Sunday, February 18, 2018
Geeks and Greeks: Mixing Modern Technology and Ancient Myth with Allyson Lindt
ThrillWriters and ThrillReaders, let me introduce Allyson Lindt a fellow writer in the Empires of Shadow and Ash Boxed Set.
Allyson, today we're going to chat modern fantasy - geeks and office workers. Can you start by telling readers what you write?
On the urban fantasy side of things, I like exploring different mythologies, and creating worlds and stories where old magic mingles with modern day (or near future) technology. IE - angels and demons monitoring humanity through their web browsing habits. Or in my Empires of Shadow and Ash boxed set book, Greek gods who have returned to be worshipped, and use modern technology to communicate with and track people (apparently I've taken 'big brother is watching' literally more than once, lol)
Today, we are talking about how you are finding an interesting new intersection between the mythological world and the modern day world we are living in. As you were developing this concept, what were some of the things you needed to work through in your own mind to make this work?
My initial idea was "What if a Dungeons and Dragons monsters spawned in our modern day world... then what?" It was the "then what?" that became the rabbit hole.
I had to figure out why it happened, and once it happened, how did it impact our society? Would they get rid of technology, or let us keep it to keep us happy? Or better, would they use it to reach places their magic couldn't take them?
I liked the last answer, because no creature has unlimited power. I'm also considering where their limitations are, what use this has to them, and how it all blends together, but stays separate (IE the tech isn't driven by their magic, it's its own kind of power)
I wrote an article a few months ago about the gadgets that you can get that are Bond-like in nature. They were so crazy that they were made up ideas that writers came up with. Now, they don't seem crazy at all. Can you imagine what James Bond would do with the phones we all have in our pockets?
What was your characters learning curve like and do they use the technology in a different way than we do?
Our cellphones do so many things now. James Bond wouldn't need half of his gadgets.
For my characters, it depends on the individual. Actaeon is a hero (of the classic Greek variety). He's been living among humanity for three-thousand years, so he's watched technology grow and change. There are some things he adapted to quickly and willingly--indoor plumbing is a favorite of his. (Fiona inserts - to be fair, indoor plumbing is a favorite of mine, as well.)There are other things he's never seen the use for. Cellphones are on the list. Anything that keeps track of where an individual is, or their habits. So he's not a fan of social media either. He'd rather speak with people in person, or write a letter.
Lexi was born into the world as it is now, but her father was alive before the Gods returned, so he taught her some of the differences between then and now. She still has a hard time wrapping her brain around it, though. She has similar reservations about online tech--she can't imagine living in a world where people were comfortable checking in or announcing their location to the Internet, the way we do today. She listens to mp3's on an old player with no network connectivity, and she reads a lot of paperbacks.
For the gods, those who had trouble adapting, hired humans to do the work for them. There's always a follower willing to keep up with trends, so the gods don't have to. They say "make my message heard to millions" and it happens. To most of them, it's a magic they don't care to possess.
It's interesting that your gods are concerned with being tracked. That seems to be a sensitive subject. Who do they think is after them, and do these people have the skill sets to succeed in tracking the gods down?
Piggy backing on that question, are there aspects of modern culture - paypal and banking on line for example that they refuse to do but that causes them issues or calls attention to them. In other words, does this make the gods look suspicious in any way?
Allyson - It's not that the gods are worried about being tracked. The gods have returned, because they want the glory that goes with worship. They want people to know they're there. Lexi and Actaeon are concerned with being tracked, because they don't want the gods keeping an eye on them.
A hero is the one being capable of defeating a god. So most of them have been killed, sworn loyalty to the gods, or stay off the radar so they're not a threat. The gods have people with those tracking skills, keeping track of so many things. CC Cameras that notify them if someone they're watching is in their city, things like that.
Currency is a difficult issue for someone being tracked, because so much of it is digital. If you have money, it's not usually tangible. But there are still "untraceable" (or difficult to trace) currencies. A more secure version of bitcoin, or crypto currency
What challenges have you faced while writing about technology - are you concerned that technology will change at a rate that will date your books?
That is a challenge. I keep an close eye on technology (though not as close as some), and I try and have an idea of the direction it's heading. But I have one book that the technology has already gone in a different direction than the future I created.
I try not to get too detailed as I delve into the technology. Like with the show Black Mirror, I want to represent a world where it's plausible that it could happen, based on what we already have today, but I try and keep it vague enough that it's not dated five or ten years down the line.
It doesn't always work, but it's what I hope for.
I want to touch on a game you mentioned - one of your characters played Halo?
Do you use gaming for inspiration? Where do you find your inspiration?
You're remembering that, but it wasn't for an Urban Fantasy novel. A lot of my contemporary romance characters have the same geeky tendencies I do, and since I picture my contemporary romance as taking place now, I don't worry so much about the books dating themselves.
Gaming isn't so much an inspiration, but social media and modern marketing are. I work with information in my day job, and I'm fascinated with the way it's collected and then used to sell to us. People talk about government watching our every move, but we broadcast so much about ourselves in our social interactions, and that's always been a fascinating thing to me.
American Gods is a huge influence in my urban fantasy writing. I love the idea that power waxes and wanes for a god based on how much faith people have in them.
And in American Gods, the old gods and faith are being replaced with the new gods of technology.
But I wanted to examine it from a different angle, and say if the old gods used that tech willingly, how could they reach new believers. How could they revive that faith?
At ThrillWriting we always ask - if you would feel comfortable - our interviewees to tell us the story behind your favorite scar or a harrowing event you survived would you indulge us?
My deepest physical scars aren't big. I have some from chicken pox when I was ten or eleven. I have a couple from when I worked in a picture frame shop. I cut myself on the glass a few times. My most harrowing events would be emotional ones.
Which might be part of the reason I'm so fascinated with the way we react to the world around us.
When I was twenty, I met a guy at work. At the time, I hadn't had a lot of experience dating, so when we "fell in love" I was certain it was the real deal. We were engaged after a couple of weeks, married a month after that, and separated less than six months later.
But it was an expensive lesson to learn. Emotionally and financially. An experience like that teaches a person a lot about themselves.
There's so much "was it me?" "Was I wrong?" "Where did I screw up?" and it takes a while to come back to realize, sometimes these things just happen
I bet that's fed your writing ever since.
It really has.
Those ups and downs that come between the doubt and the revelations are a big part of the story telling I do. The core of a lot of my stories is self-acceptance.
You can see how Allyson Lindt uses her authorial skills to meld the ancient an modern in her novel that will be in Empires of Shadow and Ash, available on KOBO, NOOK, and iBooks now and soon on Amazon. We appreciate your support as you share this article and preorder your copy.
99 cents for 20 Urban Fantasies!
Stay in touch with Allyson!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/allysonlindt