Monday, May 13, 2019

Mythical Monday #78: Exploring Another World

Art work by: @Burntlaughter on Twitter

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

There are many different Mythology's 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.

Exploring Another World
By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

This one is a bit about mythology, but also about culture and folklore and legend…not always the same thing. Long, long ago, many lifetimes gone by, I wrote a book. It was about Celtic myth and legend in the modern day. “Irish elves in New York City, fighting evil demigods,” is how I describe it. I had fun with it. (The title, if you are curious, is Yesterday’s Dreams. It has two brothers, Tomorrow’s Memories and Today’s Promise.) In the course of the tale I incorporated gypsies as they (or their traveler cousins) are a part of Irish culture. Please forgive the use of the term “gypsy,” the book was written in a time before cultural sensitivity became prevalent, it is in no way meant as the slur it actually is.

The book was also written before the outcry of cultural appropriation.

How is that relevant? My newest book, Eternal Wanderings, is an offshoot of the original trilogy and rather than taking place in New York or Tir na nOg, as the other three books do, this one takes place right in the heart of a Romani caravan. I wrestled with myself over this. Will the Rom take offense? Will others take offense on their behalf? In the end, I had no choice, this was the logical progression for the remaining storyline and the characters involved. And many other stories already written established the part the Rom play in this universe. To diverge would have omitted a vibrant part of the storyline and left gaping holes in the reality.

I plunged forward and the journey was fascinating.

There is so much history for the Romani people. Some is myth of another story. Some is legend grown out of ages of suffering and persecution. The Rom are a superstitious people with very strict rules of conduct. Family is very important as is cleanliness. Spirits are to be respected and evil guarded against. I incorporated as much as I could of the Romani essence. Their rituals and their beliefs, their day-to-day practices and even the discrimination they face to this day. I combed accounts and studied photographs and read as many Romani sites as I could find to respectfully and accurately portray these people. Any errors are strictly my own.

One of the Romani beliefs that played heavily into Eternal Wanderings is the muló. The vengeful spirit of the dead, also called a revenant or vampire, one who died of unnatural causes and will come back to haunt, torment, or kill one that has done them wrong. Because of this belief, there are many traditions surrounding death and the need to appease the deceased. When a member of the Rom passes no one of the clan may touch the dead body for fear of marimé, or contamination. The body is cleaned and dressed in the person’s best clothes and the nose packed with wax (by someone not of the clan). No one speaks until the dead is buried. Those of the clan dress in white (for purity) or red (protection against evil) and a grand procession takes place with much wailing and moaning to show proper mourning.

Another tradition is burning the person’s possessions to ensure there is nothing with a connection to them remaining (lest the object serve as an invitation or gateway for the person’s muló to return. Because this is a hardship for a people with financial concerns it is acceptable to sell certain items to those outside of the clan, but not for a profit. Horses were also excluded from being destroyed.

Because it is important to show respect to the dead and not to anger them, my character, Kara O’Keefe, is granted permission to travel with the clan, though outsiders generally are not welcome, because the clan must honor the wishes of one of their number who died in the original trilogy. Kara is the lens through which we observe the contrast between the world we know and the world the Romani have built for themselves.

Won’t you come explore with me and discover more of the rich, vibrant culture that is the Rom?

Author Bio:
Award-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (

Her published works include six novels, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and Eternal Wanderings, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats.

To learn more about her work, visit or www.especbooks.

Twitter!/DMcPhail and!/eSpecBooks
Amazon author page

Kickstarter for In Harm's Way (funded and will happen).

You can find on Amazon:


Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh this looks interesting and I'm glad you see the slur acknowledged. Oh and I love those covers!

Danielle Ackley-McPhail said...

Thanks, Melissa. I had a lot of fun writing it, though it was a challenge. I walked a fine line.