Monday, 5 December 2011


I've been preparing to teach a life writing class in which I'm going to introduce some of the basic elements of myth as a way of getting people to write about their own lives. So I've been reading a lot of myths and a lot about them.

As I've done so, I realise

that I've always shied away from delving deep into myths in case my writing turned into something similar to the cover art on a 1980s heavy metal album cover

And I definitely do not like 'fantasy'. (Here I'm imagining any book with a unicorn on the front.) Yet... I do love fairy tales and traditional folk tales. I also love magical realism, and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is one of my favourite novels. It's about, ahem, wizards. And don't even get me started on the works of Philip Pullman or my guilty pleasure, Harry Potter.

Of course, whenever I say I categorically don't like something, I quite often end up, over the course of a few years, actually liking that thing. It happened with The Smiths. Olives. Mobile phones. Running. John Milton. And now it seems to be happening with myths too.
My friends over at Paris Play are myth gurus. They've just retold some Greek myths as a way of explaining the current economic mess and the Occupy movement in their new miniseries: News from the Mythosphere. (Worth checking out.)

And in my next blog, my lovely friend Dawna Kemper will be guesting with a post about the king of all myths - Oedipus. Watch this space.

In the meantime, I'll be getting a hobbit tattoo. 


  1. How in the world have I lived my life without knowing of Manilla Road's Spiral Castle??? :) Yes, the myths continue to recur in ways both intimate and grand... looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts about this, and about your life writing class! Since you mentioned fairy tales, you might check out Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels- technically YA, but pretty dark, and also quite beautiful.

  2. Dear Ebba,

    Manilla Road is to myth as Danielle Steele is to literature. Imagine someone deciding to stop reading books because of one experience reading a D. S. novel.

    We are so pleased by your mention of Paris Play. But we are no myth gurus. No gurus of any kind, ever. We're myth fans. And we're Jenny Wren and Bella Wilfer fans.

    Richard and I feel the same way you do about fantasy tales. On the other hand, fairy tales and magical realism are wonderful.

    We're looking forward to hearing about your experience teaching myths.


    Kaaren & Richard

  3. Dawna: thankyou! I like what you say about the potential of myths being 'both infinite and grand' - I think it's the intimate side that interests me most. The grand side takes me to melodrama and heavy metal quite quickly. You always have fantastic reading recommendations too; I have just ordered Tender Morsels and can't wait to read it.

  4. Kaaren and Richard: hello and thankyou for commenting! I believe that you two have more knowledge of myths in your little finger than I have in my entire body. I have certainly learnt a lot about myths from you (bless you both). So perhaps 'guru' was a bad choice of word on my part, but let's say that at the very least you are keen students of myth, and I think a little more than that (!) xx