Today author Elijah David is here to talk about an interesting subject: how to mix mythologies! Elijah recently published Albion Academy – links to more information are at the bottom of this post.
Is a Djinni just a trickster? Can a wizard only learn magic? Must a Valkyrie always ferry the dead?
For Mortimer, Merlin, and Bryn, it seems the fates have already written the ends of their stories. When Mortimer asks unorthodox questions, the Djinni Elders exile him to a human school of magic—Albion Academy. Merlin’s friendship with a mortal only increases his mother’s determination for him to live up to the heritage of his ancestors. And Bryn’s prophetic sisters outright declare that her fate is tethered to Mortimer, Merlin, and the mysterious door in the school’s basement.
As the three of them struggle against the constraints of their families’ expectations, they find themselves inexorably drawn into a conflict that encompasses rogue Faeries, dangerous mortals, and sorcerers hidden in Albion Academy itself. Defying their fates might be the only way they survive their first year at . . .
Thanks for having me today!
One aspect of Albion Academy that is both fun to write (and, I hope, to read) and difficult to convey to inquiring minds is the strange mix of mythologies that exists within the world of the book. If Tolkien disliked Lewis throwing Father Christmas in with his talking animals, Northern witches, dwarfs, fauns, and dryads in Narnia . . . let’s just say he’d probably have a conniption fit over Albion Academy. The main characters hail from Arabic, Arthurian/British, and Norse mythology. Accompanying them are figures from Celtic faerie lore, Shakespeare’s plays, Native American legends (in the sequel, at least), Greek mythology, and wherever you choose to pull your mermaid stories from.
How do you take figures from such varied backgrounds and stick them together without it turning into a muddled mess? It’s as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it, but here’s an idea of how you might go about mixing mythologies in 5 easy steps.
Step 1. Choose your base myth(s) and add them to the pot.
When I went into the early drafts of Albion Academy, the only myth I knew I wanted to use was Arthurian legend. I started with Merlin, Vivienne, Arthur, and others, and used their characters as a starting point. Their story was the foundation of the book.
Step 2. Add complementary myths to your foundational story.
I don’t remember who I added first, Mortimer or Bryn, but they came into the mix pretty quickly. As a Djinni, Mortimer had the ability to infuse the story humor, chaos, and danger. Bryn’s Valkyrie heritage gave me a chance to explore Norse myths a little more deeply and provide a balance to the Merlin-Mortimer relationship. (There’s something to be said for trios; Kirk/Spock/McCoy, Harry/Ron/Hermione, etc.)
Step 3. Sprinkle additional myths and legends for seasoning.
Another early addition was Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He showed up mostly because I love his character and because he does what he wants. But his addition spices up the story by giving more insight into Vivienne’s history, to say nothing of the danger he creates by simply walking in the room.
Step 4. Don’t get too fancy with the spices!
While it can be fun to throw every myth you’ve ever loved into a single story, too much too quickly can overcomplicate the matter. It’s like putting too much sage (or worse, poultry seasoning) in the cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving. It takes away from the perfect balance of flavor that you’re trying for. If any single element/myth begins to overwhelm the rest, you either have to cut it back (or excise it completely) or move it to its own story/novel/sequel. It’s difficult, but it has to be done for the sake of the story.
Step 5. Mix well until the flavor of the story is where you want it.
This goes hand in hand with the previous step. Don’t let anything in your new mixed mythology overshadow the rest (unless of course, you’re aiming for an Arabian Nights retelling with a Celtic infusion and just want a little bit of your ancillary mythologies). But the biggest thing to do when you’re mixing mythologies is to enjoy it and have fun with the different things you can do mashing these various ideas together. Like most aspects of creative writing, it’s not a science.
I hope this helps you mix up some mythological combinations of your own! Let me know if you have any questions about combining myths or Albion Academy in the comments.
Elijah David works as a copywriter and content editor at a Chattanooga advertising agency. He holds an MA in English (UTC) and is a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild. An avid reader of fantasy, he started writing Albion Academy when a trio of fictional characters grabbed his attention and wouldn’t let go. He is currently working on the second of four planned books in the world of Albion Academy. In addition, he edits and contributes to the Tolkien journal Silver Leaves. As far as he knows, Elijah’s only magical ability is putting pen to paper. His blog can be found at http://elijahdavidauthor.blogspot.com.
Amazon Product Page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946469386
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33868270-albion-academy