Check This Out: Mythos

With me on the blog today is the awesome Andy Murray. If you’re a follower of his blog, City Jackdaw, you know that he’s a poet who released a collection of poems called Heading North, published by Nordland in December 2015. We talked about that here on the blog. Now, Andy is here to talk about the short stories he contributed to Mythos, the second volume in the Northlore series, published by Nordland in December 2016. (By the way, Andy contributed a short story and a poem to Folklore, the first volume of the series.) Stick around after the interview to learn how you can get your hands on Mythos.

coverreveal Andy Photo

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Andy: 1. I’m at least six-generation Mancunian. 2. I knew my wife for twenty-six years before we got together. I play the long game. 3. I’m vegetarian. 4. Despite my name, I don’t like tennis!

El Space: What interested you about writing stories for this second volume? When I read the premise, I couldn’t help thinking of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I’m also reminded of Juliet Marillier’s Bridei Chronicles, in which the author mentions the Picts’ desire to hang on to their religion as Christianity moves forward in the land.
Andy: Well, I knew that the Northlore series was a planned trilogy of books, and being a part of volume one was such a positive experience I wanted to be a part of the succeeding book. Folklore was a great collection of prose and poetry, with something for everyone, and Mythos feels like a step up. They complement each other perfectly.
I’m not familiar with Bridei Chronicles, but I know what you mean about American Gods. The stories in Mythos are arranged in chronological order, in many different locations, and some of them are indeed set in modern America. The premise of the collection is that with the advent of Christianity the old gods knew that their time had come and they withdrew, but they didn’t cease to be. These are their continuing stories.

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El Space: What was the inspiration behind your stories, “Into the Storm” and “Saga”?
Andy: My wife and I used to be foster carers. A private tutor used to visit the house to give extra tuition to a teenage girl who was living with us. Through no fault of her own she had missed out on a lot of schooling and was behind many of the students in her class. In a bid to encourage her English, the tutor decided to set a writing competition for the whole family. My wife was mortified. She stipulated that our stories could be about anything, but had to bear the title ‘Holes’. I came up with a story set in the Somme of the First World War, you know: foxholes, shell holes, etc. But also a depiction of how some people seemed not to be made in the same way as others, as though there were pieces missing from their character and they were riddled with holes. I can’t recall how exactly I put it now, but it was along those lines. Anyway, I had that story lying around, and when I saw the call for submissions for Mythos, I took it and adapted it in a way that fit Nordland’s criteria. ‘Holes became ‘Into The Storm‘.

‘Saga‘ was born on a half hour bus journey from Manchester to my hometown. I was sat on the upstairs deck, daydreaming. This is how I sometimes get lines for my poetry. In my reverie, these spontaneous lines crossed my mind:

She asked me to write a four word love story:
she came home early.
She asked me to write a four word horror story:
she came home early.

I don’t know where this came from. Do we ever, really? But I began to think about it. How ‘she came home early’ could fit both love and horror stories, and what they implied. But, more importantly, I began to wonder about who ‘she’ was who was doing the asking. By the time I reached my destination I had the story finished in my head, but not trusting my memory I jotted down the outline on the Notes part of my mobile phone.

El Space: In a 1957 interview with Truman Capote [photo below] in The Paris Review, Capote said, “When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant.” How would you respond to this?
Andy: Well, I love Capote, and I know that he was a very disciplined and methodical writer. I’m also reminded of Dylan Thomas referring to ‘my craft or sullen art’. In contrast with these two huge figures, though it may sound simplistic all I can say is that I write the type of fiction and poetry that I would like to read, and endeavour to make them the best that I can.


El Space: When it comes to short story writing, which comes first for you: a character; a situation/plot; or an image? Any of the above? None of the above? I mentioned image, because C.S. Lewis once explained that the image of a faun with an umbrella came to his mind way before he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Andy: A faun with an umbrella—that’s pretty cool! I wonder if he was on a bus? 🙂 I think for me the gist of the story comes first. I have in mind the kind of thing that I want to say, and in pondering on how to realise this everything else is born.


El Space: What was your introduction to writing?
Andy: As a child I loved books, and loved writing too. My primary school teacher expressed concern to my mother one parent’s evening about the type of books that I read—James Herbert, Stephen King. But I later learnt that that same teacher used to pass my stories around the staff room for the other teachers to read. On my last day, before leaving for high school, she wrote in my autograph book ‘I hope you manage to get a book published one day‘. I tried to track her down recently to present her with a copy of Heading North, but was unable to find her. I’ve not given up, though.

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El Space: What will you work on next?
Andy: I’m actually on the second draft of a novel at the moment, provisionally called ‘Seasons On The Hill‘. It is about life on a northern housing estate, as seen through the eyes of different, interacting characters. The estate in question is actually a fictionalised version of where I live. Although none of the characters are based on real people, many of the situations involved really happened. Maybe with a little embellishment. Part humour; part tragedy. The stuff of life, yes?

El Space: Yes! Thanks, Andy, for being my guest!
Andy: Thank you Linda for this opportunity. As I saw someone comment recently upon one of your posts: you’re such an enabler!

El Space: Aw. I’m just glad people want to stop by here. 🙂

If you’re looking for Andy, head to Facebook and his blog.

You can find Mythos at Amazon. But one of you will find it in your mailbox or on your tablet. How? Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner TBA on February 4.

Mythos cover from the Northland website. Other book covers from Goodreads. Truman Capote photo from

50 thoughts on “Check This Out: Mythos

  1. I got introduced to Andrew on your blog about this time last year…and actually won the copy of his Heading North poetry collection (and then wrote a review on my own websiteblog) So this is an extra treat to see him featured again…and be entered again for a book give away! 🙂
    Yes, L.Marie, you are an enabler!!!!!

    Andrew/Andy (I never know which you prefer…care to let me know? HA!): I especially like knowing about your involvement in doing foster care…that’s a noble mention in your CV for sure!
    Good luck with your current noveling!

  2. ” I write the type of fiction and poetry that I would like to read, and endeavor to make them the best that I can.” Forthright. Real. Hard and right as rain. Thank you, Andrew!

  3. Thank you very much for this Linda, I appreciate your interest and sharing here.
    If anybody wants to know a bit more, here is a brief synopsis of my two stories:

    Into The Storm is a dark story about Alfred, an ex-English teacher who finds himself at the Somme in the First World War. Here he encounters a puzzling, and eventually horrifying, figure who collects souvenirs on the battlefield. A tale of a more personal kind of horror, experienced within the general horror of warfare, it is told by the man’s grandson using Alfred’s diary for reference.

    Saga is much lighter, a tale about a young aspiring writer who takes a job waiting tables in a Manchester cafe. He becomes infatuated by the cafe owner, a strange and sometimes aloof woman whose presence and tutelage causes his talent to grow exponentially, leaving a lasting influence upon both him and his work.

  4. Reblogged this on City Jackdaw and commented:
    Here is an interview I gave to highlight the publication of Mythos, an anthology in which I have two stories featuring. Many thanks to Linda for allowing me to appear on her great blog.

  5. I love the positivity here. And I love that someone is giving away a copy of Mythos without asking me for it! But I feel it deserves a partner, so whoever wins the draw can let me know, and I will send them an e-book of book one of the Northlore series, Folklore.

    As Andy said in the interview, they compliment each other well. Folklore and Mythos belong together.

  6. What a fascinating interview
    I, too, hope you find that teacher, Andy. I hope that you can locate her. I’m sure she would be proud and honored to be gifted with the book.
    Thank you, L. Marie, for such an engaging interview, and, Andy for being engaged. Off I go to check all these wondrous links out.

  7. An engaging interview. Thanks Linda and Andrew.
    Andrew validated something I say that helps me when I write. I say that I write for people like me. He says: I write the type of fiction and poetry that I would like to read, and endeavour to make them the best that I can.

    Wishing you all the best with Mythos and Seasons On The Hill.

  8. iT IS A PLEASURE TO SEE AGAIN aNDY INVITED ATyour blog , Linda . I liked his evocation of the Somme where I live (Amiens) about the holes and trenches of the WWI
    Even Truman Capote is not unknown of me since I studied at school one of his book in English in 1953
    About the ancient gods in America , probably he peaks of the religions of the Indians native (Hurons, Sioux, cherokkee, Navajos….etc … )<3
    Of course an interesting interview. Thanks
    Love ❤

  9. I love the idea of the old gods withdrawing while remaining there in the background. Short stories are always fun because they can be more artistic than novels. Great questions L. Marie!

  10. Pingback: Writing Tips from Pokémon Sun and Moon | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

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