I’m going to apologize in advance as this is going to be a little rambling – I had this conversation with myself when I woke up at 3 and struggled to get back to sleep and now, I feel the need to share some of that brain meandering.
I have been a little obsessed with mythology since I was a very tiny girl who discovered books about ancient Egypt. I blame the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for their amazing Egyptian section and my mother for letting me read what I wanted to read regardless of my age. It was only natural to venture into Greek and Roman myth after that and, where I was living at the time, there was a story hour at the local Native American museum and it was an inexpensive thing to do with a kid on weekends and my dad was the KING of cheap daddy/daughter days so we went to those regularly, so I was exposed to a broad variety of myths and legends.
The very first decent story I wrote was based on Greek mythology. In 4th grade, a group of us were participating in Odyssey of the Mind doing a play. I fairly certain the topic we were assigned was Greek mythology and this came on the heels of doing a unit on Mesopotamia and Sumeria in school and I wrote most of the play – all about Medusa. We did pretty well, coming in 3rd in the state and it was great fun. That year really cemented both my love for storytelling and for mythology. It carries on into my books now for sure.
One of the things I’m discovering is that I really have a deeper interest in the mythology of the afterlife. In Hunter’s Crossing and its sequels, the netherworld is a key part of the plots. For that one, there are bits and pieces and nods to all sorts of mythologies from around the world a bit like no one got it all but everyone got a sliver of the good information. Of course, there are a host of other myths represented in the monsters in that book. Demonborn and Long is the Way are literally about the politics of Hell creeping out onto Earth but they’re both very different. One is definitely based more on Christianity and the other more on global myth bases.
Hell is one of those topics that has always danced around the edge of my consciousness. The art I love, the stories I love, even my favorite comic books delve into the topic a bit. Old art is bound to though, really, given how prevalent religion is in that arena but Hieronymous Bosch is my favorite. He’s crazy but I love it. I always find something new to see there and, at the time, it took a great deal of bravery to depict the clergy in such a manner.
Christmas in Bear Ridge (coming this winter!!) is a different beast as it’s a lot sweeter than my usual fare but there are touches of mythology from all the major religions if you look for them (maybe I’ll make a scavenger hunt to go with the book, complete with prizes!).
Some stories – like Eldercynne Rising, Gods of the Fallen, and Guardian of the Gods, I’ve made up my own mythos. I love the mythological pantheon of the Acknivarian Cycle stories – Guardian of the Gods and the short stories published and unpublished and two other novels that got trunked for now. Writing in that universe always feels like coming home. It was my first real universe that was entirely mine. I wrote the first draft of one of those trunked books the year my oldest son was born. Only three people in the world have ever read it. It isn’t bad really but I’ve grown up a lot since then and I’m not ruling out rewriting it someday as it is Arilan’s origin story and I love her.
Part of marketing is branding so I’ve been trying to figure out what ties my stories together and, far too early this morning, I think I’ve answered my own question – it’s the myths. Mythology and magic and monsters with a little bit of sweetness and romance thrown in for good measure.