Tag Archives: Maria Dahvana Headley

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things I’d Make Writers Write About If I Could

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 This week’s theme is topics you would make authors write about if you could. This could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.

I worked forever on this post! I hope you like it. 🙂

So I’m cheating just a bit here since, as a writer, I’ve got some ideas that I won’t be sharing, because I plan to write about them myself.  But that’s okay, because it forced me to stretch my brain for yet more ideas for the post. Yay! Here we go:

1) Number one, because it must obviously be said that, above all else:

I want more Harry Potter involving the main cast, preferably right after book seven. Seeing Hermione, Ginny and Luna’s last year at Hogwarts would be awesome. And then maybe following Luna Lovegood’s application to work in the Department of Mysteries. (Yes, I know officially she becomes a kind of naturalist but COME ON the Department of Mysteries has got to be the best place to work in all of Potterdom.) I will also settle for a next-generation series involving the Potter-Weasley kids. I’m not one of those clamoring for a Marauders series (please don’t hit me!) , even though I’d read it and love it, and my husband really wants one, so I’ll ask for it on his behalf. 😉 I’d just rather have a new Harry Potter series that still incorporates the main cast.

2) More Gemma Doyle. Or at least something to alleviate my Gemma-withdrawl

While we’re on the subject of series that ended way too soon, I need more Gemma Doyle. The Sweet Far Thing is one of my very favorite books, but that ending seriously killed me. I need more. I need to know what happens next. I’m still holding out hope that maybe the illustrious Libba Bray will grace us with another Gemma installation, but in the meantime, I petition all writers of the world to please pen me a Victorian gas-lamp fantasy full of feisty feminists. I’m desperate.

3) A Positive Depiction of the Goddess Hecate

Yes, Hecate is considered a “dark” goddess in many ways, but she’s also my Goddess, and there is so much more to her than just being the “dark” goddess. She’s goddess of the witches, yes, but YA (and non-YA) readers nowadays know that “witch” does not equal “evil”. So how about our luminous Goddess of Magic be given the same treatment? I griped a bit at Rick Riordan for casting Hecate on the side of the bad guys in the first Percy Jackson series, but her redemption and entertaining appearances in The House of Hades definitely made up for it. His son also wrote a quite moving short story featuring Hecate in The Demigod Diaries.

I suppose I’m breaking my own stipulation here, since I said I wouldn’t mention topics I myself planned to write about, since I do plan to write a novel or three involving Hecate, but honestly? She is so complex and cool a goddess that I’ve no doubt there is enough of her lore to go around. Let’s flood the market! 😉 I’m very much looking forward to Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel, in which Hecate makes an appearance. She’s described as a “dark goddess” but hopefully, as I’m trying to point out, “dark” doesn’t have to mean “bad”.

And while we’re at it, how about a positive representation of modern Wiccans? I mean, I get that if you’re going to write a book involving Wiccans you might as well just write about witches, but I’d actually read a contemporary (I know – gasp!) if it had something like a normal Wiccan family in it. Or a supernatural story that nonetheless featured Wiccans-as-normal-not-remotely-scary people. Inroads are being made, it’s true, but I don’t have an illustration for this suggestion and that’s kind of my point! Let’s just have another of Hecate, then.

(click the image to visit the artist’s webpage)

4) A Disabled Character (Preferably Main) Who Isn’t Just There To “Inspire” The Non-Disabled

I’m disabled. I broke  my back when I was seventeen and now I walk with a crutch (yes, just like Tiny Tim 😉 ) and have chronic pain and a host of health problems. Yet it seems that the very few disabled characters we get in YA (and even literature in general) are less-than-realistic about the difficulties involved. We don’t all climb Everest, folks. Most of us struggle just to stay healthy. Sure, that’s a bit of a downer, but doesn’t literature kind of exist to explore emotions and struggles? I suppose it could be argued that people can’t take reading about the stark realities of the lives of disabled people, but I have more faith in people than that. We have had horrifying yet beautiful YA novels tackle the subjects of rape, child abuse, eating disorders, drug addiction and a whole host of others. I think it’s about time for disabilities to be added to the list. So why don’t I write one myself? I don’t know. Maybe I will some day. But I needn’t be the only one.

There are exceptions. Ashes on the Waves has a disabled main character, and his condition is depicted realistically, with all its inherent tragedy. And while for much of the book she is able-bodied, the time the main character of The Sea Inside spends in the hospital following her injury very accurately depicts the feelings of loss, isolation, and numbness that commonly accompany such an injury.

5)Doctor Who Novel With Doctor 10.5

There have been numerous Doctor Who novels involving the new Doctors, but as far as I know, no author has yet tackled the adventures of 10.5 and Rose in the parallel universe. (spoilers?) To my knowledge, there’s enough fan fiction on the subject that I’m quite confident an authorized novelization would sell. But then they need to get David Tennant to do the audio-book recording. If somehow this could happen, then, maybe, I’ll finally be able to get over Journey’s End. *sigh*

6) More Obscure Mythology

I love mythology. All kinds. It fascinates me. And I love discovering brand-new myths that I’ve never heard of, such as the fate-spinner seikona that appeared in Maria Dahvana Headley’s Queen of Kings. I want to know more about them, and I want to know more about other interesting myths. Ancient belief systems are flickering out all over the world and it’s a tragedy. I want to learn from them all.

7) More Poe Re-tellings

Since I absolutely loved and gushed over Mary Lindsey’s Ashes on the Waves and have no doubt that Bethany Griffiths’ Masque of the Red Death duology is likewise superb, I am putting in a request for more Poe re-tellings. The Fall of the House of User, perhaps?

8) The Lady of Shallot

The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson is my very favorite poem and I desperately need both a modern and classical novelization of it. It’s beyond beautiful. If you’ve never read it, you should click here to read it, or listen to the Loreena McKennit song version of it below. I’m not going to spoil what happens for you, other than to say that it is the best metaphor ever constructed concerning the artist’s dilemma of observing the world and recording it, or becoming a part of it and risking the loss of yourself within.

9) Eurydice & Orpheus

While on the subject of re-tellings, I’d love to see my favorite Greek myth and one of my all-time favorite love stories, that of Eurydice and Orpheus, novelized, in either a modern or classical telling. In the myth, the bard Orpheus loses his bride Eurydice, and travels to the underworld to use his musical talents to move the hearts of Hades and Persephone enough for them to release her. They decide that Orpheus may lead Eurydice out of Hades, so long as he never once look back to be sure she is following. But Orpheus, mad with worry and suspecting a trick, looks back at the entrance to our world, and so loses Eurydice forever.

So, naturally, it’s the kind of thing I love and need a novel version of. If you want to learn more about the myth, click here:

9) Linda Bergkvist’s Dark Faery Tales

Linda Bergkvist is an immensely talented digital painter and my favorite modern artist. Tragically, she no longer posts her work online but thankfully she produced a number of magnificent paintings before her retirement. For a while she was working on a book of dark faery tales to accompany her illustrations, and I am forever saddened that I may never hold this book in my hands. I want to know the stories behind her masterpieces.

Her work has greatly inspired my own writing, and even if Linda herself never releases her book, I’d love to see how other writers interpret such breathtaking works as these.

Check out more of Linda’s artwork here.

10) Nightwish Novels and Within Temptation Tales

I have an immense love for symphonic gothic metal and find it enormously inspirational. I can’t be the only one. So where is the lush high fantasy epic based on Within Temptation’s Deciever of Fools?

or the sprawling, century-spanning tragic love story of Nightwish’s Ghost Love Score?

Make note of these requests, oh valiant writers of the world! 😀

Also, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re awesome.

 

red rose divider

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have my wishes already come true and I just don’t know about the book(s) yet!? Let me know!


Review: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

Queen of Kings

by Maria Dahvana Headley

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology

Series: Queen of Kings #1

Source: Won copy from The Secret Writer blog. Thank you!

Book Summary:

There’s more than one path to immortality…

A thrilling, chilling reimagining of the story of the most famous woman in history.

Once there was a queen of Egypt…a queen who became through magic something else…

The year is 30 BC. Octavian Caesar and his massed legions are poised to enter Alexandria. A messenger informs Egypt’s queen, Cleopatra, that her beloved Mark Antony has died by his own hand. Desperate to save her kingdom, resurrect her husband and protect all she holds dear, Cleopatra turns to the gods for help. Ignoring the warnings of those around her, she summons Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction, and strikes a mortal bargain. And not even the wisest of Egypt’s scholar could have predicted what would follow…

For, in return for Antony’s soul, Sekhmet demands something in return: Cleopatra herself. And so Egypt’s queen is possessed. She becomes an immortal, shape-shifting, not-quite-human manifestation of a deity who seeks to destroy the world. Fighting to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome: she desires revenge, she yearns for her children…and she craves human blood.

It is a journey that will take her from the tombs of the Pharaohs to the great amphitheatres of imperial Rome and on, to Hell itself where, it seems, the fate of the world will finally be decided.

Blending authentic historical fiction and the darkest of fantasy, Queen of Kings is a spectacular and spellbinding feat of the imagination that fans of Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, George R.R. Martin, Patricia Briggs, Philippa Gregory, and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator won’t want to miss.

book thoughts

My husband: What’s your book about?

Me: Cleopatra becoming a vampire.

My husband: Oh. So the most likely of scenarios, then.

I am deeply indebted to The Secret Writer blog for holding a giveaway for this book. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known it existed, or else wouldn’t have tried it out because I tend to stay away from adult fiction (I’m allergic to casual sex – symptoms include cursing, inability to connect with characters and hurling book at the wall), but I’m so so glad I took the chance.  I love vampires and I love mythology so I was very curious to see how the author handled the mingling of the two.

Turns out, “vampires” are older than you think! Desperate to save her kingdom (and then the life of her beloved Antony), Cleopatra performs an already-ancient spell to summon the goddess Sekhmet, who appears to be the first vampire. Cursed by her father Ra, the sun god, her skin burns in the light. Goddess of death and Lady of Slaughter, she drinks the blood of her enemies. The goddess sees the potential in Cleopatra, and takes the Queen’s promise of “anything” in exchange for the goddess’ help as an invitation to possess Cleopatra.

In a cruel twist of fate, Antony dies again, and Cleopatra finds herself unable to die. Augustus Octavian suspects that Cleopatra has not truly died, and is coming for him. So he enlists the help of a cast of assorted sorcerers: Usem, leader of the Psylli tribe, assisted by his bride, the Western Wind; Chrysate, priestess of the goddess Hecate; and Auor, a seikona, or fate-spinner, from the unknown north. Octavian and his sorcerers, plus a few other characters, supplement Cleopatra’s narration, and far from being confusing, I felt that this technique truly enriched the narrative and gave the reader a more complete picture of the characters’ motivations and actions. The author even used the dreaded “head-hopping” in a way that was masterful and clear. I loved hearing the perspectives of the other mystical characters, especially Auor. Seikonas should be standard supernatural fare, if you ask me, because they are awesome. Octavian’s love-hate relationship with Cleopatra also adds  deeper level to the book. The writing itself is rich and descriptive, but never over-the-top. The historical aspects are meticulously researched and informative in a way that only serves to anchor the story more firmly in reality.

Cleopatra’s struggle to control Sekhmet’s blood-lust in the face of her own anger and agony is fascinating to watch. The reader even comes to understand and sympathize with the dark goddess. Cleopatra’s longing for her children is profound as well, but the emotional heart of the novel is her relationship with Antony and her struggle to be reunited with him. The most beautiful and moving scenes in the book detail  Antony and Cleopatra’s journey through the underworld to appeal to Hades and Persephone. The contrast of their love in a landscape of death and despair is gorgeously wrought. The ending is intense and even horrifying, and sets the stage for the next installment. I eagerly await it.

5paperhearts

So this is my new thing! Sometimes I will include a theme song for a book I read, one I think fits the story really well. My “theme song” for Queen of Kings is Sahara by Nightwish.

A ballad of a dark queen echoes through night

As he flees the curse of gods, the pharaoh`s wrath.

One thousand one nights unseen,

The philosopher and the queen.

Ancient mariner in a sea of sand, 

The burning beauty his tomb to die for…

May he now rest under the aegis of mirage

As the sands slowly turn to Elysian fields.