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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT: A Challenge for Fantasy Writers

Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa

When I first started writing romance novels in the mid-1980s, the “rules” were so restrictive an author couldn’t write about women in traditional men’s professions, much less about a heroine in the entertainment business or sports. “Readers can’t relate,” Harlequin told my agent. Phooey. I was an architect, and I didn’t want to read about nannies.
At the time, I never would have believed someday we’d be writing romances including vampires, but now they’re crawling all over the shelves in the book stores [if Amazon has allowed any brick and mortar bookstores to survive]. Along with them are romances about werewolves, zombies, shape shifters, demons, angels, dragons, aliens, witches, gnomes, elves, ad infinitum.

So, what will be the next big thing? We need something new and fresh, your editor will tell you. I was at a loss for ideas until I remembered the bogeyman [also spelled bogyman, boogeyman, bogieman, and boogieman].

Did you ever hear your parents use those words when you were a kid? I’m not sure whether I learned about the bogeyman at home or somewhere else, but I grew up knowing this monster meant business.
Today’s parenting doesn’t buy into the concept of frightening children into good behavior, but for thousands of years it has been a main stay. After all, throughout history parents around the world have wanted good behavior from their children. I’m sure what constituted good behavior varies a lot.
According to Melissa Breyer*, “Creating compliance in children is surely a universal desire, and there’s no easier way than to scare the bejesus out of them. Although it seems somewhat cruel to intensify the fears that are already part and parcel of childhood, as long as there are benevolent Santa figures used to affect behavior, the malevolent counterpart will remain alive and well. Because when the promise of presents and candy doesn't work, the threat of being eaten by a monster can be rather persuasive.”

WHAT DOES HE - SHE - IT LOOK LIKE?What I didn’t learn growing up is what this Bogeyman monster looked like. It was a non-specific incarnation of terror which leapt out of nowhere on the days when a child had been particularly difficult, ornery, mischievous, or just plain “bad.”

 He usually lived under the child’s bed or in the closet, and preferred to appear at night after the child was alone in the dark.
Not knowing the appearance of the monster makes it even that more frightening. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t have any clue to look for.

Although the bogeyman is usually thought of as masculine, he/she/it can be anything. “The bogeyman himself varies in appearance. It’s common belief that he will embody the fears of the person he has targeted. If you’re afraid of spiders, he could appear as a giant spider. If you’re afraid of a specific person in your life, he could appear as that person. The possibilities are endless.”

It’s no surprise, then, that nearly every culture in the world developed their own equivalent of the Bogeyman. If you want the full list, go to Wikipedia: Here are just a few of the ones I found interesting.
Sack Man [Spain and many other Spanish-American countries]

Sack Man [Hombre del Saco] carries away naught children.
The inspiration likely comes from a very real person who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, was in charge of collecting orphan babies to take to orphanages. He put them in bags or wicker baskets and carried them through the province. Most of them died before reaching the orphanage.
● Bicho Papão [Portugal and Brazil]
Sources suggests that the Portuguese brought to Brazil the bogeymen, Bicho Papão [The Eating Beast]. Residents of Brazil use the names interchangeably with Sack Man. The only difference between the two is that Bag Man comes during the day and The Eating Beast comes during the night.

El Coco / El Cuco / El Cucuy [Spain, Portugal, Latin-America]

Coco is also known in folklore as Cuco, Coca, Cuca, Cucuy. It is a mythical dragon or a ghost monster which is said to appear in many different shapes and forms. So, there is no description of the beast which can be applied to all the places where it appears.
Photo: By C.A.Christensen March 2016
The monster Coco’s origins are Portugal and Spanish Galicia, where it appeared as a monster with a pumpkin head, two eyes, and a mouth. During medieval times, it transformed into a female dragon. In Portugal it has remained popular until today.
El Cuco is the more common name in most of South and Central America, and among Mexican-Americans, El Cucuy is portrayed as a small humanoid with glowing red eyes that hides under children's beds at night and kidnaps or eats a child who does not obey his parents.             Photo: 

L’uomo Nero / Babau [Italy and parts of Mediterranean]
The Black Man monster is depicted as a tall man wearing a heavy black coat and a black hood or hat, or sometimes a demon appearing as a man or ghost without legs.
Sometimes parents knock loudly under the dining table [like someone knocking at the door] and say “Here comes the Black Man. He knows a child who doesn’t want to drink his soup.”

● Bubak [Czech Republic and Poland]
This scarecrow-like bogeyman hides on riverbanks and makes           sounds like a lost baby to lure both children and adults into                 his clutches. He drives a cart pulled by cats and weaves                     clothes for the souls he has stolen.

● Mörkö / Marrän / The Groke [Scandinavia]

In the northern countries, the Bogeyman is substantially different. She is a large, scary, dark blue, ghost-like creature with a shapeless, blobby body, two staring eyes, and a wide row of shiny teeth. She isn’t malicious but so lonely that wherever she stands, the ground freezes and plants die.


● Lulu-khorkhore / لولو [Iran]

In Iran, children are warned about Lulu who eats naughty children. The threat is usually to make them eat their meals.

Lulu - Originally shared by zahra lotfi 

Namahage [Japan]

The Japanese bogeyman is a demon spirit who warns children not to be lazy or cry. He visits each house on New Year’s Eve and asks if the children have been lazy. If the parents can say “no”, then he moves on to the next house. I don’t know what he does if the parents say “yes.”

Originally hailing from the cold parts of the Oga Peninsula, the name comes from the blisters that form on one’s feet when they are close to the fire for too long, indicating the person was too lazy to move. 
Drawing by Yuko Shimizu from Pinterest

Boggart [Scotland]
Boggart is a malicious fairy who causes big and small disasters for people. If you name it, it will follow you and your family everywhere you go. I don’t know if naming it means giving it a proper individual name or just calling it a Boggart. A horseshoe over the door protects you from Boggarts.

Baboulas / Μπαμπούλας [Greece]
In Greece the bogeyman is used by parents to scare their children into behaving. Baboulas is a cannibal who eats children.

● Abu Rigl Maslukha / al-Bu'bu' / Man With A Burnt Leg [Egypt]

Abu Rigl Maslukha is got his leg burnt when he was a child because he did not listen to his parents. He grabs naughty children to cook and eat them. The same as, who is often depicted as a night creature dressed in black, who haunts children who misbehave.


While the true origin of the English term “bogeyman” isn’t known, there are plenty of theories. One comes from England where the “buggy man” was the driver of the carts that went around English cities and picked up dead bodies during the time of the Black Plague.
Another theory is that the word was derived from the Middle English word bogge / bugge which means hobgoblin. According to Wikipedia, it is “generally thought to be a cognate of the Berman bögge, böggle-mann.”

Okay, fantasy romance writers, your challenge is to pick one of the prototype bogeymen and make him the protagonist of a fantasy romance.

AUTHOR R. ANN SIRACUSATravel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue

Sources http:/    [The Coo Coo (El CuCuy) by C.A.Christensen March 2016]


Paris said...

The cancelled TV series Grimm put a very interesting spin on the El Cucuy legend. The monster actually took children who were destined to commit horrendous crimes in the future and disposed of them. Creepy, but something I didn't see coming.

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Could you write a fantasy romance with a misunderstood bogeyman hero?

Paris said...

Oh, I like that idea!

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