Certain stories have themes which appear again and again. I’ve noticed them in fairytales, folk tales, and legends. I’ve noticed them recurring in movies, television, and books. Behave badly and a monster will eat you. Behave badly and your bad behavior will eat you. Behave badly and you will become your bad behavior.
These themes appear again and again in my stories. In Tales of the Navel (the universe Christopher from Conversations with Christopher comes from), Duessa Ashelocke becomes a monster when she makes a pact with a monster to consume her monstrous husband. Pausania and other members of the Intergalactic Democracy in A Symposium in Space become as repressive as members of the legendary patriarchy upon Ancient Earth they’ve come to revile. Mousetrick gets hit with a shoe (no joke if you’re a mouse) Madam Mousenip’s deceptions catch up with her, and Cheesecurd ends up sleeping off the effects of his greed in Seven Tricks.
On the flip side of the lesson, be kind to others and you will be rewarded by kindness in return. Danyel is always being warned against being kind in Tales of the Navel yet he finds friends in the most unlikely places because of it. Rose refuses to see evil in the woman who cursed her in Fairest. She sees loveliness and loneliness wrapped in a mystery she reaches out to. Briar responds to this even while hiding in her own darkness. Cracktooth insists on being kind to the mice his uncle hunts in Seven Tricks. Eventually his kindness is rewarded, even if it may not seem like a reward at the time.
Maia, Nathalie, and Grace in Wind Me Up, One More Time make both bad decisions and good ones. With each bad choice, they become more lonely, isolated, and closer to becoming Iama the Terrible, the lonely enchantress who turns all of her potential companions into gold, cut off from human interaction. No, it’s not just Maia who is transforming into Iama. Both Nathalie and Grace take a step closer to becoming this dark fairytale character when they isolate themselves, turning away from the people who care for them. When they reach out to their friends or stuffed animals, they turn away from that fate.
Actions have consquences. It’s true in real life, but we often see those consequences in a story. Particularly in a fairytale, myth, or legend. It’s one of the reasons these tales endure. It’s one of the reasons we reinvent them again and again. It’s why I draw upon them and shape them into new forms for my own stories.
How about you, dear reader? Are you drawn to fairytales, myths, and legends? What draws you to them?