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Corner of First and Myth

posted Nov 13, 2013, 9:18 PM by crystal carroll   [ updated Nov 13, 2013, 9:19 PM ]
Hmmm... so I haven't posted since July. Well, okay then. I've been busily working on the next book. The Corner of First and Myth is a collection of 14 short stories set in the City where mythology mashes up with the mundane.

Here's what it's all about.

A Day at the Mall

Description: The dead rise. This makes it difficult to run a shop at the mall.

Source: Crosses characters from the "Epic of Gilgamesh" with a woman working in a shop at a mall.

Why?: This is the era of silly (or not) zombie stories and I wanted to start with a normal woman opening the closet and finding not a talking cup, but a toothless zombie.



Description: Hades waits for the return of spring.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Hades point of view.

Why?: I was reading Dante's Inferno (Canto 7) and for some reason Hades kidnapping Persephone sprang full blown into my head pretty much as you see it.

In Whose Savage Heart

Description: The goddess of nature searches for her missing daughter. A woman mourns her dead son. A mediation on winter and springtime.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Demeter's point of view. Includes triggers for non-consensual sex.

Why?: Having written "Waiting", I wanted to work my way through different perspectives on the same events. Here I wanted to balance Demeter's divinely immense desperation at the kidnapping of her child with the quieter story of a "normal" person mourning her missing son.

Into the Looking Glass

Description: The other side of the mirror, spring in the land of the dead.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Kore/Persephone's point of view.

Why?: A woman's journey to experience tends to be, "She had adventures and then she got married. Happily ever after. The end." I wanted to play into that trope of becoming an adult, while using the later Adonis story to look at the "ever after". Which is why so many of the stories in this collection are, in their way, variations of the Persephone story.

Queer as the Fork When the Knife Ran Away with the Spoon

Description: Beauty grew up in a box. He divided himself. How could he know who he was, unless he undid the wrapping?

Source: A retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" if Beauty were a black, gay, magic man with a velvet fetish and knack for roses.   The Beast really doesn't know what to make of the Beauty who showed up.

Why?: I knew I wanted to do a gender reversed Beauty and the Beast, but I didn't really want to write the monstrous feminine. From there, this story sprang to life full blown, because Beauty needed to exist.

A Little Goddess

Description: Like when Isis went to live in the marsh and begged for food for her baby, Serqa went to live on the roof of the Gorgos Sisters Hellenic Gymnasium for girls. Like Isis, she had a curse to lift and steps to take through the world that was full of magic if you’d stop to tell the tale.

Source: A very modified retelling of Francis Burnett's A Little Princess in an Egyptian/Greek magical realism setting. Mythology referenced is the story of Medusa and the very complicated Egyptian mythological family dynamics.

Why?: I've always loved a A Little Princess and I wanted to play with the redemption of a monster, who if you're familiar with the myth of Medusa, really got the short end of the stick. Although, that describes quite a few myths.

The Tyrolean CEOs Virgin Secretary

Description: From secretary - to kept man!

Hunt Zmenn had worked as Snow White's personal secretary at the Tyrolean Mining Corporation for three years. For three years, he'd kept the secret of his love since, after all, Snow White was a wealthy CEO and he was just a secretary raised in an orphanage after his parents were eaten by wolves.

When Ms. White's fiancé, Mr. Charming, left her for another woman, they ended up making love in the office!

Soon, he and Snow had more than just a working relationship. Where once Snow was happy to have Hunt safely behind his desk, now Snow wanted him across hers - passionate and willing.

Could Hunt surrender to Snow's erotic program and not lose himself to a whirl of desire? Could he find a way to pencil in love to Snow's agenda?

Source: A parody of Harlequin Present's romances with the roles reversed and the characters (but only the plot in the loosest sense of the word) from the story of Snow White, but with a lot more sex and axe carving as well as guest appearance by Little Red Riding Hood. Also references the Lamia, who is a snake/woman monster from Greek mythology.

Why?: There needs to be more Harlequin role reversal parody in the world.


Description: On a dark desert highway, travelers stop for the night at a lonely stop.

Source: A riff off of the trope of travelers getting into horror/hijinks at a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere. The mythology mixes the Mayan Hero Twins, who are Mayan trickster gods, with the Lamia, a Greek mythological monster. I've given the Lamia some of the characteristics of Circe from the Odyssey. The poetry starting each Circe section is from "The Lamia" by Keats.

Why?: I listened to Los Lobos singing their cover of "Hotel California" one too many times.

Under the Skin

Description: Marie could have managed horrible dreams. The soldiers who returned from the trenches missing arms and echoes in their eyes had horrible dreams. Everyone had nightmares. She dreamed of Papa tangled in the barbed wire, split in half by a winter hail of bullets as he drowned in mud, but that was normal. The Comtesse Melusine de l'Eau could have told her that they came from under the skin.

Source: A very loose version of the "Robber Bridegroom" crossed with Melusine (dragon lady/fairy ancestor of the Plantagenets) from French folklore.

Why?: Having written the Lamia as an old female monster being defeated, I wanted a triumph.

Last Nickel in the Nation Sack

Description: Sometimes there ain't nothing for a walking man to do, but play the sweet Delta Blues.

Source: The Greek myth of Orpheus retold as Southern gothic with various Vodou loa. The title refers both to a song by Robert Johnson and a vodou practice in which a woman keeps a "nation sack" with coins and various articles on her person to keep her man faithful.

Why?: With so many stories drawing on Greek mythology, I wanted to give a Greek myth a new context, while still playing on a story that featured a variation of the Hades and Persephone figures.

Moaning of Dust Around Which Branches Leaf

Description: Adonis never grows in the winter when he lives with his underworld Mother, Persephone. In the springtime of the year, his bones stretch and crack as he grows six months at once. The house of his above world Mother, Aphrodite, is a wild place. He is wild there.

Source: Gives the myth of Adonis the Flowers in the Attic treatment. It also borrows somewhat liberally from Dante's Inferno and the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld. The title is a reference to lines form the poem Khalida by the poet Ali Ahmed Said (Adonis).

Why?: Because I've always found the idea of Aphrodite raising Adonis from infancy and then becoming his lover as inherently creepy.

Lent Wings by the Storm

Description: Her first thought is no one will believe her. Her second is that someone must pay.

Source: Crosses the Sumerian myths of Inanna's descent to the underworld, which is about Inanna's journey into the underworld, Inanna and Shukaletuda, the story of Inanna's rape and her ensuing smackdown of everything, and some references to Inanna and the Mes, the story of how she got her mojo. The title comes from a poem by Enheduanna, who was both the first author in recorded history, and an Akkadian high priestess of Inanna.

Why?: I couldn't riff multiple times on the myth of Inanna without actually writing an Inanna story.

Chrysalis A Love Story

Description: Psyche dreams stained glass butterfly wings to fly her high above the City. Eros already has his wings.

Source: Retelling of the Greek/Roman myth of Eros and Psyche. It also borrows somewhat liberally from the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld.

Why?: One of the oldest stories in this collection. I was reading an article about Monarch butterflies in an inflight magazine and it came full blown to life. I wrote it on the backs of receipts in my wallet and my flight itinerary.

Fingers that Shine like Justice

Description: She is the whirlwind, which is fortunate, because it’s a sale day.

Source: African mythology

Why?: Since we began at the mall, I wanted to end there as well. Wrapping up with a goddess who rules marketplaces and war.