Welcome yet again to another Writers’ Wednesday. Time to talk about something I love, American folklore.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know this, but for those of you who are new, the older I get the more I want to know about folklore and fantasy of North America.
From common ghost stories to murderous monsters that lurk in back woods, chances are you’ve probably read a book inspired by the urban legends of North America. If you haven’t read a book, you’ve at the very least seen things on film.
As many as folklore inspired pieces of work as there are out there, there are some that don’t get nearly enough love. Here are some that are definitely neglected and should fuel writers in future novels.
Xunaan & The Young Warrior – Mexico
It’s a story of love and a mother keeping a couple apart. There are so many ways this could be interpreted and reinvented. I’d love for more people to know about this story, and even put a twist in it where Xunaan saves herself.
Black Dog of Hanging Hills – USA
Most people, especially readers, can tell you black dogs are bad omens. Usually monsters and signaling death, the black dog in Hanging Hills Connecticut is smaller than its British Isles cousins and much more relaxed. In fact it has it’s own little saying by New York geologist W.H.C. Pynchon. “If you meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time shall bring death.”
Michigan Dogman & Beast of Bray Road – USA
A sort of twist on the werewolf myth, these American dog monsters are known to scare livestock to death, terrorize locals, and have a man like scream. While werewolves in the Bayou are fairly well known, these two wolf like monsters rarely make an appearance in urban fantasy.
El Muerto – Mexico/USA
I included Mexico because there were a few conflicting stories as far as where this story is more prominent, but it appears to have popped up around south Texas. While everyone is fairly familiar with the Headless Horseman, no one ever mentions El Muerto. El Muerto was once a hispanic man, and after being accused of theft, his head was removed by another folklore legend, “Big Foot” Wallace. Not only was his punishment to have his head removed, but Wallace tied his body to his horse, hung his head and hat from his saddle and let the horse loose on the countryside. When they finally caught the horse, the body had been riddled with bullets and arrows from locals and tribes that saw the body pass. They buried him in an unmarked grave, and he still haunts south Texas to this day, due to how horrendous his punishment had been.
You can tell I really love this story. I could go on about it forever.
Folklore Creatures in Groups Worth Mentioning –
Little People of the Cherokee – Cherokee Nation
When I first heard about these, the person who showed me explained them as “American fairies”. The more I read about them, the more I went, WHY don’t more stories feature these incredible little people? Too many stories only rely on the fairies found in Irish/Scottish lore, when really there are a numerous of them across the globe. I’d love to see a book one day where the Cherokee little people just look at the fae from across the ocean and go HA. You think YOU have it bad?
American Witches & Their Curses – Across the United States but mostly the Ozarks
Why does every witch in every urban fantasy do high magic? Why don’t we have more witches who poison livestock, or spoil milk? Heck, you can even make this more modern and say American witches know how to turn gas to water in a car, or who can cut out wifi with a witch bag buried in the person’s back yard. They don’t rely on athames and wands, but roots and bones. Give me gritty witches! Give me more American Folklore witches with old and dark powers who follow their own moral compasses! Give me American witches!
Of course, there are thousands more, but these are just a few I have tucked away. Have one you want to add to the list? Comment below, let me know! Want more folklore? Check out Folklore Thursday on Twitter.