Early Beginnings to the World of Fantasy with Rory Ni Coileain – Post + Giveaway

February 24, 2016

Early beginnings to the world of fantasy

Hi! – my name is Rory Ni Coileain, and today is release day for Wolf, Becoming, my very Russian shape-shifter story.

I’ve been invited to tell you all a little bit about myself and my writing. Which is surprisingly hard! I write what I call “mythic and legendary fantasy” – my logo (shout out to A.J. Corza!) is a blend of urban fantasy on the left, which his piercings and tattoos, and more “traditional” fantasy on the right. And if you’ve ever seen my banner at a convention, you’ve seen my tag line – “The end of the myth is where the story begins.”

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I grew up reading mostly fantasy and science fiction. But even before I found Doctor Doolittle (fourth grade) and Dune (eighth grade), my very first love was mythology. The first book I checked out of my school library in kindergarten (after I convinced the librarian that I’d already read everything in the kiddie section, by reading aloud from a book on meteorology and pronouncing “cumulonimbus” correctly) was Gods and Heroes of the Greeks. I loved Norse mythology, too, and by the time I was seven The Egyptian Book of the Dead was on my birthday list. (I was kind of precocious…) And I’ve been reading them ever since. Devouring them. Chinese, Travelling People, Irish, Native American, Russian. I really need an English translation of those 500 German fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth…

Myths and legends are an incredibly powerful tool for the storyteller. They’re shortcuts into the subconscious, both collective and individual. If you’re telling a story and a character drops a glass slipper, your reader is instantly going to conjure a whole subtext, atmosphere, perspective. Your story is right there, in that simple phrase.

And then you get to mess with that story. Which is more fun than kittens. (“Well, almost,” she added in response to a glare from Captain Jack Harkness, her one-eyed polydactyl kitten.) You get to say “Why can’t Cinderella be a boy?” or “Maybe the dragon is only using the princess as bait to attract himself a handsome knight!” or “How can it be fair if the only ‘happily ever after’ your society is prepared to allow this character isn’t ‘happy’ at all?”

When you rewrite a myth, or a legend, you’re playing with the archetypes that form the foundation of a society, and of a mind. Which is how real change happens: you get right down to the root and change the primal stories we tell each other and build our culture on. Subversive as hell, really.

(If this sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend the work, both fictional and scholarly, of Jane Yolen. She is, as far as I’m concerned, the Grand Master of my self-defined subgenre. Her Sister Light, Sister Dark is a story told from three perspectives: What Really Happened, a very long time ago; the legend that grew out of what really happened; and the myth that grew out of the legend. And the whole thing is bracketed by the dyspeptic rantings of a “modern-day” academic, complaining that one of his colleagues, who is so ignorant that he actually believes there was a truth underlying the myths, is getting all the popular and academic attention, and people are ignoring his own carefully crafted (and, of course, totally wrong) interpretations. Hysterically funny and well worth a read. I also highly recommend Briar Rose. Highly. And Tam Lin. And…well, just Google Jane Yolen.)

Wolf, Becoming is taken from several Russian folk tale archetypes. Russian tales often involve a third son of a king or a rich merchant, usually named Ivan (I used Ilya as an homage to Illya Kuryakin, from Man from U.N.C.L.E., my first crush); the third son is usually portrayed as “simple,” but is usually just less ruthless than his older brothers. In my story, that’s a good description of Ilya, but Ilya is also gay – which, in modern Russian society, is all too often a very dangerous thing to be. This is an archetype just begging to be messed with…

And in Russian folk tales, there’s a tradition of shapeshifters, but it’s quite different from the Western tradition. In Russian legends, shapeshifters are animals, first and foremost; they only become human for a limited time, under very restrictive conditions. It was interesting writing a romance under those restrictions – challenging, to make the characters real as wolves, yet human enough for their romance to be believable.

I’d like to give away a copy of Wolf, Becoming – if you’d like a chance to win, comment below with a favorite folk or fairy tale. And if you have some ideas about how you’d like to see it changed, feel free to include that in the comment, too!

Check out Wolf, Becoming today!

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Blurb:

Volyk learns very young that he has to hide what he is—oboroten’, shape-shifter—after his father is killed and skinned by a hunter, and the pack that takes in his pregnant mother is hostile to his kind. When Volyk is ordered to fight the pack’s beta to prove his fitness, but instead obeys his hormones and tries to mount him, he’s declared an abomination and forced to flee.

Ilya, too, hides a secret. Being young and gay in modern Russia is dangerous, and he knows it. But the truth eventually gets out, and his brothers lure him into the forest to kill him. They’re stopped by Volyk, who hides the mortally wounded Ilya in his den. The only way to heal the human is to turn him into an oboroten’.

Unfortunately, Ilya’s gentle nature is ill-suited to the life of a wolf. But when Volyk’s old pack returns, seeking to take away Volyk’s magickal den, Ilya will have to embrace—truly become—the wolf Volyk made him to save both his mate’s life and his own.

Rory Ni Coileain:

www. rorynicoileain.com

www.facebook.com/Soulshares/

Twitter: @RoryNi

 

10 Responses to “Early Beginnings to the World of Fantasy with Rory Ni Coileain – Post + Giveaway”

  1. Jen says:

    Thanks for the post! One of my favorite fairytales is The Boy Who Cried Wolf because it is an accessible story about the importance of being honest and trustworthy.

    Wolf, Becoming sounds good. :-)

  2. Maybe that can be a sequel! ;)

  3. Susan says:

    I love fairy tales being turned on their heads! So that means my favorite story is Americana Fairy Tale, with no changes needed! (Although I’ve only read the first edition, so I don’t know what changes occur in the second edition.)

  4. Might have to add that to the TBR pile, sounds like my kind of story!

  5. Trix says:

    I always liked the old-school Muppet reworkings of the various fairy tales…I’m torn between the Muppet FROG PRINCE where Kermit tells the prince how much better life as a frog is, or the Sesame Street RAPUNZEL where her hair falls off and she yells “So whaddya gonna do now, huh, huh?”

  6. *falls over laughing* Now you have me imagining an m/m riff on Kermie and Piggy….

  7. Jen CW says:

    I was always more interested in the Greek and Norse mythology than fairy tales. But growing up in Wisconsin, I did love the story of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe the Blue.

  8. And THERE is a priceless story idea… and have you ever been to Bemidji, MN? Absolutely EVERYTHING is Paul Bunyan….

  9. Lee Todd says:

    Snow White would be interesting :)
    congrats on the new release

  10. Thank you! — and yes, it would be. I wonder if you’d need to genderbend the wicked stepmother, too… that whole archetype is kind of begging for renovation anyway…

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