Distorting Myths and Legends

I’m very happy to announce that Distorted, a fantasy anthology in which a story of mine appears in, is out now!

official-distorted-cover

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (even if it is as good as this one) so here’s the back cover blurb for more:

Tantalizingly bloody tales featuring human pitted against beasts and gods, with the true horror and majesty of the afterlife, with love and death and desire…

Eight writers modernize ancient mythologies in DISTORTED, proving that not ever story has been told.

Sounds good, no?

My offering, amongst the work of some very talented writers, is a flash fiction entitled ‘Lost in the Labyrinth’ in which I aim to shed light on ‘the truth’ behind the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

As this may suggest, one of my favourite things to do, as a writer, is to take an existing story and give it a fresh spin – and my favourite types of stories to do this with are fairy tales and mythology. These are stories that have endured for so long and are so familiar that it’s hard to resist the challenge to tell them in a fresh and innovative way.

I have had a fascination for such ancient stories for a very long time. It’s a discussion that could fill many scholarly essays, but for now I’m going to say that myths such as this one still appeal today, particularly to the young, because of their basic story of hero versus adversity, usually in the form of a monstrous beast. Don’t we all like to root for a good guy against a horrid villain? In my story for Distorted, however, I wanted to add a shade of grey to the roles of ‘hero’ and ‘monster.’ What if we’ve been rooting for the wrong one all this time?

It’s difficult to trace these things (like going through a certain monster’s maze in fact) but I should think one of the earliest sources which sparked my interest in myths and legends would be The Storyteller, a fondly-remembered television series in which John Hurt (and later Michael Gambon), aided by a Jim Henson-made comic relief dog, presented dramatisations of fairy tales and myths. Here’s a clip from the episode about the Minotaur story.

If The Storyteller was the impetus of my interest in myths in general then I have other sources to thank for my passion for giving them a twist. One of these influences would have to be Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, a collection of well-known fairy tales which Carter remodelled in her own image: emphasising the sensual aspects of the stories and making the usually passive heroines into paragons of female agency. Likewise, Neil Gaiman is another who loves to tell his own tales by borrowing from myths and folk stories. His Sandman series of comics contains numerous allusions to all kinds of different legends, which is a trait that he carried over into his novels – including his look at mythological beings in the modern world, American Gods.

The Beast of London from Gaiman's Neverwhere. A bit like a Minotaur?
The Beast of London from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has horns and resides in an underground Labyrinth. Sound familiar?

I have both of these writers, amongst others, to thank for lighting a bulb above my head. Through their writing I realised that just because the paths of these stories have been walked before does not mean that you can’t make your own route through them, leading your readers back into the labyrinth of myth and legend.

For more on the writers of Distorted – and to enter a great giveaway – see here.

You can like the anthology’s publishers, Transmundane Press, on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Distorted is available now on Amazon, Smashwords and Kindle.

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