Saturday, September 14, 2013

Who Knew Greek Mythology Was So Sacred?

     Growing up I loved Greek mythology. I can't remember if I discovered these wonderful myths on my own or if I learned about them in school. I can only remember that these wonderful tales of supernatural, mercurial beings with all too human tendencies fascinated me. My particular favorites were Hercules and Hades. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was particularly influential in sustaining my love for this ancient lore as was Xena: Warrior Princess.
      I always loved Hercules because to me he represented that no matter how many times the gods (or in our case, life) knocks you down, no matter how broken and defeated you feel, you have the strength to get back up. Hercules also represented the absolute best in mankind (At least Kevin Sorbo's version did.)
     I don't know what it is about Hades, but something always drew me to him. It didn't matter how many times he was portrayed as a weird, sinister villain (Disney's Hercules, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Lightning Thief movie) there was something about him that I really liked. My love of all things Hades lead me to The Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter. After reading it I thought, "Wow. Here is someone who likes Hades as much as I do and showed the world a fresh take on the much maligned mythical god. I was happy and impressed, so impressed by Ms. Carter's daring that I decided I too wanted to write about my favorite Greek mythology character. That is how my debut novel, Goddess of Legend was born.
     As much as I loved Hades, I decided it was time that he had a real love and a character makeover. The heroine of my story Cameryn Kane is the yin to Hades' yang. She has all of the qualities I imagine you would need to rule the Underworld. But besides that, Cameryn Kane also has a controversial ability...she has the power to kill a god.
      When the idea to give her this ability came to me, I thought it was daring and brilliant. Here truly was a woman worthy of Hades, but with enough strength and character not to take any shit from the gods who are known to be petty and cruel at times. When I started submitting Goddess of Legend I thought that agents and publishers alike would appreciate my new and innovative twist on Greek Mythology. Boy was I wrong.
     After several rejections I emailed the last publisher to ask if they could give me a reason they did not take my book. This was their response: We had an issue with the mythology. While we loved your creativity, a few of our team members actually love Greek Mythology but the idea of killing some of the gods didn't fit with us too well.
      When I received this response back I was floored. So despite the fact that I had written what I thought was a pretty awesome book, I was dealing with "Greek Mythology Purists" who didn't like the idea of my heroine having the ability to kill a god. Since then I have heard the same thing on more than one occasion. Apparently some people are really super offended by the thought of anything happening to the Greek Gods. I find this absolutely ridiculous. Here are a few other shocked responses I received: The god-killing ability is extremely problematic, given that this is story deals with Greek mythology.
       Cameryn’s ability to “kill gods” is against everything in the Greek mythology.
For any demigoddess to be able to just start killing gods goes against all that makes the Greek mythology itself.  Starting to get the picture now? Some people do not like change. Thinking outside of the box scares some people and as a result they have no creativity. To the "Greek Mythology Purists" out there allow me to cite a few incidents where the gods were killed and no one was up in arms.

1.God of War (The Video Game Series): In this highly successful series, the hero Kratos is a demi-god son of Zeus who kills Ares, the God of War, and takes his place on the pantheon. In God of War III, Kratos kills Zeus himself. In God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Kratos kills the God of Death, Thanatos. The entire God of War series has sold almost 22 million copies.

Now I'm sure everyone who is playing these games is not a Greek mythology buff. (My brother isn't and he loves the games.) So the success of this franchise should prove that a new take on Greek myths and the gods no longer being all mighty and invincible is not a turn off to people. If anything the games are bringing in a new generation who might have never discovered Greek Mythology otherwise.

2. Xena: Warrior Princess (The TV Series): In this highly successful series, the redeemed hero Xena is pursued by Ares, the God of War, throughout the entire series. Ares' love for Xena is so great that when Xena is granted the power to kill gods as long as her daughter lives and successfully slays most of the Greek gods and is badly injured, Ares gives up his immortality to save Xena and Gabrielle from death.

Now considering how highly successful Xena was in the 6 seasons it ran and the numerous merchandise, comic books, fan fics and cult followings all these years later, I'm sure no one was up in arms and calling the producers to tell them that they were totally wrong for daring to tamper with Greek Mythology. I'm sure no one cared.

3. The Goddess Test (Novel Series by Aimee Carter): The series is a modern day sequel to the myth of Hades and Persephone. In it the Greek gods have taken modern names. Because they fear that Hades might fade since he has no mate, they set up a number of tests that a maiden must pass to be worthy of becoming a goddess and Hades' might. We learn that the heroine of the novel, Kate Winters, is actually the daughter of Demeter and Zeus and sister to Persephone. The idea of a new demi-goddess already might be controversial to some, but to keep the spice going, Ms. Carter has a goddess die in the final book in the series. I'm not going to tell you who, so go read it!

Now considering the success that Ms. Carter has received with her YA series, I'd say that the people who read her books (like myself) could care less that she did something new with Greek Mythology. What her series has done is get more people to care about Greek Mythology much the same way Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & Heroes of Olympus series has.

        Permitting there are no hiccups my novel, Goddess of Legend, will be out sometime this month. I have no idea if people will take to my adaptation of the Greek myths into our modern world as they have done for Xena, God of War, and The Goddess Test. All I know is that I have written a novel with a creative premise that I am extremely proud of. Who cares if I took a little liberty with the Greek Myths? After all at the end of the day, none of the stories are real. They are works of fiction created by writers long past dead. And that's what my novel is...fiction. So if you're a "Greek Mythology Purist," unable to breathe at the thought of anything being changed in the Greek myths then my story will probably make you have a heart attack so I doubt you'll be picking it up. But for those of you who are interested in a new take on ancient myths, I believe you will enjoy Goddess of Legend.
     A final thought to the "Greek Mythology Purists": Get your panties out of a wad. It's only fiction! There are more important things in the world you could spend your time defending!

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