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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone recognize references to herself?

If Persephone is learning mythology, why doesn’t she recognize references to herself in the myths she’s learning about in school?

Because Persephone lives in an alternate universe where the myths are still unfolding. There IS no Persephone in mythology yet. She’s THE Persephone. Not a reincarnation, not a cyclical version of herself trapped in a recurring myth. There has never been a Persephone before her that had any mythological relevance and there won’t be one after her. That’s also why she doesn’t recognize Orpheus’s name or many of the other names of famous mythological figures she encounters. She recognizes the name Demeter, but she thought the name of her mother’s flower shop was just a play on the ancient goddess as Demeter doesn’t go by Demeter in the modern day (literally no other character that wasn’t a god ever referred to her by name, so I didn’t have a chance to explain that without it seeming info dumpy until she introduces herself to one of Apollo’s priestesses in book 3).

I tried to show that Persephone is set in a previously Persephone-less world by opening with her teaching talking about THE myth that’s used to explain the origin of Winter. In our society, that myth is the Persephone myth. In this one it’s not. They used a similar (and yes, existing. Boreas and Oreithyia are mythology figures and that is their story even outside the world of my book) myth. That’s the myth that school children everywhere learn instead of the Persephone one. Because there is no Persephone one. It hasn’t happened yet.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Why Does Persephone Go by Kora?

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In Persephone, and certain parts of Daughter of Earth and Sky, Persephone goes by her middle name, Kora instead of Persephone. This is actually a nod to the original myth. Before Persephone’s abduction to the Underworld, she was only referred to in mythology as Kore or Kora, which translates to girl or maiden.

In other words, in the myth she didn’t get a name until she became someone important.

Names mattered a lot in Greek Mythology. The gods had entirely different names or titles for different roles they played. So it only made sense to make sure that names mattered a lot in my series.Every book title is one of Persephone’s titles, and there’s a lot of character development that goes into Persephone choosing to abandon her more “normal” sounding nickname, and embracing the name Persephone. At first she lets people call her Persephone in the Underworld because she figures she won’t be there long enough, and the people there don’t matter to her enough, to bother correcting them. But over time, the people there and her time there come to matter so much, than in book two when she’s returned to the living realm, it feels strange when people call her Kora. By book three, when she’s completely given up clinging to both her idealized version of her human and the parts of her divine life she likes, and embraced her actual life, the name Kora is never uttered again because she became Persephone.

Using different names for different roles, particularly related to age, isn’t unique to Greek culture.  Childhood nicknames are common. When I was really little, my nickname was Katie, and it’s telling who still calls me that. Older family members. Because to them, that’s who I’ll always be. When I hit my teenage years, I decided to go by Kat, which I loved. But as I grew up, introducing myself as Kat started feeling strange. So everyone in my adult life calls me Kaitlin except for a few friends from high school, because to them that’s who I’ll always be. I was a different person entirely in high school, and THAT was a different person from the little kid known as Katie.

Outside of age, the names I go by today show a lot about my relationship with the person using them. People who call me Ms. Bevis for instance don’t know me at all. But the person who calls me Mommy knows me on an entirely different level than all my friends that call me Kaitlin. And that’s a whole different relationship than the man who calls me hon. Names matter.

What names do YOU go by? What do they say about you? What do they say about the people using them?

 

FAQ Friday: Roman VS Latin Names

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Why is a Professor teaching a group of high school students, and shouldn’t he be using using the Roman names since it’s a Latin class?

Professor Homer is modeled after two of my high school teachers, a certain professor (and that title was a matter of pride to him, so we did use it despite being a high school) and my Latin teacher. My Latin teacher was the sweetest old man you’d ever meet, and he felt it was important to distinguish between Roman and Greek deities. Minerva is not just Athena with a different name. She’s an entirely different god. There’s tons of similarities between them in the same way there’s a ton of similarities between Samhain and Halloween. There are enough differences distinguish between the two holidays just like there are enough differences to distinguish between the two gods.

**I do need to add that while they are different gods, even within their own specific culture they could be worshiped for different roles by making slight variations on the name. So the blending of the gods worked very well because both cultures believed that there were many different aspects to each god. Add that to the oral tradition and the far flung reach of each deities worshipers, and you get some major variations in personality and sequence/existence of events.**

Anyway, I decided to take the same approach my Latin teacher did with my stories by sticking with the spellings of the version of the myth that inspired me most. Professor Homer only tells one myth in the entire series, and that’s the abduction of Oreithyia. The earliest myth of Boreas and Oreithyia I could find was from one of the Simonides fragments (534 to be specific) and it features an Athenian Princess, so to me it made sense for him to stick with the Greek names.

However, if it makes you feel better about him as an educator, he did go over the proper Roman names and roles at the beginning of class. The story just picks up after that classroom lecture.

I’m out of myths!

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I am once again out of myths that I can talk about without revealing spoilers for books that have not yet been released. While there are tons of myths in and out of Greek mythology that I haven’t touched yet, I really don’t have the time to do enough research to write a blog on them right now. I’m knee deep in edits, deadlines, and life. Plus, my blog is pretty disorganized, which I’d like to fix.

So, what I’m working on now (as I’m sure you’ve noticed with all the Master Posts) are consolidating my blog series. And it’s occurred to me, I’ve missed a pretty significant set. Myths featured in each book. I’ve blogged about each myth from each book, but I’ve never actually explained how and where they fit in. So I’m working on a master post for myths that popped up in Persephone. This involves me going over each chapter of Persephone and combing for mythological references. And while I was working on that, I realized this is also a great opportunity to answer questions I’ve been asked (or have been mentioned in reviews) so I can include those in the master post about each specific book.

Posts featuring those questions will be posted to my blog on Fridays and any myths I’ve missed will be taking the place of Mythology Monday until the master post is complete.

 

Mythology Monday: Helen of Troy

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“So,” I said when they fell silent for a minute, “you two knew each other when you were alive, right? In Troy? What was it like?”

The quality of the silence changed. I peeked through half open eyes to see Cassandra and Helen share a long look.

“I’m so sorry,” I stammered. I couldn’t believe I’d just asked that. “I didn’t think about… You two must want to forget all about—”

“It’s okay,” Helen assured me, collecting some pink powder onto an angled brush. “There are days I would give anything to drink from the Lethe.” She paused for a second before putting the blush on my face. I closed my eyes instinctively. “I think about it every morning when I wake up. Just forgetting all those horrible things. But all those people died for me. It wouldn’t be right to forget them.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Cassandra said as though reciting a familiar line from a familiar argument. “Menelaus was bound to attack Troy eventually. He was greedy. You were just—”

“A convenient excuse.” Helen’s voice was bitter.

“What happened?” I asked. “If you don’t mind my asking.”

“You’ve heard the stories, I’m sure. You’re a daughter of Zeus, so you understand better than most the way people can change around us.”

“It’s not change,” Cassandra said. “You just bring out the—”

“I understand that,” Helen replied. “It’s still not something ordinary girls would have to worry about. But then we’re not ordinary, are we, Persephone? We’re lucky.”

I looked at her, and she saw that I understood.

“I was taken from my husband and daughter and given to Paris as a prize.”

“You had a daughter?” I shook off my surprise, remembering how different things were back then.

“Hermione.” Helen smiled fondly. “The last time I saw her was her ninth birthday. I imagine she’s down here somewhere, but she probably drank from the Lethe to forget me. They all hated me in the end.”

“You were just a scapegoat,” Cassandra reminded her.

“I wish they would have just listened to you,” Helen replied.

“Even without the curse, my brother was too much of a moron to listen to anyone.”

Helen of Troy had a pretty crazy life. She was conceived when Zeus raped Leda….as a swan. Her half brothers were Castor and Pollux, the gemini twins. The twins were also demigods, but the way it broke down with them is that one of them was a full god, the other was a full human. 

~@~

 As a child she was already lovely and turning heads. When Theseus and Pirithous made their pact to marry daughters of Zeus, Theseus chose the then ten year old Helen. The two kidnapped her and stashed her with Theseus’ mom for safe keeping then went down to the Underworld to try to abduct Persephone. We all know how that went.

Meanwhile,Helen was rescued by her brothers and returned home where she was later married off to Menelaus. She had a daughter named Hermione, and by some accounts an infant son when she was taken to Troy by Paris. Sources are conflicted here as to whether she went with Paris of her own volition or was abducted. Either way, her disappearance was just the excuse Menelaus needed to go to war with the very wealthy kingdom of Troy. The Trojan war was fought for ten years before Troy fell, and Helen, according to different accounts, either captured, killed, or escaped with Paris.

I always felt sorry for Helen so I tried to portray her as a sympathetic character in my story and give her a happier life in the Underworld.

Half Dead Pomegranate Tree

This blog was originally posted on Becky’s blog here:
There’s a half dead pomegranate tree in my yard. I love it. I think it’s wonderfully symbolic. It’s the craziest looking thing. There are leaves and fruit on one side and the rest of the tree just looks like a skeleton. My friends tell me I should cut away the dead so that the tree might pull through, and I will once I have a minute to dedicate to yard work. But I can’t help but feel cutting away the dead is betraying Hades.
Silly I know. I really wish I could claim this half dead pomegranate tree was my inspiration for writing Persephone, but we didn’t move to this house until last summer, and Persephone was being sent out in query letters at that point. No, my actual inspiration was much less poetical and symbolic.
It was a preview to clash of the titans. I really liked the quote “damn the gods” which got the ball rolling in my mind. The actual movie was almost as inspiring.
In that I was so bored I drafted the entire book in my head while I watched it. I left that movie, chattering endlessly about my idea to my husband and a friend, and then went home and wrote the book.
I don’t know why a movie trailer seems like an unworthy source of inspiration, but the whole story is a little embarrassing. If I ever get really famous, I might go with the more “writerly” story of inspiration.
I have a half dead pomegranate tree in my yard..

Brittany interviews me about Persephone

This interview was originally posted on Brittany’s blog here:

Do you have a favorite character? Why is she your favorite?

Melissa. I’ve read books about characters with fantastic abilities my entire life. I’ve wished magic was real with every fiber of my being, and you know what I eventually figured out? If all the stuff I read about was real, I’d probably still just be a regular human. That’s why I love Melissa. She has to deal with the knowledge that everything is real, just not for her, and she manages to deal with that crushing disappointment while still being a good friend. I admire her for that, it can’t be easy having a goddess for a best friend.

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I just hope that people enjoy reading it. I don’t have an agenda and I’m not trying to pass on any pearls of wisdom, I just like good stories. I did a ton of research so if you’re familiar with the myths there’s all kinds of fun references in there, but I’m not trying to teach anyone anything. I just want people to have fun reading my book.

About the Author:
What/Who inspires you?

It’s completely random. Sometimes it’s movies or shows or trailers that get me thinking along a completely different path and start a story. Sometimes it’s bad dreams. Sometimes it’s other books or things that happen in real life. Most of the time is a combination of so many different things I can’t really pinpoint it. Other times it’s a name. Right now I’ve got a half formed idea floating around because I really want to name a character Chance. I think Chance probably has an attitude problem and might be a thief. Who knows what will come of that.

Hardest aspect of writing? Best/Easiest?

The hardest part to me is writing the query letter, synopsis, blurb, or anything to shorten this idea that I’ve spent every single bit of my energy into pouring MORE detail in, and expanding into a novel. The easiest part is writing the dialogue. I probably let my characters talk too much, but their dialogue is so fun to write.

Who is your writing hero?

Peter Beagle. I love his novels. He manages to write really good novels. His novels are good literature yet still manage to tell a great story without getting dragged down in craft. And to top it off, most of his stories are for children, so it does it in a very concise space. He’s amazing. My favorite novel by him is Tamsin, but The Last Unicorn is a close second.

About the Future:
What’s next for you?

Finishing the trilogy. My sequel is done, and waiting on edits. So now I’m working on the third book. The third books a lot of fun because it’s a dual narrative between Persephone and Hades, and it’s fun to be in Hades’ head.

One outrageous goal for the future?

I want to go on the Supernatural Summer tour with all my favorite authors. It’s through their publisher so it’s not going to happen for a very long time, but it’s my goal. Mostly just so I can meet all my favorite authors!

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other aspiring writers?

Join a writers group and listen to what they say. I see so many writers complain that they tried writers groups but the people just “didn’t get” their story, or their advice was just too off the wall. Here’s the thing about people in the writers group. They are your best gauge of what your reviews are going to look like should you ever get published. If they, avid readers and writers, don’t understand your work, I guarantee they are not the problem. My books would not be a fraction as good if I didn’t have them to bounce ideas off of or to say “wow, your character is being really bitchy right now, do you want us to hate her?” If you can’t handle constructive criticism you’re never going to be able to handle your edits, much less your readers!

Randomness:
Sweet or salty?

Sweet. My favorite candy is the Reeses cups shaped like eggs. Yum.

Beach, plains or mountains?

The Beach. I got married on the beach. I love it, it’s so beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the ocean though. I have a short story called Siren Song published (if there’s a way to link to it I’d appreciate it) that goes into all the creepiness of the ocean. I mean think about it. It’s huge. An entire ecosystem lives in it. It’s this entire other realm and we go swimming in it? It’s a little crazy.

Online, letters or in person?

In person. I know this is weird for a writer to say but I tend to get in trouble if people can’t see/hear me. I use happy sarcasm. When people hear me in real life, they say I’m nice and sometimes a little tiny bit funny (not often) but somehow that doesn’t translate well to email or text or letters. I just come off condescending and mean. I read other people all wrong too. Talking in person prevents any misunderstandings.

Ebook or print?

EBook. When you’ve moved as often as I have the novelty of print becomes a bit of an encumbrance. Plus I like having my entire library on me at all times. Stuck waiting in the doctors office? No problem, I have a book. Can’t remember something I’ve read, I can pull it up. I’m never going back to print!

Character Interview with Hades and Persephone

These fun interview questions were written by Martha. It was my first “live” interview and it was a blast! You can see the interview where it was originally posted, here:
Character Interview with Hades & Persephone!

 

Welcome Persephone and Hades to booksbooks&morebooks! I am very stoked to have you both here with me to answer a few questions. I loved your story of love, coming into your own and life in the Underworld.
Now Hades lets start with you. When you figured out that Persephone was in danger from those very evil souls, what was the first thing that crossed your mind?
Hades (souls): The very first thing? I had to save her. I was worried she’d get hurt and I was afraid I wouldn’t get there in time. I don’t get scared very often. Pretty much never until I net her. And as weird as it is, that made me mad. I knew I had to save her of course, but she had the whole Underworld to roam safely and she ends up in Tartarus? It’s literally the only place in the entire Underworld that she could get hurt.
That makes sense. It’s hard keeping a stubborn person out of danger. *cough cough* Persephone!
Now Hades, why did you think that making Persephone your wife would be the best way to keep her away from Boreas’ reach? Was that really the only reason at the moment or was there another reason? *Quizzical face*
I don’t know. I think about that a lot. On the one hand I didn’t exactly have a lot of time. Boreas’ last victim nearly drowned herself in the Lethe trying to escape the memories of what he did to her. Persephone wouldn’t have had the luxury of dying. Cassandra told me what was happening and taking her to the Underworld was the easiest way to make sure she was out of harms way. My “plan” was just to pop up to the surface and evaluate the situation. Had it not been her… I don’t know, I might have tried harder to find another way.
Persephone: but even in retrospect, there wasn’t another way. I’m not exactly complaining about the arrangement.

 

Hehehehe I wouldn’t mind either Persephone. *blushes*
So Persephone how does it feel to be married to the Hades? I mean he’s the master of the Underworld. And at so young an age?
Hades: Marriage with the gods is mostly political. It’s not like–
Persephone: We’re not– I mean we haven’t– Erm what I mean is–
Hades: there’s a pretty significant age difference–
Persephone: I guess you could say its weird. It’s really really weird. We’re kind of figuring this out as we go.

 

*trying not to laugh* Ohhk.
Persephone describe Hades.

 

He’s not what I expected…
Hades: *groans* thank the gods, what was it you said? Something about expecting me to be all disfigured and twisted like my dark and evil soul?
Persephone: you were supposed to have flaming blue hair too. But I don’t just mean the way he looks, which incidentally… Wow!
Hades: *grins*
Persephone: he’s also really full of himself. Its pretty annoying. But He’s nice. He cares about people. He works really hard to make the underworld nice for the souls and he cares about his friends…. He’s gone above and beyond for me, and he’s honest. I mean beyond the not being able to lie thing. I trust him. Absolutely.
Trust is very important! Especially when two people are married. Now Hades it’s your turn. Describe Persephone. Be honest now.
Well she’s blonde, about five foot, has green eyes, and wears lots of skirts.
-.- very descriptive Hades. No really what is Peraephone like?
She’s… I don’t know, good. Better than the lot of us anyhow. She cares about people, not how she can best use them, and I don’t have to try to interpret everything she says. She’s like… light or air or something necessary. I can’t imagine– anyway, you get the idea.

 

Hades and Persephone. This question is for the both of you: what is next? What is going on with you two at the moment?
Hades: We’re going to be pretty busy dealing with… Something we’ve just discovered
Persephone: *under her breath* you have no idea…
Hades: I don’t want to go into too many details, but that… Project is going to take precedence over anything else.
O.O ahhhh I’m so excited! And very intrigued!
Thank you Hades and Persephone for answering my questions! I hope to read more from you two soon.
Thanks! 🙂