People often ask me how much of the mythology in my worlds comes from actual mythological sources, and how much have I made up. The answer isn’t a simple one. Yes, I do pull from mythology—from pantheons of all kinds, from Chinese to Celtic to Egyptian. But…I also alter them as I need to, and I make up what I can’t find. For example, the hungry ghosts that attacked Morio? Based on the hungry ghosts tales from China and Japan, but tweaked for my world. The Corpse Talkers? Based on my imagination entirely.
There’s no problem with altering mythology as long as you are clear about what you’re doing and providing you aren’t dipping into another author’s creations. Vampires? Worldwide mythology, you can adjust them as you like. Ann Rice’s vampires? Her altaverse mythology that she creates around her vamps—off limits because that is her creation. Another example: you can use the idea that vamps aren’t affected by holy objects unless they were of that particular religion while alive—which I do. But you can’t use the Crimson Veil/Blood Wyne vision of how vampires were created because that’s my creation unique to my world. Dracula? He’s fair game since there is no copyright on the actual Dracula story anymore (anyone can put out a version of Dracula, just like anybody could publish a version of say…Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice).
I’ve reworked the Arthurian mythos for Otherworld—you’ll see more in PRIESTESS DREAMING about the whole Morgaine/Arthur/Mordred triangle. The entire Indigo Court series storyline was a riff off the Snow Queen fairy tale.
Actually, you can take any historical event and base your own story off of it. Hell, you could rewrite the story of how World War 2 ended—Philip K. Dick did, with the Man in the High Tower.
Mythology is a wonderful pool of ideas—so many of the legends, myths, and fairy tales are metaphors and allegories for life experiences. Don’t overlook this vast pool when you are thinking about how to spin your next story. These tales? They stay with us for a reason. I recommend you research Joseph Campbell’s works to understand the underlying power that myth and legend hold for the human race.