Creative License When Using Mythology in Fiction

Using mythology in fiction is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, there might be a story already there for me to tap into and pattern the novel after, however, the story has already been told and readers want to know the story beneath the story. They want the emotion that draws them in.

But when I deviate too far from the established myth, people will also complain that I’m not using the acceptable elements of the mythology that they learned. For example, My Lord Hades was the mythology of the abduction of Hades and Persephone, a story about the seasons and about marriage. To the Greeks marriage was like an abduction. The groom stole the bride from her family and made her his.

When writing My Lord Hades, I didn’t want the common myth that we all learned in school. I wanted something new and fun. I wanted something I could fit into the romance formula. Hence, I delved deeper into the mythology in search of things that were not well know. These elements have also been the biggest complaints from people.

Right now I’m working on revising Once a Valkyrja. This book has shifters, killers, humans, gods, and a Valkyries. I’m really enjoying mixing the mythology into story, it makes it richer. It’s ancient myth meets post-apocalyptic world. It’s called creative license.

Can you tell what is creative license and what is mythologyical “fact” in the story portion below? 

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The arrival of the hunting party drew Þrúðr from her place of hiding and to the edges of the crowd. The happiness of meat was overshadowed by the wails of mourning. Gooseflesh rippled over her skin and she shivered.

She wanted to turn around and walk away, but the soul of the dead drew her forward. Villagers moved out of her way with disgruntled curses as she pushed her way through. Only the hand on her shoulder stopped her from walking into the cleared space around the family of the dead and boy on the travois.

She looked up into Munn’s worried face.

She tried to smile and assure him everything was all right. But the smile didn’t curl her lips and words wouldn’t come. Everything wasn’t right and she couldn’t lie to him. His ability to read her was uncanny.

And then the howling began. The deep, responanting tone of the lead male rose and fell with his grief, drawing her gaze to a large shifter with damp white-blond hair. He stood before the family of the dead boy his head thrown back. All she could see was his broad back, but the familiarity in his stance hurled her back in time to another man and another dead hunter.

She shivered and forced the image away. She wasn’t ready to face that particular memory. She wasn’t prepared to spiral into that insanity. She focused instead on the boy.

His soul was still tied to this world and his body. He stood beside his mother and father, a sad smile on his ghostly face as he stared at the large shifer paying him tribute. It was clear that the boy had respected him, maybe they had been friends. More Shifters raised their voices to the sky and gave tribute to their fallen friend, their fellow hunter.

She clamped her mouth shut on her own voice, struggling not to break the ties of the soul and body. She had questions and only the boy could answer them. But nature would not be denied.

The boy turned toward her, eyes full of pain, and she knew. His death wasn’t natural. He’d been murdered.

She threw back her head, the high-pitched shriek pouring from her mouth, snapping the delicate thread and freeing the boy’s soul.