Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Author Lydia Dare on Legends

Please join me today in welcoming debut author Lydia Dare! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of posting my review of her novel, A Certain Wolfish Charm. Today, she's visiting with us to discuss the always fascinating topic of legends... Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her novel, A Certain Wolfish Charm. (2 winners, US and Canada Only)

Research is a funny thing, especially when dealing with history. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find – which is actually why one researches, but I digress. Since my novels merge the genres of Regency and Paranormal romance, the type of research I have to do has changed. In fact, my Google searches would probably scare someone if they ever sat down at my computer and went through my browser history.

Legends of werewolves, vampires, and other creatures have been passed down for centuries, and they so resonated with those who heard them, they’re still talked about today. And since we readily accept vampires and werewolves in a contemporary setting, logic would only dictate that they existed in the past as well. At least that is the basis on which I build my world.

Still, I wanted to use local legends where I could, and that ended up being a bit more difficult than I’d initially anticipated. The last three books in this series (so far) are set in Scotland in 1817 and the heroes are honorable, gentlemanly vampires. Eastern European vampire lore was well established by this time, but finding something of Scottish legend was an exercise in futility, even for the most dedicated researcher. Apparently the Scots had enough legends of their own, and they didn’t feel the need to pilfer any from their continental counterparts. The only solid creature I could find was the Baobhan Sith, who were beautiful, seductive, fairy-like women. After nightfall they would entice men to dance with them and then drain them of their blood.

Thinking about the origins of this legend makes me giggle. I can just see some ancient Scot trying to explain to his wife why he didn’t return until the morning. He couldn’t tell her he’d been out all night drinking whisky. And he couldn’t tell her who he actually spent the evening with. So the Baobhan Sith was born. “It’s no’ my fault. I was on my way home, bringin’ ye the flowers I ken ye love, and the fog came up and this creature appeared and I couldna move. And then it started dancin’ and before I could run, it had drained me of most of my blood. I only barely got away, but I lost yer flowers in my escape.”

I am teasing of course. It was probably the other way around. Scottish women must have created the myth to keep their husbands and sons at home, and sober, where they should be. “Doona go out at night. The Baobhan Sith will get ye.”

Needless to say, that bit of research will go un-used by me. I can’t envision my vampire hero dancing like a seductive fairy to capture my heroine’s blood and then her heart. But the image does make me laugh. For some reason the movie trailer for Tooth Fairy with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson just popped into my head. That’s so not the image I want to base my hero upon. I chose to stick to the more commonly-known vampire myth we all know and love with a few twists of my own thrown in for good measure.

What about you? Have you ever wondered about the origins of any myths or legends? And if so, what did you come up with? Did anything truly surprise you?

Lydia Dare is an active member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, where she sits on the board of directors. She lives in a house filled with boys and an animal or tow (or 10) near Raleigh, North Carolina. Visit Lydia: http://www.lydiadare.com/

21 comments:

Gail Zerrade w/a Clarissa Southwick said...

I love the Baobhan Sith legend, Lydia! Although I really do think you could use it in a story. Why does the vampire always have to be the hero? I love these books so much, I'm hoping there will come a day when you flip the story around and have Baobhan Sith heroines.

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

I second the motion...write about Baobhan Sith and how she steals hearts...hmm. I'm currently polishing a story ending in the Highlands. I bought a dictionary of Scots and love forming the sentences and thoughts. Did you have fun with that? Great blog.

Catherine Gayle said...

LOL, this Baobhan Sith makes me think in some ways of the Sirens, just rising up out of nowhere instead of the ocean, and dancing instead of singing. Great stuff.

But yeah, research is always such a crapshoot in terms of historicals. You never know what you'll run across - or if you'll even come across something you can use. You hope you will. But you just don't know.

Heather M. said...

Gah...I think research is my least favorite aspect of writing...sometimes. It depends on what you find. I did research for my WIP for what felt like months.

P.S. Loved the scottish dialogue (<-sp?)there!

Lydia Dare said...

Gail - I think the vampire is usually the hero for a couple of reasons. (1) They're pretty sexy. And who doesn't want one nibbling on your neck? (2) They're dark and dangerous and usually more than a little flawed.

My personal opinion is that readers are more willing to forgive flawed heroes than heroines. Besides a heroine who has been alive THAT long would be far from innocent, and the innocent heroine is a staple in historical romance.

Or maybe I'm just a chicken. ;)

Kathleen - I adore Scotland. My father's family is Scottish. So, yes, to me the language has such a musical quality to it.

Catherine - I have to admit, Sirens did pop to mind when I was looking at the Baobhan Sith. Just no rocks to crash sailor's ships upon. :)

Heather - LOL. I'm so glad you loved the Scottish brogue. I find myself writing emails and slip into writing them with the brogue all the time. (But I guess that'll happen after writing 5 books with Scots in them). I have to go back and delete things all the time, thinking that whoever I sent the email to would think I was nuts. "Why is she misspelling everything all of a sudden?"

Anita Clenney said...

I don't really like research, unless it's on something like legends, which are fascinating. My Modern Day Highland Warrior series (first one not out until 2011) has demons and warriors, and I use some Biblical background to set up the demons backstory, but I twist things up a bit. I have a few vampires in the mix, but they're bad vampires and don't necessarily follow some of the common myths.

I can't wait to read A Certain Wolfish Charm. It looks great.

Mons said...

This should be a fun read! I love legends and myths, especially the historical Scottish ones. I have clan MacDonald WAY back in our family ancestry, and it still resonates in the blood. Going there this summer. I may hit a used bookstore or two to see what kind of mythical/legendary stuff I can find. FUN!

Becky Timblin said...

I agree with Lydia about the Vampires and they also tend to live a very long time...which i think is very appealing to the human spirit. I am however very intrigued by the werewolves. I am looking forward to reading A Certain Wolfish Charm very soon!!!

Shannon Robinson said...

Wonderful post ladies! Congratulations on your debut novel, Lydia and the next two to come soon! That's fantastic!
I find researching history to be so interesting yet overly time consuming if you allow it. It's amazing how one research topic leads into another, then another, then another and pretty soon you've discovered twenty new things when you were only looking for one in the first place. But it is fun. I'm a huge history buff and love to learn about what life was like "back then".
I haven't researched any particular legends to find their origins though - but the idea to do so is definitely forming! :)
Congratulations again!
Shannon

Lydia Dare said...

Anita - Some research is more fun than others. And sometimes I have to remember I'm supposed to be writing. :) Demons and Warriors sound interesting! I hope you enjoy A Certain Wolfish Charm.

Mons - I love legends and myths too (I'm a huge Greek mythology lover and even used a bit of that in the second book that is due out in May - Tall, Dark, and Wolfish.)

Becky - I hope you enjoy my wolves. They were so much fun to write. :)

Shannon - I have been sucked into research before too! You do go looking for that one thing and you come back with much more than that. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

This is not research this is belief in The origins of myths or legends...It's my belief that the things we dare to dream, "Werewolves, Vampires, and other extraordinary characters are not just something thought up in fantasy. I believe that our world has evolved many times over again. And each rebirth, has cast our character into real life...so now, they are passed down genetically to us,because our world has never been physically destroyed, only birthed.

Ruth M. said...

I can get too caught up in the research. In my spare time (!) I have been writing about lycanthropy from a medical perspective--the legends from all over the world are as fascinating as the references to mitochondrial DNA are.

Great article!

Ruth Molenaar

Lydia Dare said...

Ruth - That does sound fascinating! I'd love to hear all about your research. I'm sure I'll be thinking about it all night now. :) Thanks for commenting.

Shelly Chalmers said...

Lydia,
I love your take on the Scots legend. And hey, if you want to end up looking at using the Baobhan Sith, maybe you could look at how maybe this particular one is an outsider, and somehow (for years) still hasn't found Mr. Right. Your wolves sound like tons of fun. Congrats, and all the best.

Jill Snyder said...

Lydia,

This sounds like a really good book! I can't wait to read it! I love romance with good history!

Lydia Dare said...

Shelly - LOL. Thanks. I can just picture that exchange, can't you? Oh another note, I hope you enjoy my wolves. :)

Jill - Thanks for commenting. I love romance and history too. :)

Lydia Dare said...

Well, it has been really fun spending my day here at History Undressed. I want to thank Eliza Knight for letting me share her space with all of you today.

librarypat said...

I've often wondered how many of these folk figures got started. Why do vampires change into bats? Vampire bats are not found in Europe. What about fairies, and the wee folk? Many probably did start the way you speculated about the Scottish tale.

Eliza Knight said...

The winners of Lydia's book are: Catherine Gayle and Shannon Robinson! Email me at writer@elizaknight.com for your copy :)

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