Some News and Crafting an Ancient World, Part 2

Apologies for putting a promo up front here, but this one is kind of a big deal, and I want to make sure you don’t miss out. Basically, you can buy my book and get 25 entries to win a new Kindle Fire. Pretty cool stuff. If you want to skip the promo, you can click here and get straight to the ancient goodness. Now, however…

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All right, that said, let’s talk some more about inspiration, the past, and what makes my imagination tick. Last time I said I wanted to talk about my theories on the antediluvian world – or at least the theories that relate to the stories I’m telling. I think first we need to talk a little about the flood myth in general.

The flood myth is, of course, the central mythology wherein a divine figure sends a flood to punish humanity and destroy civilization. It’s a surprisingly common myth, which has led me to believe that there’s something more to it – on a personal level. I suppose I should differentiate here: there are concepts that I like as story drivers, like conspiracy theories, and concepts in which I have actually put some stock for my framework of the world. The flood myth is one of the latter, though the ultimate nature of the world that existed before is still open in my mind.


That said, here’s a partial list of flood myths from around the world, drawn from Wikipedia’s more complete list:

And this is just a small sampling of cultures all over the world, so many unconnected for so long, that separately evolved flood myths. Some think that this common human inheritance is drawn from observation of shells and fish fossils inland; this seems likely, but I’m not sure it explains the common themes that pop up in these myths. These include:

  • Almost always an act of god(s)
  • Some humans are allowed to survive
  • Some single human is chosen as the forebear of the “new world”
  • The faithful humans must spend some time in seclusion on a boat
  • The god(s) weep at the loss
  • Humanity re-emerges to rebuild, with the forgiveness of the god(s)

Thematically, these do seem pretty likely if you’re going to craft a story about the end of the world via flooding. I admit it. But as I said last time, I’m trying to write a story, not craft a thesis. So I look at these common elements, and ask my gut how it feels on the subject. My gut tells me first that it’s hungry, please feed it, and when I refuse, it grudgingly tells me the following:

The myth is so common because all of these cultures share a common cultural touchstone, just the same as finding pyramids in Egypt and South America. This common cultural touchstone was likely a fallen civilization, its history and culture destroyed by whatever the myth is representing. Which culture has it absolutely right? None, I’m sure, but I’ve chosen to work within the Judeo-Christian framework, so I look at how the legend of the Nephilim/Anakim tie together with the flood myth, and so I see the connections there.

From that it becomes easy to extrapolate concepts for stories, as the questions fire off in my head: what would that culture have looked like? How it would be possible to erase all evidence of such a civilization? Does hidden knowledge exist that points toward the existence of that world?

Not THAT Erasure.

Each of these questions becomes a plot point. I described all culture in the previous entry. The erasure…well, that’s covered in Book 3 of the series, and I don’t want to show all of my cards just yet. The existence of hidden knowledge begins to show up even in Corridors of the Dead, but becomes a bit more central to the story in City of the Dead as the ghosts of that world scream to be let out (not literally). I have now built the world of the Among the Dead Trilogy out into three distinct civilizations, the pre-pre-ancient, the pre-ancient, and the modern. The ancient world filled with rumors of the previous two, the basis for their legends and mythology, but ultimately they are echoes of what came before. It’s only in the modern world that things begin to come back around and make sense.

The series is ultimately about cycles. Worlds rise and fall on set patterns, and if you’ve read through Corridors, you might have an inkling of just why it happens this way. Hint for those who haven’t read it yet: something else runs on cycles, and it’s definitely not a coincidence that the world has been set up this way. Most of that is reserved for Portal of the Dead, though, so it may take some time to see the fruition of these plans.

Next entry, I’ll talk a bit about H.P. Lovecraft and my direction for the next series that I’m planning, one that revolves around the changing cast of characters in a paranormal investigation crew.

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  1. There is something really tempting about the idea of just getting rid of everyting and starting fresh. You’ve seen me clean out our closet, after all! 🙂

  2. I’ve always been fascinated with the similarity of stories that pop up in diverse cultures. When I first thought about the ancient past, I tended to compartmentalize the cultures, which makes the similarities even more striking. Then I read a novel (by Morgan Llywelyn, I’m pretty sure) set in ancient times, showing the Celts mingling with far-flung cultures via a vigorous trade exchange. Suddenly the ancient world became so much bigger in my eyes.

    Now I don’t know what to think about the similarities of myth stories, like the flood. Is this due to cross-pollination? Or shared catastrophic events? Or are some stories likely to occur spontaneously in developing religions, as people seek to explain their world? Maybe a mixture of the above.

  3. Most interesting. I’ve got CORRIDORS in the TBR pile and am looking forward to seeing how you work all this in.

  4. Pingback: dimensions of culture « dimitri seneca snowden

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