Making Myths Plausible
We grow up hearing about myths and legends without even realizing what they are. Everything from Little Red Riding Hood to the Greek tales of gods and demi-gods to King Arthur and Robin Hood and even the more modern urban legends like Bloody Mary. By the time we are old enough to analyze the stories at school they have become part of us and we have absorbed their lessons.
The oldest stories were morality tales and warnings given to society through entertainment (this still happens as TV and movies reinforce society’s values: like violence is fine but naked bodies OMG!). Urban legends reinforce fear of the unknown something which humans are still primed to feel, but they also become rites of passage for teens.
When started writing paranormal romance I wanted people to be able to step into a world that could exist alongside our own. Writing the Shadowlands series gave me the opportunity to create a myth from scratch, that of the cursed Celtic King who became a goblin. I still have readers emailing me to ask where I found that obscure story which I take as a massive compliment as I made it up.
When I was writing that story I was careful to keep in mind that stories change over time, that the truth had probably been lost, and most importantly I tied the myth of The Goblin King to real world events and I also researched known goblin lore so that I could incorporate those ‘truths’.
In some ways creating my own myth was simpler than using established myths as I had free rein to create what I wanted. Established myths need more care as they are already part of our communal knowledge and deviating too far could jerk the reader out of the story.
When starting the Annwyn series about fairies I spent a lot of time researching trying to work out what to use and what to discard—there is so much out there and so many tales. In the end I selected a few main players like the King and the Lord of the Hunt as well as a few common things about fairies. But then I had to work why these things were real so my fairies could come to life in the reader imagination.
Why did fairies of old like to claim first born children? Or trick humans out of their souls, or even take humans to Annwyn?
Because fairies need a human to reproduce was the answer. The old first born line was actually first born in Annwyn (thus making the child fairy).
The changeling lore was the next thing I had to tackle. Old lore says changelings were fairy children switched at birth…but what if a changeling was a child born in our world but with one fairy parent, thus the child belonged in neither world truly.
For every piece of lore I used or created it had to make sense and be believable. For me this is part of my world building. As long as I know why, I can build up a story and weave fact and fiction together.
A big one that I used in the Annwyn series was historical plagues. What if they were caused by fairy strife in Annwyn? Given that Annwyn exists in the gap between life and death that seemed plausible…especially if the veil between the worlds got damaged. This also gave me the chance to look at modern outbreaks and diseases that could make a comeback to incorporate in the Lord of the Hunt.
I find it’s the touch of reality that brings old myths to life again.
Temptation in a Bottle is my second genie story. These stories are a little of my own myth and a little bit of genie lore. A genie can’t exist without his bottle, and always has to serve the person who freed him. How he got in the bottle was up for debate…so I went ahead and made my own creation myth.
Imagine being a god or goddess at the time when Christianity was becoming popular and the people stopped worshipping you? I imagine that most gods wouldn’t have taken it lying down, so I have Inanna the goddess of love and war creating her sexy genies to remind people of her and what it’s like to have fun and celebrate instead of worshipping on their knees.
Thus my Inanu were born and popped into their bottles, ready to make women’s fantasies come true.
While the idea was simple, making the guys believable meant again referring the past and things that had happened while they had been set free and then there needed to be some culture shock in those first few moments when they are first out of their bottle. As for getting free and becoming real men? Of course the goddess of love was going to leave an out
Writing paranormal romance is a lot of fun, but unlike fantasy or sci-fi romance (which I also love writing) it has to be grounded in reality otherwise the reader loses the suspension of disbelief. That delicate moment where they believe that maybe the world isn’t as ordinary as it seems.
It’s that moment that I love to create where maybe, just maybe, there is something a little bit more magical in our world that what we initially thought.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally.
With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Sourcebooks.
You can find out more at www.shonahusk.com