Writing Unusual Paranormals
In a review for my story “Water Woman”, which is included in Roane Publishing’s “Masked Hearts” anthology, the reviewer commented that they needed to research the paranormals in my tale because she had no clue what they were (for the record, the paranormal beings were a Spanish water woman and an African two-horned horse resembling a unicorn).
I consider this to be a compliment. One of the things I try to do in my paranormal stories is to draw from the rich mythological folklore throughout the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies but they’re not the only supernatural beings out there.
Shifters are terrific, but there are many other species than wolf. Anything could potentially be a shifter (although I imagine a shifter chipmunk might be of limited effectiveness). If I want to write about a fairy why not go to some of the European mythology and draw on the less benign fairies that lurk in other legends? When I dig into the early origins of some of the modern versions of fairy tales I am surprised at how bloodthirsty they can be. That’s where the fun begins.
Instead of Santa Claus what about Mikulás, the Hungarian version of our more familiar Christmas figure, or Sinterklaas, the Dutch one? I didn’t know until recently that a hobgoblin was once considered to be a friendly household spirit, but was made into a wicked goblin with the rise of Puritanism. That sounds like a fun tale to tell—the misunderstood modern day goblin trying to restore his good reputation. Hmm. I sense a story coming on. There are many examples like these, beings whose stories have gotten twisted through the centuries and are just ripe for a sympathetic retelling.
I examine all sorts of other folklore and explore philosophies that I have no direct knowledge of to weave my tales. I had no awareness that December 6th was Saint Nicholas Day until I researched Sinterklaas for a now abandoned Christmas novella. When I mentioned the date to my Austrian friend he knew it right away. Looking it up I realized there was a whole set of traditions I didn’t know about. Researching the more unknown mythological figures gives me insight into parts of the world I haven’t been exposed to. It’s like going on a guided tour without leaving my desk. Around the World in Eighty Days has nothing on me.
I also like to spin the notion of a supernatural being on its ear, as with the goblin above. History is written by the winners and it’s easy to think that some of the more so-called sinister beings in mythology are ones who were on the losing end of historical writings. Gorgons and banshees come to mind. Pre-Christian traditions have some wonderful figures who make terrific characters. Or the traditions of Latin America or Africa. I always try to be careful and honor the origins that the beings come from, and hopefully haven’t made too big a mess of it to date.
About the Author:
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