FAQ Friday: How old is Hades, physically?

How old is Hades? Daughters of zeus, Persephone, Hades, young adult mythology retelling

How old is Hades, physically?

Simple answer? Let’s call him twenty-five.

Less simple answer? While Persephone said she thinks he’s in his mid-twenties, the answer to that question is going to depend on which part of Hades you’re talking about. The gods are basically frozen in their prime. That moment before cells start degrading and everything is just getting better and better and better. For different parts of your body or brain, that turning point happens at different parts of your life. For instance, your prime years of math learning or foreign language learning are over way before your prime height. But for simplicities sake, human men stop maturing in their mid-twenties, exactly which year/month/day of their mid twenties is going to vary person by person, but mid-twenties is a pretty safe estimate.

FAQ Friday: Instalove

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One thing I’ve noticed getting debated in reviews is the question of whether or not Persephone and Hades count as instalove.

Instalove is a trend in YA lit that reaches back to the 80’s (and beyond). Girl sees guy, girl falls helplessly in love with guy despite guy kind of being a dick, girl spends entire book pining for guy and then, *gasp* discovers he’s completely obsessed with her too, and has been since the moment they met. That’s why he’s such a dick, because what girl doesn’t know is that guy is a vampire/in witness protection/a werewolf/some other thing that would be dangerous for the human girl.

Sometimes you see the trope reversed, and sometimes you see the trope work on both sides. They both see each other and fall for each other and the book just throws obstacles at them to stop them from being together. Or they hook up and go on their merry way together.

My book doesn’t have instalove. But at the same time, it kind of does.

Persephone hates Hades when she first meets him. She wants nothing to do with him or the Underworld. She just wants to go home. She has all these assumptions about who Hades is and over the course of the next four months, slowly begins to realize that he’s not a disney caricature. She over-corrects. Assumes that he’s nothing but this great, caring guy, and is quickly corrected. There’s darkness to Hades, there’s light, there’s everything inbetween. She doesn’t really consider whether or not she has feelings for Hades until she learns he has feelings for her. Sure, she likes looking at him. But he never registered as a possibility until she found out he was and then she got interested.

That’s, in my experience, how people work. Finding out someone likes you makes you consider whether or not you like them. I’ve seen it over and over again with myself and my friends. They know this guy, don’t really think anything of him, then find out he has a crush on them and suddenly start evaluating whether or not he’s datable.

Persephone has maybe a minute of blind devotion at the start of book two before she’s jolted back to reality when she has to come up with something true to tell Hades to convince him to go back to the Underworld. That truth is all these doubt bubbling up inside of her about how their relationship could possibly work. Even at the end of book two, she tells her mother that she loves Hades for now, but she knows they might not last forever. It’s not until book three, nearly two years after they meet, that Hades and Persephone become an unquestionable fact. And even at the end of book three, there’s some indication the ground ahead is rocky at best.

Persephone’s perspective tends to make my readers go “yay! It wasn’t instalove!” So where does the debate come in?

Hades.

Hades states outright that the second he saw her he knew he’d fall in love with her. He doesn’t act on it. He doesn’t not act on it. He accepts it as a part of life and does his best to make sure she survives. It doesn’t exactly fit the trope, because we never see it from his perspective, so an irrational, sudden interest isn’t the driving force of the plot. But technically, yeah, it’s instalove.

So why did I include it?

I thought long and hard about it, trust me. It would have been super easy to leave out that one line and just let my readers think it was a build up months in the making on both side. But I couldn’t. Hades is a good guy, but he’s not entirely unselfish. He wouldn’t bind himself to Persephone for all time just to save her if she wasn’t someone he had feelings toward. He would have tried to find another way. What he did was somewhat selfishly motivated. He didn’t stop to think, he acted to save her, but he could have stopped to think. He could have just faced Boreas on his own (granted she could have been caught in the cross-fire). My point is, there were options. He had to be far enough gone to not even pause to consider them.

So I included the line, and almost included a prologue that shows Hades seeing her for the first time and the absolute conviction he feels.

Hades, as stated by the narrative, has a way of looking at people and seeing everything they are, everything they could be, weighing their every thought and motivation, and leaving them with the unmistakable feeling that they’ve been judged and found wanting. Persephone feels this happen when she wakes up in the Underworld, and it’s not just her using flowery language.

Hades is a god.

While he employs help, he absolutely has the ability to determine whether or not a soul should go to Tartarus, Elysium, or Asphodel.  I don’t think Hades could ever experience anything other than instalove because when he looks at someone, he can weigh their soul. And he’s been around long enough to cut through all the self-doubt and questioning. He knows what he likes, he knows what he loves. And when he saw everything Persephone was, and the potential for everything she could be stripped bare, he fell in love with her.

It is instalove in the sense that it’s instant. But it’s not the typical use of the trope. His love isn’t irrational, built with nothing to go on but a glance and a snap judgment because the plot demanded it. He had more information than a normal person would get, even after decades of marriage. Hades knew what he was falling for.

Of course, it would have been way better if I’d done more than hint at that in the narrative.

 

 

 

FAQ Friday: Age Range

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Q: What age range is your series intended for?

A: I hate this question because my perspective is so skewed. I have a seven year old. The younger end of YA seems so close that I’m always kind of hedging because I can’t imagine her reading stuff like my books in a few years.

On the other hand, as a teen, I was reading adult novels, so I also don’t want to underestimate YA readers. So I’m going to give you the official answer and the content break down. Be warned, my content break down probably makes my books sound a thousand times worse than they are in terms of content, because I am a prude. But hopefully this is a somewhat helpful guide. Readers please comment your thoughts below.

The Persephone trilogy is young adult, so I’d consider it appropriate from ages fourteen and up, though I personally feel that age should be pushed back a bit with each book. However what content you think is appropriate for what age is going to vary with each person.

The Aphrodite trilogy is considered new adult, so basically the older spectrum of YA (maybe 17 and up?) Again, that’s going to depend on the maturity level of the reader.

It would probably be more helpful to break it down by content.

Content:

Persephone is considered a clean read. There’s no cursing, no sexual situations, rape is alluded to (but considering I’m retelling the myth of Persephone that shouldn’t be a surprise) and there is mild violence.

Daughter of Earth and Sky features light cursing (as in number, not as in words dropped), alcohol use, heavy making out (though the camera fades to black any time a scene is getting too intense), and mild violence. Nonconsensual sexual situations implied.

Iron Queen has moderate cursing, graphic descriptions of violence, sexually questionable situations (though the scenes always fades to black).

Aphrodite features moderate cursing, light violence, sexual situations (not graphic), trigger warnings for rape (not described but heavily implied), and non-consentual situations. It’s a much more mature read.

Love and War Much of the same as Aphrodite with the addition of mature topics, such as abortion.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Dialect

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All the gods we meet in Persephone except the titular character are ancient beings who have been around ever since the dawn of time. So I’ve had some readers ask why they speak with a modern dialect.

There’s two reasons for that:

First, linguistically, it wouldn’t make sense for their speech patterns to get stuck in the past. Language is dynamic and ever changing. Not just on a global level, but on a personal one. If you hear a certain word every day for months on end, chances are it will assimilate into your vocabulary. That’s just how people work. The younger you are, the faster the assimilation because there are peak times for learning language in people’s lives, right?

Every piece of my gods stop aging/are created at their peak. That means their language assimilation is at the absolute best it’s going to be 100% of the time. They are going to adapt to the dialect surrounding them fast and consistently. They may occasionally throw an old-timey phrase in there, but because it’s not likely to be in their ready vocabulary, they’d have to be making a conscious effort. They absolutely can code switch, and do in my books depending on who they are speaking to. But even if they weren’t magical beings with fluid intelligence, even if they were completely typical humans who just so happened to be immortal, they may struggle with language barriers, but their dialect would evolve daily.

Secondly, the gods themselves are universal translators. People hear them in their native tongue. Now, hearing someone in your native tongue doesn’t do you much good if you’re hearing them in an archaic version of your native tongue. Ask anyone who has read the Canterbury Tales as it was originally written. That’s English, yet we still have a translated version of it for modern readers. Persephone is a sixteen year old girl who was raised human. So she’s going to hear the gods in her native tongue.

 

 

 

FAQ Friday: Why can’t the Gods lie?

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Well, the official book universe explanation is that words have power when spoken by the gods, so when they speak an untruth, they can unintentionally change the nature of something. That idea is heavily inspired by Diane Duanes’ Young Wizard series. But I included it in my universe because

1. the gods in my universe represent deities across cultures and mythologies. Hades isn’t *just* Hades, he’s the Hades equivalent in all mythologies. Some got more details right than others.So the rules of my universe needed to come from more than one culture. The not being capable of lying thing is borrowed from fairy lore.

2. There were a several instances in Greek mythology of gods being quite literally bound by their word (swearing by the Styx for instance, or the entire concept of Xenia, which the gods were bound to obey.) I needed to include aspects from those myths, but applying them randomly made no sense/would be, believe it or not, more complicated to maintain. The gods needed limits, firm rules, for the laws of my universe to feel real. Thanatos isn’t likely to get Persephone to unintentionally swear by the Styx, but to accidentally forget and lie? That’s a major limitation, and one that makes the magic systems of the gods feel more real.

Either way, it adds a whole new level to editing that I’m sure the folks over at Belle Books just love :D.

FAQ: Imaginary items in the Underworld

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A reader asked if the items created by the soul’s imaginations disapear when the souls stop thinking about them?

Not really, though that could lead to some hilarious wardrobe malfunctions. Items in the Underworld can transform, but the transformation from something to nothing or something to something else takes thought. But once the thought is put into it, it stays static until a new thought is consciously placed.

So say I wanted to wear a red dress. I’d visualize it, creating it new. And then I could completely stop thinking about it until sometime later when I realized, hey, it’s cold. Thinking “I wish I had sleeves” wouldn’t make them appear. I’d have to touch the actual dress and put the image of the dress with sleeves into the object for it to transform.

 

 

Is Persephone brave?

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Persephone is called brave twice in the entirety of the Persephone trilogy, and only once by Hades. But it made quite an impression on the goddess (as I’m sure being called brave by the Lord of the Underworld would.) She immediately denies it, thinks about it for two books, and denies it again.

“You’re strong and brave. More than you know. You stood and fought in Tartarus.”

I shook my head. “I’m not brave. I’m just stupid. When something scary or bad happens, my mind shuts off and I act. Believe me, later, when it has time to process, I’m terrified.”

Their difference of opinion here has to do with the definition of brave. To her, it means not being afraid, which some of my readers agree with. Since Persephone quakes in fear and cries after the fact, to them she’s not brave. That’s a matter of opinion, and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

To Hades, being brave means moving forward despite your fear. Which means you can’t possibly be brave in the absence of fear.Persephone  was scared of Pirithous and stabbed him with a pencil, when she stood up against Hades in the clearing, when she stood up to Hades in the Underworld, when she learned self-defense, when she opened her mind on purpose to Boreas’s dreamwalking after Melissa was taken. When she faced Pirithous in the Underworld, and finally when she faced Pirithous in the end. She was scared, and while internally she may have quaked, and while she cried, and shivered, and sometimes whined after the fact, she took her fear and pushed it aside moment by moment, often at the risk of her own life. These aren’t always reactive situations either. She makes plans to do something scary from a place of relative safety and implements them in moments of danger throughout the trilogy.

Many readers agree with Hades’s definition. That’s a matter of opinion and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

This is a frequently asked question because Persephone can’t lie, so when she says “I’m not brave,” it’s not false modesty, she absolutely does not believe bravery is one of her traits.

The whole not being able to lie thing gets complicated when the gods start talking in absolutes. She doesn’t say “I don’t think I’m brave.” She says she’s not. Period. And to her, that is true, but her truths don’t dictate other people’s opinions. So reader’s (and Hades’) opinions are still valid here, because she’s not talking about something steeped in fact. It’s not “Does 2 +2 = 4?” It’s “Does that equation look pretty?” A god can answer in an absolute to that question, because to them it either does or doesn’t. That is their truth.

 

 

Why can’t the people sent to Tartarus drink from the Lethe to give them a blank slate?

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I get some variation of this question a lot, and understandably. The idea of Tartarus, of people suffering for all eternity, is very disturbing. It should bug people. But this was addressed in the book here:

“We also use it (The Lethe) on people who’ve done bad things in life,” Cassandra continued. “We take away all their memories, and they serve in the palace or around the Underworld until their sentence is up.”

That didn’t seem like much of a punishment. “Why?”

“For most people, their circumstances contributed to whatever crime they committed. This gives them a blank slate. When they finish their sentence they can live the rest of their afterlife in peace. Of course it doesn’t work like that for everyone, but between me and Moirae we can usually tell who should go straight to Tartarus.”

Anyone can choose to drink from the Lethe, but some people are sentenced to it. Some people are just evil. Not because of something that happened to them or was done to them, but because they just are. Those people still get the option of the Lethe, but because they’d be a danger to the other souls and they need a more severe punishment, are still sent to Tartarus.

I completely get why this is bothersome to a lot of people. But I did base this world off Greek mythology and Tartarus was absolutely a factor that can’t be ignored.

 

FAQ: Deus Ex Machina

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I get this one a lot about the ending of Persephone. How did Persephone defeat a god who has been around since almost the beginning of time after only four months of training?

The fact that I’m asked that means I made a rookie mistake and didn’t put the gun on the mantel early enough or clearly enough in the story to avoid a Deus ex Machina scenario at the end. Fortunately, since my character is in fact a god, I get a bit more leeway with the whole God in the Machine bit, and I was not slammed for this in reviews to the extent I should have been. But there were reasons. Just not terribly well explained ones.

The first that divine powers don’t take much training. They are used by gods, and gods think therefore thinks are. Persephone herself notes this when she’s trying to learn how to dreamwalk from Hypnos. Everything comes easy to her, including aspects of her own powers, but dreamwalking is hard because she has no natural talent for it. If she had a natural talent for it, she’d master it pretty much instantly, like how she managed to create a plant the very first time she ever even attempted to use her powers. When she charmed people, she charmed them completely. She doesn’t need to learn to use her powers, she needs to learn which ones she has, how to access them, and how to use a light touch so she doesn’t accidentally destroy stuff. To use a light touch so she doesn’t unintentionally destroy stuff. She doesn’t use a light touch on Boreas, or precision. She uses the power equivalent of a sledge hammer.

And that works, because as far as sledge hammers go, hers is stronger. She may be a junior goddess, but she’s actively being worshiped by Orpheus’s fans, and she outranks Boreas. It’s established in the book that bloodlines are all, each generation is less strong than the last. Boreas is a minor wind god and son of a minor set of Titans. Persephone is divine royalty. She’s the daughter of two realm rulers. As Thanatos pointed out, she outranks pretty much every living god left.

Of course Persephone’s biggest advantage didn’t come down to experience or power. It came down to a vow of fealty he’d sworn to Zeus. It’s well established in my universe that divine children share their parent’s powers. Gods are only vulnerable to their own powers, ergo their children are their weaknesses. But when a god swears fealty to another god, they are surrendering their powers to them. That makes them vulnerable to things like that god’s charm, the same charm Persephone holds a piece of.

That third advantage is the one I messed up the most. Fealty isn’t introduced as a concept until after the fight. Plot wise, I couldn’t have explained that fealty makes gods vulnerable to charm specifically without really spoiling my ending. But I could have made hints earlier (or at all) in the story. If I had a do-over, that’s exactly what I would do. Add in one or two scenes where fealty is subtly mentioned. Probably in one of Hestia’s lessons and in one of the library chats with Hades.

But for now, all I can say is oops.