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.
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?
6. Who/what inspires you as a writer?
So many things! Mostly I love traveling to places where my characters actually lived and walked. It was surreal to go to Istanbul and see the mosaics that Empress Theodora actually walked on, to look up at the dome of the Hagia Sophia and know that she had seen the exact same thing!
7. You traveled to Egypt! What was that like? What were your favorite places to visit? What did you observe about the culture there that has remained with you?
I love Egypt! It has always been and will probably always be my favorite country to learn about so going there was incredible. Climbing inside one of the pyramids was fantastic, (And hot! It was 120F that day, but it felt like air conditioning when we stepped outside the pyramid!), but my favorite was Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri. I got all teary-eyed when I first saw it, and then was absolutely gobsmacked to discover that the trunks of the myrrh trees that she brought back from the mysterious land of Punt are still petrified in front of the temple. So stinking cool!
8. You're a fellow Outlander fan. What did you think about this season? What is your favorite Jamie and Claire moment?
I’m actually not caught up on this season, but I blame Game of Thrones for that. I hardly have any TV time this summer as I scramble to finish my next book before school starts. But I could watch the wedding episode from the first season over and over. (I might have already seen it four times!)
9. In your blog, you mention you'd like to talk with Hatsheput. What would you ask her? What would you want to talk about?
I’d love to ask her why she seized Egypt’s throne after seven years as regent, just as her stepson was almost old enough to rule in his own right. There had to be some sort of cataclysmic event that either forced her to do so, or more likely, provided an excuse for her to become pharaoh. I’d also want her to dish on whether she really had a relationship with her steward, Senenmut. I’ve always imagined theirs as a grand love story!
10. At the end of all things, when light fades to black, what is the only thing that's real?
My family, especially my husband and daughter. They’re everything.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
The Outlander Wedding
Follow Stephanie Thornton on her social medias :)
What does all this have to do with mythology, Homer and the Homeric Chronicles? According to the 2015 article entitled, "Breastfeeding in the Course of History," in the Journal of Pediatrics & Neonatal Care [JPNC], "In Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece, breastfeeding was of high value and one can find numerous references in mythology." And I agree with that based on what I've read in the Ilaid and Odyssey as well as other mythological and historical sources. In the ancient world, breast milk was considered sacred and nursing children was considered an essential and important part of a child's upbringing. The JPNC article delves into numerous examples of goddesses and women breastfeeding their babies. It's worth a read. The authors go on to talk about how only in the 20th century, when formula companies became en vogue, (and of course interested in making money) did the tide of public opinion against breastfeeding and mothers began to be and feel shamed by a natural and simple act.
Back to Homer and my point. One of my favorite scenes in the Iliad is when Hektor realizes he must face Achilles, and in doing so, most likely face his death. His father, King Priam, begs him not to go before the wall and fight the crazy Greek warrior. He laments that Zeus has cursed him because he's lost so many sons already, and now is poised to lose his eldest son and heir as well. Hektor's mother, Queen Hecuba joins her husband's lament and begs in a much more intimate way. In Book 21, she opens up her gown and pulls out her bare breast, weeping with the heart-ache she knows is coming, and begs Hektor to honor what she gave him from the beginning: life. By her bare breasts she beseeches her warrior son to give up fighting because that bond between mother and child is sacred, and worthy of honor. And it was her breast that symbolized that honor.
Throughout the Homeric Chronicles, Book One, Song of Princes I have used the motif of the breast and breastfeeding to symbolize the sacred connection between mother and child. It is an intimate and natural act. And when Hecuba is unable to nurse her second son, Paris, it breaks her heart. And that maternal pain is juxtaposed to the joy she felt with her first born, Hektor, and why she refuses a nursemaid for her subsequent children. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of adult level sexy bits in this series (steamy, I think
@Benjaminoftomes said) but I have purposely left the breast on a pedestal.
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© Janell Rhiannon 2016
Any information from this blog must be properly cited :)
The Big Ten
1. Your book, Soulbound, is built around an Elvin world. What inspired your world n this novel? How do you go about world building?
I've loved elves since reading The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. [Me: if you guys haven't watched the MtV series, it's worth it.] It's funny, because most people assume it's Tolkien who inspired me. Nope. Terry Brooks. :) When it comes to Soulbound, the world just sort of evolved along with the story. For me, that's often how it happens. I let the story unfold, and the characters reveal their world to me. That....sounds totally strange. :-D
2. You recently tweeted: “Even an elf feels awkward when someone flirts with his mom.” What’s happening? Do tell!!!
Ohhh, well, this involves spoilers if you haven't read Soulbound yet. Continue at your own risk! Hehe. In Soulbound, we learn that the healer has a thing for Lyr's mom, Lynia. In Book 2, Sundered, there's a scene where Lynia is arguing with the healer because she needs to strengthen her recently healed back but he wants her to rest. And he starts to make a risque suggestion about ways he could help strengthen her back...in bed. Bwahaha. Poor Lyr shut that down before he had to hear more. It seems you can be over five hundred years old and STILL not want to think about your mom's love life.
3. Tell us about Acts of Bravery and Against the Odds. What major themes run through these short stories?
These anthologies were born in the Debut Collective, a group of writers inspired by UTOPiA Con. I have a story in each of those two anthologies. My Acts of Bravery story is "The Golden Queen." It's about a queen cursed to remain in a portrait, only able to leave for one day every decade. She and her guardian, Kenrick, have to marshal all their bravery to get out of that one.
For Against All Odds, I have "The Grove Between." Contact with the Eiana, the people of the forest, is forbidden, but to save her people from a wicked plot, Mio must seek them out. She meets one of their people, Faen, but the rest of the Eiana refuse to help. With her greatest enemy closing in, Mio and Faen have to work together to beat the odds.
4. I see you recently attended UTOIPiACon2016 in Nashville. What did you do there? Did you attend any panels? What was your take away from that experience? [me: UTOPiA 2017 is already up and going]
I had my very first author table at UTOPiA Con this year. I only made it to a couple of panels because I didn't want to stray to far from my table. I'm a naturally shy person, so it's always an experience to go to such a huge event. But I did have a great time! This was only my second year, and I find that after each year, I make more friends. I'm already excited for next year!
5. You tweet quite a bit about the equality and peace. Tell us what sits on your heart about the world.
I hate injustice. I know that life isn't always fair, but if we leave it at that, it never will be, right? But you know, I think what really gets me are the artificial boundaries we use to separate. Nationality, race, religion, sexuality--if you really examine these things, you'll find more commonalities than differences, yet we often don't look beyond the label. We all hurt, love, care for our families. The more we see that, the more we'll live in peace. Maybe someday. :)
6. If you could bring one character alive from your novels, who would it be and why?
Probably Lyr. I have such a soft spot for him. He has had so much happen to him over the last few decades that I'd love to see him happy.
7. You’re a busy mom of a little one. How do you find time to write? Do you have any rituals to help you get started and stay on track?
Actually, I have two kids. I just try to keep their pictures off social media for privacy concerns. My oldest is 6 and my youngest 3. I find time to write whenever I can, really. I have a standing desk so I can work without my youngest crawling on my head. :-D I typically start work around 9 and get in a couple of hours before lunch. If it's a good day, kid-wise, I work again in the afternoon. Summer has thrown me off, though. The kids are old enough that when they aren't fighting, they're playing loudly.
8. Coffee! I see you love the brew and Ironman. So, if you could sit and share a cup of coffee with Ironman/Tony Stark, what would you talk about?
Investment advice? Hehehe. Seriously, I'd probably ask him about all of his cool inventions. I wouldn't understand half of the science, but he'd be fun enough to watch. :-D
9. Who is your fiction hero/heroine? And who is your real life hero/heroine? Why? Do tell.
Probably Elspeth from Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar. She begins as a brat, but beneath that, she's hurting. I love how she transitions to a confident, competent, and empathetic person by the end of the series. I guess because I was once that hurting brat, and Elspeth was one of the characters who taught me how to be better.
I love Amy Lee, Sara Bareilles, and Sarah McLachlan. Their music has gotten me through some tough times. And my mom, who has an amazing strength of will.
10. At the end of all things, when light fades to black, what’s the only thing that’s real?
The Divine Spark that flows through everything. The energy that makes up the core of existence. Love.
Keep up with Bethany on her social media. Use the
*like * share * tweet * follow*
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/bethanyadams
Because Bethany likes Sara Bareilles :)
If you enjoyed this post, give it a LIKE or a TWEET :) And by all means, SHARE :) If you'd like a heads up on future Big Ten Interviews or giveaways, join my email list. The only spam I like is with my eggs.
© Janell Rhiannon 2016
Any information from this blog must be properly cited :)
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