The myth made me do it….
There’s nothing new under the sun. What goes around comes around. If you live long enough, you can be original. Every story ever told has already been told (in other words, there are only two, or twenty, or thirty-six plots –depending on which plotters’ manual you prefer– and someone has already explored them.).
Fairy tales, the Arabian Nights, Arthurian legends and classical myths are popular inspirations for authors today (including me), just as they’ve always been since the days of the unknown author of Beowulf, and of Chaucer, and of Shakespeare.
By the way, one of my best friends is the niece of the late Sir Richard Burton (the adventurer and formidable swordsman who translated the Kama Sutra). She’s quite a bit older than I am.
“Fractured” fairy tales were the fashion when I was a schoolgirl. In those chaste days, the big surprise was that Red Riding Hood shot the bad wolf. Last year, fractured fairy tales were all the rage all over again in my daughter’s school. Now, Red Riding Hood is streetwise, and talks to all the animals… as in “Hoodwinked” (the cartoon).
Regency faery tales were hot (in more ways than one) fifteen to twenty years ago.
Moreover, these timeless tales of magic, morality and universal truths adapt very well to most genres of Romance fiction. Obviously, in Fantasy the faeries may or may not have wings, and the Elves may be tall and royal and very Legolas.
In Erotica the dragons may have the hots for smooth-skinned maidens, and the dungeons come with beds. In Paranormal and Goth and Dark the old morality of the fairy tales turns on its head, and the horrors become the heroes.
I was chatting on the radio with Cindy Spencer Pape last weekend, and I fastened with great tenacity and glee on a thorough modern twist she’d given to one of her werewolf heroes in “Curses”. He’d had a vasectomy, but there was a problem.
Oh, joy! I love that stuff. Biology is one of the three sciences. My idea of sci-fi romance embraces biology with enthusiasm…. that, and forensics. Cindy’s werewolf had preternatural powers of regeneration, so his body re-grew the vas deferens, and he became potent with alarming rapidity, and got someone into trouble.
To think I thought it was cooool when a vet (Josh Artemeier, “Pet Hates”) told me that werewolves can’t –or shouldn’t—eat chocolates! It isn’t good for their tempers or their irritable bowels.
And then, not last, and not least, (I haven’t touched Time Travel, or ghostly cowboys, or Wagon Train in outer space –ie Battlestar Galactica) there’s science fiction romance and futuristics, which is what I write.
Which myths have you retold, or seen used well?
The myths from which I’ve borrowed include The Abduction of Persephone (Forced Mate), Helen of Troy (Mating Net and also Knight’s Fork), Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head (Knight’s Fork), Perseus and Andromeda (Knight’s Fork), Tantalus (Knight’s Fork). There are more, of course.
As for which myth made me do what…?
Can you guess?
The operative myth was the legend of Helen of Troy. The problem with a Helen of Troy heroine is that New York Romance editors tend to frown on a happy ending for adulterers. How to get around that? She could have been entranced… but the Stockholm syndrome doesn’t make the hero look good. She could have been abused.
That has so been done!
So, I made her husband, the King, genetically incompatible, gave him really strange genitalia (but in the best possible taste), and obliged her to go after a specific public figure to ask him to be her sperm donor.
Imagine. Without putting names or faces to any particular world leader, just suppose the world’s paparazzi happened to be staking out the gentleman’s hotel room. Imagine the scandal…