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The Next Big Thing blog hop

This is my contribution to The Next Big Thing blog hop, a branching pyramid-of-prose for authors to discuss their latest release or WIP. I was tagged by the amazing Shauna Roberts, another lover of history and a fellow Hadley Rille Books author. (Her deeply historical HRB novel Like Mayflies in the Stream, set in ancient Sumer, was published shortly after my The Priestess and the Slave, which was set in ancient Greece.)

I'm going to talk about my major WIP: an unsanitised life of Medea, full of sex and sorcery.

What is the working title of your book?
Medea: Dark Sorceress

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Years back, intrepid Aussie authors Donna Hansen and Nicole Murphy put out a call for submissions for an anthology of paranormal fantasies on a theme of sacrifice. I'm a passionate classicist by training, though I spent 20 years in IT; (literal) sacrifice was very big in ancient Greek religion, and women were always making terrible (metaphorical) sacrifices in Greek myths and legends. Medea sprang to mind – she made terrible sacrifices for her love for Jason. There was a short story, but it wasn't enough. Medea demanded a novel. And now it looks a lot like the first third of a trilogy.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark Sorceress is a historical fantasy that walks on the dark side.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That's a hard one. Keira Knightley did a wonderful job of obsessive love and madness in A Dangerous Method, and I can imagine her shining golden like Medea. But I'm not sure what male actor could pull off Jason's self-centred uncertainty, with a dash of not-quite-successful swaggering heroism.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bronze Age princess and sorceress Medea is no match for the goddess Aphrodite, who binds her with an ancient spell to love and protect self-serving Argonaut Jason; Medea must defy her terrifying father, flee her home and murder her beloved brother Apsurtos to win the Golden Fleece for ungrateful Jason.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
HarperCollins has the manuscript right now. Whether they say yes or no, I'd love to have an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I've been writing it, on and off, since 2009. There has been a lot of research, to get the Mycenaean Greek background right, and a few stops and starts along the way.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Tricky. I guess I'm aspiring to Mary Renault's realistic but wild retelling of the Theseus legend, which I've already mentioned.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The glories of Mycenaean Greece, and ancient Greek playwright Euripides's subversive and tragic play Medea. Just read it. I'll never forget the shock of reading it for the first time, decades ago, and discovering that, by the end, I was totally on Medea's side, ready to excuse her for the apparently unforgivable crime of murdering her children to take revenge on Jason. So many ancient Athenian women at the theatrical festival of Dionysus, and even some men, must have felt the same way. It would be hard to feel Medea's suffering, and not to hate self-centred Jason's self-serving guts. How could he abandon her, and their children, after all she'd done for him, just so that he could marry a namby-pamby local princess half her age?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Medea's magic, and the gods, are real, but the book is nothing like a generic fantasy. And then there's the sex. Lots of sex. Medea was that sort of girl.

Now, I tag these authors to answer these same questions next Wednesday:

  • My wonderful husband Russell Blackford, spec fic author, critic and philosopher (whose big new book is non-fiction – not that there's anything wrong with that).
  • Fabulously multi-talented Aussie photographer, editor, designer and award-winning author Cat Sparks.
  • Keira McKenzie in exotic Perth, WA, another fabulously multi-talented photographer, artist and author.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
your book
Here's hoping HarperCollins have the sense to publish the book. I've always been fascinated by Medea and her story (hated Senecca's version). I also read Renault's books - ages ago.
Jan. 10th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: your book
Thank you! My fingers are definitely crossed.

Quite agree about Seneca. So many of the Romans got so disgustingly moralistic over poor Medea (among MANY other things/people).
Jan. 10th, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: your book
I always wondered whether (if her killing her brother has to be there) she was forced to kill her brother in self-defence - he'd probably be hellbent on an 'honour killing'!
Jan. 10th, 2013 09:49 am (UTC)
Re: your book
As I've noted before, she starts out in early Greek literature as a goddess who married a mortal man and gae him fine sons, then gets described as wickeder and wickeder and wickeder as time goes on - whether she cuts up baby brother Apsurtos on the Argo, or betrays older brother Apsurtos who has come to pursue her - and not, I'm sure, to tke her home safely... Life's just not fair.
Shauna Roberts
Jan. 10th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
I had exactly the same reaction when I read Euripides' Medea in college. Too bad so many of his plays are lost.
Jan. 10th, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
We're actually lucky that we've got any Euripides at all - it's because they were set texts for ancient schoolboys, so there were heaps of copies ;)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )