It’s been a while since I’ve written a Mythology Monday post, and unfortunately, I’ve been so buried, I don’t foresee that changing until it’s time for me to do some more research for my next book. So I wanted to share this youtube channel filled with great myths and legends. This playlist in particular is a favorite.
Noor sent: I am a master student from Belgium, studying classical languages. For the moment I am writing my master thesis which has as subject the reception of the myth about the rape of Persephone in YA literature. Your book ‘Persephone’ will be one of my case studies to do this research. So I would like to take this opportunity to ask you some questions, and if you could get back at me it would really be wonderful.
Questions, and my answers embedded below.
-Which ancient versions of the myth did you study?
I looked at everything I could find on and off line. Theoi.com was a valuable resource. I had a decent background with mythology before I began and had read Homer, Hesiod, and Ovid translations through school, but for specific book research, I also read a great book called Life’s Daughter, Death’s Bride that was very helpful as well as Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths
-Did you look at some commentaries or scientific articles about these ancient texts?
Absolutely. I can’t recall any further specific sources, but I tracked down everything I could find back in 2009/2010 when I was writing Persephone.
-Did you draw inspiration from other retellings of the Persephone myth (both older and more recent)? Yes. In my childhood, I’d read an interesting version of a retelling called The Forbidden Games by LJ Smith that absolutely influenced how I saw Hades. I never much cared for any other versions of Persephone I found in popular culture*, because it always felt like her side of the story was missing. I was also a huge fan of the Princesses of Myth series by Esther Freisner, and while she doesn’t have a Persephone myth retelling, her retelling of young Hellen of Troy was absolutely an inspiration. I also read a book called Radiant Darkness closer to writing Persephone that I enjoyed.
I do have to note that Persephone retellings exploded around the time my story was published, so there are now several wonderful retellings. You can find them on this list here.
-Did you follow any studies in ancient Greek or Roman literature or do you sometimes read these texts of antiquity in their origin languages?
I had to do a translation of an Ovid myth for a Latin class I took once, but it was so long ago, I can’t even remember which myth I was assigned. Otherwise, no.
-What was your main goal in this rewrite: empowering Persephone, giving her more voice, picturing another image of Hades,…? So in other words, is there a sort of feminist background playing?
In every version of the myth I encountered, Persephone’s perspective was left out. We see her mother’s reaction, Zeus’s reaction, Hades’ motivation. We even get some turmoil from Hermes. But Persephone herself is largely left out of her own origin story. She’s not even given a proper name until she’s abducted. I wanted to know her side of the story. So I rewrote it. But at the same time, I had no interest in writing a Stockholm Romance, so I took some liberties.
-What is your view on rewrites of classical mythology in general? Should people still read the original stories? Absolutely. Whenever and wherever possible. These stories have resonated with people for centuries. You can’t fully appreciate all the ways the myths echo in all of our stories without having read them.
I would really be grateful if you could help me with these questions. Thank you in advance.
Brad reached out on my Ask me Anything page to say,
“I’m trying to avoid writing the formulaic novel. terrified of it in fact, regardless of how it can put it on the NYT best sellers list. I understand the storygrid, and other methods/tecniques/etc.
Any suggestions for my nightmare?
That’s a great question, Brad.
My number one suggestion is to write things that fall into the conventions you’re trying to avoid, because the most effective way to break a rule in a way that feels satisfying to the reader is to fully understand the rule you’re breaking. Why does this formula work? What’s satisfying about it? What are its strengths. Approach it at disdain at your peril, because that formula, whatever it may be, has been around longer than you have and will continue to succeed after you’ve gone. Writers write in it unconsciously because as readers they’ve internalized it. Formulas are the fabric of fiction. Save the Cat is a really great introduction to plot structure and mechanics.
Once you know it inside and out, then you can play with it, and that’s when the real fun begins. You know what the reader’s expect, you know how to deliver it, and using the knowledge of both, you can subvert those expectations in a way they never saw coming.
In order to do that, you’re going to first have to define what a formulaic novel is to you. It can mean a few different things to different people. If by formulaic, you mean that it follows a particular plot structure like the three act structure, that’s going to be harder (though not impossible) to avoid.
If you mean that it follows the tenets of a specific genre, spend a lot of time studying the genre in question. Genre is basically just a fancy word that encompasses the reader’s expectations when they pick up a certain type of book. Notable exceptions exist, but if I pick up a mystery, I expect there to be something to solve, clues along the way, and characters attempting to solve those clues. There are certain tropes, characters, key scenes, and tonal expectations that come with that genre. Study those. What elements do you want to remove, what do you want to add, what will you keep? You have to keep something. A mystery without a mystery isn’t a mystery. You’ve already mentioned The Story Grid, an excellent resource for breaking down the parts of a genre.
For the other meaning of formulaic novel, plug and play characters- books are basically indistinguishable from one another set ups, I’d identify those books and take some time to study them. Are they all part of the same genre? If so, is it one you plan to write in? Is it one you read a lot that you might have internalized? Is it your least favorite type of book in the whole world and you find yourself getting irrationally made every time you spot it on the shelf (I know that sounds crazy, but I hold grudges against books, I figure somewhere out there, other people do, too). In those cases, my advice to write it until you understand it stands a hundred fold, because to some extent, you’re going to have to get it out of your system. Every writers first couple of projects are subconscious homages and responses to what they’ve read. So not only will you be mastering your craft and learning the rules so you can break them, you’re also battling your reading and writing demons.
I hope that helps!
Persephone is on sale for 99 cents.
Technically, a somewhat similar looking cat is featured in my work in progress novel. (In that it is roughly cat shaped).
But mostly, my daughter wanted to submit her amazing photo to the Warrior Cats website, and she needed a link.
Dragon Con is just around the corner, and I’m an attending professional. Below is my tentative appearance schedule. Be sure to drop by and see me. Looking for something to read before the con? Aphrodite is on sale for .99 cents.
Title: Reimagined: New Takes on Old Stories in YA
Description: Whether it’s new takes on Camelot or Greek myths, or retellings of classic books or fairy tales, YA literature is full of reimaginings and retellings. Which are your favorites, & what makes a retelling work?
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Mari Mancusi, Kaitlin Bevis, Esther Friesner)
Title: Young Love: Writing Romance in YA
Description: What is love? How do we write romance for a young adult audience? What is enough, & what is too much?
Time: Fri 01:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Kelly Lynn Colby, F T Lukens, Kaitlin Bevis)
Title: Writing & Rewriting Your YA
Description: Come chat with our authors about making your characters strong, your plots thick, & your beats on point. How to take your writing from good to great through the magic of revision.
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: A. J. Hartley, Kaitlin Bevis, Sara Hanover)
Title: Thrills & Chills in YA
Description: YA can be suspenseful & even terrify you. Whether knife-wielding killers, pandemics & plagues, or werewolves & vampires, come hear about what gives us chills.
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Caleb Roehrig, Kaitlin Bevis)
Title: Reading Session:Kaitlin Bevis
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Marietta – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Kaitlin Bevis)
Title: Author Signings:
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: International Hall South 1-3 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Laura Hayden, Jeffrey Falcon Logue, Kaitlin Bevis)
Luna reached out to me with the “Ask Me Anything” submission form to ask the following:
I just finished reading the entire Daughters of Zeus series! WOW, what a wild ride that was. I read it all over 2 weeks and really enjoyed the characterizations, imagery, and pacing. (Without dropping apoilers for anyone who may be reading this) At the end of the 6th book it seems as though you created an opportunity for a new series centered around Artemis…do you expect to continue this story in a new book or maybe a mini series on wattapad?
Also, thanks for the world that you created and shared with us all!
Thank you so much! You are absolutely correct. I wrote the end of Venus Rising with the intention of following up with an Artemis series as she hunts down the escaped spoilers. I’d planned to write the Artemis series after completing Blood and Other Matter, but I was sidetracked by another project that I’m super excited about (think Sailor Moon meets Once Upon a Time), and then the pandemic hit, and right now things are kind of crazy writing wise.
I can tell you I have an outlined book for Artemis. I just need to get my act together and finish writing it. Hopefully when schools go back to normal, I’ll be able to make more progress. In the meantime, thank you for your patience :).
Bob also asked for some resources for a report he’s writing. Bob, I wrote a blog about Greek gods associated with love and marriage here, here, and here. But your best best for a report is to check out Theoi.com.
Caitlin reached out to me with the “Ask Me Anything” submission form to ask the following:
Oh my goodness I devoured the Persephone books in one sitting I loved them! Do you plan to write more? I would love to see the relationship between Persephone and hades grow along with how she is growing into her new powers and dealing with the loss of her mom. Also in the end zuse mentioned something worse coming was on the edge of my seat wondering what it could be!
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the books :). Persephone’s story continues in the Aphrodite trilogy. Aphrodite is the only point of view character in the first book, but she sees a lot of Persephone, and in the third book, Persephone is back as a point of view character. I hope you enjoy Aphrodite’s trilogy as much as you enjoyed Persephone’s.
The YA Scavenger Hunt Winners
We want to congratulate all the YASH winners this fall season. Thanks to all our amazing authors and all the dedicated readers who hunted tirelessly for bonus material. Wasn’t that awesome? I think so!
The News You’ve Been Waiting For
I know you’ve been wanting to know who won our grand prizes, so, with a drumroll, here are the names of our team winners.
The RED TEAM grand prize winner is…Shruti Gupta!
The BLUE TEAM grand prize winner is…Cathy Mason!
The PURPLE TEAM grand prize winner is…J Lenni Dorner!
And the BONUS grand prize winner is
If you entered individual author contests during the hunt, we are listing them below as they are updating us. Some authors may be notifying winners individually. Check back as we will continue to update this page during the week.
AMALIE HOWARD-Giveaway Winner: Champagne Millin
AMANDA MARIN-Winner of $20 Amazon Gift Card: Kristin Duncan
AMY MCNULTY-Winner of a $25 Indie Bookstore Gift Card: Ramona Reads
BREEANA SHIELDS: Winner of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card: Stephanie Reyes
BRENDA DRAKE-Winner of Library Jumpers Series: Megan S.
COLLEEN HOUCK-Winners of the Tiger’s Promise/Reignited e-book combo: Kaela, Jenna Kilgore, Megan Coppadge, Tashia Jennings, Veraunica Wyatt, Theresajs, Kristi Baker, Nancy Storms, Olivia Berard, Neko Tatsujin, Alysha Parent, and Lily M.! Winners of the Terraformer audiobook: Candice Gigous, Katherine Paschal, Rachel Verna Shepherd, Auburn, and Bella. Winner of the Colleen Houck Super Fan Bonus Pack: Dina Eltawil!
DEBBIE MANBER KUPFER: Giveaway Winners: Kayla K. McDonald, J. Lenni Dorner, & Tashia Jennings
EMIL SHER– Winners of a signed book: Kristin Duncan, Katie Hawse, Christa Sloan
EVA POHLER-Winner of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback edition of The Marcella II: Daniella Bonagura
HELEN VIVIENNE FLETCHER-Winner: Katherine
KRISTI HELVIG-Winner of a bonus e-book giveaway: Kaytee
NATALIE MAE-Winner of a signed copy of The Kinder Poison: Samantha Deen
TRICIA COPELAND- Winner of a Kingdom Journals Ebook Set: Bella
PATTY BLOUNT-Winner of a $10 Amazon Gift Card: email@example.com
VANESSA BARNEVELD-Giveaway winner: J Lenni Dorner
YVONNE VENTRESCA-Winner of Black Flowers. White Lies: Megan Coppadge
Kaitlin Bevis – Winner of an ebook of choice, Bella!
Congratulations to all the winners!
Before signing off, I wanted to thank all of our readers and the many authors who have participated in the hunt over the past decade. A reader asked why we were closing the doors on the hunt and I wanted to share my answer with you.
Dear Readers,”Believe me when I say we didn’t come to this decision lightly. When weighing the costs both in time and money compared to the benefits of networking with readers, fellow authors, and promotion, as well my own personal commitment to the project, I had to finally come to terms with the fact that it was time to close the chapter on this beloved event.
But sometimes letting go of something good isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it just means you’re making room for something new. Something better.
I’m also keeping the door open to the possibility of a return to the hunt someday. If times change or things shift enough in the industry, it’s possible the hunt might enter a second, perhaps, improved phase.
You never know.
Thank you so much for your interest in the YA Scavenger Hunt and books in general.
It’s so nice to hear from impassioned readers such as yourself. There aren’t as many around as there used to be, which is a little sad. Maybe, together, we can change that.
All the best,
The YA Scavenger Hunt Organizers
May you all be safe and happy and always have a good book to read.
Cuyler made a great catch using the “Ask Me Anything” submission form.
Your writings about Sean Coyne’s Story Grid have helped me immensely.
I just had a question.
On the chart you’ve created of the 5 Leafs of Genre, you’ve listed the sub-genres of Horror as Uncanny, Supernatural, and Superuncanny.
Sean doesn’t include Superuncanny. He has Ambiguous instead. And when I read your post on the Horror Genre, you listed Ambiguous as well.
So, I’m wondering what your thoughts were on this, and why you listed Superuncanny instead of Ambiguous?
And, what is Superuncanny?
If I can base my past experience with your amazing writing advice, I’m sure your reasons for this will also be helpful.
Thanks for all the help you give us new writers.
Thank you so much for pointing out that discrepancy!
Super uncanny is Robert McKee’s word for the sub-genre Shawn Coyne calls ambiguous. In the ambiguous/super uncanny subgenera, the reader isn’t sure whether the supernatural is at work or if the protagonist is losing their mind.
I prefer the term ambiguous, because to me, the term super uncanny indicates to the reader that the plot is both supernatural and uncanny not that the audience is guessing between supernatural and uncanny. But from a writing standpoint, you would need to hit both sub-plot conventions to keep the audience truly guessing, so either name can work.
I hope that helped clear things up, but please let me know if there’s anything further I can clarify.