I can’t remember how old I was – possibly nine or ten – when I was handed a junior book of Greek Myths. You know the type of book I mean, don’t you? The ones with much shorter, abridged versions of popular stories and funny little illustrations that would have children screwing their faces up in laughter nowadays. I have scrolled through the Amazon pages looking to see if the book jumps out at me, but none of them do so I am a little lost at which particular book it was, but nonetheless, it left a lasting impression on me. It imprinted a fantasy-shaped stamp on my heart which opened my mind up to all sorts of magical stories full of gods and monsters and heroes.
Theseus defeating the Minotaur, Perseus taking on the dreaded Medusa, Pandora and her little box, and of course who can forget the tale of Icarus flying too close to the sun? These are but a few of the tales I devoured night after night, armed with my little night torch that I won from inside a cereal box. My bedroom was the attic and my bed was underneath what I called a ‘sky window’ which meant curtains were impossible. It gave me clear view of the night’s sky, where I could read and wander among the stars.
I was less interested in the heroes of the stories and more interested in the magic and mythology. From these abridged tales I went on to research more greater volumes from my local library. Tales of Orpheus and Eurydice, the twelve labours of Herakles, a dimmed down version of Odysseus’s feats abroad away from Ithaca.
I just love these world away stories of mythology. I could escape the monotony of real life, of spelling in school, of boring maths and photosynthesis. England bored me. I craved exotic landscapes and towering mountains, beguiling lakes and swamps. The setting of Ancient Greece intrigued me. I was mesmerised by the Pantheon of Gods: Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Ares. Instead of practising my grammar and memorising my times table, I studied the cosmology of the creation myth surrounding the Titans. I wanted to know what ‘special power’ each god of Greek Mythology had. I mean who would rather learn their eight times table when you could learn of how Athena was born fully armed from Zeus’s head! The Greeks were certainly an inventive bunch.
Fast forward to secondary school. I had just finished my GCSEs and needed some options to go to A-Level with. When a 16 year old is presented with the option of studying Classical Civilisation they aren’t really going to say no, are they? We read Homer’s Odyssey in nearly its entirety. I was introduced to the themes of Pathos as well as the structure of Greek comedies and tragedies.
And so The Black Petal was born. It was very much a book I wrote for myself. A fantasy novel primarily aimed at teenagers, but easily accessible for adults too. I wanted action, I wanted magic, I wanted gods. But I also wanted a hero who could blend into the background and allow the events of the book to take centre stage. Jack is that hero – no superhuman powers, but familiar. Familiar to the teenage readers who would be reading it. And of course Greek Mythology had to feature heavily in the book. It was while I was studying The Odyssey that I came across Hecate, Goddess of the crossroads and, later, witchcraft. She made for a perfect fit for the story slowly weaving in my head.
As with Aesop’s Fables, Greek myths should certainly be given to children everywhere. Fantasy is a genre often seen with disdain by adults, but it gives children imagination, and the Greek myths certainly nurture those dreams.
The Black Petal –
Available now in ebook and paperback
Acclaimed author of Here Lies Love, Dan Thompson, returns with an epic fantasy being
described as A Game of Thrones for Teens!
Come and Enter this magical tale of fantasy and myth, battles and warriors, and meet the host of memorable characters.
Jack, a teenager from our present, and Blake, a Victorian assassin, are plucked from their homes and awaken in a new land; a realm of fantasy and myth. Drawn into a war between two rival races, they must each choose allies. Jack wants to get home. Blake wants revenge.
An Oracle has persuaded the Amazon Queen that a black petal will summon a powerful god who can grant them victory. A prophecy told long ago tells of a boy from another time who can discover this petal and the Amazon Queen is certain Jack is this boy. She offers him freedom and a way home in exchange.
Will Jack reach the petal in time or will he succumb to the yapping jaws of the mysterious creatures chasing him? And what of Blake? What is the connection between Jack and the assassin that will surely shape their future?
The Black Petal is the first adventure in an exciting new trilogy.