Sunday, September 13, 2015

Myth meets Imagination

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape

I love playing with mythology when I'm writing. You see a lot of Greek and Roman, even Norse mythology mixed into books--in Sea Change, I even have Dionysus bartering with a Valkyrie. But in Beltane Lion, my story in the upcoming boxed set, Entice Me, I stick a little closer to my own roots and play with British mythology, most specifically with the Ballad of Tam Lin.

I should note that Beltane Lion was published several years ago as Beltaine Bargain but there is new material in this version, and I think it works better overall. I was a very new author then.

So who is Tam Lin? The oldest known versions of the story are Scottish, although I believe the Irish and other Britons may claim it as well. Tam, a variant of Tom, was a young man who liked to lurk in the woods and seduce pretty women near a place called Carterhaugh or Carter Hall.

O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
- opening verse of Tam Lin, Child Ballad 39A

One day he messed with the wrong woman, the Queen of Elfland, who decided to punish him by taking him home with her. Or in other versions, she caught him when he fell off his horse. Now, not fully human, not fully elf, he still hangs out in the forest stealing maidenheads.

When young Janet, or Jennet in some versions, meets him, falls for him, and winds up pregnant, she goes back to him and he tells her the secret to setting him free. On Halloween, when the fair folk ride, she must pull him from his horse and hold on, no matter what the Queen turns him into--be it a snake, a lion, or a flaming brand. Jennet does as she's told, holds on, and doesn't let go. The Queen's dominion over Tam is broken, and he's human again, able to marry Jennet.

There's more, of course, but here's a neat website with a lot of collected information.
One reason I like this one so much is that it has a happy ending, and it other is that the happy ending comes about through the woman's strength and courage--not all that common in myths!


Entice Me, with stories covering a huge range of romance genres by Marianne Stephens, Rose Anderson, Jean Hart Stewart,Janice Segraves, Denyse Bridger, Gemma Juliana, Paris Brandon, Cara Marsi, and of course, moi, goes on sale October 10.

(drawing of Tam Lin is in the public domain, info here.)

1 comment:

  1. Tam Lin is one of my favorite tales, too! Thanks for sharing that link.


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