In her teens and early twenties, Rebecca began envisioning an epic story, a new kind of myth, one built upon the foundation of the Greek classics and continuing through the centuries right up into the present and future.This has become her life’s work, although she didn’t exactly intend it to be that way when she started.
The Child of the Erinyes series is mythic fantasy fiction, “loads of testosterone, slaughter, and crazy magic” (with a dose of romance.) The Year-god’s Daughter is her first novel: Book One of The Child of the Erinyes Series. The Thinara King has just been released in both digital and paperback forms, and the third book, In the Moon of Asterion, will be available by the end of the year.
Rebecca has always believed that certain rare individuals, either blessed or tortured, voluntarily or involuntarily, are woven by fate or the Immortals into the labyrinth of time, and that deities sometimes speak to us through dreams and visions, gently prompting us to tell their lost stories. Who knows? It could make a difference.
What or who inspired you to first write and when did you start?
That question takes me back many years, though I remember writing my first stories like it was yesterday. I was quite young: six or seven. I remember feeling like all at once, my tight, small, restricted world had opened up into a veritable universe, because my imagination, which no one could control or take away from me no matter how much they might want to, was given life and freedom. (Rather like the main protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper?) I guess it was my mother who started me down this long and winding road; from the beginning, she encouraged her children to read. She took us to the library like clockwork every weekend. I still remember the wonderful quiet hours and bookish smell of that neighborhood library. It was magical. (Those old hard covers: does anything smell better? I don’t think so.)
Is there a particular photo, piece of art, poetry or quote that strikes a chord with you? Why?
Many, actually: one that pops into my mind is Gustav Klimt’s “Love.” I do weave fantasy into my fiction—maybe even a little magical realism. That painting inspires an entire story—perhaps multiple stories. It seems to combine my beloved myths, romance, fantasy, the many varied faces of love, and the living, observant magic of trees. Another would be “The Oracle Of Delphi,” painted by John Collier, along with his “Lilith.”
The Thinara King is the second book in a series. What was the inspiration for this series and how many books can we look forward to reading?
When I first learned about the amazing civilization that existed on Crete for thousands of years, and I read the conjectures about how Crete could have been the dominant influence upon the West (rather than Athens) had it not met its mysterious end, I began envisioning what our world would be like if that had happened. How would we be different? It’s hard to know, since what we truly do understand of Crete is miniscule. Nobody knows for sure if Crete was a matriarchal society, (Those who state so emphatically that this would have been “impossible” are biased by some kind of personal prejudice, I think) but I chose to write it that way, which naturally led into the “what-ifs” for our present day. I had help in this idea, partially from Robert Graves, who figured that the term “Minos,” for so long attached to a king, was probably originally a title attached to a woman: either a queen or priestess—some sort of important female. I took that idea and ran with it.
Is there a particular theme you wish to explore in this book?
Growth. Change. Preparation through adversity. Throughout the series, Aridela takes on the guise of the ancient trinity, “maiden,” “mother,” and “crone.” In the Bronze Age trilogy segment, she is the “maiden,” the immature innocent girl. Yes, she has been educated, but no amount of formal education can teach a young girl emotional maturity. She begins this long journey as your typical spoiled, sheltered ten-year-old child. The first boy she gives her heart to is Menoetius, a flawless youth of seventeen, but after he returns to the Greek mainland her memories of him fade. By the time she’s sixteen, she has followed in the footsteps of her countrymen and is obsessed with all things beautiful, as are most of the Cretans. Now a woman, she falls in love again, this time with Lycus, a beautiful Cretan bull leaper, and then with Chrysaleon, an equally beautiful Mycenaean. Yes, Aridela is shallow. How could she believably be anything else with the upbringing she’s had? Not only has she always been given whatever she wants, she has this aura of divinity which makes people treat her with awe; rumors claim she would make a better queen than her older sister. Aridela has no fear. No doubts. She is “confidence, epitomized.” Which pretty much guarantees she’ll be a poor leader.
Aridela lacks the qualities so important in a ruler and even more important in a girl chosen by Goddess Athene to travel through time and become her spokesperson. Humility. Caution. Compassion. The internal growth that disappointment, sorrow, loss and grief usually inspires. Aridela has been allowed to run free and be spoiled because her future is not considered as important as her sister’s. The Thinara King strips her of all that. In The Thinara King, this spoiled, shallow child is changed profoundly, taken down to her emotional skeleton. The only question is, will she survive it? Maybe not, and certainly not without help.
What period of history particularly inspires or interests you? Why?
The Bronze Age certainly, which is the setting for the first three books of my series, but also the Victorian Age. I find both an absolute wealth of interesting people, myths, and events. So many fascinating people lived during the Victorian Age, and so many fascinating things happened. The Bronze Age captures my imagination partly because it’s not so well known; everything everyone believes about it is really just conjecture, mostly put together from pottery shards! That gives a writer the freedom to explore “what ifs.” The fourth, fifth, and sixth books are set in Scotland; I conducted years of research into the Highland myths and culture for those books, and discovered just how ancient, rich, and complex the Scottish tradition is. It’s more interwoven with the Bronze Age Cretan society than one might think. For instance: there are conjectures that the well-known Celtic goddess Morrigan or “The Morrígu,” was another name for Athene—the Cretans traded with the early British tribes, and no doubt they shared their beliefs. I’m also intrigued by Norse myths and culture, but haven’t really had the time to explore it. Maybe one day.
What resources do you use to research your book/s?
I have thousands of books, written by archaeologists, historians, speculative writers, mythologists and novelists. All have inspired me. The Internet, of course, has been invaluable in the last few years: but when I started, there were no personal computers. It was all longhand construction and books. It took a long time for the Internet to become a valuable partner in my writing. For many years it just wasn’t there or there wasn’t much to find on it. Consequently, I have relied mostly on books, maps, helpful local people, and travelling to/exploring the settings on my own.
Which authors have influenced you?
Patricia A. McKillip is one of the greatest influences. She doesn’t write historical fiction, but her fantasy and her way of weaving words expands my mind. For the same reason, Peter S. Beagle will always linger at the top of my inspiration list, along with Yevgeny Zamyatin. Anita Diamant taught me that historical fiction doesn’t have to be dry or boring. The Red Tent is one of my all time favorite books. Authors like Anne Kent Rush and Charlotte Perkins Gilman have inspired me to think of women in new ways. My eyes and mind were initially opened by Anne Kent Rush, later by Riane Eisler, Robert Graves, Anne Baring, Carl Kerényi, and Marija Gimbutas. All these knowledgeable, generous authors were instrumental in helping me find my voice, my imagination, and the courage to explore the “what ifs.”
What do you do if stuck for a word or a phrase?
This has been happening to me more and more of late. It’s actually a little concerning. I remember when I could write for hours with hardly a pause. Now it seems like I find myself pausing more, searching for that one perfect word, although this may have more to do with the editing process rather than the creative process. I adore my thesaurus. Even if I can’t find the actual word I originally wanted, the choices make everything possible—I often find something better. Sometimes entire scenes can give me grief: I have been known to utilize dreams to help me with those. Athene steps in and provides the answers.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
What is your next project?
I am putting the polish to book number three in my Bronze Age segment: In the Moon of Asterion. It is the culmination of the story of Aridela, Chrysaleon, and Menoetius. Everything comes to a head as Chrysaleon fights to save his own life, Menoetius struggles with his obligations, loyalties, and desires, and Aridela confronts profound truths that explode everything she thought she knew. The scene is set for the continuation of the series in a very different time and place.
Ash, earthquakes and tsunamis devastate Crete and all the surrounding islands. The will of the survivors fades as their skies remain dark, frost blackens the crops, and nothing they do seems to cool the rage of the Immortals. Young Aridela faces an arduous task: reviving the spirit of her people and rebuilding her country’s defenses. In the wake of the Destruction, she and Chrysaleon are closer than ever—knowing he must die in a few short months becomes torturous agony. How can she put this man she loves so much to death? Yet if she doesn’t, she risks drawing even more divine anger down upon Crete’s innocents.
More threats loom on the horizon—Greek kingdoms see a weakened Crete as easy prey. Chrysaleon faces his own demons as he feels the shadow of death over his shoulder. Will he thwart his fate? No other man ever has.
The Thinara King is book two of The Child of the Erinyes series.
You can purchase Rebecca’s books at:
The Thinara King at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/6pm5oz2
The Year-god’s Daughter at Amazon: http://alturl.com/zhqyd
The Thinara King at Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/7j6m8tb
Thanks so much Rebecca for sharing your journey with me.
13 May 2012 by Elisabeth Storrs
Subscribe to Triclinium – Sign up for email subscription at the bottom of the page or click the RSS feed button on the sidebar.
That’s a great interview; always so interesting to find what inspired a writer to write about a certain period. My view is it was a past life! I loved Rebecca Loughlan’s first book The Year God’s daughter and can’t wait to read The Thinara King.
Thanks for this interview, Elizabeth.
Bev Myers says
Rebecca, I love the way you’ve used paintings as inspiration. Beautiful! I’ve always been attracted to the Pre-Raphaelites and to William Adolphe Bouguereau. I used one of his frequent models as a physical template for Tito Amato’s wife in my baroque series. Art is powerful!
N. Gemini Sasson says
This interview makes me realize how incredibly complex the creative stages and actual writing process can be. Thanks for the inspiration, Rebecca and Elisabeth!
Elisabeth Storrs says
Bev, Gemi and Lorri
Thanks for stopping by. The amount of research Rebecca must have done (and continues to do) is amazing.
Rebecca Lochlann says
Thanks to Elisabeth for a wonderful interview–additional thanks to the encouraging comments! :-D
Great interview, really interesting books Rebecca.The amount of research and the time and patience you and Elisabeth put into your books is really amazing and a good reminder for unpublished writers that it takes a lot of dedication and it does take time. We get so impatient!
Elisabeth Storrs says
Khaula,thanks for dropping by. I think I can speak for Rebecca in saying that the research is very enjoyable. And yes – I follow the 4 P’s – practice, patience, perseverance and passion :)