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Advice for writers

Exploring and Writing Mythology Through a Queer Lens

an ancient greek depiction of achilles and patroclus surrounded by the text "exploring mythology through a queer lens"

Crafting Queer Mythological Books

Mythology and folklore have long been a source of inspiration for writers, providing a rich tapestry of stories, characters, and themes to draw upon. As a writer who is passionate about both mythology and queer representation, I find the intersection of these two areas incredibly exciting and ripe with potential. Writing mythology offers a unique opportunity to reimagine ancient tales and breathe new life into timeless narratives. In this article, I’ll share insights, examples, and resources for writing mythology through a queer lens, with the hope of inspiring fellow authors, writers, editors, and publishers to explore this fascinating genre.

Queerness in Mythology: A Historical Perspective

Before diving into how we can write queer mythological books, it’s important to acknowledge that queerness is not a modern invention. Many mythological traditions from around the world feature characters and stories that embody diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.

For example, in Greek mythology, we see the story of Achilles and Patroclus, whose close relationship has been interpreted by many as a romantic one. Similarly, the god Zeus took on various forms to pursue his love interests, including transforming into a beautiful young man named Ganymede. In Hindu mythology, we find the deity Shiva, who is often depicted in the androgynous form of Ardhanarishvara, a composite of Shiva and his consort Parvati, representing the unity of male and female energies.

writing mythology through a queer lens

These examples illustrate that queerness has always been present in mythology. As writers, we have the opportunity to bring these narratives to the forefront, honoring their historical roots while also creating new, inclusive stories that resonate with contemporary readers.

Writing Mythology Narratives

When writing queer mythological books, there are several key elements to consider:

1. Research and Respect

Understanding the cultural and historical context of the myths you’re working with is crucial. Research extensively to ensure that your portrayals in writing mythology are respectful and accurate. This involves not only reading primary sources but also engaging with scholarship that examines these myths from a queer perspective. For instance, The Queer God by Marcella Althaus-Reid and Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton offer valuable insights into the presence of queerness in religious and mythological contexts.

2. Reimagining with Purpose

While it’s important to respect the original myths, don’t be afraid to reimagine them through a queer lens. This could involve retelling a classic story with a queer protagonist, exploring the fluidity of gender in mythological beings, or creating entirely new myths that reflect queer experiences. Reimagine the story of Orpheus and Eurydice where both characters are women, and explore themes of love, loss, and the afterlife from a queer perspective. Anything is possible!

3. Creating Relatable Characters

Characters are the heart of any story. In queer mythological books, it’s essential to create characters that are not only true to the mythological context but also relatable to modern readers. This involves delving deep into their motivations, fears, and desires. Consider how their queer identity shapes their experiences and interactions with the world around them.

writing mythology through a queer lens

For a more extensive post on writing compelling characters, click here!

Examples of Queer Mythological Books

There are several contemporary authors who have successfully blended queer themes with mythology, offering excellent examples to learn from:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: This retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus highlights their romantic relationship, bringing emotional depth and queer representation to an ancient Greek myth.

Circe by Madeline Miller: Although not explicitly focused on queer themes, “Circe” features complex characters and relationships that challenge traditional gender roles and expectations.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: This novel combines Latinx culture and mythology with a queer narrative, telling the story of a trans boy who summons a ghost and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Resources for Writers

As you embark on your journey of writing mythology books, here are some books that can help:

Queer Magic: LGBT+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World by Tomás Prower

Out in the World: Gay and Lesbian Life from Buenos Aires to Bangkok by Neil Miller

The Queer Bible Commentary by Deryn Guest

Embracing the Queer Lens

Writing mythological books with queer representation is not just about inclusion; it’s about embracing the richness and diversity of human experiences. By reimagining myths through a queer lens, we can create stories that are both timeless and timely, honoring the past while speaking to the present.

At Atmosphere Press, we are committed to supporting authors who are passionate about telling these important stories. Whether you’re looking for guidance on crafting your narrative, editing services to refine your manuscript, or assistance with publishing, our team is here to help you bring your queer mythological book to life. We believe in the power of diverse voices and are dedicated to amplifying stories that celebrate the full spectrum of human experience.

Incorporating queerness into mythological writing is a profound way to explore identity, love, and the human condition. By drawing on the rich traditions of mythology and infusing them with queer perspectives, we can create narratives that resonate deeply with readers and contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape. So, let’s dive into the ancient tales, reimagine them with our unique voices, and craft stories that honor both our history and our present. Together, we can ensure that the legends of tomorrow are as diverse and vibrant as the world we live in today. Happy writing!

EKB author photo 1

Erin K. Larson-Burnett, Production Manager at Atmosphere Press (submit your manuscript here!), is a born-and-raised Southerner currently living in Katy, Texas, with her husband and their small domestic zoo. She is an avid ink drinker who lives and breathes books—during the day, she works remotely with authors around the world, honing and perfecting books published through Atmosphere Press. By night, she crafts her own stories…or at least tries to. The Bear & the Rose is her debut novel.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.