Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway - Keeping it Fresh: Reinventing Mythology By Maria Violante

I am very happy to have Maria Violante guest post on my blog today! She has an awesome post about mythology and how it inspired her De La Roca Chronicles. It's an awesome post! I do love mythology ;) Check it out! (And don't miss the giveaway at the end!)

I. Introduction: Why Mythology?

I'll be honest.  I don't remember most of college, and for a lot of reasons. 

For starters, it was a while ago.  Then, we have the fact that I wasn't very good at showing up for class, preferring instead to teach myself straight out of the textbook (yeah, I was one of those students.)  And, most of all, I have a crap memory for stuff like this.  I can't even recall what classes I took, or most of my professors' names. Still, over the years, a few things have stuck with me.

So what do I remember?  I remember not paying attention in some class, (maybe Spanish?) and hearing the professor's voice filter into my mind-haze.

"A myth isn't a myth," he (or perhaps she--like I said, bad memory) said, "unless at some point, it was considered true.  When you hear the origin stories, the heroes, the plights and perils of the gods throughout the ages--somebody actually believed that." (F.Y.I., that isn't word for word, due to aforementioned crap brain--but roll with me here.)

I think that was the first time I realized how powerful myths and mythology really are.  They are not just stories--they're stories that must be respected, stories that must be earnest in the retelling, because to somebody, somewhere, they were the truth.  Even if you're reinventing them and making them your own, you have to give them their proper due.

Later, when I became an author (process simplified), I knew that in some way, I wanted to write about these myths, these stories that are so powerful they have survived ages.

II. Dilemmas:

The De la Roca Chronicles is about a demon mercenary that is trying to win her freedom from Hell.  The series has a really rich magical world, and every character's name relates to another idea or a bigger picture.  A lot of them are immortal and have been around for ages, and it was my assumption that from time to time, they'd have interacted with humanity, and stories of them would have been saved and passed down.  The experiences of those human individuals would have been filtered through a cultural lens, through the understanding of the time. 

It raised a host of questions.   If one of my characters came to earth a thousand years ago, how would people see him or her?  Would they be gods? Spirits?  Is it possible that the same gods have come to earth over and over again, in different guises and disguises? Would these gods know what people thought about them, and who they were identified as?

I also knew that while I loved the more common pantheons, like the Greeks and Romans, I had read a lot of books involving those same gods and goddesses recently. I wanted to do something a little different, something that would at once be familiar to the reader--if not on the most obvious level, then on a deeper one--but wouldn't be something they had seen a million times before.

III. Some of My Characters:

Eventually, I decided that the most important point was that when pulling from mythology, I had to make sure that each of my characters, to some extent, embodied the spirit of his or her source.  I didn't want to make perfect replicas of stories that had already been written.  I wanted to write the stories that could have been, if certain aspects of the world had been different.

In the end, I came away with a cast of characters that each had a rich history, both in personal backstory and in their connections to existing mythologies.  These connections aren't always the most obvious, and I'd like to tell you a little bit about a few of my characters, what their connections to mythology are, and how some of these characters came to be--not in the story itself, but in my mind. 

(Photo attribution: Tsaag Valren: Wikimedia commons)
ALSVIOR: The Norse are big on horses.  To the left is Gulfaxi, or "Golden Mane."  According to the Skáldskaparmál (whew!), he could run equally fast on land, air, and water, as well as travel between two worlds.  He was even rumored to be faster than Odin's horse, Sleipnir, who had eight legs.  Árvakr and Alsviðr were the two horses which pulled the chariot of the sun across the sky--which is where I pulled Alsvior's name from, as well as his characteristic flaming body.  I really want to give away part of his backstory here, but that would definitely be a huge spoiler.  Let me just say this--when you get to the end of book one, where there is the teaser for book two--sorry about blowing your mind there ;)  You didn't really think he could be that awesome, did you?


Wow, this one is complicated.  Basically, there is a goddess-like figure in Celtic mythology called the "Morrígan" (although it's sometimes spelled in one of a thousand different ways.)  Her name is often translated into English as the "Great Queen", the "Phantom Queen", or even "the Queen of Demons".   She's portrayed as mysterious and witch-like--not to mention a shapeshifter that frequents the body of a raven.  More importantly, she's also a goddess of battle, and has powers associated with that station, interfering in the fates of warriors and choosing who wins and who loses.

This is one of those myths that has been reinterpreted a lot and varies by region, but she sometimes appears as a trinity of goddesses, although which three goddesses is also contested.  Macha, Nemain, and Anann are three of her commonly known forms, but there are others, like Badb.

In the De la Roca chronicles, Macha, Nemain, and Anann are all female warrior-angels.  All three of them are in some way associated with a brutal death, either their own or someone else's (whew, spoiler averted!), and all three of them are pivotal to a crucial scene which allows a particular bad dude to formalize his choice of power structure over Hell.

I'm actually working on another manuscript involving the Morrígan, because I love her just so much, so keep your eyes peeled!

The above painting is called Macha Curses the Witches of Ulster.  (Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Macha.jpg)


Alright, I know I said I wasn't going to go for any of the more common gods, but I couldn't help myself on this one. In my defense, I don't believe the movie "Thor" had come out yet.

"Laufey" is a Norse frost giantess and, according to some, she may be the mother of Loki, the trickster god.  I chose the tongue-in-cheek reference as a way of acknowledging Laufeyson's nature--in the books, he's always got something up his sleeve, and until we get pretty close to the end, you never really know who he's working for.

There are other aspects of Loki's nature that I reinterpreted and wrote into Laufeyson's character.  For starters, he's the only mythological being with any kind of chemical addition--angels and demons may choose to smoke when in human form, but Laufeyson needs to.  He also has a tendency towards appearing in dreams and visions--although not always in the form you might remember--and his kevra (his main power or ability) involves him pulling a disappearing act.

This picture of Loki is called "Loki's flight to Jötunheim".  It's from an old Poetic Edda--super-old, in fact, since the artist died in 1932. (Attribution Link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loki%27s_flight_to_J%C3%B6tunheim.jpg).

IV. About Me:

My name is Maria Violante.  I'm the author of the urban-fantasy series, the "De la Roca Chronicles", as well as two other books which were recently contracted by Liquid Silver Books--a science-fiction romance about a subjugated race of clones, called "Wit Awakening", and "Gambler's Luck", a historical-western romance (with erm, werewolves).  You can find me at MariaViolante.com or tweet me @violanteauthor.

V. Synopsis for the Giveaway:

Fans of the mercenary De la Roca can now enjoy HUNTING IN HELL, a two-book volume that includes both HUNTING THE FIVE and HONOR IN HELL. Follow the demon mercenary from the American Southwest to Hell – and back.


It’s a side of the southwest never glimpsed by mortal man – a heartless, barren outback riddled with ruthless demons. In its ignorance, humanity is powerless to stop these escapees from Hell and the havoc they create with their dark magic.

Good thing De la Roca isn’t human.

A gunslinger with no memories of her previous life, she has fought for the last three hundred years on the forefront of a supernatural war, relying only on her wits, her reflexes, and her own demonic powers – all to pay for her own release from Hell. The Angels wouldn’t send her in alone and unarmed, though; Alsvior, her gifted – if contrary – steed, and Bluot, a legendary revolver with an unquenchable blood-lust, have been with her every step of the way – along with a series of terrible nightmares that might hold the keys to her past.

Then, an Angel appears with a bargain that seems to good to be true – five final targets, and she is free from her penance. Quickly, she discovers that her old methods are not up to the task, and she’s forced to team up with a mysterious gatekeeper and another mercenary – both of which need her for their own plans. With time running out, she has to figure out who to trust and who to kill, and fast, before she’s demon-food.


Can anyone be trusted? Betrayed by both Laufeyson and the Mademoiselle, and sent on a quest by an angel that might actually be her enemy, the demon mercenary De la Roca bolts into Hell with murder in her heart. Her simple mission for revenge quickly spirals out of control. Between the Consortium of power-hungry angels, the serpentine Oracle, a strangely absent God, and the knowledge that her mount just happens to be a man under a curse, just about everyone around her has a secret – and most of them are trying to get her killed. Unless, of course, she can kill them first.

~Maria Violante

And now for the giveaway (it's international)! You have a chance to win 1 of 3 e-book copies of Hunting in Hell, courtesy if the author herself! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Please read the terms and conditions!*

Thank you soooo much to Maria for appearing on my blog today, and sharing this awesome post! The giveaway will run for a month, and the 3 winners will be announced on Oct. 11. Good luck to everyone who enters!

1 comment:

  1. I love all kinds of mythological creatures. Couldn't really say which I like best, but I love unicorns, which you don't see a lot of, and mermaids, which there do seem to be a lot of nowadays.


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