Meanwhile, I’m back to blogging because my friend, Tracy Barrett–author of the wonderful Dark of the Moon and King of Ithaka, among many other great reads–invited me to participate in a “Blog Tag,” wherein you have to answer the questions below and tag three other authors. She tagged me and I’m tagging, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Cathy C. Hall, and Dorainne Bennet. Go forth and share, friends!
Thanks for the push, Tracy!
|Hot boy, smart girl and a volcano–what could go wrong?|
1. What are you working on right now?
This summer, I was heavily into revising and editing my upcoming young adult novel, Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii, set to release in June (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic). My brilliant editor, Cheryl Klein, was as always, fierce about pulling out the best story from me that I could manage.
Curses and Smoke is told from two points of view–Lucia, the daughter of the owner of a struggling gladiatorial school; and Tag, the medical slave trained to treat gladiators at the school. Scholastic wanted a “Titanic in Pompeii” type of story and I’ve done my best to deliver that, along with (I hope) interesting details about Roman religion and the belief in “curse tablets,” the power of dark magic to curse your enemies.
|Anubis loves the gross bits…|
At the same time, I was also working on editing Anubis Speaks: A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead, which releases in October, and writing the next one in the series, Hades Speaks: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead. The series is published by Boyds Mill Press and is edited by the wonderful Larry Rosler.
2. How does it differ from other works in the genre? Anubis Speaks differs from other mythology books in a number of ways. First, it is narrated by Anubis himself and he speaks directly to the reader. He is written with a snarky voice (he’s a bit irritated that the world no longer bows down to him) and glories in the grosser facts about ancient Egyptian death practices. I was very excited to learn that School Library Journal really liked the book, calling Anubis a “wickedly funny tour guide…[and that] His narration, plus the incredible wealth of interesting detail, could make this book a hit in any library.”
|I’m not grouchy, I’m just irritated w/my little brother, Zeus…|
book was finding a different voice for the Greek god. I ended up imaging that Hades was mightily put out with his little brother, Zeus, because 1) he was the first-born male, yet the youngest brother (Zeus) got all the good bits of the world, and 2) Zeus’s son’s and othe heroes were constantly invading his realm on stupid quests. And don’t get him started on that meat-head, Herakles, who once even stole Cerberus right from under his nose.
The next one in the series is Thor Speaks, for which I just started the research. I’m a little overwhelmed because I know so darn little about Norse mythology. At least with the other two books, I had a fair grounding of knowledge. So, I’m doing a lot of reading about the Vikings right now.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I never outgrew my fascination with ancient Egypt and the cultures of Greece and Rome! Writing about these worlds allows me to escape to other times in my mind. How fun is that?
4. What is the hardest part about writing?
|What a bad review can sometimes feel like…|
I’ve been staring at this question for a while, because there are so many parts of it that I find hard! I think getting that first draft down is brutal. Revising, to me, is more fun, even if I have to throw away chunks of writing and kill my darlings. The hardest part, though, isn’t so much about the writing, but the vulnerability of sending it out into the world. Not everyone is going to like your baby. Not everyone is going to like your voice. To manage that reality, I keep telling myself, “It’s JUST a story. That’s all.” But that is, as we all know, easier said than done!