I’ll never forget my neighbor Lance telling me that he was learning Greek mythology in his 8th grade English class. I was in 7th grade at the time. Unfair. As “cool kid” as he was, even he and his “cool kid” buddies couldn’t help but buzzing about the Greek gods and goddesses. From the back of the bus, whispers of Zeus and Ares reached my ears. I instantly became obsessed with Hephaestus, god of the forge. The first Vulcan, Lance called him.
And I was very into Star Trek in the 7th grade.
I could hardly wait for the 8th grade and my turn to learn about the Pantheon, but by that time I was already a self-appointed expert in all things Greek mythology. I even picked up a “Dictionary of Mythology” at a garage sale with my grandma–and I was surprised to learn that the Greek gods and goddesses weren’t the only deities out there.
Since then, my obsession for the gods has cooled a bit, although if I close my eyes, I can still see the burn of Hephaestus’ forge, hear the clank of his hammer against a fiery red coil of metal. Thus, it doesn’t take much to reignite my passion for mythology.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? The role that mythology plays in early civilization? And, just as interesting, the role it plays in current civilization. Specifically, it’s rebirth in pop culture, books, and film.
Rather than explore this theme academically–this is a blog, not a term paper, folks–I figured I’d put together a Top 5 list of my favorite myths brought to life in pop culture. And just so I don’t seem completely vain, I’ve decided to bank my choices off the favorites of another “Pop Mythology” expert.
Kelly Hashway, author of many books for a full spectrum of ages, recently released book #2 in her Touch of Death series, an adventure that draws heavily–and refreshingly–from the Medusa mythology. Having just finished book #1, I can safely say Kelly is a Pop Mythology pro.
Touch of Death is all about Jodi Marshall, a seemingly normal (and, dare I say, klutzy) high school girl that has a few firsts going on in her life: first public school, first boyfriend, first stalker, and first time raising the dead.
And Jodi’s not just ‘raising’ the dead either. She’s making the dead too. See, Jodi’s got some Gorgon blood in her, having descended from the bloodlines of Medusa, making her an Ophi–a natural necromancer born under the 13th sign of the Zodiac, Ophiuchus.
Clearly Kelly knows a thing or two about mythology in pop culture. So here’s her list of Pop Mythology faves. Click on the blurbs to find out a little more about each book–and maybe even a little about the inspiration behind Kelly Hashway’s Touch of Death series!
Who doesn’t like the Percy Jackson movies? I can’t wait to see Sea of Monsters…and I know for a fact that Kelly celebrated the release of Stalked by Death by hitting up that flick.
So I’m totally on board with Kelly’s picks. If I had to throw my two cents in the ring, I’d say if you want to be a Pop Mythology master, you have to check out Eric Nylund’s Mortal Coils and the sequel, Everything That Lives Must Die. Trust me, you’ve never seen gods and goddesses come together like this. But in a close second comes K.A. Applegate’s Everworld series and that episode of Gargoyles titled “The New Olympians.”
In conclusion–okay, maybe this is a little bit term papery–I think mythology plays an important role in pop culture because of how essential it is to “worldbuilding.” I mean, myths literally built society, and all the best books play off those myths–or invent their own! As a writer, if you understand the building blocks of the world you’re creating, your setting will be all the richer.
Okay, students, so for the next class, make sure you pick up the required texts, Touch of Death and Stalked by Death by Kelly Hashway, and give her a follow on Twitter because she’s a hoot!