Both Faith Van Horne and I have used myths of Atlantis in our latest books. Here’s what she says about it.
Playing with Mythic History
By Faith Van Horne
When I started germinating ideas for my young adult novel Slideways, I didn’t know the lost continent of Atlantis would play a part. But by the time I’d created my character sheets and a rough plot outline, it had become a significant setting for the story. However, the version of Atlantis that appears in Slideways bears little resemblance to the island Plato described. I researched the myths, played with the history, and came up with an alternate past (and present) that suited my novel.
One of the possible locations for the mythic isle is the present-day island of Santorini. In its factual history, Santorini experienced a huge volcanic eruption that caused the center portion of a much larger island to slide into the sea. According to Plato, Atlantis sunk into the ocean in a single day. Santorini now consists of the crescent shaped shell of the former island, which fit my story perfectly. Why? Because in my version, that round crater wasn’t caused by the earth crumbling beneath the waves. Instead, the guardians of Atlantis magically transported the island to a separate dimension. But they didn’t have the power to take all of the land with them, so a small portion remains here in our world.
In my mythic history I blend magical elements with fringe science, which is quite fun. See, in Slideways, all magic that once existed originated from Atlantis and flowed outward to the rest of our world. But instead of using magic for peaceful ends, non-Atlanteans used it to gain wealth, power, success in war, and so forth. The elders of Atlantis became enraged, and vowed to cut off their peaceful nation, and its power, from those who would abuse it. So they cast a powerful spell that cut out the center of Atlantis from our world, transporting it to its own. In (pseudo) scientific terms, they created their own pocket universe. A single element, the book containing the spell, was hidden here to maintain the
The upshot of the island’s departure was that our magic source was cut off, leaving us with our current mundane existence. But the spell couldn’t last forever. It required constant magical energy to keep that universe intact. As Slideways opens, our antagonist discovers the hidden spell book and removes it. This simple action leads to cracks in reality when the spell begins to lose its power. Our heroine, because of her psychic bond to one of Atlantis’ residents, is the only one able to keep the growing rip between the worlds from destroying them both.
I took liberties with the myth because an Atlantis sitting in a pocket universe was better for my story than one destroyed by the ocean. Instead of rising from the sea, the island causes magical stress on our world, creating tension in the novel. And that’s what writing fantasy fiction is all about.
If you want to try a fun writing exercise, start with an existing myth. Then take that story and ask, “What if?” Turn the satyr into a bank teller, or Tartarus into a greasy spoon. Even if you don’t come out with a fully fleshed story, you’ll have a great time.
Bio: Faith Van Horne’s short works have appeared in Beyond Centauri, Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k), and other online publications. She is the blog editor for Loconeal Publishing, an independent book publisher in Ohio. She keeps her own blog at faithvanhorne.blogspot.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @fvanhorne.