What have I learned about the world from myth as a writer and a reader? Since writing Beyond the Door and The Peculiars I’ve been thinking about why myth matters. During this tour I’ve blogged in the U.S and U.K. about six things I’ve learned from mythic stories that have inspired me. The links are below in case you missed any! Today I’m sharing some of the books that have inspired me.
So why did these early stories stick with me? I was taken with the idea of enchantment, of a world just beyond on our own, of creatures like elves or fairies that exist separately from us and have a deeper connection to the earth. Myth and fairytales speak to longing. They can be dark, but they are also evocative. What the best stories awaken in us is yearning and recognition: Yearning for something longer ago, further away, or yet about to be. Recognition of something we have never met, but have always known.
I didn’t and still don’t like fairytales or myth that don’t take the fantastic seriously…so satires of fairy and myth don’t work for me. You’ll also notice most of the myth and fairytales I love don’t come from the Greek tradition. They’re northern European. And I’m a huge fan of the illustrations of Arthur Rackham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Rackham) and Charles Vess (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Vess). In no particular order, here are some of my favorites:
T.H. White: The Once and Future King, Gillian Bradshaw: Hawk of May, Jane Yolen: The Wild Hunt, Susan Cooper: Dark is Rising series, Terri Windling: The Wood Wife, Tolkien: Lord of the Ringseries and Leaf by Niggle, C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia, Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere and Stardust, Philip Pullman: Golden Compass.
With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil, and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye.