Wednesday, August 11, 2010

But why shape shifting elves…

Hi and welcome to your Wednesday fix of Shapeshifter Seductions! I am going to deviate from my planned blog because Savanna had a great idea. Where on Earth did I come up with the idea for shape shifting elves? The short answer? Ancient lit.

If you can get past all the conjunctions and run-on sentences, The Mabinogion is a very interesting glimpse into to beliefs of people 1,500+ years ago. The main series of stories, called books of the Mabinogi, tells a story about two groups of people who inhabited the British Isles some time in the very distant past. This was my first brush with shape shifters and heroic tales with less than noble heroes. It's what inspired my “Wild Lords” series.

But why shape shifting elves…

Two summers ago, I picked up my trusty copy of The Mabinogion and reread it. This wasn’t random- a scholar from Ireland found what turned out to be the fifth book of the Mabinogi on a dusty shelf in a library in England. Egg-head that I am, I wanted to brush up on the four books that had previously been known before reading that one. My muse must have been reading over my shoulder, because she asked what would happen if those stories had been true. What if those people, or there descendants, were still alive? If they were still around why didn't we know about them anymore?

Over past couple of years, the plot has been bubbling. Where Math had turned his obnoxious nephews into animals as punishment, my goddess turned heroes into animals to protect obnoxious elf lords from their own follies. Where Arawn had found a companion of unbelievable loyalty and integrity in Pwll, my elf lords found the same in the animal/companions created for them. An so the idea grew until I had a whole world, a whole existence, based not only on the Mabinogion but on tales of all sorts of creatures from ancient Celtic lore.

Lucan Hawk, the hero in “The Hawk’s Bride,” is an elf because the shifter lords are elves. He’s a bird shifter because Lleu Llaw Gaffys from the Mabinogion turned into an eagle after being betrayed by his wife and her lover. He’s a hawk because I thought “Lucan Hawk” made a cool sounding character name. And he’s a mountain elf because it seemed only natural for a hawk shifter to be born in the mountains where he can fly. All of my hawk shifters are mountain elves. Lucan, though, is the only one born to a royal family.

The elfin shifters:
Black elf shifters are usually cats or dragons.
Forest elf shifters are either stags or bores.
Water elf shifters are either dolphins, seals or carp.
Mountain elf shifters are flyers: hawks, eagles, or owls.
* The ability to shift usually runs in families. The ability can happen spontaneously in one individual or disappear from a lineage with no warning.

Shifters from Annwn:
Companions: capable of taking two animal forms, elfin form, and the form of one other sentient species, usually the one they were before they ‘died’ and were reincarnated by the Goddess Badh. They all have a spectral hound form. They usually also have a wolf form, though there are some with other totem animals. Companions are classified as black elves because black elves are the warrior class and companions are all warriors.

Druids of Annwn:
These are the cu of legend; giant, pure white wolfhounds. They usually look human when not in animal form. Certain druid families can also take bird form, usually an owl.

Shifter Lords: any shifter who is strong enough to call the Wild Hunt. They are properly called “Wild Lords of the Hunt.” One does not need to be male to be a hunt lord. There is one hunt lord strong enough to call all shifters, even the other hunt lords. He is Faolchu Ruadh, High Lord of the Hunt and one of the feared Black Lords of Argental.

The Wild Hunt: when a hunt lord needs an army or hunting party to chase down criminals, they can compel lesser shifters to join them. This whole group is known as the hunt. It got the name “Wild Hunt” because you never knew what mix of shifters was going to be compelled to follow a hunt lord. And most of the shifters who need to be compelled are not entirely tame.

The Black Lords of Argental: nobles of the high elfin house of Argental. They are the warlords of elfin society and over-see every aspect of protecting the cosmic balance of power.

So there you have it- where I came up with elfin shape shifters and a brief glossary of the “good guys” in the world of the Wild Lords. The next story of the series is “Equal Partners.” It’ll be a full length novel (about 300 pages). I’ve got it more or less finished, just trying to figure out how to fix a flow problem with it then it’s off to the publisher.

In the mean time, I’m also writing a second, but interconnected, series about the humans the wild lords come in contact with while chasing Lady Donnella and her cronies down. They will all be short stories and I’m doing them as erotica rather than mainstream romance. I have three in that series so far. I will be submitting the first of that series to Siren-BookStrand on Friday, assuming my proof reader gets it back to me by then. That series is going to be called “The Mortal Guardians.” Each individual book is going to be titled after the hero or heroine who is connected to the elves in some way.

With that, I will leave off. Have a great week!



Savanna Kougar said...

Rebecca, that is beyond fascinating, the Celtic lore and your series. I need to check out The Mabinogion... though, just reading all your info and how your series breaks down gives the ole brain a workout.
I used a bit of lore in Stallion of Ash and Flame with the goddess, Epona, and a secondary Druid character... but, no, it wasn't time travel.

There is certainly a feast for the taking as far as story ideas in Celtic lore. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca Murray said...

I was wondering if maybe I was going a bit too far when I wrote this blog last night. There's a huge back story to the series, but my story arch has only one goal: to get those magnifincent shifter lords here to Earth so they can find their human soul mates!

Serena Shay said...

Wow, incredible world you've created in this series, Rebecca! It sounds very interesting. Good luck with you upcoming submissions. :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Rebecca, that is a marvelous story arch. I'm impressed.

Sometimes mine end up that complex, but they don't start out that way... like Murder by Hair Spary... however, the stories remains focused on Kalypso and Zhryphus, their life, times and adventures.

Pat C. said...

This sounds incredible. You've got enough backstory there to challenge Lord of the Rings ... and, hopefully, keep you in plots and characters for years to come.

Did this all hit at once, or have you been working it out and adding to it over the years? (i.e., pantser or plotter?)

The only other shapeshifting elves I was aware of were in the comic book "Elfquest." The High Ones, the original elves, had the power to take other forms, but their descendents lost the ability to shapeshift, which led one reader to say the creators' elves were "shiftless." Those wacky fans ...

Savanna Kougar said...

"the creators' elves were "shiftless." Those wacky fans ... "

THAT'S SCREAM... shiftless ~ Here's a title for ya... SHIFTLESS IN SEATTLE ~ the poor heroine or hero, or both, have lost their shifting ability.

Rebecca Murray said...

This has been building for years. I love pure fantasy but was never satisfied with the lack romantic relationships. So like any author, I set out to fix that by writing some. :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Rebecca, I know what you mean. That's one reason I never got into reading a whole lot of pure fantasy... plus how many boy characters can you stand???

That's also why I wrote my western, a happily ever after, instead of the hero riding off into the sunset.

Pat C. said...

"Shiftless in Seattle"?????
The worst part is, I can feel myself coming up with a plot. Damn you, Savanna!

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, yes... I thought of you... ~evil grin~

Gem Sivad said...

Very, very enticing, Rebecca. I love an author who takes the time to dig out old 'myth' and build on it for the now.

Good luck with your series.


Rebecca Murray said...

Thanks Gem! Those are my favorites to read, too! I spend half my time reading a book like that trying to figure out exactly what legends the author pulled from.