My guest today is urban fantasy author Kalayna Price. The first book in her new Alex Craft series, Grave Witch, hits bookshelves on October 5, 2010. Please join me in welcoming Kalayna here today to Dark Faerie Tales. You can read the first chapter of the book here.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. As always, details are listed at the end of the post.
Folklore in Fiction
by Kalayna Price
Thanks for having me here today, Angela. Since this is Dark Faerie Tales, I thought this would be a great place to talk about folklore and, well, faerie tales.
Throughout history and across cultures, certain motifs have emerged in local legend time and again. Almost every culture has a story of creatures returning from the dead, of those who plague the living in search of blood, or of a creature with the power to change its shape. What is it about monsters that fascinates the human imagination? Featuring gods or demons, stories have been told from the beginning of time to explain the unexplainable in the world around us. And those stories are often excellent fodder for modern fiction.
For my new urban fantasy series, the Alex Craft novels, I decided to focus on folklore involving the Fae or Faeries, as we might call them, but they have been known by many names (and many natures). In Ireland they were called the Tuatha de Danann and were great masters of magic who lived under grassy hills. The Tylwyth Teg were Welsh faeries who were often found dancing in fairy rings and tricked mortals to dance with them (to no good end for the mortals). Sidh or Sith were Gaelic names for faeries in the Highlands of Scotland. Bean Sidh (pronounced Banshee) is often used to refer to a particular type of faerie in modern times but actually means “faerie woman” in Gaelic. In various countries and times, Faeries have called the “wee folk,” the “good neighbors,” and the “fair folk” (among other names).
Faeries were said to both bestow great blessings and to cause tremendous disasters. They were labeled as tricksters who led travelers astray or as guardians who watched over a household. If milk curdled or a calf sickened, it was said a faerie stole away its essence. A child who died suddenly was thought to have been taken by the faeries, and what the family buried was only some bit of ‘stock’ left by the faeries and disguised to look like the child. They were blamed for everything from sickness to bad fortune, but not all tales include malicious faeries. There are stories of faeries favoring mortals and supplying an endless bag of seed for the kindness of a song or blessing a man’s holdings so that he prospered greatly. Of course, most of these gifts came with the taboo that the source of the sudden wealth never be revealed or all that was gained would be lost.
When I first started plotting GRAVE WITCH, one of the early ideas I worked with was “What if the fae of folklore were real and they very publically revealed their existence to the world?” Of course, there is too much folklore—and far too many contradictions in folklore—for it all to be true, but it could be inspired by actions of individual faeries. The trick then, was to translate ideas from these stories into modern times.
It’s been a lot of fun writing in the world Alex inhabits because the fae’s revelation brought on a magical awakening that changed everyday life for mortals. In Alex’s world, the fae are real, magic is accessible, and other, wilder legends might just be waking, and yet the world is still recognizable. You may pass a troll on your way to work and keep your coffee warm with an enchanted mug, but paying the rent and a car one bad crank away from the junkyard are still everyday worries. It was interesting to mix bits of magic from folklore into modern day life, and I hope readers enjoy the world and the story.
Kalayna Price is the author of the Alex Craft Novels, a new dark urban fantasy series from Roc, and the author of the Novels of Haven from Bell Bridge Books. She draws her ideas from the world around her, her studies into ancient mythologies, and her obsession with classic folklore. Her stories contain not only the mystical elements of fantasy, but also a dash of romance, a bit of gritty horror, some humor, and a large serving of mystery. She is a member of SFWA and RWA, and an avid hula-hoop dancer who has been known light her hoop on fire.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate.
To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question:
What is your favorite bit of folklore/legend/or myth and what do you think it explain or warned against?
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