Another question first:
Why are there so many stories with the same cultural background?
That’s the question that relates to the main question. It may not appear to make sense, but think about it.
As an example:
The Romans travelled the world, conquering and spreading their stories, adapting the local cultural stories to include Roman elements. There are a lot of stories based on Roman and Greek cultural history. People still write stories based on these origins.
They were the victors who spread their cultural message through prolific retelling of their stories.
The current trend in genres like Fantasy are all based on a medieval world, mainly focused through the stories from a small geographic area with specific religious and military history.
They are the stories of the victors who overran the indigenous people and their culture.
Some of that subsumed culture is returning to stories. We are learning more about stories from other countries, other cultures, but how many?
Not many, and certainly not enough. There needs to be more, many more stories written by the people who know the cultural history of an area, the real stories, the myths and tales of the journey from one time to another.
Consider this story about Kukeri Dancers. How many people know their story, or the story of the people who know that story?
Not many. Not enough.
We need a variety of stories that reflect more than the dominant cultures, the history of the winners. We need our own history, the stories that created our culture and beliefs, that led us to this moment in time … so,
What is different and unique about your stories?
What culture do they spring from? Is it your culture, or an imposed culture from the conquering winners of history?
And why do I care?
My story, Itchy, originally published in Outback Horrors, uses the name of an entity I learned as a kid, the story told in the dark of the night to warn kids about wandering off into the dark unknown places of the world. Since it was published, I’ve seen the name of the entity used in other forms, similar, but not the same. In my experience, Nargun lived underground, and her husband was a thorny dragon. In other stories from other places, she is married to an echidna. Well, of course, we didn’t have echidna’s in the country where I was born. We did have thorny dragons, and each year, we’d collect one or two for a few weeks – as a pet; they are beautiful and perfectly suited to the arid environment. So the story was adapted to suit the location, but it is a uniquely Australian story.
I want to experience more of these stories. I want to know my culture, my history. I want to put aside the stories of the conquerors and learn about the country I live and breathe, where it came from, how the stories shaped and educated the people.
When a story is appropriated from the dominant paradigm, it spreads the message of the conquerors, and consumes the local culture.
So, I ask:
What are your stories? Where do they come from? Who are you in those stories?