I’m not too sure on length of tonight’s post, as I have a very sore, swollen left hand (got it trapped between a boat-trailer and the ute (AKA ‘truck’) thinking I was faster than I am. I then went to sea, and caught this little 8 and a half pound fellow, and just after seven pound brother who closed his feeding claw around the hand, and explained to me in no uncertain terms that I had broken it. Anyway, he is Christmas dinner, shrimp on the barbie for his, and my, pains. Needless to say today the words have flowed quite freely and I have been alternating between chicken pecking and holding the hand up and getting too impatient and just typing. Hand is complaining a bit. Sooky thing that it and I are.
We, and our writing, are products of this sort of mixture of experience and ourselves. But it struck me today when I was dealing with a mixture of modern setting, Celtic legend and largely invented aboriginal heritage (the island’s original aboriginal settlers died out after the the Bass strait flooded, leaving the islands* as the real ‘Terra Nullius’ of Australia until the first sealers arrived – many of them from the islands worlds of Scotland and Ireland. They took Aboriginal women mostly from Tasmania to be their wives (some even by marriage, which was quite something in those days) that so much fantasy (and some sf) anyway is a melange. Like a good trifle or Eton Mess (do you know what that is?) it is a mixture of things which, together, produce something different which, unlikely as it may seem when you look at the ingredients, when you put it together well, is better than separate elements. Sometimes these are things that logic says will not go together (Balsamic vinegar and strawberries – which, um, works) and others are more natural partners. The more experienced cook does know what he can mix… well, mostly. Some of my meals and some of my stories just didn’t work. However when you have craftsmen like Roger Zelazny and his melange of Indian mythology and sf, mix modern western characters and ideas and something total different – culture or mythology, the outcome is richer and deeper than either.
My hand is sore now, so it’s your turn. Think of some melanges – and how you could turn that to your own work.
*The Furneaux group – which in my own melange I use the the Tasmanian aboriginal belief that these were the ‘blessed isles’ or abode of the dead. – they could see them from Tasmania, mountains and hills, verdant and rising out of the sea. Unreachable, and without any sign of smoke. No hearth-fires meant no living people.