Wildflowersinohio's Blog

From The Write Side of My Brain

Writing Modern Mythology October 3, 2012

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One trend I love–when it’s done well–are contemporary takes on mythological creatures or fairy tales, fables and the kinds of legends that are deeply embedded into our subconsciousness. I just finished trying my hand at a short story inspired by the Deer Woman myth found in many Native American cultures.

The “Deer Woman” is a shape shifting mostly malignant creature set out to destroy men that aren’t choosy about their sexual partners. The idea in Native American cultures was most likely to use this myth to encourage their young men to shun playing the field and focus on finding a good wife and building a strong family. In my take, the young man is a reclusive hunter. My “Deer Woman” uses him in a desperate ploy to protect her children from being slaughtered by him and other hunters.

If you’ve ever seen the television series “Grimm“, that’s a bit like what I was going after.The magical realism of that on going and complex story about the underground war between “Wesen” works because there is a connection to traditional Old World European fairy tales (à la Brothers Grimm) and a modern yet slightly off kilter contemporary setting of Portland, Oregon. And anyone who’s ever been to Portland can agree it’s a bit different there from say, here in Ohio. It rains so much in Portland it seems like almost anything there can grow and thrive.The techniques they use in Grimm to deliver this story fact mixed with myth create situations which almost seem plausible to explain most of what you see.

Not quite a fairy tale but another recent foray into magical realism I’ve been perusing is the novel “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter“.  The novel moves along in part like a historical biography which somehow gives the impression that it’s unquestionably true. It’s full of fantastical vampire slayings and crazy feats of badassery on the part of old Honest Abe himself. So crazy it might just work, eh??

Because fact is sprinkled in, I have ask myself where truth ends and fantasy begins, they dovetail so seamlessly into what I already know about the 16th President. Maybe a serious scholar specializing in Lincoln would be less impressed. It’s not easy to pull off that kind of believable mythology but the result is a fairy tale, fable or legend contemporary adults can buy into.

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