Friday, November 2, 2012

"Gothic" and Fairy Folklore

I don't know when it was that my interest in the fantasy genre became a little bit more particular. I remember it wasn't that long ago that I couldn't conceive of a workable urban or mythical fantasy story.

I've written in a couple of different places now the story of my Honours year last year. I was fairly concentrated on my strict subject of fairy tales and Beauty and the Beast in particular and I just got to a point where I couldn't think about it anymore. I was a little bit ahead at the time and I thought to myself, What if I take a quick week off to just write something else. Something flippant. Something that I don't have to edit immediately or get right the first time.

That was the first draft of Gothic. It was a bit strange, actually. I'd told myself I wouldn't write a vampire story. Although I'm intrigued by the idea of writing an epic vampire novel, I just don't think that what I would put out there could compete with the multitudes of vampire fiction already in circulation. But then, Gothic isn't just a vampire story. It's also a story about a human girl, about family, about a community of werewolves. And when I thought about it that way, it didn't seem so daunting to put it out there, even in the midst of all the other vampire fiction.

In the next novel, Revelry, I'm going to be adding fairies to the mix for the first time.

In Celtic mythology, the Sidhe fairies (pronounced "shee") are seen almost as gods, or spirits of ancestors and nature of that culture. European folklore sees fairy kind as the sort who would steal human children and sometimes leave one of their own in their place. There have been countless stories and poems written around this folklore, including

"The Stolen Child" by Keith Donohue, based on the William Butler Yeats' poem of the same name. I absolutely loved this book. Donohue writes from the point of view of the group of fairies who group together to steal the child and leave a changeling in its place. He creates this beautiful mythology where every member of this group was once a stolen child, and in stealing new children and replacing them, they get to go back into the human world they've lived outside of for so long. This novel inspired a whole set of vignettes that I wrote a little over a year ago, some of which I am currently thinking of fixing up and compiling together in a book of short stories.

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