FAQ Friday: Demeter’s Soul

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Super-ultra-mega-spoiler warning for Iron Queen.

 

 

 

You have been warned……

 

 

A reader asked what happened to Demeter at the end of Iron Queen. “There was the part with the sad goodbye of her transferring her powers to Persephone, so was that it? Did she die?”

Yes. Demeter willed all her power to Persephone to force the coming of age rite that enabled her daughter to use the full breadth of her power safely. There wasn’t even enough left to maintain a soul. Why?

Well, gods can either be created or born. Demeter wanted Persephone to be born, to experience infancy, childhood, adolescence, and all the human rites of passage. But until she came of age, Persephone was essentially human physically speaking. As she drew closer to maturity (defined by the moment a body is at its absolute peak, frozen in time just before it starts to decline, so there’s variation from god to god), her body could handle more power, but not enough to deal with fealty from the entire Pantheon so she could defeat Zeus. And anything less, and she wouldn’t have been able to defeat Zeus.

Persephone deals with the fallout from that grief in the Aphrodite trilogy.

FAQ Friday: How will SPOILER impact Persephone in the long run.

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Super spoilerific post for anyone who has not yet read Iron Queen. Fair warning…

A reader who just finished Iron Queen emailed the following. “This can’t be where Persephone’s story ends! The pantheon hinted that Zeus killing his parents might have been part of what drove Zeus crazy. Plus she’s a triple realm-ruler now, and she lost her mother, and Hades seemed to be a bit unhinged at the end. So what’s in store for her in the future? Are we ever going to see that?”

Short answer:

Yes.

Longer answer:

The sanity thing was just Athena speculating. Zeus was unhinged from birth. Something about his father attempting to kill him, his mother hiding him by tying him upside down to a tree for years, and spending his early years training him to kill his father. The whole slicing his dad open and rescuing his siblings thing only to find himself at once their savior and an outsider to their very tight inner circle, formed by years of being all they had in The Before was also fairly hard on his psyche.

As for the weight of ruling three realms, losing her mother? That gets explored quite a bit in the Aphrodite trilogy. Persephone’s adapting to her new role as queen of the Pantheon and her grief/trauma from everything that happens in Iron Queen. She gets a few POV chapters in Venus Rising to really emphasize that arc, but the Pantheon as a whole has to do a lot of adjusting throughout the trilogy. In the Persephone trilogy, the gods of the Pantheon were separate entities. They were used to working around each other, but they hadn’t truly worked with each other in centuries until the end of Iron Queen. Now they’re realizing they can’t just ignore each other until a big epic battle. That’s the very mentality that left them vulnerable to Zeus. There’s a lot of growing and adjusting that needs to happen.

As for Hades…this is lightly addressed in Aphrodite, and addressed more in depth here, but broad strokes, he’s not unhinged. He’s just mildly traumatized. He went through a lot in Iron Queen. Dealing with Zeus brought up a lot of horrible memories for pretty much everyone in the Pantheon. He also felt every second of Persephone’s torture, and he had to rip her arm off, and she’s waking up from nightmares where Zeus wore his face. That’s a lot to deal with even without the fact that he’s dealing with the fact that Zeus, Demeter, and Apollo are dead. They don’t think of each other as siblings, but that is millennia of history, good and bad. Then there’s the fact that he just kind of destroyed Zeus’s soul, and there’s some emotional baggage with that. And he also witnessed one of his worst fears (that his past will hurt the people he loves), come true for Poseidon.

It’s a lot. And I included that final scene to show that what happened with Zeus didn’t just happen to Persephone. She and Aphrodite weren’t his only victims, and they aren’t the only ones who need to come to terms with the events of Iron Queen. If Hades, the guy with millennia of experience getting over horrible things and a library full of self-help books, is rattled, you can bet every other god in the entire mythology is. And that will be explored quite a bit in the Aphrodite trilogy.

 

 

FAQ: Melissa

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Not exactly a question, but I get a lot of readers emailing me to say they loved Melissa in book one

And hated her in book two.

And I just wanted a moment to address that.

I completely understand the feeling. Melissa’s making demands and being super inconsiderate to what Persephone’s going through in book two. Persephone is super annoyed with her, so the reader should feel that way as well. Technically all this Melissa hatred means is that I’ve done my job.

But it still makes me a bit sad because Melissa’s one of my favorite characters. She’s not very considerate to Persephone in book two because she has no idea what’s going on in Persephone’s life. She cut herself out of the equation, so that’s on her. But if my former best friend called me at 3 in the morning during finals week and only gave me vague responses as to why, I would not be sunshine and rainbows either. The fact that she showed up at all means she’s a better person than I’d probably be.

I’m a horrible person when I’m sleepy. No. Really. A horrible person.

As for cutting herself out of the equation, Aphrodite was doing a lot behind the scenes to prey on Melissa’s self-esteem issues. Add that to…

The Joel drama (which you can read all about in That Moment When)

The fact that she literally died at the end of Persephone

and everyone but Persephone, including her own mother, was willing to let that happen

The mind trip it must be to be born and bred with a purpose you have no say on

Being magically forced to keep a secret from your best friend for years

Eagerly waiting for the day she finds out what she is only for her to get all distant and has problems that you can’t possibly begin to understand despite the fact that understanding and being there for her was the only purpose in life you were ever supposed to have…

Oh yeah, and she’s human and normal and surrounded by the supernatural constantly. Her best friend could be best described as an unearthly beauty. And she has super powers.

And she complains about them.

A lot.

I’m a reader. I’ve spent my entire life burying my nose in stories where the fantastic is possible. I cannot imagine anything worse than knowing it’s all out there, it’s all real, but not for me. I can’t imagine being surrounded by those magical one-percenters, the chosen protagonists, and not getting jealous. Much less being expected to listen to them whine about problems I’d kill to have and then be completely expected to die for them.

Melissa has a ton to process. And she does so in a flawed way. And I wish I could write more from her point of view to fully convey that, because from a writing standpoint, she’s a super interesting character to place in a scene. She brings an entirely different dynamic to every line she’s in.

But what is fun for the writer is not always fun for the reader. The reader is invested in Persephone’s POV, so what she feels, hurt, annoyed, betrayed, the reader feels. And that’s a good thing.

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone ever listen to Hades?

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There are multiple points in Daughter of the Earth and Sky where Hades gives Persephone a very specific set of instructions.

That she promptly ignores.

Sometimes she ignored him because she’s charmed (see last Friday’s post). Others because Persephone is impulsive. It’s her character flaw. She’s impulsive, naive, and she thinks she knows best. A chunk of the time she’s right, but not always. It’s not a new character development. This is the girl who ran away from home in book one then ran away from The Underworld to face Boreas. She’s never, regardless of the stakes, sat quietly and listened as other people make decisions. Not once in six books. It’s frustrating. But she also has a way of getting things done.

We all know people like her in real life.

But by the same token, Hades is wrong just as often as she is. There seems to be this impression that if she’d only listened to him x or y would have happened, but that’s not necessarily the case. There is no other way the conversation with Poseidon would have gone, regardless of who was speaking. Poseidon had days to plan exactly what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. Hades didn’t have all the information about Joel or about Zeus or about Aphrodite, so her listening to him in those cases would have led down a different path. But not necessarily a better one.

She is growing as  character, and being less impulsive is one of the places where she’s going to grow. But she and Hades are also growing in terms of having a healthy, functioning relationship where they listen to each other instead of both just doing their own thing because they’re convinced it’s for the best. In other words, it’s not just her flaw.

FAQ Friday: Joel

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So this is a spoilerific post. If you haven’t read Daughter of Earth and Sky, continue at your own risk.

I’ve seen several emails from readers praising all things Hades and wondering why she was ever remotely tempted by Joel. The answer to this is actually fairly messed up.

Charm.

Well applied charm works by rationalizing the foreign thoughts and impulses into something the victim wants to do. Several times during Daughter of Earth and Sky Persephone had thought patterns like this.

“I could do my run at three instead,” he suggested. “We could run together.”

“Do you have time for that? With college about to start and everything?” I didn’t want to sound too reluctant, but I really enjoyed the solitude my runs provided.

“For you, I’ll make time.” He gave me an easy grin. “Just not right now. I should head out. Do you need help getting to your car? Or can you drive? I could take you home . . . ”

I laughed at his hesitation. I lived a bit outside of town, and gas wasn’t cheap. “I’m fine. I’m meeting someone later, so I should stick around.”

“Great.” He sounded relieved. He met my eyes. “Are we on for tomorrow?”

“Sure!” I needed to practice being human before school started, and Joel was about as normal as a human could get.

And just like that she’s running with Joel daily. Here’s another example.

 

“Sorry, Joel.” I brushed the grass off my legs. “I should probably be going.”

He caught my eye. “Aw come on, how long does it take to drink a smoothie?”

I found myself smiling. “Fine.”

And here’s another example.

I felt a pang of guilt flash through me when I saw Joel waiting for me at the bridge. Melissa was right. I was leading him on. I wasn’t sure how it had happened. We’d progressed from our daily jog, to a daily jog and smoothie. Then to a daily jog, smoothie, and occasional dinner. Now it was a daily jog, smoothie, occasional dinner, and occasional movie. We weren’t going out, and I had no interest in dating anyone other than Hades, but every time Joel suggested something and looked at me with those big blue eyes, I found myself agreeing. It was just so easy to be normal around him. For those short bits of time, I could forget about Hades and Thanatos and the Underworld.

“I gotta say, I liked your other outfit better.” Joel motioned to my Disney princess running shirt and pink shorts.

I laughed nervously. I hadn’t switched into different running clothes because Hades had made that comment, but because the way Joel looked at me sometimes made me want to wear a shapeless sweat suit. But this was Georgia. Sweating to death was a distinct possibility.

Joel grinned at me, and I forgot all about that. He was too nice to lead on. I needed to end this.

“You ready?” Joel asked, eyes searching mine.

“Yup!” We could talk after the run.

I ran faster than I ever had, beating Joel and my goal. I collapsed on the grass when I finished my third mile, grinning like an idiot.

“You’re in a good mood,” he noted.

I pushed myself up on my hands. “Hanging out with Aphrodite, running with you, it’s weird, but . . . ” I struggled to explain it. “I feel like I get to be me again, for just a few minutes. It’s really nice.”

“Who else have you been?” He sat beside me, eyes lingering appreciatively on my legs. He caught my reproachful look and gave me an impish smile. “You can tell me anything you know. I won’t tell anyone.”

And suddenly I wanted to tell him. Not everything, but Joel was so easy to talk to, I bet he’d understand what I was going through better than most of the gods.

And one more…

He met my eyes, leaned closer, and I knew he was going to kiss me. I thought of stopping him. I shouldn’t have led him on this long. But . . .

I let him kiss me, releasing him from the charm that would compel him to forget this conversation. His lips on mine were warm and eager. Completely different from a kiss from Hades. Hades was always fighting a battle with himself, trying to hold back. Joel had no such reservations.

My stomach turned at the thought of Hades, and I pushed Joel away. This was wrong. I didn’t want to do this. Why was I doing this? I knew it was just kissing, but I didn’t want to kiss anyone else. I just wanted Hades.

“What’s wrong?” Joel’s bright blue eyes searched my face.

I stared at him wondering that myself. What was wrong? Joel was a perfectly nice guy, and I liked him before. 

See. Aside from a passing mention in the first book, Persephone didn’t willingly give Joel the time of day a single time during the entire book. He spent the entire book slowly forcing her trust, forcing a relationship, and working with Thanatos and Aphrodite to isolate her from everyone else she could turn to. It’s pretty messed up.

 

FAQ Friday: Where can I buy Daughter of Earth and Sky?

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Q: Where can I buy Daughter of Earth and Sky in format/language/country/for free.

I get variations on this question a lot and for obvious reasons, I am all too happy to answer.

First, some links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible and many, many more.

Daughter of Earth and Sky is available in print, all the major electronic formats, and as an audiobook narrated by yours truly. Print wise, you can order it wherever books are sold, but unless you happen to live in Athens, Georgia, the odds of you walking in and seeing it on a shelf are slim, so you will have to special order it.

Internationally, Daughter of Earth and Sky is available through Amazon and to my knowledge Amazon alone. It is at this point in time only available in English.

Audiobook wise, Daughter of Earth and Sky is available on audible,itunes, and good ol’ amazon.

Daughter of Earth and Sky occasionally goes on sale for .99 cents, but my publisher has not yet offered it for free. As far as I know, they have no plans to.  If you really, really, really want to read my book, but can’t afford it even on sale (trust me, I feel your pain. I have lived in the red) the best suggestion I can offer is your local library. If they don’t have a copy and you request it, chances are they will buy more than one of copy, so not only do you get it free, but it also helps me in terms of sales and exposure. We both win. My books are all available on overdrive, so if your library offers eBooks, there’s a good chance they already have it in an electronic format or can easily obtain it via request. You can even request the audio version. If you’re asking for my recommendation for a good pirate site, let me tell you three quick things.

  1.  While I am truly flattered that you want to read my book enough to commit theft, I’m not J.K Rowling (not that she deserves to be robbed either). I need every penny of my royalties to scrape by.
  2. I have it on good authority from the many, many, many readers who have emailed me complaining their stolen copy of my book infected their computer, that a good chunk of those pirate sites claiming to have my book are bad news.
  3.  When real copies of my book go up, they are pretty quickly taken down, and they stay down for one very important reason. My publisher takes piracy very, very seriously. When they see their products being stolen, they act on it beyond just sending take down notices.

I have an E.d.S in School Library Media, so accessibility is very important to me. If you cannot obtain a copy of my book for any reason at all, email me using the contact me form on this website. I’ll see what I can do.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Why Joel?

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A reader asked why Persephone would have ever bothered with Joel when she had Hades. 

Spoilers ahead.

She was charmed. If you go back and read Daughter of Earth and Sky a second time, keeping an eye out for charm, you’ll notice Persephone’s thoughts shift every time she meets either Joel’s or Aphrodite’s eyes. It’s subtle, but well-crafted charm is supposed to feel like it’s your idea. The problem is, up until this book, we don’t see charm applied with expertise. We see charm used through brute force, which works but is obvious, even to the person being charmed. Zeus and Aphrodite are good at charm.

Here’s an example:

“I could do my run at three instead,” he (Joel) suggested. “We could run together.”

“Do you have time for that? With college about to start and everything?” I didn’t want to sound too reluctant, but I really enjoyed the solitude my runs provided.

“For you, I’ll make time.” He gave me an easy grin. “Just not right now. I should head out. Do you need help getting to your car? Or can you drive? I could take you home . . . ”

I laughed at his hesitation. I lived a bit outside of town, and gas wasn’t cheap. “I’m fine. I’m meeting someone later, so I should stick around.”

“Great.” He sounded relieved. He met my eyes. “Are we on for tomorrow?”

“Sure!” I needed to practice being human before school started, and Joel was about as normal as a human could get.

See how she shifts from not wanting to give up her private runs to actively looking forward to running with him? That’s how charm is supposed to work. And that’s why “Joel” stood a chance. Mind control.

FAQ Friday: Cliffhanger Ending for Daughter of Earth and Sky

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I’ve had many readers ask about my choice of ending scene for Daughter of Earth and Sky. It is most definitely a cliff hanger, and yes, I could have avoided it by ending the book one chapter earlier or later.

I promise I didn’t choose not to do that to frustrate the reader or to entice them to buy the next book. I did it because of Joel.

*Spoiler Warning*

One chapter later starts a new arc, with new POV characters, new conflicts, and new problems. It also doesn’t resolve the cliff hanger since she’d still be captured. So on the surface one chapter earlier seems like the better choice.

Except it’s not.

One chapter earlier and the story arc I built for Daughter of Earth and Sky wasn’t over. My readers would have been left fuming about Persephone basically cheating on Joel for months before the next book came out, because they wouldn’t realize he’d charmed her into a relationship she’d never actually been interested in. One chapter earlier and my readers would spend months hating Aphrodite more than they already did because they’d be walking away from the story convinced she was the one charming Persephone (which was true some of the time, but not most of it). Plus, it would have been such a faux happy note. Everything gets nice and wrapped up with Melissa, and her mother, and Hades. Ending there and walking away for months would make it hard for the reader to jump back into story lines where those characters only had decent terms with Persephone for hours. It would be a fake ending and it would make the beginning of the next book ring false.

Ending on a cliff hanger was a difficult decision, but one I’d make if I had a chance to rewrite the book right now. That chapter did end Daughter of Earth and Sky and it started Iron Queen. And fortunately, Iron Queen is out now, so you can end one book and pick up the next without that pesky wait.

FAQ Friday: Can I read Daughter of Earth and Sky first?

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A reader asked if they can start with Daughter of the Earth and Sky.

If you’re like me, you sometimes stumble upon book two in the library or win it in a giveaway, and you just want to know if you should open the book or if you’ll be so hopelessly lost it’s not worth the bother. I recapped well enough in book two for a new reader to be able to pick up in book two. So yes, you can.

However, I suggest finding a copy of book one if you can (it’s free in audio form if you sign up for my newsletter), because while you will get what’s going on thanks to recapping, you aren’t going to appreciate it as much as a reader who was “there.”

 

FAQ Friday: Why not teleport?

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A reader asked why Persephone didn’t teleport away from danger during Daughter of Earth and Sky.

Without getting into spoilerific details, 90% of the time Persephone was in danger, someone had a firm grip on her. She can’t teleport in the living realm with anyone born outside Demeter’s realm and she can’t teleport with anyone in the Underworld that doesn’t read as a native. As for the other 10…

With the Reapers it wouldn’t have done any good. The have rights to teleport in both realms, so they would have just gone with her, and then what? She couldn’t explain what was going on to Hades, and if she stuck to the living realm, they’d already shown a willingness to retaliate with random humans.

With that last thing that happened, there was a shield in place to prevent teleportation, which is also why Hades could not interfere.