Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Like the Finest Wine"

Some of you have probably read Christine Emmert's novella Lilith (available on Amazon Kindle), the haunting tale of a woman to whom the primeval demon/goddess Lilith appears in the form of an owl, laying claim to the life of her infant as the price of knowledge and the completion of her work.

Lilith strikes sweet wounds to the heart of any mother who has ever wakened in the middle of the night fearing for her child's safety, or any artist who has labored to complete a long work and felt the weight of unexpected sacrifices.

We were so taken with this story that we turned to author and playwright Christine Emmert this week to learn more about the creator of Lilith.

Christine, what made you want to write Lilith?

It was an odd crossroads of buying a book on Medieval Mythology and a barn owl that was living in our open-air garage when we moved to the country. Lilith has many sides. She is the woman who would not bow down to a patriarchal universe. All women have that wish not to defer born into them as little girls. We suppress it as we grow up and evolve into members of a
society, but freedom still tastes like the finest wine to us.

Could you tell us -- what is your own favorite moment in Lilith? The moment that sits with you most deeply when you close your eyes?

When her husband tells her to paint Lilith. My husband is a visual artist, and he can often depict visually what I cannot say in words. The depth of the visual is stunning and scary at the same time.

I couldn't agree more. What writers do you admire?

I love Katherine Harrison. I think her novel POISON is one of the finest pieces of writing I ever read. I also admire Steven Saylor for his historical fiction -- especially THE VENUS THROW which seems to understand the weaving of good and evil in us on a level that is heart rending.

My friend, Stephanie Cowell, who also writes historical fiction is a big inspiration to me in the depth at which she looks at the lives of famous people. Of course I love Shakespeare who
could make us sympathize with the blackest heart or make us laugh at our own foolishness. Erica Jung's poetry as well leaves me speechless before her honesty.

What else inspires you as a writer -- what gives you energy?

I have always found myth as a great source of inspiration. Myth expresses what is behind the great curtain in simple ways we can understand, even if we can't verbalize it. My animals too help me since I must always try harder to see what they want than what people want. To be really syrupy I have to say love inspires me. I could not do what I do without the support of my husband. Before I met him I drowned in my dreams rather than swam through them to the far shore.

What is next for you after Lilith?

I write plays...and just finished one on Mary Magdalene that I would love to see produced. It is a very different take on what has become an overly familiar story. In addition I want to write more on the mythology of the East. Buddha and the heritage from his teachings has given me new ways of looking at the world. I began a novel, THE DAKINI IN THE CAVE, that braids many myths together.

Thank you, Christine. And thank you, our readers, for listening. We hope that you will each make it to the far shore in the pursuit of your own visions. Please check out Lilith, and watch for future titles from Dante's Heart.

Daniel Fusch, Ph.D
Senior Editor, Dante's Heart Publications
Author, Zombie Bible
Father, Dances with Grownups

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mythology of the West

American mythology is often focused on the wild west and the westward expansion. The west is still considered the frontier where known hits unknown. Tales of the wild west fill books and the movie screen. However, with many modern re-telling's of mythological stories, there is also a re-spinning to add a bit of flair. This is were wild west meets just plain weird. Weird-west tales have found their own niche. One of the best examples being Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Til Dawn."

The first half the film reads like any other western. There is your upstanding sheriff, innocent bystanders, and highway robbers. As to be expected the aforementioned robbers attempt to rob a bank, take hostages, and try to get away from the law. Rodriguez follows the mythological pattern to a T, until (Spoilers!) the vampires decide to show up. There is no longer a good-guy bad-guy dynamic. It is man verses monster. The vampire tropes are as you would expect: crosses, holy water, blood drinking, etc. As separate pieces the two genres are typical and common. The genius is in the blending.

Just like America is the melting pot, our modern mythologies are melting pots as well. It is not enough to be a vampire tale or a western. It is the combination that makes the weird-west worth looking into.

Celebrating the Forth,
J.R. West the Raccoon