Along with the rising popularity of dystopian novels in young adult fiction, Greek mythology retellings are finding their way more and more into teen books. Whether it's about Persephone, Medusa or the Furies, no Olympian or ancient myth is safe from YA novelists.
To find out more about this renewed interest in Greek mythology, I talked with YA author Josephine Angelini. Her 2011 debut novel Starcrossed incorporates elements from The Illiad and mixes them with romantic complications and loads of thrilling action. The second book in the series, Dreamless, was released in May of this year.
Interview With Josephine Angelini, Author of YA Mythology Novel, Dreamless
1. With books like Meg Cabot's Abandon, Aimee Carter's Goddess Interrupted and your own series, why do you think mythology-inspired books have become more popular lately in the young
JA: I think it's a combination of things. Everything supernatural is popular right now,
and not just in books. There are lots of supernatural movies and TV shows as well, and like vampires, werewolves, ghosts and fairies, Greek mythology is one of the major sources for supernatural lore. Another factor that's making Greek myth in particular hot right now is that the Percy Jackson set is growing up. They already know and love mythology, and they are ready for YA books about it.
2. What is the future of mythology in YA?
JA: I'm no oracle, but it seems to me that everything comes and goes in cycles, so there will probably be a waning of interest in fantasy-based YA material. The Hunger Games inspired a trend toward more sci-fi dystopian settings, but even that's starting to get played out. YA will probably go back to "straight" storytelling for a while, but the pendulum will swing again and fantasy will be back. It never really goes away completely, or for very long.
3. Why do you think readers are so drawn to mythology stories?
JA: Readers, actually people in general, have always been drawn to myth. The Iliad,
Odyssey, Beowulf -- myth is the oldest and most enduring form of storytelling,
and not just in Western culture. China is famous for their dragons. In India there is magic and monsters in their oldest and most beloved tales. No matter where you go around the world in all of the oldest stories, from the Native Americans to the Aborigines in Australia, myth and monsters are everywhere. Heroic storytelling is a common denominator across cultures, and I'm pretty confident that for as long as we tell stories, we will tell tall tales of giants and the little guys that rise up to defeat them. Myth is too awesome not to tell.
4. Of all of the mythology retellings, which one is your favorite?
JA: I'm really fond of Gregory Maguire's retelling of the Cinderella story in his Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I know you're looking for me to recommend a Greek book, but while I was writing my series, I didn't want to risk any "cross-pollination", so I haven't read many of them yet (sorry!).
5. What mythology story do you wish someone would retell or expand on?
JA: I'd love to see the Hercules story retold. Hera curses him with a temporary
madness. He murders his wife and young children, wakes, realizes what he's done, and is then driven from his homeland in horror. That's some start to a book.
To find out more about YA mythology and Angelini's new novel, Dreamless, read the rest of my interview at Read.Breathe.Relax.
What mythology retellings have you read and enjoyed? What is your favorite Greek myth?