Breaking Myths and Religious Fables:
AKA How I write a novel
by Kristi Charish
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…
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 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.
AISFP Podcast: http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com
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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