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The Fantastical: Elves, Faeries, and Angels

June 13, 2012

Some of the first books I read were fantasy novels. I loved Tolkien, Lackey, and Lewis. I got lost in worlds of elves, dwarves, mages, talking animals, and brilliant scenery. As I turned to writing, it was the fantastical that drew me in. It’s where my heart lies, quite honestly. I may dabble with contemporaries and historicals and science fiction, but I have three main genres I will return to time and again: fantasy, paranormal, and horror. They were the genres that first captured my mind, and they haven’t let go.

Vampires, shifters, angels, devils, demons, elves, dragons, faeries, griffons, and everything else under the sun. I love them. The exceptional species that just dig into my brain and worm their way through my imagination. I’ve learned not to fight them.

A lot of writers and readers hold a lot of derision for those creatures, thinking them childish or overdone. I see conversation after conversation happen where readers sneer at ‘Tolkien-like elves’ or ‘romantic vampires’ or how uncomfortable they are with authors writing angels (because, you know, we’re preaching the Christian religion by having two hot men with wings fuck each other). It can be disheartening sometimes, but, for me, most times? It just makes me more determined to write these creatures – and write them well.

Angels

Let’s be honest, if you’re reading my fiction, you should know I’m not preaching the Christian agenda. I’m not Christian. I haven’t been since I was eight-years-old. I am, at most, an agnostic pagan that worships the world around us. When I write angels—or anything dealing with Christian mythos—it’s because something about them have grabbed hold, and it has little to do with Christianity.

Angels, when I write them, are the first creatures God created. They’re typically all male, as angels weren’t meant to breed. They’re a combination of human, bird, and Other, and that Other is what makes them angels. They were what God poured His love into, created without free will, sometimes created without souls, and they loved God without question. But, usually in my mythos, God then created humans. Humans that possessed free will and souls, and He loved them. Angels, feeling the loss of God’s favor, began to fight, to hate, and broke away from their bonds of choicelessness and took their spark of Divinity, their Grace, and waged war.

There is so much possibility for me with these mythological creatures! So much love and anger and hatred and angst. 😀 Then, the myth of Hell comes into play. And once you have Hell, you have fallen angels, demons, corrupted humans… oh, the possibilities are endless! It has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with the rich world of potential found in the fantastical world of myth. Honestly, if someone reads one of my angel pieces and thinks I’m preaching at them, I think that’s more their issue than mine. 😉

Elves

Okay, so, Tolkien wrote about—more or less—an ageless race of creatures he called Elves. Great. I loved them. I enjoyed reading The Silmarillion and the HoME more than I liked reading The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. But, to discount any elven character since is just silly. I don’t care if elves were originally bitchy, vicious little creatures who were ugly and enjoyed tormenting humanity. Guess what? Those aren’t my Elves, and I don’t have to follow traditional mythological origins to write them. Nor do I like having ‘Tolkien-like’ slapped onto my Elves as if I’ve ripped off his world. No. I didn’t.

My Elves are utterly ageless once they hit maturity. They are vulnerable to sickness. They have a hard time reproducing. Their infants and children have a high mortality rate. Oh, and they have MAGIC. Each Elven House possesses certain abilities, some more than others. They all look different. Each House has a different appearance. For instance, the Water Elves are tall, milky-skinned with white hair that’s threaded with blue. They have bright blue eyes that are spaced widely, fine features, and slightly pointed ears. The Wood Elves, on the other hand, are broad with golden skin, sable or golden hair, brown or green eyes, and are heavily muscled with long legs. Each House is different in appearance. Each House is different in ability.

And let’s not get into the slavery and civil war issues they deal with, or their gods who punish them each time the race does something incredibly stupid and offensive. I’ve put a lot of work into the world and its species, whereas Tolkien put a lot of work into languages, and then built the world to suit the languages he’d created.

So, yes, while the myth itself is about mean-spirited, ugly, frightening creatures, and Tolkien’s myth is about timeless, tired, grief-stricken creatures, mine are neither. They are what I’ve created them to be, and I love me a good Elf story.

Faeries

Right up there with elves, faeries get a bad rap, too. I blame Laurell K. Hamilton for this. It may not really be her fault, but I don’t much like her writing and think her popularity hollow, so I’ll lay the blame at her feet and her eye-rolling Merry Gentry series. Piss-poor writing and bad worldbuilding have landed faeries on a lot of readers’ Do Not Buy lists, but this saddens me. As with my Elves, I’ve spent a lot of time developing Otherworld and its inhabitants. I don’t know how expansive the world will be, but I have three series planned so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple one-off titles eventually followed.

Faeries are varied, and their world mysterious. It’s up to writers to take the myths and turn them into compelling, rousing fiction. I’m trying to do that with Otherworld, and I’ve read a couple of other books that have done this well. But, most of the time? It’s half-assed. It’s badly written. So, I understand people’s aversion to them when they’re nothing but sexed up assholes (though, sometimes, even that’s hot as hell in the hands of talented authors).

My faeries inhabit Otherworld, the world beside our own. It’s broken up into six realms: Solar Court, Lunar Court, The Wildes, The Isle of Apples, Tír na nÓg, and Mag Mell. It’s populated by aes sídhe, bean sídhe, púca, pixies, dryads, redcaps, and all manner of creatures. It’s a vast fantasy world, and when that world crosses over into ours, it’s also all sorts of amusing to me. Despite being told that faeries should be the cruel, cold, evil creatures of mythology (much like I am told about elves), I just don’t want to write them that way.

In the end, this is about fantasy, about romance, so I write the romanticized versions of my favorite creatures. My angels are not heartless warriors of God with one wing dripping blood. My elves are not mischievous creatures that will snatch a wandering child from the road and eat it. My faeries will not be playing stupid pranks on crotchety old men. (Admittedly, they will steal into a newborn’s nursery and swap a faerie for a human child, but this isn’t in Otherworld and is meant to be a much darker, crueler world and tale than Otherworld). And the parenthetical there is the key: the myths are fluid. Write it. Just write it. The audience will find it. Some people will bitch, some people will gush, but write what’s in your heart. That’s how I live my writing career. 😀 I write for me, and if you guys come along and enjoy the show, that’s just icing on the cake.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Carole-Ann permalink
    June 13, 2012 1:59 pm

    OK, I’m a sucker for angels, elves and faeries 🙂 But I’ve read fairy stories/myth/lore since a (very young) child – and I find them ALL fascinating

  2. Carole-Ann permalink
    June 13, 2012 2:09 pm

    And I didn’t mean to leave it there 😦
    I’ve read early fantasy (1960’s/70’s) stuff which was clever (and unusual at that time!); any folklore I could lay my hands on; and loads of world mythology (and all its variations).

    But what amazes and astounds me, is the extremely clever way/s current authors build all this into their stories. Such extremes of variation. Such imagination! And it all leaves me in seventh heaven! I suppose it’s almost like a childhood remembered, but the breadth of imagination never ceases to enchant me!

    I’m fairly eccentric, but I ADORE it all!! 🙂

  3. June 13, 2012 4:25 pm

    Carole-Ann — I’ve been head over heels for mythology and lore since a young child, too. My teachers encouraged my library habit, and when I ran out of fiction, I turned to the mythology and paranormal ‘non-fiction’ sections. Hours spent reading everything I could about any fantastical being, race, and creature.

    It saddens me when I see readers putting down the fantasy aspect of fiction. There are endless possibilities, you just need the right author to put the building blocks together in just the right way. 😀 I hope I can tempt some readers back into the fantasy genre!

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