I’m very excited by my new book for teenagers, Helen’s Daughter, published beautifully by SilverWood Books of Bristol. (For some reason WordPress refuses to let me post the cover image, but you can see it on Amazon -
It’s the first in a planned trilogy about the girls of the Trojan War. The Trojan War isn’t the happiest of stories – a war in which there are no winners, heroes die, women are horribly enslaved and cities destroyed. But it’s a story that’s fascinated us for thousands of years, and been interpreted and re-interpreted in so many ways. I became intrigued by the hidden women in the story – they’re not obvious in the world of fighting men and heroes, but they’re there if you look for them. We all know about Helen of Troy – almost the only character who manages to come through the war unscathed – but what about her only daughter Hermione? Was it hard for her to be the daughter of the most beautiful and most notorious woman in the world? What pressures were put upon her? Did she manage to make a life of her own for herself? This is the story I’ve uncovered for her.
It’s exciting to work with mythology – you have stories that have been worked over and over until they are full of a kind of concentrated energy that you don’t find in made-up fantasy. There’s a depth and richness to them that you can tap into. And within their space, there’s always room for your own interpretation, so the story can become in some sense your own. And what fun to have the heroes of Troy to work with. Sometimes they surprise you. I found that I liked Achilles, for example, which I hadn’t expected to, and wasn’t so keen on Hector. Cassandra I didn’t like very much at first, but I found myself coming round to her as I tried to understand her, and the dreadful blow she’d been dealt by fate. The heroine of that volume is Elissa, her reluctant Greek slave, who has a destiny of her own. And Electra – in the third volume- how is she going to come to terms with having to take that bloody revenge on her own mother? I am writing this at the moment, and her story is unfolding before me.
I’ve enjoyed writing these stories almost more than anything else I’ve ever written, and I hope people enjoy reading them too.