So, I shared a book review of STORM OF THE GODS yesterday. Did you see it yet? I not only reviewed the book but I got to interview the author, Amy Braun! If you want to learn more about Amy Braun and her dystopian spin on Greek mythology (think the Percy Jackson books but way darker), then check out the following Q&A.
Your writing heavily relies on extremely bleak worlds and catastrophes. How do you create unique dystopian settings for each series?
BRAUN: I often have an idea about the world’s main feature, i.e.: Storm of the Gods sees the return of the ancient Greek gods to our world. Such an event would drastically change how our world operated, and it would lead to rocky lives and sharp dangers. In many “rags to riches” stories, there’s often a class-based differential that forces many people, often the mid-to-lower class, to struggle and adapt to these changes. From there, its similar to working down a food chain. Olympians at the top, their descendants (scions) at the bottom, and everyone else below that.
Plus, I’m a notorious sadist to my characters. But playing off a quote I heard once, “The best way to know your characters is to put them in a tree and throw rocks at them until they come down.” I just have a bad habit of constantly setting the tree on fire.
What inspired you to take on Greek mythology for this series?
BRAUN: Mythology has always interested me, and I would love to explore other cultures and their beliefs in future books, but nothing really speaks to me the way Greek lore does. Every story is an adventure, there are constant battles, ferocious and truly terrifying monsters, powerful women taking control, and some of the best tragic heroes ever written. I also love that the ancient Greeks knew exactly what their gods were like, and those foolish enough to challenge their power were often make examples of.
Two of my most beloved books is The Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green, which I’ve had for nearly twenty years, and Robert Graves’ complete and definitive collection of The Greek Myths, which I actually picked up in Athens a few years ago (it was a travel goal). Every time I look at them, it’s all I can do not to pick them up and dive back into thrilling, romantic, tragic, and exciting adventures.
Your fight scenes are incredibly detailed! How do you create such brutal and realistic scenes?
BRAUN: I watch a lot of action movies. Honestly! They’re my go-to when I can’t figure out how I want my character to fight. For Derek and Storm of the Gods, I primarily watched a lot of Captain America: Civil War (in my head, Derek kind of looks like Steve Rogers, which gives me an excuse to stare at pictures of Chris Evans, for research purposes of course), but I also watched a lot of John Wick for the jiujutsu and judo. I also watch a lot of UFC clips, especially those done by Muay Thai fighters, to understand how they move and see what sort of strikes they tend to use. I like to push the boundaries but it’s always important to add some realism to the fights so the reader can feel like their watching it.
Which Greek god was the most fun to write and why?
BRAUN: In Storm, it would be a toss up between Ares and Athena. I know Ares is traditionally explosive with his temper, but I wanted to do another take on him that was more controlled and menacing. It changes up the formula a little bit. Athena is also very complex and I’m very excited to carry on her story line. I’ve also done test scenes for other gods and goddesses, and without giving much away, I will say that Persephone will likely be my favourite (she’ll appear in book 2!), and that Aphrodite was also a lot of fun!
Out of the magical abilities the scions possess, which ability do you wish you had?
BRAUN: Hmm… I would have to go with a craft scion! It would be cool to harness fire, but also have the ability to use enchantments without needing to scrounge up materials constantly. Yes, I wouldn’t have access to certain spells that other scions can use at will, but I would also be naturally good and fighting and combat tactics, so when they throw their spell at me, I’d be ready with an enchantment!
Can you give us a sneak peek of what kinds of monsters or trials the Areios brothers will face in the next novel?
BRAUN: The sequel will focus a lot on the sea, so expect to see plenty of oceanic monsters! I’m still working on a few of the plot lines, but there will likely be battles with sirens and mermen, giant crab-monsters, and an appearance of one half of Scylla and Charybdis! I’m taking bets on which half you think it will be.
You have a soft spot for dystopian fiction. What inspires you to write these kinds of books and what do you hope your readers will glean from your dystopian novels?
BRAUN: I read a lot of dystopia novels and find them all completely fascinating, since the human (and non-human) characters often have to adapt, often to stressing or taxing circumstances. While I don’t wish for it in real life, watching people adapt in times of strife and oppression is emotional and engaging, as well as challenging. It’s one of the oldest stories: Rags to riches, and I always find myself drawn to it because it gives me an excuse to challenge my characters even more.
If I want readers to take anything from these worlds and situations, it’s that it’s important to appreciate yourself, and what you have. Many of us take that for granted on the bad days. I certainly do. But you have things that other people don’t, and you ought to always be grateful for the good things in your life. You might hate your job, but at least you have an income. On the opposite side, dystopia novels often follow a character living in a rough situation but finding the strength and will to overcome it. I cannot respect that kind of person more, whether in real life or in fiction. Always keep trying to overcome your challenges, because no matter how hard it is, will finds the way.
And if you’re still not buying into the optimism, just remember, things could be worse. You could live in a world where manticores are able to roam free and bite your face off.
And of course I have to ask: when does the sequel come out?
BRAUN: Soon, I hope! I was originally aiming for a late 2018 release, but I’m not sure that will happen. The story is going through a few changes to work around new ideas and deepen some side characters storylines, and I’m currently trying to get through the first draft of a YA fantasy, but I’m going to tentatively say early spring 2019. I have about eight chapters of AB2 written right now that will likely only undergo minor changes. I love my boys, and I’m just as eager for their next adventure as you are!
If you want to learn more about Storm of the Gods and Amy Braun, then check out her blog tour! You can click here or the image above to see the whole blog tour.