Questions With Answers
(This segment was written in 2001, just before Yesterday's Dreams was printed for the first time.
I have made some updates, denoted by brackets < >)
Q: Why Celtic Mythology as a basis for the story?
A: Celtic myth has been so under-explored, despite many
of its components being used fantasy by everyone from Shakespeare to Mercedes
Lackey. Most of what is out there is so vague, utilizing the creatures of
Celtic myth without the support of the stories that are the basis of the myth
system. Most people have no idea who Nuada Silver-hand is or Danu, but everyone
knows what a leprechaun isÖ unfortunately mostly from cereal boxes, Doby
McGill, and for goodness sake, the much overdone King Arthur. There is so much
more to it than that.
Q: Will there be a sequel?
A: I currently have planned two sequels, the first of
which is already well on itís way to being completed. The whole trilogy
<now called the Eternal Cycle series> consists of Yesterdayís Dreams, Tomorrowís Memories, and Todayís Vision. Iím
also toying with the idea of a separate book that deals with some of the past
events that are referred to in YD. Things I had to work up to know where the
story was coming from but couldnít go into too much detail about without
dragging down the story.
Q: You mention that you incorporate more of the Celtic
myth, rather than only the mythological creatures, how do you go about that?
A: I do it in several ways first, Iíve seeded the story
with many of the traditions that have sprung up from the myths, such as never
referring to the Sidhe by name lest you call them to you. The people referred to
them as the Gentry, the Kindly Ones, and other such general terms to protect
themselves. Then there are the traditions of a bit of iron for protection,
though I put my own spin on this, and leaving out a saucer of milk to appease
the fairyfolk so they donít do mischief to your home in the night. Also, the
concept of elves stealing children and leaving changlings in their place. You
know, things like that.
Second, in the
interaction of the characters I have them make reference to some of the primary
stories in Celtic myth, such as the story of Oisin and his Sidhe mother who was
transformed into a deer, or Nuada Silver-hand, a former king forced to step
down once he was maimed. In Celtic tradition a king cannot rule if his is not
whole, most likely due to the turbulent history of Ireland even in ancient times. A king had to be able to lead his people into battle.
And finally, I
have taken all of my Sidhe characters and given them appropriate names from the
myths based on who they are. I have to explain that further though, one of the
tenets of ancient Celtic belief is a form of reincarnationóI know, small
surprise, what religion/mythological system doesnít have some form of this. The
Celtic form is not so much in the vein of ďI was so and so in a past lifeĒ but
of souls coming back in the form of a descendant. Souls gain experience, but
memories donít translate. In keeping with this Iíve felt that names would be
recycled and the individuals would bear some resemblance to the namesake.
Q: You mentioned that in your research you found Celtic
myth itself to be ďsketchyĒ,
can you explain that?
A: Well, there are a lot of names and stories out there,
but most of the references in book form or on the net are in a dictionary
format, you have a name, a brief synopsis of what they were known for, and a
lot of cross-referencing to try and get a larger picture. And, consequently,
not all the texts are in agreement on everything, though on most things they
are. There are some collections of actual stories and legends out there, most
notably by Yeats and Lady Wilde, but that is limited because so much was lost
in the oral tradition. <In 2003, I was a guest at Phoenix Convention, or PCon, in Dublin, Ireland. On a panel about Mythology in Fantasy I mentioned the legend I based the Eternal Cycle series on, the myth of Carman and her three sons. This is one of the myths for which I found varying interpretations. Ironically enough, I was told that of course no one had heard of this legend, because it wasn't Irish, it was foreign (because I mentioned Carman was referred to as an Athenian godess in one account). The person who made this claim and totally destroyed my credibility in front of the audience later came to me to apologize because they had gone home and checked their Celtic Myth dictionary and found the myth of Carman and her three sons. It ididn't help my credibility, but was a nice bit of vindication.>
Q: In the book you put forth an interesting concept on
Sidhe births, what inspired it?
A: There are several things that are commonly accepted
regarding elves, though Iíve only found a basis for one of them in the
mythology. First it is given that elves are immortal. There are several
different explanations of this, but so it is. Second is that elven births are
rare. While there are logical theories regarding this (the longer lived
something is, the less the motivation to procreate) I havenít found any
reference to the frequency of births. However, I havenít rejected the concept,
instead, given the above information on reincarnation, I have adapted it. In
the reality of Yesterdayís Dreams, the reason elves so rarely give birth is
that there are a limited number of souls and as good ecologically minded
beings, they recycle. My concept is that for a Sidhe to give birth another of
their number must first die thus the foundation of one aspect of their
reincarnation system. This also ties in with the child-stealing Iíve already
mentioned, if you long to have a child but know one of you own must die first,
well, itís a lot easier to consider the alternatives in that situation.
Q: But if they are immortal, how can one of them die? I
mean, immortal means you donít die.
A: Ah, true, but it does not mean that you canít die, all
it means is that you donít die of natural causes, no heart attacks or pneumonia,
that kind of thing. There is nothing saying they canít meet their end by
violence or accident, in fact, there are plenty of references to Sidhe deaths
in the mythology.
Q: Where do you picture this whole story going?
A: Why with the good guys winning of course, eventually
(readers donít usually come back for doomed endings), but it will not be an
easy path. There are hard decisions for the OíKeefes to make and the Sidhe have
a few of their own.