Thank you to Lissa for letting me write a post for her blog and helping to promote Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. With this being the final volume of my fantasy adventure series, I’ve looked back at some of the influences.
One of the biggest ones has been mythologies and folklore, which I went to when it came to designing the Windemere pantheon and monsters. A few minor characters took names from mythology that I liked and it helped forge their personalities, but it had a bigger impact on the world building side of things. This is fairly common in fantasy too with some authors being more blatant than others. I’d put myself in the middle since I always tried to put my own twist on certain things. Still, I can’t deny that mythology had a hand in the creation of Windemere, so I’ll fess up and explain the major areas.
When I was creating the gods and goddess of Windemere, I looked to Greek mythology to get ideas on how they should act. Fantasy stories tend to have either a multitude of deities for each race that have a clear influence or talk about a small amount that people aren’t sure ever existed. When I saw how often the Olympians got involved in mortal affairs, I wanted to go for that type of world. The gods and goddesses clearly exist because people have seen them and they show up at times. Yet, there was still one really big problem. What’s the point of having heroes and villains if gods are mucking about and can get things done themselves?
The answer came from other stories where mortals turned against the gods and threatened or even killed them. I imagined that happening to the scale where these powerful immortals that control the world are made to feel vulnerable and weak for the first time in their existence. Those who survived would think about how it came about and new gods that ascended from the ranks of mortals would implement the Law of Influence. Now, they have to work through mortal agents and visions. Getting physically involved is a risk and punishable by being sealed for whatever time is deemed necessary. In this case, I looked at what mythology did and created an answer to the problem of gods getting involved in everything.
Mythology is filled with large events that explain the creation of the world and various natural occurrences. I wondered if ancient people looked at these as history instead of fiction like we do today. Okay, I didn’t get struck by a lightning bolt, so we can continue. This thought led me to create several big events that changed the world and are talked about by the characters in the same way we discuss our history. These have a magical taste to it like the Great Cataclysm that altered the entire face of Windemere or the ancient Race War where the 8 great dragons pitted the lesser species against each other. Every major event required that I take at least a peek at mythology to see if there was anything I could work with to give me some extra inspiration.
This is actually the big one because mythology is chock full of beasties that can suit every fantasy author’s need. I did design my own creatures for some scenes, but those are typically throwing animal parts together until you get something functional. I have this sudden hunger for hot dogs now. Weird. Anyway, I have a book called ‘The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures’ and I crack that open whenever I’m having trouble with a monster. Sometimes I take the whole thing while other times I use the name and design around it. The thing with mythology is that it isn’t as detailed here as your audience might want you to be. You really only get the appearance, eating habits, and a few other tidbits. Even then, you could run into multiple versions of the same critter.
The best example is one of my favorite monsters to use. I didn’t have to do much research for the Griffin/Griffon/Gryphon because it’s fairly popular. People always know that these monsters have the head/front body/rear body of an eagle and the head/front body/rear body of a lion. I mean, they’re the size of a lion/small horse/mini-van/it’s carrying an elephant, so they’re hard to miss. Think there’s even a type that has a serpentine tail, which might be someone getting it mixed up with a manticore. That’s another thing with monsters in mythology. You get a lot of overlapping of appearances and themes. Just look at how similar manticores, griffins, hippogriffs, and the chimera. After all the physical decisions, I give my griffins a few magical abilities and released them into the world. Just another altered addition to an already confusing stable of flying cats with extra parts.
Just to sum stuff up in case I rambled too much, mythology is a great resource and not only for fantasy stories. It’s a fairly popular topic, which you can connect to characters in other genres through names, conversations, and comparisons to situations that they’re in. You can also get some inspiration for dysfunctional families because many pantheons have some messed up relations. One could say mythology is the ancestor of fiction, so we might as well treat it like a resource.
Again, I’d like to thank Lissa for letting me write a post for her blog. Please feel free to check out Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age and enjoy the adventure.
Author Bio & Social Media
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN