I get a lot of questions asking about my world building for the Abby Sinclair series – do I do a lot of research, for example?
And for the most part, I really don’t. Even though the majority of the mythology is based off of Celtic fairy tales and lore, I spent so much time reading those same myths as a child that much of the information is more second nature to me at this point. (Now, I do delve into a bit of Asian mythology in A Sliver of Shadow, and I did do a bit of research for that, but mostly for clarification purposes as opposed to looking for things to write about.)
There were two primary books I read growing up that definitely shaped much of the lore usage in the Abby Sinclair books.
The first was a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales – I want to say it was about 800 pages or so, but I received it when I was five or six and I still own it, although the binding is pretty much shredded by now and pages are falling out of it. I’ve since bought a new copy, but it seems as though each version of Grimm has a slightly different translation. Even though the stories are all there, some of the words and phrases don’t ring quite right to me. Silly of me, maybe, but there’s something comforting about going back to the originals as I knew them.
I do think children should read the non-Disney version of many of these tales. Although some are rather morbid and without the “Happily Ever After” most of us have come to expect, the stakes also appear to be much higher in many of the stories and there’s often a greater sense of sacrifice. (Admittedly there’s a lot of “women-as-property” thing going on in many of them, but I often see that as opportunity to maybe rewrite some of these stories to give them a different perspective. I.e. Robin McKinley’s Deerskin, for example, which is fabulous.)
The second book was the Faeries book by Brian Froud and Alan Lee. My Aunt had a copy and every time I’d visit, I’d spend hours and hours going through it and reading the bits of lore and taking in the pictures. When I was about 12, my Aunt finally gave me her copy and it sits on my bookshelf now (along with many other Froud books. I often turn to them for inspiration.) But it was my first look at the darkness inherent within Faerie lore – both the Celtic myths and just the overall sinister nature of the Fae. Beautiful, but dangerous – definitely not something you want to deal with on a casual basis, anyway.
It was also my first exposure to the Ballad of True Thomas, which is where the concept of the three Paths and the CrossRoads came from in A Brush of Darkness. (Funny how those seeds can be planted so very long ago.)
At any rate, there are many other books that have drifted in and out of my life (most of the colored Fairy books, for example, or the Hans Christian Anderson stories, but the two mentioned above definitely had the greatest influence on many of the ideas I utilize in the Abby Sinclair books.
That being said, I’m always interested in hearing about what “traditional” stories influence other readers and writers. What’s your favorite?
A Sliver of Shadow Blurb:
Just when her new life as a TouchStone – a mortal bound to help OtherFolk cross between Faery and human worlds – seems to be settling down, Abby Sinclair is left in charge when the Protectorate, Moira, leaves for the Faery Court. And when the Protectorate’s away…let’s just say things spiral out of control when a spell on Abby backfires and the Faery Queen declares the Doors between their worlds officially closed.
The results are disastrous for both sides: OtherFolk trapped in the mortal world are beginning to fade, while Faerie is on the brink of war with the daemons of Hell. Along with her brooding eleven prince Talivar and sexy incubus Brystion, Abby ventures to the CrossRoads in an attempt to override the Queen’s magic. But nothing in this beautiful, dangerous realm will compare to the discoveries she’s making about her past, her destiny, and what she will sacrifice for those she loves.
A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys….Well, at least the marine biology part is true. But she was taloned by a hawk once. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.
She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes.
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