Bringing Old Into New

There’s a saying we writers hear constantly. 

Write what you know.

I go by a different creed.  One that can loosely be translated into write what you know. 

Write what you love.

When there’s a subject we’re passionate about, we tend to know more about it, yes? 

For instance, I’m crazy about cultures.  DOTT has references to Minoan culture, Greek mythologies and theosophical ideas on spiritualism.  I find a lot of inspiration searching through old world ideas and obscure, religious text.  I like trying to understand the wheres and whys of belief and how it comes into play. 

I’m especially fond of the Norse.  I probably should have been an anthropologist–that dreamy side of mine might have fit.  Some.  I can immerse myself in reading about Northmen and lose serious time. 

I’m fascinated by their way of life and how their explorers scattered out into the world.  I get a little annoyed when I still hear about Columbus discovering America when in truth, we know better now.  (And it wasn’t only the Northmen who explored here before our curious Italian–there are discoveries that originate from Egypt, Iberia…) 

I’m intrigued by the stories written about those who did go out into the world, whether it was to trade or raid–biased stories generally written by the only ones who could write.  Monks in the very churches the Northmen raided.  So of course they were superstitious stories of godless wild and shapeshifting men. 

But I’m especially drawn to the Norse myths and superstitions. 

My second manuscript was called Ian’s Curse.  Ian lived in Wales and was a descendent of a group of Vikings who had been cursed after they had raided a magical place.  Ian’s curse?  He shapeshifted into a large black cat.

(Yeah, the irony hasn’t escaped Rachel and I–I wrote about Ian years before we hooked up as critique partners.)

I still love that book.  It needs serious work because my heroine… well, she was all wrong for Ian.  He deserved better.  

I’ve noticed that in a lot of my writing, I use myth without even realizing it and quite often, it comes from this general area of people.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about incorporating it even more into my stories.  I don’t want to write historical fiction–I’m more interested in bringing old world ideas of magic into today’s world. 

I’ve noticed that I look forward to the writing and will literally carve my time for it when it’s about something that fascinates me.  I guess I should hope that these twists and turns and fictions that spring from old world beliefs will ensnare my future readers. 🙂

So… what fascinates you?


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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14 Responses to Bringing Old Into New

  1. Carol says:

    For me it’s celtic anything, music, myth, magic. I will most likely have more of it in Fairy Dust as I expand it into a novel. Boudicca Andraste Ryan (Ande)is decended from a fairy and a Celtic warrior Queen and named after her and her goddess.
    I’ve been drawn to the culture since I was a kid, and the music and history and legends. Must be something from another life. Carol the Warrior princess. *lol*

  2. Kelli says:

    I agree about myth, though I love Greek and Egyptian predominantly.

    In World Lit, we’re reading BEOWULF now, and this morning I showed the first part of Benjamin Bagby’s performance of BEOWULF (in Old English with an authentic Anglo-Saxon harp). It’s incredible. You should check it out if you’ve not seen it. His web site for a clip is The site is down right now, for some reason.

    I would love it if someone did this for the ILIAD.

  3. relliott4 says:

    Celtic comes in a close second with Greek and Native American tying for third. I’m outlining a series now and went back and forth on which culture legends I wanted to base it on. 🙂

  4. I love myth and legend of all flavors but I, too, am particularly fond of Norse because of my heritage. I want to write something in the future based on Scandinavian legend and lore.

    Maybe an explorer/time travel premise. Hmm..

  5. relliott4 says:

    I love futuristic novels! We need more good ones!

  6. Future/time travel is definitely not easy. I know what you mean by more “good” ones. But I sure think it would be fun to try 😉

  7. relliott4 says:

    It’s not easy. I started a story a little while back that I really want to dive into. I know it’ll take a ton of science research and that caused me to set it aside until I have time to do the research. Has to do with an overheated future and solar flares, etc. Rachel loves this story and wants me to finish. Oh, I wrote the beginning up in a post.

  8. I love the Hungarian history, especially that of King Matthias Corvinus (15th Century). He was deemed the best king Hungary ever had, yet he imprisoned Vlad Dracula for 13 long years, and due to an error. So a just king made a horrible mistake. What if Dracula wanted revenge? I would. Thus Blood Atonement came about.

    I think my love for this area is due to the old Universal movies and the Hammer films. What fun!

  9. Ken says:

    I like mystery and sci fi. Fantasy can be fun, too. My favorite things to read are gritty mysteries, but I realize there is a point that becomes too gritty and realistic. I like thrillers and adventure and tend to write in that genre. I mentioned once to you that I wrote the beginning of a short story that was sci fi-a mixture of Star Trek II and Top Gun. Maybe I’ll finish it one day.

    Have you been watching the John Adams series on TV w/ Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti?. The politics and history of the American revolution and its characters interests me.

  10. relliott4 says:

    I used to be heavily interested in politics until I got too involved and uh, got grouchy. (g)

    I’ve been wanting to catch that show.

    Have you ever read Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro? That was a gritty sci-fi novel that rocked my world. Full of future politics, too. 😉

  11. relliott4 says:

    Sara, I spent some time fascinated with that period of time, too. But I’ve been to your house–you have most definitely spent more time on it. (wg)

  12. Missy says:

    I’m fascinated with ancient Egypt. The short story I wrote for one of my creative writing classes was about an Egyptologist. So many people suggested that it deserved to be novel length that I’ve decided to give it a go. This way, I can layer in more tidbits about the ancient Egyptian culture. It will allow me to bring the religion and beliefs of that era into modern day.

    I also tend to add elements of Native American culture and the professional tennis world into my work.

  13. relliott4 says:

    My husband can answer almost any question about Egypt–that’s his interest.

    Okay, I cracked up over tennis and Native American culture put together like that. Verra interesting….

  14. relliott4 says:

    kelli, I just found your comment in Spam and rescued it. I’m off to check the clip. 🙂

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