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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Mythology Behind The Wash

Recently, I've been asked a lot about where the idea for The Wash came from. While I wrote about some of that in an earlier blog post you can find here (How The Pieces Came Together), I really didn't address where the mythology behind the story comes from and that's what I've been asked more often than not lately.  People seem to want to know whether any of this stuff is real.

While I love digging around for the history behind a story, film or song, I'm actually not a big fan of spoiling the mystery.  Some of my favorite books and films have fantastic histories behind them that I find fascinating to explore, but at the same time I don't necessarily want to peel back the onion so much that I lose the magic I feel while enjoying them.  So it's with a bit of trepidation that I'm writing this post, but at the same time if some of you really do want to dig down deeper (at your own risk) then who am I to hide my source material?

That said, there were a TON of different things that influenced the story of The Wash, but when it came to the stories and clues the characters begin to piece together, I relied on four books.  Here they are and just remember, The Wash is a work of fiction.  Therefore, I borrowed bits from here and there.  Anyone looking for clues to where the real stones are buried will have to look elsewhere.

The Myths of Mexico and Peru by Lewis Spence

My copy of this book is so dog-eared, highlighted and notated that you'd think I was taking a college class on the subject.  It was originally published in 1913, but Barnes and Noble reprinted it in 2005.  It's very dry reading, but is packed with information.  Spence doesn't waste time with flowery writing, so read it at your own risk.

Myths and Legends of the North American Indians by Lewis Spence

Do you see a trend here?  Spence published this one in 1914.  I ran across my copy at a used bookstore.  It was republished in 2004.  Again, nothing particularly flowery here but if you like reading myths and legends, it's a pretty good resource.

Mexican Folk Tales by Anthony John Campos

This is a very short book published in 1977 by the University of Arizona Press.  It's split into three sections (Legends of the Devil, The Strange Doings of the Saints and The Foibles of Man and Beast).  Robert's story of the poor man and the bandit's gold comes from this book.

Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein

This is hands down my favorite of the books I read while researching The Wash.  While I really only pulled from it for one conversation between J.B. and Robert, it basically informed my whole outlook on how to bring this story together.  Bierlein splits his book up in sections based on types of myths (Flood myths, Creation myths, etc.) and then points out all of the similarities between cultures that are separated by thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of miles.  It's a fascinating read.

Other than those four, the only other book I can point you to would be Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.  It's an exploration of the Mormon religion that is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read.  In fact, I highly recommend every book I've read by Krakauer (Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, Under the Banner of Heaven and Classic Krakauer).  

And that, folks, is all you're going to get out of me.  I'm not about to tell you what's real versus what's made up.  There's just no fun in that.

If you haven't read The Wash yet, you can find it right here at my Amazon authors page in both ebook and soft cover.  I hope you enjoy it.


Anonymous said...

I don’t understand. People are having trouble differentiating fact from fiction, or are they more agitated and uncomfortable with a reality that is not easily digestible and resolved? Are these same people ones that happened to read The Wash due to personal connections or recommendations, and would otherwise not venture to read something of this nature or not read much at all?

You got some people to read a book, and now it is spinning around inside them like an angry hornet, the only nugget of content they are left with to digest? Bravo man, bravo. You have accomplished the paramount outcome of art – having a transformative effect on your audience. Everyone knows that all water originates from rocks - don’t they?

Cary said...

Actually, it's been more about people wanting to know which parts come from real mythology and which parts were made up. I've been asked whether the story about the stones come from an old folk tale. I've been asked whether the climax is based on actual mythology. I've been asked about the antagonist and whether that comes from actual myth or whether I created it. I've even been asked about the ball of feathers that comes early in the book.

I'm not telling anyone anything, but if they want to go try to find out what's "real" or not for themselves, then those books will be where they should look.

Anonymous said...

Trade secrets! It is good to hear that people are applying that much scrutiny and consideration to the work, and not merely being occupied and amused - or confused.
There is zero value in recipe revelation. Keep the lid on tight! Add some welds or some VHB tape to keep the varmints out.

Custodi ea compensare coniectans.