Continuing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal week, I'm pleased to present New York Times-bestselling author Rob Thurman, who likes to take mythology and turn it completely on its flea-bitten ear. I offered her Cal Leandros series up in the webinar as an example of how you can take something established and completely make it your own.
Myth-information by Rob Thurman
I’m often asked where I get my particular take on mythology. The majority of my readers recognize that I’m intentionally twisting existing myths and a few enjoy pointing out my ‘errors.’
Yeahhh, they’re not errors.
While I do love shoving myths into a wood-chipper to see what comes out the other side, enjoy putting my own stamp on tradition, what I’m actually doing is bringing mythology up-to-date. If you’re old enough to remember the trash rag, the National Enquirer, then you remember if two celebrities passed in the street, they were instantly emblazoned on the front page as having a torrid (hey, that is the only time I’ve used the word torrid) affair, cheating on their spouses, and destroying their children’s lives. It wasn’t true of course, but that’s what gossip is all about and if your ‘prey’ won’t talk to you, gossip is all you have to go on. Now we have TV trash shows for that, but the practice is the same.
Mythology is the gossip of the ancient world.
Think of the mermaid. One day a horny sailor saw his first manatee. And you’d have to be an extremely horny sailor to envision a gorgeous mermaid out of a wallowing sea cow. But apparently he was and that was the seed of the mermaid legend.
And it wouldn’t stop with mermaids. Every myth, mythological creature, mythological god would be far different than the humans of those times managed to put down on paper or pass along. If your world is inhabited by vamps, weres, fey, and a thousand monsters, do you think that, say, a lycanthrope sat down about 25,000 BC to tell their furry story to any human who came along? That’s not in their best interest to survive. If your vampires existed (as mine did), before the time of Christ, why would they fear a cross, be burned by holy water, sleep in coffins before there were coffins? They probably sat around at the weekly vamp meeting and concocted all sorts of crazy fake legendary weapons to pretend to cower from right before they ate you. Good joke for them, eh? No doubt they’d swill blood from their cups and snort blood out of their nose when the Italian vamp added garlic to the list. Hell, he probably drank his blood with ground garlic around the edge of his chalice of blood—like salt on a margarita glass.
In my universe of the Cal Leandros Novels and Trickster Novels, Puck, Pan, Robin Goodfellow is now a used car salesman (what better job for a charismatic, arrogant, slick and slippery con artist of a trickster?) And he never had goat legs. They were fur chaps long before they came into fashion. Goodfellow didn't follow the trends, he set them.
Elves are worse monsters than demons from the deepest depths of Hell. They are the bogeymen even to other monsters. Their ‘seed’ to elven legend is long white hair and pointed ears—history left out the hundreds of metallic teeth, lava-red eyes, and the insatiable desire to kill. They were the first predators—the first murderers to walk the earth.
Werewolves aren’t werewolves at all. They were once in the same evolutionary line of prehistoric wolf and split off into a species that could turn human if they wished—all the better to infiltrate their prey and gobble them up with those great big teeth, Grandma. They didn’t start out as people who can turn into wolves, they started out as wolves that can turn into people—they are were-people.
And it goes on and on. It’s your world, your universe, your rules….different, strange, mythology turned upside down is good. No, hell, it’s great. Your only limits are the ones you set on yourself.
Me? I never liked rules.
Wanna hear more? You can visit Rob Thurman on her blog or listen to her at Binwalla Radio right here (her portion starts at about 33.45).
You can also check out her very cool book videos and get her Cal Leandros widget here.