Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post with Amy Plum + Swag Giveaway

Today, I have Amy Plum with me, courtesy of the Teen Book Scene Tour for Die For Me. She's going to share a bit about how she came up with the mythology in her novel. Stay tuned at the end for a giveaway!

Creating Mythology with Amy Plum:

I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask about creating mythology, because I didn’t do it in a very organized way.

With my revenants, I started with the idea of an undead being that died over and over again, coming back to life at his original death age. In my mind, a revenant was something between a god and a zombie. And after that I just had to ask myself all of the why, how and when questions and kind of wait for the rationale to come to me.

Little by little, as I wrote, clear rules started to crawl out of the primal sludge. And as each rule emerged, it gradually clarified what the revenants were in my mind. For example, at some point, I thought, “Well, if there are good revenants, there have to be evil ones too.” And then I had to decide what they were and how they functioned.

It all came down to two things, I guess: equilibrium and truth.

In DIE FOR ME, when explaining the difference between the revenants and their enemies, Ambrose tells Kate, “The universe likes an equilibrium.” Mythology also likes an equilibrium: between humans and immortals. Between good and evil. Between fate and chance. If a mythology is too lop-sided it doesn’t seem real to me. So if you follow the equilibrium rule and write half of your mythology, by the default of equilibrium you’ve got the other half practically figured out for you.

And truth. No matter how wacko or out-of-this world a mythology is on the surface, if you read it and it sounds true, than the myth-maker has done her job. Every time I wrote a supernatural passage, I asked myself if it sounded true. And if it didn’t, I worked on it until it did. Or scrapped it altogether.

I think truth comes from a story’s connection with the real world and with other stories. If you can find links with history or with quirky but true aspects of the real world, you will have a firmer, more honest foundation to build from.

Beyond that is the scary (for me) step of making an actual hard-and-fast decision for your mythology that has nothing to do with equilibrium OR truth. Because sometimes you just have to decide that something is the way it is because YOU SAY SO. (I sound like my mom.)

For example, I got to this point in the book where I realized that I had to make my revenants impervious to bullets. The whole mythology needed it, even though there was no rational reason for it. So I just came out and said it in my text.

“ We use guns when we’ re expected to,” answered Charlotte, “ if we’ re fighting alongside humans in the cases I mentioned . . . bodyguarding and the like. But bullets don’ t kill revenants.”

My editor came back and said, “Why? I don’t get why bullets don’t kill revenants.”

So I put on my walking shoes and walked about five miles going over and over in my mind why revenants couldn’t be killed by bullets. And the only thing I came up with was “because my mythology needs it to be like that.”

At that moment I had this kind of revelation. I thought of all of the writers before me who had created the rules for vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like, and they ALL used the no-bullets rule. (Unless it was a special kind of hard- to-get bullet.) But I realized that they all must have gotten to the point as well where they said, “It just has to be this way or my story won’t work.” Which was kind of cool.

I went back to my desk and added on to Charlotte’s sentence:

“ But bullets don’ t kill revenants” —she paused—“ or others like us.”

And with those last four words I linked my revenants to already-established monsters, making my decision legitimate by historical usage.

Mythmaking is hard-going. It makes you kind of obsessed, because even on your off-time, your brain is trying to figure out how things work. But when it all comes together, man does it feel great.

I love your way of finding out how to work the mythology of the world your book is set in Amy! Thanks for sharing with us that process.


Please leave a comment below. If you live in the US, you will be entered to win a signed bookmark for Die for Me. Please mention that you live in the US if you want to be entered for the contest. Ends Friday, May 27th.

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  1. This is a really insightful guest post. I read Die for Me and really loved it but I did wonder about the whole bullets thing. Now I feel somewhat enlightened by the reasoning for it :)

  2. I live in the USA. I've been hearing about DIE FOR ME all over the blogosphere, and it looks AWESOME. I'd love to read it.

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

  3. I've been very curious about the mythology used in this novel. Sounds promising.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  4. I loved the mythology in "Die For Me" it all felt natural and plausible. The world created by the characters is one I was lost in completely as I was reading.

    (I too, live in the US)

  5. I've heard so many things about this book. Seriously, on Goodreads and blogs, there are so many reviews and people talking about it. I would love to read this book :) (I live in the U.S.)

  6. I live in the US :) I have been seeing this book everywhere! I would love a copy to read and review!

    hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

  7. I read Die For Me and really loved being transported to Paris. I went there on a trip last year and Amy brought it all back so well I want to return! :) Great post.

    bookbutterly9 at gmail dot com

  8. Lots of great reviews for this one online also I love the cover. Looks amazing.

    I'm US

  9. I've been reading a lot of buzz for this book and would love to read it! I live in the US.


  10. Thanks for the cool post! I live in the US and I've been hearing such great things about Die For Me.

  11. sounds great...Live in USA

    GFC follower

  12. I have been wanting to read this book for some time,it sounds great.

    I live in the US


  13. Fantastic post! It makes me want to read the book even more and look for all the points she talked bout.

    I live in the USA.


  14. Awesome! It sounds really good and I definitely want to try reading this!

    I live in the US!


  15. I live in the US and would love to have this book!! :)

    Have a wonderful day!

  16. I have nothing but admiration for authors who present new worlds to us readers. Thank you so much for sharing. I live in the US and would love to read this book, I have been reading a lot about it lately and it certainly sounds different (something a readaholic always craves:) Be well and thank you for your efforts.

  17. I have this on my must-read-now list :) I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

    I live in the US :)


  18. This book has been all over the blogs that I follow and now that I have read so many positive reviews about it, I totally must have it!

    I live in the US

  19. I really want to read this book. Please enter me in contest. I live in the USA. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  20. Can't wait to read this book, and I love the cover! I've already ordered it for my library! :)

    I live in the US.

  21. This was an interesting post. I'd love to read the book. Thanks for the giveaway. I live in the U.S.

    forwhlz at gmail dot com

  22. I would really like to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway. I live in the US.

  23. I love bookmarks! Count me in!
    oreo_93 at hotmail dot com

  24. I live in the US!


    crazypplrok at gmail dot com

  25. I really like the idea of "because the author says so". No other explanation needed!

    I live in the U.S. and can always use another bookmark!

  26. I'm in the US and would love a signed bookmark! :)

    thecozyreader @

  27. “because my mythology needs it to be like that.”

    That's why I like fantasy stories! Because we can always blame it on the mythology!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com


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