Kendare Blake stopped by to answer some exclusive questions. She talks about her book, why she went with Greek gods, the characters in her new book Antigoddess, writing, and more! Without further ado, take it away Kendare!
Antigoddess is a story of a godly war, fought between gods who are no longer immortal. They begin to die strange, painful deaths, each death tied to the god’s particular traits. As they take sides, they seek out weapons that might be of use. One in particular: a reincarnated prophetess who doesn’t have a clue about her past. Antigoddess draws a lot on the Iliad and the Odyssey.
How was it, switching into a different world and leaving the Anna Dressed in blood world behind?
Well, not as sad as you might think, because I wrote Antigoddess in between Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares, so I knew I still had time to spend with Cas & Co. But it was absolutely scary, whenever I paused to think about it. Luckily, the first draft wrote pretty fast, so I didn’t have time to think about it much.
Why greek gods? There are so many ancients out there, what about them appealed to you as a writer?
Not sure exactly. Only that I’ve always been drawn to the story of Troy, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and even a little bit the Aeneid. Okay, not really the Aeneid. I love that the Greek gods were monsters as much as they were gods. I loved that they shared the worst traits with the mortals they ruled over. Their fallibility is so interesting to me.
Was it hard trying to bring something new to stories that are old and familiar?
I don’t know if it was hard, but it was definitely intimidating. They’re gods. They’re characters from old stories. People have seen them before, and have pre-existing opinions/impressions of them. So if something I add is different, or my interpretation is different, it can really throw a reader. Which is the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to keep the gods petty and brutal. Cruel screwups who occasionally do you a favor. I hope I did a decent job balancing the old traditions while still making the characters my own.
Talk to us about Cassandra. She’s such a cool character, modern teen and yet reincarnation of an ancient prophetess. Did you see her first as Cassandra of today, and then add in her ancient parts, so to speak, or, since she’s really the same, did you try and visualize her as the same regardless of the change in millennia?
I saw her today, I think. Cassandra was tough. She was shy. I got the impression she didn’t want to be written about, and her character would have loved nothing more than to be overlooked. Ignored. Left the frick alone. At first, I had this image of her as this sort of mousy, quiet, tragic thing, a character you would pity because of all the crap piled on her over and over. And she sort of was, just…average, under the radar, for a while. Then she started to change. I thought she’d shoulder the burden of what happened and I would wish for her happy ending. Instead she bucked. She bit back. As Athena learns to be more human, Cassandra begins to become less.
The concept of the gods dying, and the ways that they’re dying, is one of the most fascinating parts of the book (especially Athena’s with the owl feathers. Brilliant!). Take us through the process of developing these ideas. How did you finally decide what the doom for each would be?
That part came pretty organically. The whole novel started because of some visions I had of dying goddesses. I saw Demeter and Artemis first, Demeter stretched taut across the land, dried out skin like a massive drum. Artemis running from beasts, torn apart in her forests. And as each new god showed up, it was very, “Oh, yeah, there you are, wow, look what’s wrong with you!” I never had to decide between two possible deaths. They just were.
Talk to us about your writing styles and habits. Do you have a crazy outline you write from? How to you take a story from idea to book, essentially (I know, broad question, haha)
I’m what they call a mostly-pantser. So, I have an idea, I get to know some characters, find the starting scenes, play out a few pivotal scenes in my head, and then start writing without any real framework. I don’t know exactly where the story is headed, or what will be involved. For example, I thought Anna Dressed in Blood would end on the shores of Lake Superior. I thought Superior would have a bigger role overall. Turns out it barely gets a mention.
If I’m lucky, I know how it will end. I rarely get so lucky.
Any weird writer’s quirks? Special pens? Candles burning when you write? A set schedule or word count you must do every day?
Is laziness a weird writer’s quirk? Probably not. I can’t force write. Is that a thing? Force writing? Anyway, if the words aren’t there, no amount of me staring at a computer screen will get them there. So, I wait until I feel it, and try as best I can to set a schedule. No special pens. I have a notebook open beside my laptop for notes. No burning candles. Usually the Food Network on in the background, or I’ll flip through those Music Choice channels.
What can you tell us about book 2 in the Goddess Wars series? Any secrets to reveal for fans who want more?
I can tell you that more heroes and gods show up. Someone is going to arrive and make trouble for Athena where Odysseus is concerned. If you want to know who, you can find her in the pages of the Odyssey. And we’re probably headed to the Underworld, at least once.
What have you read lately that you’ve loved? Our readers are always looking for great recommendations!
NOS4A2, by Joe Hill. I’m eagerly awaiting Dr. Sleep, by Joe Hill’s dad. I recently loved April Genevieve Tucholke’s BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and there’s a great debut that’s not to be missed in a few weeks, Mindy McGinnis’ NOT A DROP TO DRINK. And everyone should probably read some Caitlin R Kiernan. Just because.
Thank you so much for featuring me on Lytherus!