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CREATE YOUR OWN MYTHOLOGY

posted Apr 30, 2019, 2:26 AM by Grace Bridges
By David Hair

“Create your own mythology” is the title of an album by American country-rock singer Kristin Diable (the best track is “Time Will Wait” which is worth the price of admission on its own, a building succession of change-ups with powerful vocals).

Creating our own mythology is also something all of us do, all the time.

Our personal mythology is in the stories we tell, to create and uphold our world. It’s that funny story you tell someone on a first date to charm them, and the dreams you share of who you want to be; it’s time you got up from your sickbed and soldiered on, or that cautionary tale about being ripped off. Your mythology contains your successes and your strivings, and its peopled with the old gods – parents, siblings, grandparents – and new gods like bosses and supervisors and coaches that have the power to reward or punish. Its heroic, tragic, comedic and mundane. It’s a good luck, bad luck, hard won story of triumph or failure or endurance.

Myths explain our world, recall ancient deeds, contain life lessons and teach us right from wrong. They’re vivid, strike to the heart of human existence, and are full of adventure, horror and romance. They’re archetypal tales that are retold in new contexts, over and again.

Mythology is a huge and fertile landscape for us to plough into. Sometimes we re-tell them verbatim, other times we apply them to our own times, or we twist them and create a new version. We seek new meanings, hidden nuances and exciting combinations. We incorporate them into our own worlds (like Marvel incorporating the Norse Gods in their cinematic universe) or put ourselves into theirs (various stories in which modern protagonists find themselves pitted against mythic beings or monsters). It’s in the nature of myths for us to redress them into our own time and place, to learn anew from them.

Some of my favourite books when I was young were mythology collections – I remember especially devouring books about King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the Greek myths. My History and Classics degree included papers on mythology. And it looms large over my creative output: if I look at the 20 books I’ve had published to date, twelve of them are directly related to mythology, and those that aren’t are still powerfully influenced by it. I’ve dipped into New Zealand mythology in my Aotearoa series, Indian myth in my Return of Ravana series, and (alongside Cath Mayo) Greek myth in the Olympus series. The first thing I want to know about any culture is their folklore, and I find it a continual inspiration in my writing.

So I’m very much looking forward to the panel discussion on the first night of GeyserCon in Rotorua (Friday 31 May 2019). I’ll be discussing the mythic influences on modern fantasy and sci-fi alongside Laura VanArendonk Baugh and J C Hart, with Grace Bridges keeping us on track. I hope you’ll come along.

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