Friday, September 18, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Story

Earlier this week I was at our college library perusing the books for sale and came across a book that didn't look like it was going to bore me to tears. (It's the book in the picture right there mmkay.)

This gave me an idea. Urban Fantasy is drowning in the three big F's -- fur, fangs, and fey. Werewolves, vampires, and so many damned fair folk it's enough to make someone want to stab out their eyeballs with a silver-coated wood-tipped lead stake. Magic users are vying for space on the shelves, Djinn are sneaking their way in as well, and other shape shifters of the non-wolf variety are doing anything they can to get attention.

Don't get me wrong, I like all of them, but there's a common theme there. It's called Northern Europe. Yeah, yeah, there are vampire myths from all over the world, but I'm pretty sure most people think of the Transylvanian variety. And let's face it, the popular werewolves are the kind in close proximity to said vampires. The only creatures you can't really pin to America or Northern Europe are the Djinn, and there aren't many of them.

The Mythology book caught my eye and lit one little flickering lightbulb in my head. There are almost no stories in UF about Greek-related mythology. In fact the only one I can think of off the top of my head is in the Young Adult section. Hi there, Percy.

I haven't read any of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. That's probably a good thing for now, because I won't unconsciously make a decision to insert all-too-familiar situations / people / creatures into my NaNo. But Percy is on my to-read list, so I'll read him after NaNo. I gotta read him soon anyway because they're making a movie and of course I'll see the movie.

Anyway, I did some preliminary internet searches to find some inspiration. Of particular interest are the Fates and the Furies. My initial guess is that any fiction with Greek mythology themes probably involve the Fates in some way. They seem like good writing fodder. (My thoughts immediately go to the old crones in the Disney movie Hercules.) Zeus, that manwhore, is more good story fodder, and I'll probably use him.

But how am I going to tie this to my current cast of characters?

I have some ideas. I'll let them stew for a few more days before I share.

Today's moment of zen:



Anonymous said...

We must be sharing the same mental frequency because I ditched UF this year in favor of Dark Age Fantasy (5-8 century Europe with some elements of the 9-11th) around the Mediterranean. Lots of Greco-Roman stuff (I love mythology, learned English though it).

It helps that I'm reading Joseph Campbell right now.

As for the UF tropes, you forgot leather, tramp stamps and bums/butts!


P.S. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Sassee B said...

We're on the same wavelength because Greco-Roman stuff is just plain awesome. Also, it's because we win at life.

I haven't read Joseph Campbell. What's his stuff like?

Also, lol, I didn't forget the leather etc... it's just that the imagery doesn't usually make it into the actual books (unless you happen to be LKH). Cover art trends is an entirely different post topic ;)

Anonymous said...

It's mid-century (20th that is) talk about the concept of the "Monomyth" (the concept at the heart of Star Wars also known as "The Hero's Journey").

His theory is that all myths are one and the same.

He relies heavily on Freud/Jung (psychoanalysis) for his analysis of world myths and the points in common. He is also into adverbs, lots and lots of adverbs. Still well worth a read.

I'm reading his classic: The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

A good place to start (before picking up the book) is on the related wikis (, as well as TV Tropes (under any subheading with the word Call such as

Well worth the read, at least as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

Also check out The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference and The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. Both books are great references for all things pre-Renaissance.

Anonymous said...

One of our fellow AWers has a Furie-based book coming out, or that just came out-- I'll have to check on the release date. But you're right -- the prettified supernaturals of We. Europe are waaay overdone. New authors have wither got to find a new way to deal with old hat, or move on.

I've always been curious about fairytale retellings. Not exactly new stuff, but there's so much that can be done with it, and so much to choose from. Maybe one day I'll give it a shot.