I AM reading Dr. Emily Wilson's English translation of the Odyssey. It's the first time a woman has translated Homer's work into English. The fanfare has just begun and rightly so. I'll probably do a podcast about her work, because I love it so much. I've read several translations and used them in researching my work for the Homeric Chronicles, but NONE of them has touched me like Dr. Wilson's.
For example, as everyone already points out, she begins with calling Odysseus a "complicated man." Brilliant, because Odysseus is complicated. He's not straight forward in anything he does. He's tender and loving with Penelope and Telemachus, but he's also a murderer and a man who "skirts" the boundaries of his marriage. He's vengeful, but with good reason. A trouble maker and a charmer. And stubborn. Let's not forget stubborn. Despite all this, we love to love Odysseus.
Her word choices stand out for me, more than any other translation. Reading the scene where Odysseus is deciding when to kill the slave women (and mind you it's not a moral dilemma of IF he should, but a matter of WHEN he will kill them...this is one of the ways he's complicated: his ability to premeditate massive slaughter) builds such powerful imagery. I can see a mother dog guarding her puppies, teeth bared and growling at strangers. It's scrappy, fierce, and dangerous.
Dr. Wilson is equally descriptive with Penelope. I love the passage where Penelope has just been told that the suitors are plotting to kill her son, Telemachus. She's distraught because he left Ithaka without telling her and no one knows for sure where he is. So, she can't protect him. Her mind torments her like a trapped lion...What parent can't relate to that terrifying feeling?
She definitely spanked some magic out of Homer's Greek.
If you enjoy Greek mythology, you're going to love this new translation. I'm using it for all my podcasts on Greek Mythology Retold and for the continued research for the Homeric Chronicles.
(Disclaimer: these are my show notes. I do go off script when I podcast, but here's the basic framework)
Hello fellow myth lovers! I’m so excited to share with you the Greek world of the Homeric Chronicles. If you watched the movie Troy and loved it, or felt like you wanted more...If you’re currently watching the BBC One Troy: Fall of a City (or waiting for it to hit your Netflix playlist), this podcast is for you. You’re a Myrmidon. Basically, if you love Greek mythology in any form you’ve come to the right place. Shall we get started?
When I first began toying with the idea it was...what if you could read about all the mythological stories as one seamless tale? I thought, what if George RR Martin was telling it? It would be EPIC! CRAZY HUGE! Can you imagine the cast of characters? It’d be a celebrity Who’s Who of the ancient myth-historic Greek world. And because I love these stories, I got to thinking...what if I wrote it? No way, I can’t do that. Then, I thought, you have a degree in history, why not try? And the Homeric Chronicles was born.
That left me with the million dollar question: Where to start? How to begin? After piles of research, 25 gray hairs carefully dyed dark brown, and a bazillion cups of coffee later, I realized exactly where I needed to start: with Homer. But not just some retelling that was meant to get you to the “great war” or to take you through the bizarre journeys of Odysseus back to Ithaka...It needed to be MORE. Much more! But, Homer’s work in the Iliad and Odyssey definitely provide the backbone. I wove many other stories that touched on the characters in Homer’s work into the structure of the spine. The major heroes and heroines of Homer’s tales are entwined with so many other characters I had to dig deep, b/c it’s chronological, I had to make some hard choices. The original myth-makers weren’t worried about telling stories that made chronological sense outside of the story they were reciting. But for the Homeric Chronicles to be what I envisioned that’s exactly what I had to do.
I wanted to include the regulars: Achilles, Paris, Hektor, Odysseus, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Helen, Hecuba, Cassandra, Andromache, Leda, Deidamia, Priam, Tyndareus, Peleus, Thetis, and Chiron just to name a few. And include characters like Palamedes, the poor guy who unfortunately pissed off Odysseus, Tantalus the first husband of Clytemnestra, Oenone Paris’s first wife, Peisidike the Methymnaan princess in love with Achilles, well, you get the picture. Now, I was tasked with putting the myths in chronological order, and keeping them all easy to connect with.
It wasn’t until I fell in love with GRRM’s SOIAF that I knew structuring a story of this epic scale was possible. I take you along several characters’ journeys through five major kingdoms. And after the movie Troy ruthlessly cut them out (and I wonder if David Benioff wishes now that he hadn’t), I put the pantheon of gods and goddesses back in there.
On to chronology: The first chronological hiccup involved Helen, Paris and Achilles. Let’s start with Paris, in particular: the Judgment of Paris. Most people familiar with the story assume that Paris gives the judgment of the fairest goddess to Aphrodite and leaves to Sparta not long after. But, it just doesn’t make sense that way, not in the context of the larger EPIC tale. Let me explain:
The golden apple contest that caused the Athena, Aphrodite and Hera to seek Paris as the judge occurred at the wedding feast of Peleus and Thetis. These are Achilles parents. So, Achilles, the greatest fighter of all the Greeks has NOT been born yet. He’s the star of the Iliad. So, the judgment of Paris takes place soon after the wedding feast, before Achilles is conceived and born. Why does this matter? Because, we have to wait at least 15 to 18 years for Achilles to grow up, get trained, and father a son, Neoptolemus, BEFORE Odysseus can discover him on Skyros, dressed like a girl and call our hero into action. This means two things: Paris has to be at least 15-18 years old to be considered MAN enough to judge the goddesses (he’s not an 8 yr old judging 3 of the most powerful females in the story); therefore, Paris is 15-18 years older than Achilles. Most movies and books depict Paris and Achilles about the same age, or as in Troy make Paris much younger than Achilles. It’s all wrong. Paris is definitely Achilles’ elder.
That raises the next logical question: When does Paris meet and woo Helen? Because that is the EVENT that brings the Argives, Achaeans, Danaans to Troy. Paris couldn’t have taken off with Helen any time soon following the judgment because that would mean Paris and Helen would’ve been in Troy for years before Menelaus even tried to get her back...B/C we’d be waiting for Achilles to get born and come of age. Even if you take the whole Paris and Helen get lost in Egypt into consideration that still leaves too many years in between the kidnapping and the attempted rescue. Remember, no matter what, Achilles has to be old enough to lead the Myrmidons and have fathered a child before he goes to Troy, as other prophecies depend on it.
My research took me to Apollodorus (a 2nd century AD compilation of ancient texts) which states in 3.13.8 that Achilles was 9 when he was taken to Skyros, because Odysseus was looking for him due to a prophecy by Agamemnon’s seer, Kalchus. There is some consensus that Achilles left Skyros at about 15. But let’s break this down chronologically and logically.
1. If Odysseus is looking for Achilles when Achilles is 9 and that’s why Thetis hid him as a girl, then he has to be hiding there for years before he’s old enough to get the princess Deidamia pregnant. So, for all these years, what are the Greeks under assembled under Agamemnon’s banner doing in Aulis? Twiddling their thumbs? Sewing sails? Getting sunburns? If the consensus is correct (and we have to make choices to be consistent) at least 6 years (give or take) have to pass until Odysseus finds Achilles.
2. I recall reading that there were TWO calls to war that met at Aulis...the first one which assembled the Greek tribes went to Aulis was a bust b/c they needed Achilles, so everyone went home and waited...then returned...years later? after Achilles was found? This doesn’t make any sense...it would’ve been a monumental feat getting that many ships and men from all across the Greek world assembled just once, but twice? And in all his searching, Odysseus never makes it back to Ithaka to sneak a little love time in with Penelope? I don’t buy it.
3. What makes sense in the human and mytho-historic terms is that Achilles is 9 when he goes to Skyros with Thetis fully aware about Achilles’ dual fate, and that some day he’d have a huge decision to make. When the call to Aulis came, 6 or so years later, that’s when Odysseus and Ajax find him. It gives time for him to grow up, father a son. I do give Achilles a few more years, rounding out his age at 18. Why? Because I used the historic figure, Alexander the Great, as a model. Alexander distinguished himself at Chaeronea at 18, so makes sense that a young man at 18 could indeed be seen to lead an army of warriors (Myrmidons).
Well, Myrmidons, times up for today. Up next time let’s take a deeper look into Helen’s age and how placing her story in chronological sequence was challenging, but not impossible.
What do you think about Paris being 18 years older than Achilles? that Helen couldn’t have been born at the time of the judgment?
How do you think a comprehensive timeline will change up the Greek myths as you know them?
You can find out by reading the Homeric Chronicles
Song of Sacrifice and Rise of Princes
Love to hear your thoughts, answer questions, and connect with my fellow Greek mythology lovers.
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Until next time, let’s take the advice given to Menelaus in the Cypria: “know that the gods made wine the best thing for mortal man to scatter cares.” Drink your wine and be merry Myrmidons.
Preorder Song of Sacrifice today!
I’ve been trying to write the Homeric Chronicles for years. It started as a short story about Odysseus and Penelope. That morphed into this “brilliant” idea (rolls eyes) of 4 novellas focused on the 4 major heroes: Achilles, Hektor, Paris, and Odysseus. In all this uncertainty, I was only certain that I had a story in there (somewhere) to tell that was different from anything out there. I loved the Iliad and Odyssey. As I wrote, I realized the stories overlapped (like puppies in a basket) and wouldn’t progress the way I wanted them to. That’s when it dawned on me that although the Iliad and Odyssey are easily placed in chronological order, the other myths that bleed into the larger framework do not. Crap. Mind. Blown. The story soon took on a life of its own, oozing all over my desk with sticky notes, scribblings on the backs of envelopes, printed articles, and a pin board. I labored like Herakles to construct a linear sequence that wove Homer’s tales together and THAT’S what pulled in dozens of characters I had no idea I’d be writing about. Then, something unexpected happened. I found myself writing more and more about the women. Giving them voice and filling out their storylines. When I was in the middle of working on book three, Rage of Queens, it struck me (TO MY HORROR, I might add)—I was doing it wrong. (The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-publishing).
Feeling like a complete idiot, I was confused how to proceed. I took a huge step back to reflect. Literally, stopped writing. I needed to sort through everything about indie publishing: Was I even a writer? Was I even a storyteller? Should I walk away now? Then, I did what I usually do when I don’t know what to do: clean or renovate my house. (Can anyone else relate to this?) As I stared at my bare concrete bedroom floors, I knew it was time to tile. Bent over the floor, back aching, knees on fire...NOTHING! and I mean nothing happened. No epiphany. No light bulb moment. #F-word again.
By accident, I stumbled onto Alesandra Torre’s marketing class and Mark Coker’s Smashwords podcast. I found the encouragement to NOT give up and that indie authorship is fluid and flexible. I began a podcast (Greek Mythology Retold) which gave me a platform to talk about my research and character development. This invigorated me. (As of today, I have almost 8000 downloads!) Anyway, I dove into the second edition of my first book, Song of Princes, in earnest. Although I’d deleted over 6000 words, I’d added 20,000 more in what ended up as 14 additional chapters and several subplots. The structure of SOP was still there, but it was more than a second edition. By this time, I knew the cover didn’t match an historical fantasy. It was time for some HUGE changes.
Regina Wamba created a new cover that captures everything about the Homeric Chronicles. The title became: Song of Sacrifice, because so many characters had sacrificed so many things: love, time, and relationships to survive.
I’m hard at work aligning Rise of Princes with its new cover design, too. Thank you for reading this whole thing, if you got this far. Song of Sacrifice is on preorder and as soon as I can get Rise of Princes out of KDP select (big mistake! very big mistake!), I’ll upload it everywhere book are sold.
Click over to listen to a podcast. If you love Greek Mythology, or my series, you might enjoy one or two of them. Oh Hades, listen to them all!
Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with more than 50 fantastic Epic Fantasy authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner!
You can win my novel SONG OF PRINCES, plus books like Mark of Destiny and Descension .
Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/epic-fantasy
Sometimes people think being an historian is all about names and dates and politics, but it’s so much more. My favorite thing about studying ancient Greece is getting to a museum and looking at all the pottery. You get to see these beautiful works of art close up. Pictures just don't do justice to the sheer size of some of the pottery. My favorite place on the west coast to gaze at antiquities is the Getty Museum in Malibu, California. If you get a chance to go, you should. It's amazing not only for its art work, but because it's an actual replica of wealthy Roman villa complete with gardens and a giant pool.
While writing the Homeric Chronicles, I reference amphorae quite a bit because these vessels were commonly used to store wine, oil, and water much the way we use Tupperware. So, one vessel that intrigues me is the two handled amphora depicting Achilles and Ajax playing dice while trying to relax during the Trojan War. The vessel is from the Archaic Period (525-520 BCE).
I love this scene and decided to reference it in Rise of Princes, book two of the Homeric Chronicles. Playing dice humanizes the Greek heroes, making them reachable characters because they too needed reprieve from stress and bad days, as well as the grinding hardships of war. Enjoy the video :)
Start your journey with the Homeric Chronicles by pre-ordering Song of Sacrifice today!
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© Janell Rhiannon2016
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Good Morning Everyone!!!
Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.
I’ve teamed up with over 45 fantastic historical romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a KINDLE FIRE to one lucky winner!
You can win my novel Song of Princes, plus books from authors like Margaret George author of The Confessions of Young Nero and Elisabeth Storrs author of The Wedding Shroud. I am so honored to be a part of this promotion. I wish you the best of luck and fortune!!
Enter the giveaway by clicking here: https://www.booksweeps.com/enter-win-50-historical-fiction-books-feb-17/
Good luck, and enjoy!
I had a dog named Alex, a chocolate lab I’d had since he was a chubby bear-cub puppy, who would on occasion freak me out with odd behavior. [He died a year and a half ago and I still miss him!!!] He would stand up on the bed, growling at the door or wall in the middle of the night. One time, he started barking furiously. I woke up disoriented and turned the bedside lamp on. My heart was pounding like crazy. Of course, I saw nothing as he continued growling. It was hard to scold him; after all, that was kind of his job wasn’t it? Alert me if he saw or heard something. He’d also growl at people he didn’t like. It didn’t happen very often, but when it did, it always made me think twice and watch my back.
So, is it possible that dogs can sense or see spirits?
I found a reference to this very topic somewhere I’d never really thought to look: Greek mythology. Homer’s Odyssey to be exact. I was re-reading the part where Odysseus finally makes it back to Ithaka and sees his son, Telemachus, for the first time in twenty years. He doesn’t tell Telemachus who he is until Athena gives him the sign. “From the air she walked, taking the form of a tall woman, handsome and clever at her craft, and stood beyond the gate in plain sight of Odysseus, unseen, though, by Telemachus, unguessed, for not to everyone will the gods appear. Odysseus noticed her; so did the dogs, who cowered, whimpering away from her” (Odyssey16.161-170).
First of all, let’s look at Athena. Homer says she basically appeared out of thin air and took on the guise of a tall woman. And she was clearly visible to Odysseus and the dogs, but not to Telemachus. That sounds a lot like the way we’d describe a spirit or ghost manifesting, right? Athena chooses who can see her; just the kind of thing we might say about ghosts, appearing to some and not others. What I find interesting is that in her invisible form the dogs see her and react. They cower and whimper in her presence. So, in this instance, the ancient Greeks found it plausible that their domesticated canines could see things that mortal eyes could not.
I guess I wonder why Homer found it so important to add this part to the story? What is it about dogs? Was this just pure invention on Homer’s part, or is this part of our human understanding that dogs somehow know things we don’t? I guess we’ll never know for sure, but the ancient Greeks thought it could be true. Personally, I think they do.
If you like Greek mythology, the Trojan War and you're tired of waiting for Game of Thrones to begin again? Start the Homeric Chronicles by pre-ordering Song of Sacrifice.
Back in 2010, I started watching this little show on Starz called Spartacus. I love ancient Greek and Roman history, so it was a great fit. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and of course, became a huge fan. One of my favorite characters was: LUGO. A tough talking, rough and rugged Gaul with biceps and abs for armor. And somewhere along the line, I donated to a worthy cause and ended up SKYPE-ing with Barry. He was so down-to-earth and funny. Kind. It made me appreciate him as a person as well as an actor. Ladies (and gents) may I introduce... Barry Duffield!
1. Me: I read that you came to Australia from UK as a boy, and then settled in New Zealand. What was it like growing up in Australia? Is it really the rough romantic place we see in films?
Barry: We arrived in Brisbane in 1968 and it was already a pretty bustling metropolis, even so, it was still a culture shock for my family. Fast forward four years to 1972 and a move to Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, and now we're talking about the real outback with nine of the deadliest varieties of Snakes on the planet, Estuarine Crocodiles up to twenty-feet long, and just as deadly Spiders [seriously, I just fainted] - Rough and romantic, hmmmm, only if your idea of romance is based in S & M. Despite its ability to kill you in any number of ways; I love Australia with a passion.
Me: I'm terrified of snakes, so I chose a little bit lighter side of Australia's deadly snakes...still, I squealed...
Me: 2. You travel quite a bit. You recently went to Rome and came to the states. What was Rome like after your experience as an “enemy of Rome” in Spartacus? And where are your favorite places in the USA? What do you like to do when you’re here?
Barry: America, Asia, Australia, Europe, only one more continent to go and we've done them all, and I'm far from over the wanderlust. If I suddenly got to a point in life where money was no object I'd keep traveling with Susie, until we'd done it all or died in the process of doing it all. My will would state: "Cremate me where I draw my last breath and spread my ashes in the ocean or the nearest lake."
Rome was fantastic! Walking into the Coliseum was like stepping back in time. Spartacus sparked my interest in ancient history, so it was like a pilgrimage going to Italy. Our amazing guide, Alex Marriotti, put it very well, "You have more in common with these people from two-thousand- years ago than you do with the pioneers of two-hundred-years ago."
We'll always have Paris! We were blessed with an invite to RS3 in Paris and met with the Euro-Spartacus fans. That was a great experience. Then, Susie and I got to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary on the Eiffel Tower, so damn cool! It's an experience we hope to repeat at RS4.
Rebels SpartaCon and the USA; the con that kicked it all off and the meeting place of Barry and Beanie. For that alone I will be eternally grateful to our gracious host, Kelly. Rebels SpartaCon 3 is coming up in April, so I'd suggest getting your tickets for this event. The meet and greets are an absolute highlight for me. I can honestly say that I haven't seen enough of North America to make a call on a favorite place, but I would like to settle in San Diego in the near future and travel a lot more of a country I have such a strong affinity for. [We'd love to have you state-side!]
Me: I just love this picture :) Thanks for sharing it with us.
3. Okay, I mentioned the Starz Spartacus series. I have to tell you I’ve been a fan of that show since it began in 2010. I loved your character: Lugo. The ending! The tears! What was that like being a part of that show? How did you have to prepare for that role mentally and physically? Any funny moments you’d like to share? I see you’re going to the SpartaCon in MD!
First up: I hope to make the Rebels SpartaCon, but as far as I know, I haven't been confirmed yet. Lugo was such a great character and I'd love to have seen the writers grow him more, but it wasn't Lugocus, hmmmm, nice ring to that title though. [I loved Lugo's character! He was so ready to battle anyone!] There were too many funny moments to recall, but two words will suffice: "Dustin Clare." He was behind most of the pranks. As for preparation; I was already a manic gym bunny, but even that didn't prepare me for Alan Poppleton's Boot camp hell.
Me: 4. You’ve walked that red carpet. Tell us what that’s like? Is it nerve wracking? Fun? How do you prepare for that kind of live experience? Have you even met anyone on the red carpet you were star-struck by?
Barry: I don't do "star struck." I've met a lot of big name actors and it's always come down to an appreciation of the work they do. But first and foremost, it’s whether or not they are nice people. An asshole is an asshole; regardless of talent, right? I think I could handle shuffling down a few more of those red carpets, but Susie's not so keen. I could feel her shaking as I held her hand and she bolted as soon as the interviews started.
Me: 5. I saw you took your wife, Susie, with you on the Starz Red Carpet for Spartacus. You two look really happy together. What a sexy couple! How did she conquer that warrior heart of yours? How did you guys meet?
Barry: Surprise, surprise, we met in Les Mills gym in Auckland. It was in 96, just before I started at the South Seas Film and Television School. We went on one date together and we've been together ever since. She is my sun and my moon, my heart. She is the one voice I listen too and trust above all others. She's a warrior in her own right, so I guess it takes a warrior to conquer a warrior. [Swoon-worthy!!!]
Me: All those cameras clicking and people telling you "look here" or "look there"...you and Susie handled that with grace! And yes, we can see you holding her hand. A true romantic. Your fans also want you down many more red carpets, for damn sure!
Me: 6. Okay, now for the furry love of our life, Alfie. I love seeing you and your dog. How did you get Alfie? What made you a dog person? What’s the funniest Alfie story? Does he literally go everywhere with you?
Barry: I was a police dog trainer/handler in the Royal Australian Air-Force for thirteen years. I guess I chose that path because of my love of dogs. When my police dog, Boots, died at the age of thirteen I discovered the true meaning of grief. I was broken. I think this loss and a desire to pursue my childhood dream of being in the entertainment industry was the catalyst for leaving the RAAF.
Alfie came along by pure luck. My dear friend Robyn knew of my canine history and suggested I become a guardian for a Guide Dog breeder. We met with the Guide Dog’s rep, Helen, and passed the criteria and found ourselves with a hump happy Labrador. [Hahaha! I just got that...hump happy. Haha.] Having Alfie on set was a huge plus, but he did gain unwanted pounds with everyone feeding him. He's heading towards ten years old now and retired from his stud duties. [Based on your pictures, he looks like he's enjoying the good life. Hugs for Alfie :)]
Me: 7. Not only are you an actor, but also a writer. Recently, you’ve published Deadman’s Land and Tandoori Apocalypse: Bombay Rounding. What made you want to write a comic book/series? I just read DL. Loved it. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. What made you choose the werewolf/WWII combination? It’s like Game of Thrones when you don’t expect zombies, but there they are!
Barry: I trained in screenwriting at film school and I've been honing my craft ever since. Someone a lot smarter than I once said, "You'll write your first ten screenplays and they'll end up in the bin." They were so right. The Deadman's Land graphic novel is based in the screenplay of the same name. I entered it into the Final Draft Big Break and Scriptapalooza screenplay competitions in 2013 and 2014 where it reached the quarterfinals in both. After doing so well, I decided to have it adapted by Steve Stern Graphic Novel Adaptations, LA. Tandoori Apocalypse is a four part graphic novel. My new GN, Hellion Rising, is in the works right now. All of these titles are under the distribution banner of Comics'2'Movies in Melbourne, Australia. [If you dig WWII stories and werewolves and don't mind a little "blood and sand" ...pun entirely intended... you'll love this graphic novel! Grab a copy at Amazon.]
Me: 8. You also have a production company: Dreamchaser Productions. You’re definitely a busy man. I see you’re working on a Viking project, as well as Hellion Rising and Hard Out. What can you tell us about these new projects? Any sneak peaks?
Barry: Because of the stage of development they're in the answer would be; no. We don't talk about anything that isn't funded and as yet none of these are. I can say that I currently have two TV series pitches going through the process and should know one way or the other, by the end of March. I'm co-creator, co-producer, and writer, on both. [Damn :) I guess we'll have to wait...]
9. Do you have any special interests or talents outside of acting and writing? Obviously, you’re a weight lifter. How did you get started on that path? Do you train by yourself, or have a workout partner/routine? How was it training for Spartacus? How do you find the time to stay on schedule? Any other talents you can share?
Barry: I am a total geek cinephile when it comes to film. One of my first jobs was in the projection booth of my local cinema. I collect antique movie posters, lobby cards, and other memorabilia. I grew up racing Moto-X and Speedway, so put me on a bike and get out of the way! I have a keen interest in martial arts and a basic skill set at best. I love languages and I'm currently immersed in learning Italian. I'm a Scrabble fanatic. I'm also a keen water skier. I'm pro-gun and anti-gun laws, meaning, I don't think any private citizen has the need or right to own a fully automatic military grade weapon and screening should be paramount. I'm not a bad shot by any standard. I was a competition bodybuilder and now I just train to stay in shape and screen ready. I train better alone, but I have had a few training partners over the years.
Me: 10. Final question, and it’s down to your philosophy of life. When all else fades away, what is the only thing that’s real?
Barry: "Nothing is more important than the love you share and the friendships you forge." ~ Barry
Me: Thank you Barry for sharing about your work and family life. It was so much fun working on this project with you. I wish you and Susie and Alfie all the best. We love you! #barryduffield #lugoforever
Barry's Social Media Links
Nashville, Tennessee. What an experience. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of so many wonderful authors and indie creators, and KT Webb was one of those lovely people. I've been following her social media platforms and she's got a lot going on...ladies and gents, KT Webb :)
1. So, your new romance series is set in Chicago. Tell us what you love about that city? Favorite places there...
I love the buildings. The last time I visited Chicago, I felt like I was at home just staring at the skyline. I also really enjoy Grant Park, and visiting Buckingham Fountain. [I have to agree with KT. Chicago looks like an amazing city!!! #chicago
2. Loved your blog on how writing is hard! What are your current struggles with your WIP? And what do you have planned this coming 2017?
Thank you! I think so many people think it's easy to just "sit down and write", but they really don't understand how much of yourself you pour into your books. My current WIP is The Last Coven: Awakening; the first book in my new series. I think the biggest struggle I've faced with this one so far is how to translate all my ideas and research into story form. I'm about 13,000 words into it, but I have to keep stopping and refocusing myself to make sure I am staying on track. [You go girl!! <3] In 2017, I plan to release the final novella in the Chicago Love Story collection, and the full-length novel featuring the couples from the novellas, The Last Coven: Awakening, and I also plan to release a stand alone fantasy.
3. You’ve been diligently recording your getting health journey. KUDOS! What keeps you motivated? Do you have any fitness inspirations? What are your healthy go to meals and snacks? And how do you find the time?
I've always struggled with my weight. My doctor had brought up the possibility of weight loss surgery a few years ago and I shot her down. After trying multiple different weight loss programs, I started doing some research. I finally talked to my doctor and made the decision to move forward with surgery. In July, I had the Gastric Sleeve procedure done and I don't regret it in the least. I have now lost 68lbs since beginning this journey. [Congrats!! That is an accomplishment :)]
My go to meals are different than most people would think because of the procedure I had. Protein is key to the success with this life change. My "go-to" is deli meat, deli cheese and crackers.
4. If you were stranded on an island for a month, who would you want to keep you company?
Do I just get one? If I only get one person, I think it would be my best friend, Madee. We always have a blast and I know I'd never get bored. [BFFs are the best thing since chocolate.]
5. What is your favorite classic book? And why did it become your favorite?
Jane Eyre. It actually became my favorite after I read the book The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I went back and re-read Jane Eyre and fell in love all over again. That Rochester..... [I am personally thanking you for making me look up this gif. Holy Cow!!!]
6. Do you have a favorite series on television? or film? Do tell.
Television series: Once Upon a Time and Supernatural.
Film: Pitch Perfect 1 & 2
7. How do you balance being a writer, work life and family?
I have learned to write while watching television, with children on my lap, on my lunch break...you name it, I have to be very flexible to make everything work. There are definitely days when I don't think I'm doing a very good job, but I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
8. How would you describe your writing style? Your process?
I'm a reformed pantser. [Someone who writes by the seat of their pants.] I used to just sit down and write. Now, I write chapter summaries and put important notes on a cork board that hangs in my writing cave. I still write by the seat of my pants sometimes, I have to or my characters won't get to do their own thing.
9. What are you top three mythological/supernatural beasts/beings? [STOP!!... and pause for the loveliness of these creatures.]
10. At the end of all things, what’s the only thing that’s real?
Just kidding! Love (and maybe cake).
I went a little GIFY on this interview :) haha
Let’s ring in the new year of 2017 with a BIG TEN addition: Audrey Grey. Like so many authors I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know, our connection was made at UtopiaConn 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. I did my thing and got all up in Audrey’s media presence. Here’s what I dug up. She’s funny, creative and ready to take the writer world by the proverbial horns.
The Q and A:
1. I found your Goodreads profile, which I appropriately stalked...okay I stalked all your media for posterity, so it’s okay!! You mention that you’ve several manuscripts that will never see the light of day. How has your writing changed since you started writing? What do you attribute those changes to?
Wow! Straight to the hard question. Well, the first full manuscript I completed was actually incomplete, at 145,000 words. For those that don’t know, that’s over the full length of a normal adult novel! It was a bit of everything. I had the words, I had the characters, but I had zero plot. I was writing to write, without a plan or much research, which definitely aligns with my unorganized, nebulous, spontaneous personality. Unfortunately, those traits don’t benefit the kind of epic, larger-than-life stories I like to tell.
So, I’d definitely say my writing has become more structured, simply out of necessity, and more forethought goes into. Who am I writing for? What story am I telling? What are the conflicts, etc. I map it out, make an outline, do all the necessary, not-so-fun stuff. Basically, I make a plan. [I get you completely!]
2. So, you’re a paintaholic. I have painter-interuptus (meaning a bunch of unfinished paint jobs). What have been your most favorite transformations of rooms or things? [Holy cow! Not only can she write, but she’s creative with a brush.]
Oh, man. I love transforming ALL THE THINGS. Seriously, at one time, before my life was overrun with writing deadlines and editors cracking the whip, I obsessed over changing every room in my house. I also sometimes experiment with oil paints on canvas. My heart just begs to create, and the transformation process is addictive!
3. What is your most hilarious “mom moment”? Your most touching “mom moment”?
Being a mommy is the most amazing/crazy/frustrating thing I’ve ever done. Luckily, my husband and I have a pretty strong sense of humor, and we use laughter to get through the tough times. This one time, my one-year-old son woke up from his nap and my husband went to get him. A few minutes later I heard my husband screaming my name. My son had found his poopy diaper and smeared the poop EVERYWHERE. Toys. Crib. Wall. Himself. It was one of those horrifying moments that if you didn’t laugh, you might just leave the house and never come back. It took hours to sanitize his room and person, but by the end of it, my husband and I were laughing hysterically, comparing our carefree college years to our poop-filled existence now. It was either laugh or cry.
As a mom, I experience a lot of touching moments, but I think watching my seven-year-old daughter take care of my four-year-old son has to be the best feeling ever. The way they love and care for each other is amazing, and it touches me deeply.
4. I see you’re a dog lover. I get you completely. Tell us about your pooches. And what is your take on all these abused dog FB feeds? How do you handle these?
All four—yes, four—of my wonderful (naughty, demanding, silly) dogs are rescues. My husband likes little dogs, I prefer big ones. So, instead of compromising, we have two of each! Having two busy kids and four dogs is a recipe for chaos, but we love our fur kids and wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have four males (Ed, Marley, Forge, and Beeker) and while the two elderly dogs get annoyed with the younger pups at times, for the most part they get along great.
As for the sad, heartbreaking posts my masochistic friends like to put on Facebook, well, I usually scroll past them, unless I know for sure the story has a happy ending. I just can’t handle knowing that kind of abuse and hatred exists in the world.
5. A hat fanatic? Cool! How did you come to love hats?
I’ve always loved hats, but I didn’t really make a thing of it until I became a mommy and started forgoing washing my hair for bedtime rituals and changing diapers. While unwashed hair may be the norm in my household, out in public, I wanted to hide that fact, so I started to throw on hats. I love them all. Ball caps. Fedoras. Pink cowgirl hats with bling. My day gets started early, and I usually throw on a pair of yoga pants and t-shirt, so my hats are a way to accessorize and show off my style without actually having to work at it.
Brace yourselves, TOM HARDY is coming...
6. Almost fell out of my chair when you mentioned TOM HARDY! Talk to us about this hunky hottie. What, why, when, how...and did you see him in Wuthering Heights?
TOM HARDY. Commence drooling. I think he embodies everything I like in a man. Strong. Mysterious. Independent. Artistic. British accent. Loves dogs. And he’s confident enough to play diverse roles that some actors might shy away from. I’ve loved him in all his roles, but I just recently watched him play Alfred “Alfie” Solomons, a Jewish gang leader in Peaky Blinders, and I was reminded all over again why he’s my main Hollywood obsession.
7. What’s the deal with Kombucha? Why is this an obsession?
Kombucha is one of those polarizing things, like Crossfit and Elf-on-the-Shelf. People either love it or hate it. In my experience, most people are too terrified of the very visible cultures at the bottom to even try it, but I fell in love the first sip I took. It’s fermented, so it’s sour and carbonated, with a refreshing zing in the back of your throat after you’re done. If you get over the smell and the bacterial cultures, it’s wonderful—and it’s supposed to be good for you. Other than coffee, Kombucha is my go-to drink, and at five dollars a pop, the current reason I’m poor. [haha! right?!]
8. How did you come up with your story and characters for your debut novel Shadow Fall?
Shadow Fall actually came about from the word SHADOWFALL (the novel was originally one word). I remember falling in love with it, and wondering how I could plan a novel around the word. Seriously. There was something ominous and dramatic about it. Like, what would be large enough to cast a shadow, and how would the populace respond? So I really had the concept of the novel from the very beginning—a trial held during the dark hours of Shadow Fall, when the impending asteroid casts a shadow. But the characters took a while to flesh out. I knew I wanted a strong female heroine who didn’t know how strong she was. And I wanted lots of uncertainty and intrigue. The other characters didn’t start showing themselves until I started writing, as they tend to do in my world. But once they showed up, they were very demanding!
9. OMG! You’re a GOT [Game of Thrones] fan!! I’ve tons of questions....
As a writer, what is your take on R.R. Martin’s planning of the whole Hodor thing?
Who’s your favorite character?
What’s your favorite scene?
Which character do you hate the most?
What’s your opinion of Little Finger?
These are all the questions I pretty much drill other people with when I learn they love GOTs! Warning, this section might be LONG and contain spoilers. [If you’re a binger and haven’t finished the final season, cover your eyes.]
First, to answer the Hodor question. George is a genius. When I saw that episode, I had all sorts of thoughts running through my mind, but unlike my husband, who was horrified for poor Hodor, the main emotion was awe and respect for George’s talents. [YES!!] I even texted my good friend and GOT fan and asked, “Did George plan that?” Because my mind couldn’t comprehend planning that far in advance. And then I read an article that confirmed he did, indeed, plan it from the very beginning, and I cried a little. Because I know as an author I will never achieve that level of greatness. Hats off to you, George. [He is the master planner. I realize this is why it takes years for one novel!!]
Favorite character? Tyrion, hands down. I read all the books before the series came out, and he was my favorite to read and watch. Despite all the hardships thrown at him, he relies on his wits and humor to survive. And he’s good, as good as you can be in the GOT universe without dying. He’s the only character that, if killed, would make me stop reading/watching the series.
Favorite scene? Hmm, I don’t know. If we’re judging off of scenes that made me happy, there aren’t that many (damn you, George). Maybe when the Stark children found the Dire Wolves? Or when Sansa and Jon were reunited. But the most indelible scene, the one I can’t get out of my head, is the Red Wedding. I read that chapter, and I saw it coming (the foreshadowing in the book is impeccable), and I was screaming and reading and pacing all at the same time. My husband thought I went mad.
Most hated character? Easy—Joffrey. [Screw you, Joffrey!! I hated him so much! Well-done, George.] He trumps Cersei and even Ramsay Bolton, only because in the book I hadn’t gotten to Ramsay’s reign of terror just yet, unless you count Theon, which, c’mon, he kind of deserved it (poor Reek). Cersei had issues, but she’s also trying to survive in a man’s world. Ramsay was a bastard and his father demented, no wonder he turned out the way he did. But Joffrey was just a spoiled brat with no excuse for the way he acted or the horrible, terrible things he did. Good riddance!
Little Finger. That guy! I have mixed feelings about him. I mean, he is responsible for killing Joffrey (yay) but then he let Tyrion take the fall. He’s obviously cunning and ruthless, and he’s wreaked a lot of havoc, but there’s just something about the underdog survivor. He wasn’t good enough for Catelyn Stark, and part of his lofty ambitions stem from that unrequited love. So, while I don’t trust Little Finger, I’m very interested to see where his story goes. Does he rise to the top? Does he eventually turn Sansa against Jon? [I’m so worried about this! She hasn’t truly given up the idea of being a queen.] He’s a very entertaining character, and I hope to witness more of his antics stir up the axis of power in the Seven Kingdoms.
10. At the end of all things, when light fades to darkness, what's the only thing that's real?
People. We’re all connected. We have our own unique stories and dreams, but at the end of the day, I think we simply want to be recognized, acknowledged, and loved.
Where can you find AUDREY GREY?