guest post: Elijah David!

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.

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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 . . .
Albion Academy.

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

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in which I interview the creator of Paper(s).

Does that title sound familiar? (If it does, kudos to you for reading this blog for so long. XD) Some of you may remember, or know of, Mirriam Neal — a twenty­-two­-year-­old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-­describe books in hard­-to­describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time. She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

A while back, she self-published Monster, a novel asking important questions such as “what makes a monster”? Now, almost three years later, she’s back at it again with a noticeably-lighter fantasy: Paper Crowns.

I had the honor of interviewing her as part of Monster‘s promotion. Now, we’re at it again with a brand-new interview, this time about Paper Crowns!

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Synopsis:
Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside­down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

 

First off, do you have any tips or hints as to working with an honest-to-goodness publishing company? Can you outline the general process of publishing Paper Crowns? Be respectful, but don’t be a pushover. If you don’t like something, speak up, and remember that your publisher didn’t have to choose your book, but they did.

If Paper Crowns had to have a main theme behind it, what would it be? any subthemes? I get asked this a lot, actually; I think people are curious because there are no blatant themes (a departure from my usual modus operandi). I wanted to tell a fairytale. That’s all I wanted to do. I suppose every decent fairytale has light versus dark, as well as the determination of the heroines and heroes. Sometimes, I think, the simplicity of good defeating bad is good theme to revisit.

If Ginny and Hal had to have a theme song, what would it be? (separately or together, like… their relationship, whatever quality it may be.) I listened to Colbie Callait’s ‘When the Darkness Comes,’ and have always viewed that as Hal and Ginny’s ‘song.’

What do you think Hal’s favorite food would be? Chocolate-covered peanuts. I’m serious.

What is your favorite part or aspect of Paper Crowns? The tone of it, I think. It’s a little sweeter, a little more simple – I wanted it to be understood by children as well as enjoyable for adults. This isn’t to say I think children need only simple stories, but it doesn’t have the gritty, complex content that most of my novels favor. It’s a nice departure sometimes.

Even now, after it’s already published, do you see random things that remind you of Paper Crowns? Paper airplanes and acorns almost always make me think of Paper Crowns.

There’s been reference to “the Paper Series”. Does this mean there are more related books to come? Definitely. Paper Dolls and Paper Chains are swirling around in nebulous form.

What, as an author, are some reads that you would consider edifying or helpful? Dorothea Brand’s ‘The Writer’s Magic,’ Stephen King’s ‘On Writing,’ and Rilke’s ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ are incredibly inspiring.

Any last words? ‘Make good art.’ — Neil Gaiman

Obligatory link section:

Mirriam’s email: the­shieldmaiden [at] hotmail [dot] com

Master list of blog tour posts

Blog

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Publisher’s page

 

12 Reasons Why I Write

“Why do you love writing so much?”

  1. I didn’t know I needed a reason.
  2. It’s a creative outlet. Don’t you always say that those are healthy? Besides, drawing is not an option– oh, you want to know why that is? Well, who ever expressed themselves properly with stick figures?
  3. All my friends are doing it.
  4. Am I allowed to answer a question with a question? (Hope there aren’t consequences.)
  5. Blunt exaggeration of an event can be excused as ‘poetic license’.
  6. I can literally write whatever I want.
  7. If I write, I can talk to others about writing. You wouldn’t believe some of the conversations.
  8. The words on the tip of my tongue leak easily down to my fingertips.
  9. I can’t not write.
  10. Because of the challenge, the puzzle, of fitting words together to convey my meaning as clearly as possible.
  11. Words are magic, simple as that. They’re lines that have a whole set of symbols and rules and structure and they make you feel so much.
  12. The sheer possibility.
{ bubbling over with noisy tirades / pens express better than razor blades. }

Ever-So-Slow…

[a/n: Sorry guys, didn’t mean to go this long without posting. my disclaimer is that I was only playing around with word combinations. this was just the result. …now I want to rewrite this in black and red.]

Falling apart ever-so-slow
Thought you’d be here till death’s final throes
Thought a lot of thing, it’s true
most of them involving you.
Thought you’d stay till the very end
Our relationship would never break or bend
All the letters you’ll never send
Bleeding, you’ve finally cut so deep, I swear I’ll never mend.
Thought you’d care, is that too much to ask?
or am I at the bottom of your list of tasks?
So many personas in this sea of masks
Silently wishing the you I knew was back
But I guess there was enthusiasm lacking.
I thought I meant something to you
Silly me! I should’ve guessed the opposite was true!
Left full of doubt and rue
See what you’ve sown?
Wish I hadn’t trusted
All your false comforts
But most of all I scream
I wish I didn’t love you!
You did this to me, you did this to me
Come look at what’s created, this catastrophe
This heart’s already black all over, unable to see
And ever-so-slowly breaking…

Unspoken For

HEY – you know the trouble you’ve caused? You had them in tears
Don’t you care anymore?
HEY – you know this is doubled by life
Don’t you dare anymore.

What’re you thinking, messing with them
SHOOT – you picking at the hem?
It’s starting to fray, you know
Decay, what do you say now
when all that’s left is shattered ties?
Guess you lost it, made your mama cry
Sister’s furious, mother’s broken
For once you could’ve said something, left words spoken
But now it’s done and nothing can replace,
recall, exonerate the truth, what in the heck did you mean to do?
now refused, condemned, the end comes, what then?
Not even trying to excuse this, don’t know the shape of your wife
is that place that important?
Fighting to get even a word in
YOU THINK WE DON’T CARE?
YOU THINK THEY DON’T CARE?
YOU KNOW HOW STRONG THEY LIKE TO SEEM
is that all now just a dream?

[A/N: true life story. guess who.]

in which I interview the creator of Pocky.

Yes, Pocky… a character in Monster, a novel that is to be released in a mere two days! [Mere, Mir… haha. XD]

There will be a giveaway on her blog tomorrow, June the Fourteenth. Mirriam won’t reveal what, exactly, she’s giving away, but no matter! It’s something Monster-ish, and that’s good enough for me. =]

The synopsis –

The year is 2053, and the world is recovering from a Morbus, a plague that swept across the globe, destroying millions of lives. Eva Stewart is a promising young WorldCure scientist assigned to a facility in Alaska where she is made a Handler and given her own human Subject for research and experimentation. What she believes to be a step up in her career becomes a nightmare when she discovers writing on her Subject’s cell wall.

“I still have a soul.”

Soon Eva is drawn into a horrific plot kept quiet by WorldCure, and as everything she knew collapses around her, she must discover the truth behind her Subject, her beliefs, and herself.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Mirriam Neal, the author, becoming the umpteenth to do so. The others are linked from her Facebook fanpage for Monster.

So here we go!

If Monster had to have a main theme behind it, what would it be? any subthemes?
The main theme behind Monster is sanctity of life. Everyone’s life, not just those we deem ‘worthy’ of it. There are a lot of sub-themes – forgiveness and unconditional love being the main two.

If Mir and Eva had to have a theme song, what would it be? [separately or together, like… their relationship, whatever quality it may be.)Oh, goodness. This question. Big Bang’s “Monster” fits best, I believe; though I’ve been sent/found myself numerous songs that strike me as very Mir/Eva-ish.

What are some of your favorite pastimes, when taking a break from writing? do you ever take a break?
I don’t usually take breaks by choice. When I get bogged down in studies or art commissions or critique work, then my writing slows down – but I carry around a notebook anyway. When I’m not writing, however, I’m probably reading, or studying Korean, or listening to music, or watching dramas.

Do you have a favorite food or beverage that you consume while writing?
Coffee and tea. I drink loads.

What do you think Mir’s favorite food would be?
I think he would love Starburst candy. I’m not sure why; but I’m pretty sure that the bright colors, different flavors, and chewiness would make them a favorite.

Considering I’ve heard there’s a character named Pocky, does he have any connection to the Asian snack?
His name was inspired by my friend Hannah’s guinea pig, Pocky. Who was named after Pocky Stix. Which I love. So yes. :D

Even now, while it’s almost published, do you see random things that remind you of Monster?
I see things that remind me of all my books everywhere I turn. It’s distracting. In a good way.

Will Monster have a sequel? were you planning it that way?
I didn’t intend for it to have a sequel originally. I was confident it would be a standalone novel, not a series. But then, people began to ask for another sequel, and give me ideas for it, and though I rejected them at first, I began to wonder if a sequel was a possibility. Most of the plot hit me in the middle of the night a few weeks ago; I’m focusing on other things now, but I’ve written the first scene in Monster 2. :)

Who can we expect the focus to be on next? Give a little bit about your next project.
Project? Single? It ought to be projectS, because I have at least five in the works, and five more in the brainstorming era! You can expect a bittersweet summer love story, a modern story about depression and love, a mixed-era urban fantasy, a Beauty and the Beast meets Jekyll and Hyde with-a-twist rewrite, and quite a few more. I hope you look forward to them! *bows*

Of course, on June Fifteenth, also known as Saturday, there will be a monster Blitz [ha!] on Amazon, so those of you who CAN buy Monster… BUY IT. EXPOUND ON THE OPPORTUNITY. please?

Thanks for reading this far and bearing with me, here. Novaer!

Mirriam Neal is a nineteen-year-old young woman who lives and breathes words. She loves reading, weird music, coddling her characters, blogging, and blue fingernail polish. Above all else, she hopes her writing shows people that fiction can be so much better than they expect.

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The Lullaby

I HAVE AN EXCUSE! …Wordpress hasn’t worked for the past week. >.< It was horrible, but now I hast a miniscene for you guys. So yeah. This is… during the first day of Adrin & Kains’ at the Fortress.

twenty-third of may, two-kay-thirteen

Shay swore he nearly stopped breathing.

He hadn’t meant to overhear them, really. But this was a favorite spot of his – He’d been planning to come here anyway –

But Adrin was curled up to Kain and singing, like Shay used to do to her when she was little. When she was little and scared of thunderstorms and monsters under the bed and came to him for comfort.

Where had the time gone?

His sister’s singing voice was rough, that was true, as if she hadn’t used it in a long time, but it was her! He hummed the tune in his head as she sang, “…shall pass like a thunderstorm, pretty if you like the pain…” Here she hummed a few notes, but from his position he couldn’t see her expression, so imagined it screwed up tight, trying to recall the next few words.

He closed his eyes.

It was summer. He was about eleven, reckless and carefree… trying to wind down for the night when the door opened the tiniest crack and a four-year-old Adrin squeezed through it. He sat up and blinked hard as another unremitting crack of lightning illuminated the house; gave just enough light with just enough time for him to spot her, scared into a statue’s countenance.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and rose, hand outstretched hesitantly, though encouragingly, as if welcoming but unsure of her reaction.

Like so many other times, she blinked and ran straight into his arms.

And he sung to her, gathering her up like the small child she was and carrying her to his small bed. Laid her down in it, all the while crooning softly the words the older Adrin was missing.

“Come here, let me hold you close – nothing to lose, everything to gain… Shh, this will all pass, just let it rain on your parade… Someday soon it will all be over…”

He turned and left the dock.

shayrin

found: http://pinterest.com/pin/137500594845016872/