Meet Elizabeth Tammi.
The Guest Post
“Use Your Re-Imagination: YA Retellings”
In this year alone, YA fiction’s already published some fantastic retellings. Kristina Perez’s Sweet Black Waves gives a new perspective on the tale of Tristan and Isolde, Megan Bannen’s The Bird and the Blade pulls inspiration from the opera Turandot, and Kiersten White’s final installment in The Conqueror’s Saga, Bright We Burn, offers a gender-flipped exploration of the life of Vlad the Impaler.
My forthcoming debut novel, Outrun the Wind, also draws from ancient source material from poets like Ovid and Apollodorus. The life of the legendary Greek warrior Atalanta first grabbed my attention a little over two years ago, before I left for college. Though I’ve always been a mythological fan, until that summer I’d never learned the full extent of the story of Atalanta, a young girl who managed to help kill the ferocious Calydonian Boar, and a girl who demanded that her suitors try to beat her in a footrace…in which she slew them all.
Needless to say, I was intrigued by this figure, but riddled with questions and confusion. I think that it’s a combination of intrigue and frustration from our modern perspective that has birthed this movement of retellings. Mythology is a great source material, because there’s already so much disparity and differences between the most ancient of poets– it has an evolutionary and fluid freedom that leaves room for wild interpretations and additions. (Madeline Miller and Rick Riordan are both wonderful examples of authors who use the Greek myths in their own completely vivid and original tales.)
Stories are always inspired by something, so I get defensive when people say retellings aren’t as valid as ‘original’ works. Atalanta is an icon of mythology, but it’s up to me (and other authors who have used her) to give her a personality, motivations, and relationships. It’s up to me to create a new cast of characters and develop a setting, plot, and conflicts that help to piece together the loose dots of source material I incorporated.
I’ve adored reading all the fantastic retellings of recent years, and look forward to more to come! I believe readers truly enjoy seeing instances of today’s imagination interacting with yesterday’s tales to create exciting, innovative stories that make us consider different views on the stories we’ve passed down and used to define ourselves.
Thanks so much for letting me ramble about this awesome publishing trend, and I hope you’ll consider reading my take on Atalanta’s story on November 27th, when Outrun the Wind releases from Flux Books.