I was drawn to David on Twitter because of our mutual interests in both writing and mythology. If you have further questions for David, follow him @davidjnormoyle or visit his website or Facebook Fan Page.
Randy: Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
David: No one person springs to mind so I’m going to give an unusual answer. The internet. And more specifically internet communities. I’ve found that for many types of knowledge an internet community has sprung up to discuss it. Taking part in these communities is a great way to learn about a subject.
I attribute most of what I learned about writing from reading and posting at the forums at absolutewrite.com. The discussion and analysis of subjects allows you to gain insight from many people, both experts and beginners. The discussion helps you to understand each issue in turn, the pluses and minuses and you can make your own mind up. After following along for a while, both knowledge and understanding about the subject grows.
If you take a course or read a book, you only get input from only one voice. Taking part in an internet community and using it as your teacher can be an accessible, cheap, fun and thorough way of learning.
Randy: What would have made you pursue writing earlier?
David: I remember one day in my early twenties deciding to start writing–to see what came of it. Unfortunately, what I wrote was pretty awful, so I gave up that experiment after one page. Perhaps if I’d been inspired that day I might have started earlier. I actually started writing more seriously when I was backpacking in Latin America and felt the need to write travel stories about my adventures. So if that trip had happened earlier, my writing adventures may also have began earlier.
Randy: What was the first myth you ever heard? How did it draw you in to want to hear more?
David: I’m Irish, so I was first introduced to Irish mythology.
The first myth I can remember hearing about was about how Cuchulainn got his name when he was a young boy. He was arriving back late to the home of the smith, Chulainn, after a hurling match and a great wolfhound was on guard. He had a hurley and ball and used the hurley to strike the ball down the throat of the hound and killed it. Chulainn was distressed at the lost of his guard dog, so Cuchulainn promised to take his place and became known as the hound (Cu in Irish) of Chulainn or Cuchulainn. (Hurling is an Irish field sport played using sticks called hurleys and a small ball.)
We learned about Irish myths alongside Irish history, so it was only many years later that I figured out the stories of Cuchulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna weren’t real. What drew me in was the stories about great heroes and their adventures. The hero quest is one of the most common elements found in myths and continues to this day in many modern day stories.
Randy: What was the significance for including Norse and Greek mythological characters in your book?
David: The initial concept for the novel that inspired it was a massive sports stadium, inside which a number of mythologies fought for supremacy. The idea was for four mythologies: Norse, Greek, Irish and Egyptian. As the concept evolved, the stadium disappeared along with the Irish and Egyptian mythologies.
So the Norse and Greek gods do battle and I use them to explore the commonality across completely different mythologies. The same motifs and themes appear over and over again in different mythologies as early storytellers struggle to deal with and understand the human experience, which is the same wherever you come from.
Randy: On your writing process: what kind of research do you do?
David: It depends on the book. For Myth Weaver, I unearthed various books on the mythologies I was interested in as well as some books on the universality of myths. I read all those before I began. Usually though, I’ll just start writing and research subjects when I find I need them. These days, the internet is a great resource for instantly finding a wealth of information on virtually any subject. If I need to delve further, I’ll buy a book on the subject.
Randy: In your travels, have you been to any of the sites where the myths are supposed to have taken place?
David: I don’t think I visited any locations of Norse or Greek myths, but there’s a number from other mythologies:
- Teotihuacan is an archaeological site near Mexico city that is notable for it’s excavated pyramids. The Aztec creation myth took place there. The Aztecs believed that the universe was created by the gods at this exact spot.
- In the middle of the desert in central Australia stands Ayers rock, now called by its aboriginal name, Uluru. A great battle took place there and the earth rose up in grief at the bloodshed, creating the giant rock. Or, at least, that’s one of the origin stories for it in aboriginal mythology.
- The hill of Tara is historically the location where the kings of Ireland were crowned. It was also the capital for the Tuatha De Danann, a mythological and magical race that pre-dated the Celtic arrival.