AMALIA CAROSELLA: HELEN OF SPARTA IS INSPIRED BY MY LOVE OF CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Amalia Carosella’s history fiction novel Helen of Sparta will be released on April 1. The book is part of Kindle First program and found his place among the Kindle’s Top 10 most wanted titles. Our next guest is known also for writing under the pen name Amalia Dillin. Let’s join her for the following pleasant chat.
– Helen of Sparta will be officially released on April 1. Did you expect the book to be featured as Kindle First and how it happened?
– I did know it was chosen for Kindle First, thanks to my editor Jodi, who championed the book, and I was on pins and needles waiting for the launch! When I discussed the program with Amazon, I just couldn’t even believe it was happening. I’m so, so grateful that they gave HELEN this opportunity!
– How did you decide to write the story?
– Helen of Sparta is first and foremost inspired by my knowledge and love of Classical Mythology and history, but I never really meant to write an entire novel about Helen’s abduction by Theseus. I had originally intended for the book to follow the whole of Helen’s life leading to the Trojan War – but once my research exposed Theseus’s story, and how it crossed paths with Helen’s, their star-crossed tale took me over. In all my reading, it seemed like no one else had covered this mythological side-note, and that made me even more excited to write it! It’s these small little footnotes which offer the most room for retelling and reinterpretation, giving us just enough to fire the imagination, but not so much that the story is obvious to the reader from the get-go. And while I was writing HELEN, it felt more and more to me that I was uncovering some small moment of truth and digging it out as an archaeologist might unearth more durable treasures from the past. There was so much to discover, and I loved every minute of the journey.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– The Ending. I dragged my feet and procrastinated and rebelled against it for weeks. But I knew there really was only one way it COULD end, even if it wasn’t what I necessarily wanted.
– What kind of research you made to portrait by the best possible way Helen and other Ancient Greece heroes?
– I read a LOT of classical texts. Ovid, Homer, Plutarch, Pseudo-Apollodorus, Hesiod, Hyginus. Pretty much everything I could find from ancient history that was related to Helen and Theseus, and the people who surrounded them. And then I read modern historical fiction retellings, too! Myth shouldn’t be static, and I wanted to know what had already been done, and get a sense for how these characters had already been treated.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I wrote HELEN OF SPARTA originally for National Novel Writing Month in 2009. Her first draft took me about a month to write. Then I rewrote it in 2010, and it went through two more big revisions after that, between 2010 and 2012 (while I was working on other books). After I signed with my agent, Michelle Brower, in 2013, I revised it once more with her suggestions, and we took HELEN out on submission. I had pretty much given up hope on her when Lake Union made an offer in 2014 (because Michelle never gave up!), and now she’s in your hands! So HELEN OF SPARTA’s journey was about five and a half years. But I’d be surprised if the time I spent actually writing and editing and revising was more than 6-8 months altogether.
– You are writing also under the name of Amalia Dillin. What the readers will find in Fate of the Gods series and Orc Saga series?
– Fate of the Gods, published by World Weaver Press, is a romantic fantasy series answering the question “What if all mythology is true?” by reimagining the world from Creation into the future and following Adam, Eve, and the Norse god Thor through history – it’s really an exploration of how all these different gods and pantheons might co-exist, and anyone with a passion for mythology may find it interesting!
My Orc Saga, for the moment, consists of HONOR AMONG ORCS, about a human princess who falls in love with an imprisoned orc, and together they have to free themselves and save their peoples. Think Beauty and the Beast meets Tolkien!
– Who are you?
– I’m a Classicist with a focus on Myth – the heroic age, the bronze age, the times when it’s easy to imagine that gods and heroes might have walked the earth. I also love Norse Mythology, and kind of wish I’d gotten a degree in Old Norse Religion, too! Family is important to me, and writing helps me understand and discover the world around me. I’m very fortunate to be married to a fantastic husband who understands all of the above, and shares in my love of history and myth!
– What are your writing habits?
– I’m a big believer in discipline. First, by writing daily, to build the habit and flex those creative muscles so that I had control over “inspiration” and now, I work with a weekly overall goal, and hold myself to a minimum of 2000 words a day, five days a week. Anything over that is gravy, but I find having a weekend off also helps keep me more focused on my work during the week!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I’ve got a blog tour set up to roll come April 1st, and I’m of course promoting via social media – the biggest promotion is Kindle First, and I’m so, so, so fortunate and happy that HELEN was given such a wonderful opportunity to kick off her release with such a bang!
– When we will see your next novel?
– I can’t answer this question, yet! I’ve got Orc Saga: Book Two waiting in the wings for a window, but I’m not sure when I’ll be free to publish it, yet. With any luck, maybe you’ll see another novel from me this winter.
– How you failed in love with Latin language?
– I took Latin initially because I thought it might help me with scientific naming in my wildlife biology degree – but once I got into it, and all the cultural elements that came with the learning, I realized my REAL passion was for Classical Studies. Taking those Latin classes changed the course of my life!
– You worked in a bookstore. What are the most important things that readers are looking for when selecting a book?
– During my time as a bookseller, I had a customer come in and say to me: “Every year for Christmas I buy my wife a hardcover epic fantasy novel. Can you help me pick one?” I took him back to our fantasy section and suggested a couple, asking questions about what his wife had read in the past while I did it. But I found that he was the exception at our store – most of the people who came in knew what they were looking for, and exactly how and where to find it. Readers know what they want – to be entertained, to be challenged, to escape into a feel-good fantasy, to learn. I think the best books bring all these elements together in one package!
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– I think the question I’d ask myself is: As an historical fiction writer, why did you decide to include the gods?
And my answer is: When I look back at history, I see people who believed. I don’t want to give their gods short shrift, and it’s obvious in the mythology that archaic and ancient Greeks saw their gods working IN the world, interfering in their lives and taking personal interest (good or bad) in their heroes. I wanted to write a book that reflected that belief and gave the gods life. But in addition to that, too, the Trojan War cycle and the myths surrounding it make a lot less sense if the gods don’t play their parts – when you strip them out of the story, you get a lot of heroes whose motivations make almost no sense between one scene and the next. After all, these heroes were often times believed to be the direct sons and daughters and grandchildren of the gods!
Take a look at her books
Helen of Sparta