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Creating a Mythos – Birth of a Paladin Warrior
One of the biggest challenges in today’s paranormal romance market is creating a solid mythos for your world. Readers crave a story that is original and believable, yet intimately woven into a stellar romance. For me, the romance was never the issue with Deliver Me from Darkness, but I will tell you that I didn’t have a whole lot of mythos when I sat down to sketch out that first seed of an idea. My characters shape my stories and this one had a vampire hero, Roland, a heroine, Karissa, chased by a horde of evil creatures, and an honorable best friend, Logan, who’d stuck by my hero’s side after Roland became a vampire. I made it to the end of the first chapter before I had to face reality: The chemistry between my hero and heroine was good, but that alone wasn’t enough. My story wasn’t unique. Not yet at least.
Begin the brainstorming. What if Logan’s loyalty was more pronounced? What if he was some sort of hunter whose life goal was to eradicate the likes of his best friend, Roland, from the world? What if Roland had also been one of these hunters? And, oh, better, what if Logan had been assigned to kill Roland after he was turned, but hadn’t because Logan believed in his friend’s inherent goodness? What if that loyalty was now challenged because of the arrival of our heroine Karissa?
Oh, this was good. This had potential for all kinds of conflict in the story. The novel started fleshing out, little snippets of scenes, character arcs exploding on the page before me, yet, it still needed more. I needed a mythos to build my world upon.
So started my search. I’ve always been fascinated with the Crusades: the knights, the vast battles and the clash of cultures. It was a horrific time in world history and one filled with causes both noble and evil in intent. There was so much going on during this time—political, economic, and religious power plays alike—that the wealth of possibilities were endless for the basis of my mythos. I just needed to pin it down. That’s when I stumbled upon The Song of Roland. One of the oldest surviving major works of French literature, the song romanticizes the 8th century Battle of Roncevaux Pass in which Roland, commanding the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, is betrayed by Ganelon and ambushed by their enemies.
The song is embroiled in political and personal intrigue and, if taken literally, paints none of the players as angelic visages or infallible warriors, but the roots were there for something of interest to me. The song is the first literary work to mention the twelve Paladins, twelve religious warriors: a number representative of King Author’s round table, and the number of disciples in Christian scripture. I asked myself what if these men had been in this battle, not as a product of political or cultural intolerance of the time, but on their own mission. What if they were taking orders directly from a higher power, their goal to keep religious artifacts (a coveted prize often at the foundation of the Crusades) out of the hands of true evil? What if my Paladins were actually volunteer angels come down from Heaven to protect His children from Lucifer’s evil army?
Finally, I had my mythos. What’s more, the faults of the characters in The Song of Roland set the stage for taking my mythos one step farther. I turned back to the song, reading again of Ganelon and his sense of jealousy, his paranoia that Roland had set him up to be killed. The character imperfections, that I’d originally been frowning over, became useful rather than a detriment to my goal of creating a band of heroic warriors. For what is more heroic than a man who overcomes his faults when faced with the ultimate challenge of love (okay, ultimate in the romance genre ? So my volunteer angels developed faults. Their conversion from angel to warrior allowed me to develop in them human foibles and emotions. And these human qualities—foreign to these volunteer angels until now but necessary to understand the war of temptation that Lucifer wages—become one of the greatest challenges they face. And something that they must learn to embrace if they have hope of winning their war against evil and finding true love.
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