Friday, December 27, 2013

Finding a Mystery in a Well-Known Tale

Sappho and Alcaeus
On a professional writing forum in which I participate, a (romance) author asked the group what type of mystery or suspense we like to include in our stories.

As we all learned in elementary school (and had repeated throughout our formal educations), all stories are propelled by a major conflict and perhaps by a series of lesser ones.  You remember: man v. man, man v. nature, man v. society, man v. himself.

The novel I have already written (Temple of Love -- due for re-release in January 2014), as well as the several that I am planning within the same loose series, are all historical fictions based on Greek mythology and history. They are romances, to be sure; but they are also re-tellings or re-imaginings of famous lives or well-known legends.

For me, this means that the conflicts that propel the stories forward are already built in. In most cases, they are well-known conflicts -- Sappho's tempestuous emotional state and numerous lovers, Helen's love triangle that ignites the Trojan War, Psyche's attempts to prove herself to her immortal mother-in-law.

So, in my case, the conflicts were written 2500 years ago, but the "mysteries" are left to me to sort. Providing understandable motivations, fresh interpretations, and characters that are approachable to modern readers -- those are the mysteries my readers get to unlock.

I'm polishing up Sappho's story now -- Temple of Love (excerpts available behind the link). It will be available again VERY SOON, with a big marketing push to bring it into the public eye. After that, I will be continuing my work on Helen's tale -- Temple of Beauty (more excerpts). Beyond that, I'm not sure who will follow. Psyche? Medusa? Pandora? Ariadne?