Sunday, February 6, 2011

Guest Blog - Sapphire Phelan

Today at Me Want Food, I welcome paranormal romance author Sapphire Phelan!

Can Myths and Legends Be Translated to Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Fiction?

By Sapphire Phelan

With paranormal romances and urban fantasy so popular these days, the question is, can a writer take any myth or legend and revise it for a modern urban fantasy or paranormal romance storyline? Yes, it can be done. It has been said that there are only seven or eight storylines out there. It’s up to the author to make their story different enough for the readers to take notice.

As one who has read countless myths, legends and urban legends over the years, I find my best heroes, heroines, and villains from here. A good example is the Finmen myths from the Orkney Island. There were drowning deaths of local women in the sea and I think the people chose these stories to explain the reasons why these women were found drowned in the water. I twisted the drowning women angle and took it from Orkney Island to a beachfront in America, and the story became an erotic and dark male/male urban fantasy with romance at one point in my career. Yes, it did get published.

There are lots of weird and bizarre tales, all which had been told around campfires and hearths. Stories of ancient people’s gods and goddesses were mankind’s first fantasies and horror tales. Years later, writers took what they heard at their mother’s or father’s knee, and turned it into many great works of fiction that we still read today. Think of Dracula, Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe’s works, and H. P. Lovecraft’s stories, just to name a few.

But how does a writer of today take something that has already been told over and over and rebirth it? By twisting and tweaking the storyline here and there, new characters, updating it to a modern cityscape or even to another planet, and there you have it. What better backdrop for fantastical beings and situations than the mundane landscape we know every day of our lives? After all, how would a dragon or a unicorn or a vampire react if suddenly dropped into the middle of gang warfare, or a busy shopping day at Wal-Mart’s? What if some man standing in the checkout line at the supermarket has his body rip apart just before closing and some terrifying thing out of Lovecraftian mythos emerges? What would the ordinary cashier of that checkout do to save the customers and his fellow workers? See what I mean? Add romance to it, and a paranormal or fantasy romance is born. It can be sweet or erotic from light to heavy.

Urban fantasy is all about the odds. Mundane human beings becoming heroes or heroines, or maybe some unicorn must become the savior to save the virgin in distress. Especially if the unicorn is female and a shapeshifter and the virgin is a man. It’s all about how you play the urban legend and retool it for the fiction.

Any author searching for that new story they want to do should run and not walk to their local library or bookstore and check out the nonfiction section where books on ghost stories, myths, legends and urban legends are shelved. After all, there is no new tale, just how you update it for modern fiction.

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Go beyond the usual, instead take the unusual that stretches the boundaries and find romance with Sapphire Phelan's aliens, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and other supernatural/otherworldly heroes and heroines.

Sapphire Phelan has written and published erotic and sweet paranormal/fantasy/science fiction romance along with erotic horror stories and urban fantasy. Her erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch is a Prism 2010 Awards winner and a Epic Awards 2010 finalist.


Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

So true, Sapphire! I use real life news stories in some of my urban fantasies...what if the hunky man who charges your dead battery--I'm talking about a car now--ends up being a wolf in disguise--werewolf style? To me, that's what's fun. Taking a legend, twisting it, and making it real. :)

Sapphire Phelan said...

So true, Terry. It is fun to twist a legend or a myth for a good paranormal romance! :) Or urban fantasy!

Paul McDermott said...

Nothing wrong with this, Sapphire!Many years ago, the famous duo W.S. Gilbert & A.R. Sullivan made a point of it in "The Mikado" where Lord Pooh-Bah defends his use of untruths as
"Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

I found an Irish myth and used it in a work I'm hoping to publish soon: a Celtic "Romeo & Juliet" tragic couple, Tomas Costello and Una Bhan ... real people, and I'm proud to say distant ancestors of mine!

Jessa Slade said...

I blame an early copy of Bulfinch's Mythology for making me write urban fantasy :) Between that, Grimm, and Andrew Lang's Fairy Tale Books I was doomed.

"What if..." are the most dangerous two words in a writer's arsenal.

PamelaTurner said...

Great post, Sapphire. A couple of sources I use for inspiration are fantasy art books by Finlay Cowan: Dragons and Fantasy Beasts and Incredible Characters. Not only are the familiar myths and legendary creatures mentioned but he profiles more obscure ones that may be indigenous to a particular area or part of a long-forgotten mythos.

Sapphire Phelan said...

I remembered Bulfinch's Mythology. Read it back in high school and later, college. I can say the fairy tales, Greek myths had to read in junior high, and even my father telling me Irish tales and my mother telling me ones told her by my grandma from Czechoslavakia (when both countries were one).

clare dargin said...

Thanks Sapphire you inspired me to play around with a couple of legends that I know of!

tour medellin said...

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