Stories are part of my mental immune system just like music is.
I have always burrowed myself in them when I needed comfort. During the first lockdown I needed my mind to break away from the prison of everydays so I listened to the online story sessions of Csenge Zalka (who is also doing the A to Z actually she is the one who suggested that I try it too. Check out her posts about precious stones and folk tales. You won’t regret it.) Thanks to her I also discovered Laura Packer who tells stories with such wisdom and force. I have always been fascinated by stories of other cultures, other people. Firstly, because I find it fascinating how other people can look at things we thought were universal. It frankly delights me to hear new perspectives and re-examine my set of beliefs. (Honestly, I never understood people who judge or, worse, fear others just because they are different in some way or another. Guys, that’s the whole point of not being the same person.) Secondly, under all the differences you have to see that wherever and whenever people live, they encounter the same things: they are born, they are happy, they are sad, they find people, they lose people, they die. It gives comfort and humility at the same time: I am not alone with my problems.
I’ve already told you about my habit of introducing tales into the narratives, so let me give you some more examples.
My 2014 Nanowrimo novel, The Legends of Mona (working title) (Pinterest board here) talks about a rebel princess of the Danubian Monarchy. It is set in a world where there is still some magic, but it is receding (a bit like in LOTR). There used to be four main gods, now called the Misremembered, ruling over different aspects of life ( death& agriculture, travel&the seas, love, life&fire) but now people think about them with disdain. There are smaller supernatural entities the “local spirits” who represent the soul of a city. Mona, the protagonist spends some time with “aunt” Paris in France, “aunts” Luna and Danah in the UK, and in the end she returns to her native land of Hungary to “uncle” Buda. Throughout her travels she meets people who tell her stories – she collects one for every Misremembered. These stories of course reveal just as much about the storyteller as they do about the world and the characters in them. I have finished two of the legends – one of them Death’s Daughter won the pamphlet competition of Selcouth Station Press and it was published with lovely cover art. You can buy print version here, the ebook here or listen to it in the wonderful interpretation of Tall Tale TV.
The other legend, my personal take on the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is also available in Chris’s excellent narration.
Macchiatos is also a lot about storytelling. They are a group of RPG players and Blue is a writer so it is natural that narratives play an important part in their life. The novel is divided in three main parts and at the end of every part there is a different embedded story. The first two are completely my creations the third one is the myth of Vertumnus and Pomona a story discovered thanks to, big surprise, Csenge. (I first read it in Hungarian in this book, then in English in this one.) To me it is a story about patience and getting to know the other – which is the main theme of the romance in Macchiatos. It also has gardens and flowers are also a recurring motif in the story.
Moon Over Pale Water will surely have some fairy bride stories. It is a motif that I have liked for a very long time, I think because deep down I identify with the woman who flees when things are not good anymore. When there is a breech of my trust I just cannot stay. I really cannot. In some way I’m this wild creature who first and foremost only belongs o herself. (I think we should all belong to ourselves to be honest. Everybody else is just a guest in our lives. And when I say guest I don’t mean it in a bad way. In olden times guests used to be treated with most care because you could never know who was a god in disguise.)
Last but not least, I think Her Majesty’s Alien Spy will also have some of my favourite stories featured – I’m thinking about one about the friendship of a fisherman and a mermaid and another about the king sending secret messages woven into luxurious carpets to his wife from prison. She rides in with the army and kicks the ass of everyone.
Honestly, go and read some tales today – I’m sure you will find something to delight you.