Breaking Myths and Religious Fables by Kristi Charish (GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY)

Breaking Myths and Religious Fables:
AKA How I write a novel
by Kristi Charish

Like most authors out there I loved stories from a very young age, particularly myths of the Eastern European variety (thank a Ukrainian heritage and monsters that actually eat the children). One of the things I loved about the myths (besides the fear induced from cannibalistic witches eating children) was how they would morph and change depending on the author or even the country/region the story originated from. In a lot of ways, myths and legends are tapestries that reflect the distinct population and community who are doing the telling.

When I was finally introduced to religion in an academic sense through public school, I saw more similarities in the deities and biblical characters with myths than I saw differences. In fact, most religions that survive today share similar plot threads with myths that reflect the things that often preoccupy our minds, such as death, greater purpose, and a perceived struggle between good vs evil.

As I’ve moved from scientist to author though, the thing that has really struck me is how plastic the details in religious fable, myths, and legends are. Characters and plots change depending on who is telling the tale. Whether the stories are Christian, Hebrew, Islamic, or tales that pre-date modern religion, the archetype characters are often the same but the details and origins change. A great example of this is Saint Moses from Abyssinia, who depending on who you ask is portrayed as everything from impoverished saint to a fleeing Ethiopian prince, an escaped Egyptian slave and thief. It all depends on which legend you consult. This morphing nature of myths and legends is a theme I’ve embraced in all my writing, taking both modern and ancient religious characters from fables and warping them to suit my tale.

The best yarns are routed in a grain of truth.

Why do I find myself preying so much upon common themes in mythical stories? For one, I love the transformative aspect of writing. But more importantly, the best stories (and lies, the line is very grey) are routed in grains of truth. Whether it’s reimagining the legend of King Solomon or the origins of Dier Dar Musa, the mysterious Syrian Monastery of Moses the Abyssinian, or even taking famous mythological characters such as Hermes and placing them in a modern setting, if it’s done well it pulls your readers in. Our reading noses respond to something that smells familiar.

All my stories have involved setting myths and religion on their heads. Besides adding to the fabric of a story, I think this remolding does something else; it makes us rethink the purpose of these legends and fables and gives them a modern resonance. Myths and legends are plastic by nature, and when they’re forced to maintain their shape they stagnate (many a biblical story comes to mind) and risk loosing their relevance and cultural appeal. In my mind that’s a sure fire way to kill a story, and it strikes me as incredibly tragic. (Marauding armies and dissenting peasants throughout history also have a fantastic record killing off stories, and are still doing so spectacularly in modern times).

Will feathers be ruffled by some of my reimagining? My version of King Solomon and the origin of a particular Syrian temple might very well, but I think more than anything it’ll get people to think and ask questions, which is always one of my goals…

Well, that and tomb raids/snake chases. Can’t have enough of those.

I want to leave off thanking Bob for having me back on Beauty in Ruins. For those out there not in the know, I don’t think there is another blogger out there who hosts as many Canadians as Bob, and he deserves a huge round of applause…

It likely has something to do with the fact that Bob is in fact a manifestation of Thoth, the displaced Egyptian deity of writing. Currently waiting out his banishment from the Nile in our tumultuous times for failing to embrace the new alphabets (he always preferred hieroglyphs- possibly a miscalculation and mistake in retrospect), Thoth-Bob found his way to the East coast of Canada where he’s set himself up as the watcher of writers in his adopted homeland (Even though they don’t use hieroglyphs- still a point of contention). Diminished in- though never absent of – his mythical power, Thoth-Bob’s temple now consists of the internet platform you see here, Beauty in Ruins, where he grants authors what influence over the writing world he still wields.

But like all Gods, Thoth-Bob is fickle and tempestuous in his praise…Beware the angering of Thoth-Bob at your peril…

And make sure to sacrifice bacon.

I have it from the ever-reliable Facebook that Thoth-Bob accepts bacon as an offering for his favours, preferably maple smoked.

But not Tim Horton’s - NEVER Tim Horton’s. The great and mighty Thoth-Bob does not appreciate the soup and sandwich line-ups when they should only be selling donuts….


About the Author

Kristi Charish is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon & Schuster), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment in the Owl series, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Oct 5th 2015, and the third and fourth installments, OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI, and OWL AND THE TIGER THIEVES, will be released in 2016 and 2017. THE VOODOO KILLINGS, book 1 in her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, is out May 10th, 2016.

Kristi is also the Canadian co-hosting half of the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast and has a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.


About the Book

Owl and the City of Angels
by Kristi Charish

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels...


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  1. All cultures and religions share similarities when it comes to many of the stories handed down. Like the story of the ark - even American Indians have stories about a man who made a boat and took animals with him during a great flood. (Although for me personally, the story in the Bible is the real one.)
    Congratulations, Kristi!

    1. Thanks, Alex! That one is definitely a common theme. I almost used it in the article as well.

  2. Kristi: Will "The Voodoo Killings" be released in the US in a Kindle version? The linked Amazon page makes no mention of this.

    1. That's a great question you've asked, Simon! ;-) Short answer: I don't know yet.
      Longer Answer: the US digital rights are still up in the air as I'm with the Canadian wing of RH. I'm really optimistic they'll be picked up shortly, but with oublishing you never know- depending on timing the us Kindle version may be delayed. HOWEVER, folks in the US will be able to grab the physical version via Chapters/Indigo,, and (fingers crossed) Book Depository. Not an uncommon situation at all. A Similar thing happened to Ian Hamilton's Ava Lee series as it's also Canadian...however, adding it to amazon wishlists and goodreads can help. Long answer but I find publishing fascinating:-D

  3. What what *sputter* how can anyone not appreciate the soup and sandwiches at Timmy's? Yeah okay their Timbits rock, but so does their chili. God, I miss their chili.

    Congrats on the news of your upcoming books, I'm looking forward to diving into the next Owl adventure and checking out your new series next year :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. Never argue with a God- especially Thoth-Bob :-)
      And thanks Mogsy! Not sure what's happening w the US but we'll figure something out for Voodoo Killings! :-)

    2. In my defense, it was less a rant against their food and more against the fact the unnecessary diversity of their menu . . . and spending 20 minutes in line while the car ahead orders $27 worth of wraps, sandwiches, soups, bagels, iced coffees, and steeped teas.:)


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