I’m thrilled today to be playing host to my good friend and critique partner Molly Ringle, author of The Chrysomelia Stories, a NA romantic trilogy inspired by the Greek myths. Immortal’s Spring, the final instalment in the series, will be released on June 1st, and Molly has agreed to indulge me by answering a few questions.
Welcome to the blog, Molly! It’s clear from reading your Chrysomelia Stories that you have a real love for the Greek myths. I’m intrigued to know how that came about.
Thanks for having me, Jamie! My first introduction to the myths was when I was nine years old, and my grandmother gave me a copy of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths for Christmas. It’s an excellent book, beautifully illustrated, and written simply enough for kids to understand but without being too sanitized; it’s still got enough violence and craziness to do justice to the original stories. It fascinated my little sister and me. We didn’t know how to pronounce half the names, but we gave it our best shot, and got to know all these different gods and nymphs and heroes. I think what I especially loved was that it felt far more like fantasy than religion. It was like the Oz books or fairy tales. Monsters, magic, transformations, impossibly grand adventures, kidnappings and other crimes, and an Underworld where you could visit the dead—I loved this world. So eventually, decades later, I wrote about it.
When you first sat down to write this series, did you have each book planned out, or did you simply have a vague idea of where you wanted the story to go?
My original idea was to rewrite the myth of Hades and Persephone, bringing it at least partly into the modern day. I more or less had the story worked out, and I figured it would be one book. But the more I wrote and revised, and the more I brought in supporting characters and explored this world, I began to see that one book was not going to be enough. I knew there’d be at least one sequel, and before long I realized it’d become a trilogy. Once I settled on that, I was able to figure out what should take place in which volume, but it was hugely difficult to untangle and plot all of it. After writing a trilogy with dual plot lines (I have ancient-world as well as modern-world plots going on), I was quite ready to return to stand-alone novels. And they’ve seemed especially easy to put together after that!
Is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing or that you found especially difficult?
There are scenes where beloved characters undergo something traumatizing, sometimes even getting killed (less common for me than for, say, G.R.R. Martin, but it does occasionally happen), and those are always difficult for me. They hit my anxiety buttons and make me fear similarly terrible things happening to me or my loved ones. But they’re necessary for drama sometimes. As for scenes I enjoy creating: I confess I nearly always adore writing the first kiss between two characters who are destined to be together. It’s skyrockets and love songs and euphoria for me pretty much every time.
Although the romance between Sophie and Adrian is the main focus of the trilogy, you’ve created several secondary characters who fall under the LGBT spectrum. Do you feel it’s important to explore these issues in modern fiction for young and new adults?
I do! Like a lot of people, I feel LGBT lifestyles are underrepresented in fiction, and it may be especially important to include them in books that teens read, because in the teen years it’s likely people haven’t come out yet and could use extra courage and inspiration. Besides, LGBT characters broaden the types of romances the story might contain, and I find those fun to explore. In addition, in my series, the main characters can remember their past lives (going back to ancient Greece and beyond), in which they sometimes were a different gender or sexuality than they are now. So they have to have a more open mind about all types of relationships, having been in them firsthand!
Anyone familiar with your work will know you’re a true romantic when it comes to your writing, but does that carry over into your real life? Are you a believer in forever love?
I call myself an optimistic agnostic, as spiritual beliefs go: I feel like I couldn’t possibly know how it all works; such as whether we really have eternal souls or if there is such a thing as reincarnation. But I like those ideas and am optimistically hopeful about them. If we do get to live many lives, then I also can’t help hoping we get to love our favorite people over and over in them. However, getting to know and love new people isn’t too bad a scenario either. We should always leave that option open!
So, now you’ve finished Chrysomelia, what’s up next for you?
I’ve just sent off a new stand-alone novel to my beta readers to see what they make of it: it’s another paranormal, this time about goblins wreaking havoc with the lives of humans in the woods here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s very fairy-tale-based, but also still a romance in its way. And while that’s in their hands, I’ve started rewriting a novel that’s been on the back burner for years. This one’s set in the contemporary real world, and is a love story between two young men (speaking of LGBT characters) with plenty of family drama pouring in to plague them. I’m having tremendous fun with it so far!
The Chrysomelia Stories
The Greek gods never actually existed. Did they? Sophie Darrow finds she was wrong about that assumption when she’s pulled into the spirit realm, complete with an Underworld, on her first day at college. Adrian, the mysterious young man who brought her there, simply wants her to taste a pomegranate.
Soon, though she returns to her regular life, her mind begins exploding with dreams and memories of ancient times; of a love between two Greeks named Persephone and Hades. But lethal danger has always surrounded the immortals, and now that she’s tainted with the Underworld’s magic, that danger is drawing closer to Sophie.
New immortals are being created for the first time in thousands of years thanks to the tree of immortality discovered by Persephone and Hades. But Sophie Darrow is not one of them. Nikolaos, the trickster, has given the last ripe immortality fruit to two others, the reincarnations of the gods Dionysos and Hekate: Tabitha and Zoe, currently Sophie’s and Adrian’s best friends.
While the disappointed Sophie struggles to remember Hekate and Dionysos from ancient Greece, she must still face her daily life as a mortal university freshman. Tabitha and Zoe have their own struggles as they come to terms with being newly immortal and their own haunting dreams of past lives and loves. The evil committed by Thanatos invades all of them in heartbreaking memories, and worse still, Sophie and her friends know their enemies are determined to kill again. And even the gods can’t save everyone.
Sophie Darrow said yes once to a young man offering a realm of Greek gods and immortality. Now her home has been shattered, and her friends and family pulled along with her as they run from an evil cult and take shelter in the gloomy Underworld. But remembering the life of the original immortals long ago–Persephone, Hades, Hekate, Hermes, and more–may be their key to victory, as well as happiness.
In ancient times too, the murderous cult Thanatos attacked and destroyed nearly all the Greek immortals who sought to bring good to humankind. But those immortals planted seeds in both their realm and ours to ensure their season would someday bloom again. And spring is finally coming.
About Molly Ringle
Molly Ringle is the author of the New Adult Greek mythology series that begins with Persephone’s Orchard and continues in Underworld’s Daughter. The final book, Immortal’s Spring, comes out on June 1, 2016. She has also written ghost stories in The Ghost Downstairs and Of Ghosts and Geeks, and, to some degree, in What Scotland Taught Me. She stays within the bounds of reality (though still fiction) in her romance novel Summer Term and her dark romantic comedy Relatively Honest.
She lives in Seattle with her family, is happy when it’s cool and cloudy, and gets giddy about fandom, things that smell good, and gorgeous photos of gardens.