Demons, Monsters, and Ghosts, Oh No! Part VI: Incorporating the Mythological
I’ve talked a lot about different types of demons, and some about how to work a demon into your story. However, this series is called Demons, Monsters, and Ghosts, not just demons. So today I want to start talking about monsters. Specifically I want to provide an example of how I worked one of my favorite mythological monsters into a book, but first, the monster.
One of my favorite monsters in Arabian mythology is the Nasnas. The Nasnas appears in the writings of Edward Lane, a 19th century British scholar and translator. It also appears in The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert. The Nasnas is also one of the strangest monsters I have ever found…anywhere. The Nasnas is a half-man. Not like a centaur or mermaid, a half-man, half something else, just half a man. Literally the Nasnas appears as a man that has been cut in half lengthwise. It has half a head, half a torso, one arm, and one leg. In the stories it hops around on its one leg and appears in order to scare children. I love the Nasnas, mostly because I love that which is strange and inexplicable.
Now the Nas-Nas does not present much of a danger when compared with most of the creatures that populate modern fantasy tales. Really, the Nasnas is pretty much just half a person. I present the Nasnas in my story as an experiment. It is imprisoned below one of the cities of the Neshelim and observed, to see how long it will live. I use the Nasnas to show the extremes to which the Neshelim go in pursuit of knowledge. In this case the Nasnas was created simply to see if it was possible. It is kept alive to see for how long it is possible to do so. Perhaps the experiment will someday yield productive results for the Neshelim, perhaps it will not.
Most of the creatures that populate fantasy novels are either dangerous, or whimsical. However, the mythologies of the world are filled with the odd, inexplicable, and sometimes disturbing that all too often goes to waste. I love the Nasnas because it is, on the surface, just that…useless. However, so many of these items, and creatures, can be put to good use with a little bit of creative thought.
We all know what a chimera is, though the actual mythical creature has been lost somewhere in the modern versions of it. Likewise dragons like Smaug or Fafnir are fairly common. The basilisk has had some recent exposure, thanks to Harry Potter, but when was the last time you saw a cockatrice, ahuizotl, kapre, na-gui, or rusulka? So tell me, what is your favorite mythological creature and how can it be used? Can you think of an odd mythological creature that could be put to use?
Among the Neshelim
Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, seek it out, and break ourselves trying to find it. But it is always a rare commodity.
Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before – all for the hope of understanding. This journey will turn upside down the world he thought he knew and challenge all of his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?
Posted on April 9, 2011, in Monsters, Tobias Mastgrave and tagged ahuizotl, basilisk, cockatrice, Edward Lane, Fafnir, Gustave Flaubert, kapre, na-gui, Nasnas, rusulka, Smaug, The Temptation of St. Anthony. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.