Unfortunately, I’m not very good at updating my website. I’m not very hot on social media, either. Though I love writing (luckily), I really struggle with any form of self-marketing. It’s just not amongst my giftings.
Realising this, I’ve decided I must try harder, so have resolved to update my website every Friday throughout 2018, and hopefully beyond (except when I’m away). I don’t promise anything exciting, but I will try to be honest about what I’ve been writing, reading and doing during the week. So here goes…
With my Odysseus series now finished and published, I’ve been contracted by Canelo to write a trilogy about Heracles (better known by his Roman name, Hercules). This is an old idea that has been floating around in the nether regions of my brain for a few years, anticipating the day when Odysseus would finally return home to Penelope and live happily ever after again. Though there are many myths associated with the Superman of the ancient world, Heracles’s best known adventures were the Twelve Labours: the Nemean Lion, the Lernean Hydra, the Ceryneian Hind, the Erymanthean Boar, the Stables of King Augeas, the Stymphalian Birds, the Cretan Bull, the Man-Eating Horses of King Diomedes, the Golden Belt of Queen Hippolyte, the Cattle of Geryon, the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, and – finally – Cerberus. So that the tale I’ve decided to focus on.
I had originally planned to retell the story over two books, but Michael, my editor, sagely advised three books – mainly because trilogies work better than pairs of books. Eager to please, I agreed and planned three. The first in the trilogy has already been written and undergone its initial edit. It’s now with Michael at Canelo for its second edit, and hopefully will be out as an e-book and paperback in the spring.
I know this is fast going, as readers of the Odysseus series will remember it usually takes me a year or two to produce a book. However, since March 2017 I’ve been working as a full-time author – as opposed to one day a week, which was the case for the previous ten years – so I’m now able to give a lot more time to my lifelong passion. Strangely, though, I find I’m not writing five times as much each week. This is probably due to this strange new phenomena I’ve encountered – Imagination Fatigue. Without a whole week to recharge my ideas, I notice myself running out of steam by Friday, when productivity starts to drag to a halt. That said, I’ve made a good start with the second book in the trilogy, which is – as yet – unnamed. The first is currently called Son of Zeus. Hope you like it.
Incidentally, the second book begins with the Erymanthean Boar. Obviously, the creature Heracles faces is a grim opponent of supernatural dimensions and abilities. But it seems its more worldly cousins can be pretty deadly too: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/04/hunter-dies-in-germany-after-wild-boar-he-was-trying-to-shoot-attacked-him.
Looking back over the past week, I’ve had a few days off for Christmas and been enjoying some time with my wife and daughters. On New Year’s Eve, we had a few friends around to see the New Year in. It wasn’t an alcohol-steeped affair – just a good bit of catching up and playing a few games. This morning I went for my regular Friday breakfast at a local delicatessen/bakery/restaurant. It’s a bit old fashioned (I’m told the wallpaper hasn’t changed since the 1930s!) but that suits me just fine, and the full English breakfast is beyond comparison. One of the friends I eat there with has the proud record of DJing the longest running Northern Soul disco in Europe, which he started back in the mid-1960s.
Films I’ve watched this week include: Dunkirk, the 1958 original with John Mills (5 stars); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (4 stars – I recently enjoyed going on the studio tour at Leavesden, London, which I highly recommend); Tangled (5 stars – a brilliant film, even by Disney’s high standards); and I am currently halfway through Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (colourful start, very entertaining).
There are no fiction titles in my book list at the moment, as I’m busy researching the Great War for a future book project. A few days ago, I finished True World War 1 Stories, a frank and eye-opening collection of first hand accounts compiled in the 1920s and reprinted back in the 1990s. I’ve just started on Band of Brigands, by Christy Campbell – a well-written history of the men behind the first tanks. Today I picked up a recent release at my local Waterstones, called Passchendaele: A New History, by Nick Lloyd. It gives a fresh insight on that most terrible of Great War battles – including a strong emphasis on the German view of the fighting – and reveals just how close the British came to an outright victory that would have advanced the end of the war. Unfortunately, our house rabbit managed to get onto the kitchen table and has already nibbled a corner of the book. I don’t blame him – I can’t wait to get into it myself.
A while back, I decided to read that great tome of the ancient world – no, not the Iliad or the Odyssey this time, but the Bible – in the space of two years. I’ve just started the book of Ecclesiastes, which includes the following poetic lines:
“All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
Something to ponder on.
Great retelling of Odysseus’s journey…
Just thought I’d drop a line to say that I’m really enjoying your two latest books covering Odysseus journey home from your series Adventures of Odysseus. I’ve always been fascinated with Odysseus story, ever since reading the story as a child and (at that age) absolutely loving the movie Jason and the Argonauts!
So, whenever I see a new version of the story, I usually buy a copy straight away. Your retellings have been a great discovery.
I must confess that I haven’t yet purchased the four earlier volumes about Troy. I’ll do this once I finished volume 6, which of course seems like reading backwards! Though what usually happens in our house is whenever it’s a Birthday, Christmas or Father’s Day my children always ask which book I’d like? So, I’ll probably have to wait until one of these occasions before I start the earlier volumes. It’s a shame because they seem to be nicely priced at the moment. I’m just hoping they don’t rocket up before my next birthday.
Just flicking through you blog, I must admit I was surprised that you weren’t covering the story of the Aeneid next. It seemed to me like the next logical progression – a kind of continuation of the story you’ve been telling. In fact, there aren’t many retellings of Aeneas’ journey compared to retellings of Odysseus. And I know this because I’m always looking for a good trilogy of the story.
The only one that I know of – apart from having to turn to the original versions themselves (which are usually far too difficult for me) – is the retelling by David Bruce.
Another story that I’ve often enjoyed has been King Arthur. Like with the Odyssey, whenever a new retelling appears I usually buy a copy. I was wondering whether, perhaps at some point in the future, you yourself have plans for writing your own version of the King Arthur story. I must admit, having nearly finished these last two volumes on Odysseus, I’m sure you’d write a fabulous King Arthur tale.
In the meantime, I’ll certainly be looking out for your new volume on Heracles later in the year.
Thank again for all your good work.
Thanks Gary. Good to hear you like my take on the Trojan War myths, and hope you enjoy the first four volumes (when your family get around to buying them for you!)
The Aeneid was a very strong choice for a follow up to The Adventures of Odysseus. I studied Virgil at uni and loved the Aeneid, but when I came to planning it as a possible trilogy I thought there were a few things that made conversion to a modern novel format quite difficult. However, I do hope to come back to it in time.
Very interesting that you mention King Arthur, as this great British hero has been a blip of my radar, too. He has been a little overdone in literature and film (unlike Odysseus, strangely), but, to my knowledge, nobody has tackled the story with a mind to including the mythical elements that appear in the original tales. As I like to include “gods and monsters”, I think I could offer a fresh take on a popular story. Again, though, it’s a project for the future.