Sunday, November 20, 2011

Imperfect Heroines: Aridela

Today, author and guest blogger Rebecca Lochlann talks about about her Imperfect Heroine, Aridela, from her debut novel, The Year-God's Daughter.

To view the YouTube book trailer, click here.

For time beyond memory, Crete has sacrificed its king to ensure good harvests, ward off earthquakes, and please the Goddess. Men compete in brutal trials to win the title of Zagreus, the sacred bull-king, even though winning means they'll die in a year.

Two brothers from predatory Mycenae set out to thwart the competition and their deaths as they search for exploitable weaknesses in this rich, coveted society.

Hindering their goal is the seductive and fearless Cretan princess, Aridela, an uncommon woman neither brother can resist, and ancient prophecies, which predict that any threat to her people will spark Goddess Athene's terrible wrath in a calamity of unimaginable consequences.

(Want to win a paperback copy of The Year-god's Daughter? Enter the giveaway at Goodreads, going on now!)

"I would like to explore my heroine, Aridela, rather than one of my heroes, for one reason: current stories seem wont to portray women as flawless, lacking even the perfectly normal “flaw” of not having as much physical strength as males. In Aridela, I wanted to create a protagonist who is strong, yes, but real and believable. I wanted to show how she acquires her strength, rather than simply shoving her out there already formed, as if by magic.

Child of privilege, daughter to the Queen of Crete, she has never known want or suffering. She has never experienced betrayal, humiliation, subterfuge or fear. Renowned tutors educate her. She learns how to discern truth from lies in the Chamber of Suppliants. Ten years old at the book’s outset, Aridela is an indulged, sheltered princess. Adventurous, bold, and charismatic, Aridela is inherently ready, yet profoundly unprepared, to take the throne of Crete. The people adore her, her mother dotes on her; she impresses even the hard-nosed royal counselors. Like many of Crete’s citizens, Aridela reveres beauty and beautiful things. She doesn’t realize how shallow she is, because most around her are the same. The reader might be excused for thinking this child will grow up to be a spoiled, independent woman, emphasis on “spoiled.” But naturally, I wanted more for her.

When Aridela meets and crushes on Menoetius, it’s easy to understand why. He’s a gorgeous, charming, seventeen year old foreigner with a delightful accent. What ten-year-old girl wouldn’t fall for a guy like that? But he goes home. Aridela grows up and hankers after another youth—no surprise that the object of her affection is a dazzling, celebrated bull leaper. It’s when the warriors of the mainland converge upon Crete, determined to win the Games and become the next bull-king, that real challenges begin chewing away her comfort zone. Chrysaleon, the arrogant prince of Mycenae, introduces Aridela to passion. Again, it’s easy to see what draws her: he’s good looking and a prince. It takes her awhile to realize the guard he’s brought with him is none other than her first love, Menoetius, but a profoundly different Menoetius than the boy she knew. No longer beautiful, he is the first challenge Divine Athene sets in her path. How will she deal with this angry, wounded man? She has no experience with the kind of pain he’s suffered. Harpalycus, another mainland prince, introduces her to cruelty and shame. Harpalycus is Aridela’s first exposure to humiliation, to fear, to a sense of her weakness. He and the other mainland competitors lay bare the encroaching danger of the world outside her safe island paradise.

Aridela, a coddled princess, faces challenges that will either destroy her or incorporate the necessary components needed by all rulers from antiquity to the present: humility, caution, empathy, and compassion. Immortal Athene takes her child into the blackest pit where life no longer holds value. From that place, Aridela will survive and recover, honed by adversity, or become what her oppressors want. Either way, she will be very different from the child who brazenly entered the ring and joyously danced with a wild bull."

The Year-god's Daughter can be found here:
Barnes and Noble

Rebecca Lochlann's blog/website

Rebecca fell in love with the stories and myths of the ancient Greeks at a very early age. It took about fifteen years to research the Bronze Age segments of the series, and encompassed rare historical documents, mythology, archaeology, ancient writing, ancient religions, and volcanology.

"The Year-god's Daughter" is her first novel: Book One of "The Child of the Erinyes" Series. Its sequel, "The Thinara King," will follow in a few months.

Though she cannot remember actually living in the Bronze Age, the Middle Ages, the Victorian era, and so on, she believes in the ability to find a way through the labyrinth of time, and that deities will sometimes speak to us in dreams and visions, gently prompting us to tell their forgotten stories.

Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!

Happy reading,

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