This week, The Larkin Lair is going to present you with a special treat*. Every day, leading up to Saturday, I am going to put up a post discussing the things that most inspired me as I began writing my series, Lorelei, Once. Then, on Saturday--which I think we can all agree is the best day of the week--I will post the first chapter from Book 1: Siren.
And, oh, my. I must apologize. Dayjob got a touch hectic and I forgot to post my blog for one day. To make it up, today will be a double-shot!
Mythology and the real world.
Obviously, mythology is made up of...well, myths. But if I learned anything from watching 'Bones' before they brought in Booth's dumb drama-filler doorstop of a Newsy girlfriend, it's that the word 'myth' comes from the Greek 'mythos,' meaning word.
|I loved you. Trusted you. You repayed me with a solid season of blatant relationship delay.|
It's entertainment, yeah, but it also effects our world in very real ways. Our traveling methods would be nothing without stellar navigation, and young sailors might struggle learning 'big dot, little dot, slightly smallish dot to the left,' but they can usually handle sailing towards 'Ursa Major.' Some very important lessons are taught through fairy tales (true beauty is on the inside, be kind to the weak, invite EVERY fairy to the Christening). It even bleeds into race relations, oddly enough. If someone with dark features is born into a family of light featured individuals...it's probably because their Great-Great-Grandpa had an affair with a seal.
I am speaking, now, of the selkie babes.
Ireland, Scotland, and parts of Wales apparently have a bit of a seal problem. The problem being that sometimes seals whip their skins off and reveal the hotness underneath, and poor fishermen are just sort of helpless against that hotness. If a man steals a seal's skin whilst she's bathing and either hides or burns it, he gets to keep her as his wife. She'll be, like, the best wife ever! Unless she finds that skin again. Then she lickity-splits back for the sea, abandoning her husband and any children they may have had.
|Don't pretend you're not aroused.|
There are variations to the story, of course, because that's the way lore works--in some cases, the selkies CAN be loyal, and they're more a victim to the pull of the sea than a flighty fancy. And it's not just the men folk--ladies get in on the seal action, too. One version of the story says that a woman, unsatisfied with what her own species has to offer, can summon a hunky man-seal up from the depths by shedding seven tears into the ocean. That's so romantic and vaguely sensual it makes me want to rip a bodice off a mannequin.*
But the idea of being half-seal (even half-transformed-seal) is icky. Know what else is icky? Having dark skin. Gross! Pork a dark-skinned person, and you might as well be porking a seal. You don't want YOUR kids to have seal blood, do you? So maybe just don't risk it.
That's the lesson taught by the story of the selkie babes, at least. There are similar stories for toe-headed children born into dark families--they were touched by fairies. Red-heads born in certain areas during the middle ages were at risk of being labeled witches, vampires, and/or werewolves. Same deal with freckles, birthmarks of any kind, or mismatched eyes. Colicky babies might actually be changelings--if they have a fondness for sweet things and are freaked out by iron, you should probably just...y'know, test them with fire.
A lot of these ideas have died down, but the myths persist, and so do many of the attitudes. Being different in any way means being something other than properly, dare we say it, human.
And I really wanted to reflect that in my world.
The two main countries that we hear about and/or see in Lorelei, Once are heavily inspired by England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. There are the Hightowers, who we meet in SIREN as a bickering noble family, and the rebels who oppose them. Each group responds to the forest very differently--some try to make bargains with (or even to trick) the denizens of the forest, some are more willing to be guided, some are dismissive of the whole affair.
This is partly because of their stations in life (there are members of high royalty, members of lower royalty, and then the dirty dirty rebels with their leathers and furs and weapons and such), but mostly because of how their homelands deal with the spiritual side of their world. Where one character comes from, fae lands are within neighborhood barbeque distance. Some others have the stranger things in life blended into their own, and as a result have a healthy respect for it all.
One--and I won't say which one--is a selkie babe. And being raised in a world that saw her as unclean, simply for having been born, had a definite effect on her attitude towards...everything. Her opinion of her country, of other countries, and of herself is very much tied to that one myth.
Which I wouldn't even know about, if First Wife hadn't explained to me why she was darker than the rest of her incredibly Irish family.
According to her grandfather, anyway.
*But not off of an actual man or woman. Bodices are fancy and expensive and I don't think that would be a great way to start any date. It would definitely put an end to one, though.