Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Amalia Carosella to The Maiden's Court as a stop on her blog tour. I have a lovely interview with her to post today to help you get to know her better as well as her book, Helen of Sparta. Stay tuned at the bottom of this post for a tour-wide giveaway. Welcome Amalia!
Heather: Everyone knows of Helen of Troy – why choose to write of her days in Sparta?
Amalia Carosella: Everyone does know Helen of Troy. Fewer people know who she was before she became infamous as Helen of Troy. I wanted her to have a chance to define herself and forge her own identity, separate from Paris and Troy, and not only that, but also to tell a story that not everyone already knew. Her abduction by Theseus is so often overlooked, but it’s these small footnotes in myth that I love to explore!
H: I can honestly say that I am one of those that falls into the category of not knowing of her abduction of Theseus!
H: In writing this novel, what inspiration/sources did you work from? How much history/mythology is there about this pre-Troy time period to build off of?
AC: There’s a perfect amount of history for writing, in my opinion! Most of what we know about the political and cultural elements of Bronze Age Greece comes from the Linear B tablets found at a few Mycenaean sites, and the general archaeological record. We know there were incredibly large palaces, and that society was highly organized in regard to trade and production of goods (both because the tablets reveal careful inventories and because we find evidence of widespread trade of goods in the region). We have a pretty good idea of what foods they were eating as staples and what livestock they husbanded. We even know which “nation” had the best medicine and maybe more interestingly, we know that they knew where to send for the best physicians! Basically, we have a lot of broad strokes, which provide a really fantastic foundation, without getting in the way of a good story, if that makes sense.
As far as the mythology goes, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are the most significant and the earliest narrative sources. They were written probably 400-500 years after the fact, but we know from the language and the technology described in the epics that their oral roots stretch back into the bronze age. There are also several familiar gods and goddesses referenced in the Linear B tablets – Poseidon Earth-Shaker, Zeus, and Hera, to name a few. I drew from Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, Pseudo-Apollodorus, Plutarch, and Ovid, among others, in order to piece together a coherent narrative of Helen’s early life and Theseus’s later years. A lot of the earliest sources for the epic cycle surrounding the Trojan War have sadly been lost, so we have to rely on the later sources (who quote them or summarize them) to fill in some of the background!
H: Helen is depicted in various ways in mythology – as a wayward woman driven by her desires; a sorrowful and regretful woman; a treacherous and devious woman. What is your version of Helen like?
AC: My Helen is still young. She’s only just reached marriageable age, and is still struggling to figure out what it means to be a daughter of Zeus and face the blessing/curse of her beauty. She knows what’s coming – this terrible war, fought over her – and she’s desperate to find a way to subvert it. She wants to have some control of her life and her fate, rather than just remaining the pawn of her father/family or the gods.
H: This is not your first novel, or mythology based novel for that matter. What is different about this novel from those that you have written previously under the name Amalia Dillin?
AC: Helen of Sparta is very firmly grounded in the historical Bronze Age, and so is her story. My Fate of the Gods books are more focused on the gods as characters – Thor, and Adam, and Eve are all working beyond the perception of the everyday person – while Helen’s story is much more human. She’s working within the world, rather than acting as a puppet-master outside of it. My Fate of the Gods books also hopscotch through thousands of years from the mythical Creation to the future, rather than exploring just one time in history – so there are some pretty big differences which mark my Amalia Dillin works as Fantasy, and my Amalia Carosella title(s) as Historical!
H: I have read that Helen of Sparta is designed to stand alone, but that there is also more story to tell. Are you working on a continuation or sequel? Are you working on something else?
AC: Helen of Sparta encapsulates a small piece of Helen’s mythology – particularly, the lesser known myth of her abduction by Theseus, the king of Athens and the son of Poseidon – in that respect, it’s complete within itself as an exploration of that myth. However, it certainly does not encompass all of Helen’s journey through the whole of her mythology, leaving a lot more of her life to retell! I’m currently working on writing another book, continuing her story, and I’d love to share more of not just her story, but also the stories of the other heroes and heroines who surround and weave through her mythology, and Theseus’s!
Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.
A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.
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On Twitter: #HelenofSpartaBlogTour #HistoricalFiction
I am happy to share with you this tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $40 Amazon Gift Card! Please note, as this giveaway is tour-wide, I am not in control of anything to do with this giveaway.
- Giveaway starts on April 1st at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on April 22nd.
- Giveaway is open to residents in the US only and you must be 18 or older to enter.
- Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 23rd and notified via email.
- Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
- Please email Amy @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Entries are made through the GLEAM application below. Good luck!
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