Lisamarie Lamb is the author of Riddle Me Real, found within the pages of Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. We asked Lisamarie what her inspiration was; this is what she told us –
Inspiration for Riddle Me Real
The brief for Sirens Call’s Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity was deceptively simple; take a mythical creature, take a god or a fairy or anything you like, and place it in the modern day. How would it react? What would it do? How could it live?
I loved the premise straight away. But note I said it was deceptively simple. The first task was picking my myth, my monster, so that I could weave a tale around it. I ran through many options. I almost went with the minotaur. Then I considered the siren. Next I began making notes about the Cyclops. Nothing worked. The ideas were lacking something.
Which is when, whilst stumbling around on Google, I remembered (saw an image of) the sphinx. The poor thing. I read its (her – I chose to make it female, I’ve always thought she was, although Egyptian historians will disagree with me) story and immediately knew: she was misunderstood. Terribly, horribly, unbearably misunderstood.
Yes, okay, she did eat her victims whole. But only after she had given them a chance, asked them her question, let them have a go at answering it… They knew what they were getting into. It was their choice. And at least she strangled them first. That had to be preferable to being digested. I would have thought.
And anyway, she was only doing her job. A sphinx is a guardian. A protector. By her very nature, she looks after things and keeps them safe. So you could say that she was a nurturing kind of fiend. Not only that but the sphinx that guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes – the one bested by that mummy’s boy, Oedipus – was so mortified that she had failed in her work, she ate herself. Now that’s dedication. That’s loyalty. So she couldn’t possibly be bad. Or at least not all bad.
Yet history seems to paint her as an awful, bloodthirsty creature, a true monster,
And to add insult to a pretty nasty injury, we even derive the word ‘sphincter’ from her name.
So, as I said, poor sphinx.
I liked her immediately.
She became the focus of my story.
The next task was to work out where and when my modern day myth might live, and what she would be up to now, since she was no longer believed in and yet was, obviously, still very much real.
That had to be depressing.
That had to be disheartening.
That, for a creature prone to dramatic suicides, had to be rather dangerous.
Therefore, my battle-scarred sphinx would, most definitely, be in therapy.
My story was coming together.
I had a depressed and unwanted sphinx and a therapist, herself not immune to the foibles of humanity. I had them sitting opposite one another. And I had them chatting through a session. This, then, is the basis of the tale. This, then, is the tale.
But there is more to it than that.
My sphinx has a secret, an ulterior motive.
I couldn’t possibly tell you.
You’ll just have to read it and work out the riddle for yourself.
Explore the twelve tales of horror and intrigue in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and ask yourself, what would you consider a fair price to pay for life immortal… or the chance of life at all?
Would a young woman pass up a shiny bauble if she believed it to be nothing more than a harmless trinket? What transpires once a year in a peaceful and remote village that no one will ever speak of? What better way for a broken man to honor a crippled existence than with a memorial of blood and vengeance? How could a disfigured woman ever dream of chancing across an object that would restore her beauty – and at what cost?
Follow the twists and turns of each writer as they delve into the legends of days gone by, as well as the consequences that are wrought when myths and monstrosities collide with our world.
Contributing Authors include:
Thomas James Brown, Nina D’Arcangela, K. Trap Jones, Amber Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Edward Lorn, Alexa Muir, Kate Monroe, Joseph A. Pinto, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Julianne Snow, and Jonathan Templar
Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity is available in print and digital forms from these fine retailers:
Riddle Me Real is a mythological creature’s story of insecurity and resulting therapy; the difference is that this creature has a secret. Here’s a longer look at Lisamarie’s contribution to Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity –
I look across at my therapist and watch as she deftly flicks her voice recorder on, as she twirls her pen – expensive, ink – around in her hand so that it faces the right way, pointing down towards the notepad – cheap, recycled – that rests on her bony knee. A drop of black ink falls from the silver nib and lands fatly on the paper below. It soaks in, is sucked in, and spreads itself across the page, tendrils reaching out in search of something. I am fascinated by it.
I am also fascinated by the woman herself. Not beautiful, not even particularly pretty, but powerful in her own way; always asking questions, delving down deep, deeper than I ever could with my limited enquiries. She is like me. She is like me in a number of ways, but none of the ones that matter.
She ignores me. It’s a curious tactic for a therapist. If she expects me to speak first, she will be disappointed. I can wait for her. Waiting. It’s what I’ve done for millennia. There’s no reason why I should rush anything now. We sit opposite one another, both outwardly relaxed in our matching leather chairs. Strangely, I can’t read her, or I would know whether this was an act or not. It is for me. I am nervous. I know what I want to say and yet I don’t know how to say it. I wonder if she can section me. I wonder if she should. She’s not a priest – she’s not bound by the confessional – so I have no idea whether she would tell on me. Of course, she would have to believe me first, and there’s the sticking point. I don’t think she will.
“So, why are you here?”
Her voice is as I thought it would be. Smooth, velvet. It is calming and cajoling, and I think I will tell her everything, despite my misgivings. Surely the worst that could happen would be a lifetime – many lifetimes – spent in a white walled hospital where I could rest and be at peace? That doesn’t sound so bad. I clear my throat.
“I am tired. I am old and worn out, and I am no longer needed.” I can feel tears stabbing my forehead. My eyes grow wet and my vision blurs briefly. I think I must look ridiculous, sound ridiculous, but the therapist nods, a tiny, tiny nod, and notes something down. I crane my neck to see, but cannot read her words. I’m not entirely sure that I want to.
“You’re old? What makes you say that?”
Honey, dripping, I want to taste it.
“My date of birth.” We both laugh, and she seems genuinely amused. But I am serious. I am older than humanity, older than the world, and she has no idea. She looks at me, expecting more, expecting the truth after my little joke. I comply. “I feel old then. I’ve been around a long time.” The problem is I look like I’m in my twenties, maybe my thirties. I do not look as though I’ve had thousands of years of living. The images of me do. The statues. They show the wear that I feel. But how can I explain that?
“And you say you’re no longer needed… How so?”
If you want to read more about Lisamarie, you can find her on her blog.