story Maternal Type. My first YA series hinged on hate-filled, murderous vampires and their half-human children, locked in a seemingly-eternal battle. There’s even vampires in The Damnation Affair, though you’d have to scratch off a little of the dust and zombies to find them.

I have a couple theories about what makes vampires such Protean creatures. The one I like best is that the mineral traces of the myth—blood, decaying corpses, a loved one reaching from beyond the grave to drain the living—are buried in the deep rich soil of universal human fears and experiences. (I won’t tell you some of my other theories. Not just now.)

To be a storyteller, or indeed any kind of artist, is to drive a taproot into that dirt and soak up those traces. Much of how any artist approaches a monster depends on the shape of their seed, and the particular traces in the cultural soil they’re rooted in. The end result are flowers fantastical, strange, grotesque, or luminous, but you can tell they’re all related. The next iteration of your favourite monster may well just be another strain of flora in the jungle.

In the end, all monsters are fun to play with when you’re writing a story. But be careful.

Some of them bite.

Author Bio:
Lili Saintcrow was born in New Mexico (which probably explains everything, given the nuclear testing) and spent her childhood bouncing around the world as a military brat. She fell in love with writing in second grade and has done it obsessively ever since. She currently resides in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her children, dogs, cat, and assorted other strays, including a metric ton of books holding her house together.

Find Lilith at:
Site & Blog:  Ragged Feathers
Facebook:  Lilith Saintcrow Author Page
Twitter:  @Lilithsaintcrow
Google+:  Lilith Saintcrow

Lilith's books: (click the image to find on Amazon)


Melliane said...

Oh I love the books, Thanks for the great post, it was nice to know more and now I want to go back to all your series I have in my TBR pile.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Fun post. That is one of the reasons I love UF... it's the world of the characters and their own mythology.

Silvia said...

Great post and I agree with Melissa!
I'll be sure to check these books out ;)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Melliane, so glad to hear you enjoyed them. :) I need more time so I can get through all of Lilith's series. :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Melissa (B&T) Yes, same for me with UF. ;)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Thank you Silvia! Hope you like what you find with these books. :)

Alexia561 said...

Great post! It's always fun to see what kind of spin an author puts on a particular mythology!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Thank you for visiting Alexia. This is so neat to hear from authors and how they spin differently on the same creation but in different series. :)