Tor.com content by

Erin M. Evans

Making Mythology Relateable

Whenever I encounter a piece of fiction with characters straight out of mythology, I pause. Half of me craves it—the part of me that’s a raging geek for all things mythological, from Olympian gods to Sumerian demons to wayang kulit to narco saints. There’s something cozy in re-encountering the familiar, something exciting in spotting details you spent a long time acquiring knowledge of.

And half of me knows I’m going to be disappointed, especially when we’re talking about gods. Gods make for terrible characters. How do you present someone more than human making them relateable without diminishing what ought to make them alien? With ancient gods, how do you present something that’s so intrinsically linked to the culture that birthed it in a way that connects to your modern audience? More often than not, it feels less like Paradise Lost and more like Big Brother—shallow, zany, and full of jokes about banging swans.

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Relateable Mythology: The Wicked + the Divine

Whenever I encounter a piece of fiction with characters straight out of mythology, I pause. Half of me craves it—the part of me that’s a raging geek for all things mythological, from Olympian gods to Sumerian demons to wayang kulit to narco saints. There’s something cozy in re-encountering the familiar, something exciting in spotting details you spent a long time acquiring knowledge of.

And half of me knows I’m going to be disappointed, especially when we’re talking about gods. Gods make for terrible characters. How do you present someone more than human making them relatable without diminishing what ought to make them alien? With ancient gods, how do you present something that’s so intrinsically linked to the culture that birthed it in a way that connects to your modern audience? More often than not, it feels less like Paradise Lost and more like Big Brother—shallow, zany, and full of jokes about banging swans.

[So when I read the first volume of The Wicked + The Divine, I paused. But I never cringed.]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing