The Return of Strangely Beautiful!

Good People,

Permit me to (re)introduce you to a very important book. If an earlier addition of Strangely Beautiful is on your shelf, you’re in for the special treat of new content. If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading this tale, you are invited to make a purchase of it today. Once it arrives, I’m certain you will enjoy the time spent with Leanna Renee Hieber’s finely crafted and much beloved characters.


The unique and original creation – Percy Parker – features in this work by a true pioneer in Gothic & Gaslamp fantasy. Miss Parker is, in a sense, an outcast from birth but who among us hasn’t felt the same way some point in our lives? She and Alexi Rychman take center stage, surrounded by mystery and almost Poe-like goings-on.

If you’re a fan of such film and television series as Crimson Peak, Ripper Street, and Penny Dreadful than Strangely Beautiful must adorn your attention and library.

You can read more here.

This post is, of course, utterly share-able.

Gemoji image for :book


“Five feet out that door is the real world…”

Teiresias-JanusSince I remembered Teiresias from grade school lessons about Greek and Roman mythology, I rather assumed he was a famous seer. In some recent conversations, it turns out he’s not that famous. I find the character fascinating because he stands in so many thresholds at once – between mortal and divine, sighted and blinded, male and female, and the present and possible futures. If Odysseus’ visit to Hades is included, the liminality of this world and the Underworld is added.

And for a persona so involved with seeing the future and curses of the gods, it seems odd that none of the stories about him (or her – as “Teireseia” in the novel I’m writing, A Song Heard in the Future) directly involve the Fates. It seems a glaring omission, to be honest.

Chorus: Who then is the helmsman of Ananke (Necessity)?

Prometheus: The three-shaped Fates and mindful Erinyes (Furies).

Chorus: Can it be that Zeus has less power than they do?

Prometheus: Yes, in that even he cannot escape what is foretold.

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

Writing is not just telling a story. The act of crafting a novel is a process of making decisions. Two of the largest choices, particularly when it involves research, are “Do I include this and, if so, how?” along with “What does this mean in context of the book I want to present?”

In showing the journeys made by Teiresias, there’s a journey for me. I think that may be part of my renewed fascination for the seer and all of his thresholds. In a recent conversation I said, “Each person lives only one day at a time.”

Within the talk it was meant as a reference to how much one person can do in 24 hours and within reason. It isn’t fair to measure one person by one day’s work and another by that of a decade. But in this post it means that each day can be a journey – even when it is a slice of the experience of someone who can see the future.

Janus was the Roman god of Start and Change. He was also the deity of doorways. It does not seem that there was a Greek equivalent. I am beginning to wonder if it shouldn’t have been Teiresias.

Tracing a Path…

Researching Greek mythology has worked better for me having adopted the view that the entire record is of a “shared fiction universe”. The best known stories from Pandora to Aeneas – and everyone in between – exist as amalgamations of many ancient tellings. Not every detail is identical when comparisons are made. There are certain contradictions, given multiple accounts, that are impossible to reconcile.

The best example may be what happens when trying to establish the route of the Argonauts and duration of their travels. No fewer than five chroniclers of Jason’s journey draw widely different lines on the map between Colchis and Iolcus. If the trip was ever made, there can only have been one return trip. At least four maps are wrong.

Pindar and Hecataeus can’t be right because the world isn’t actually shaped as they thought it was. (One cannot sail from the Caspian Sea around the Arabian Peninsula to the source of the Nile.) The route chosen by Timaeus could be right but the surviving heroes would have taken years to return, not mere months. There is quite a bit of portaging involved in the path Apollonius of Rhodes prefers – including over the Alps. Helping drag a penteconter over a mountain pass is low on my to do list.

How a tale is told and what choices the author makes depend on intent. But they also reveal assumptions by the author and the zeitgeist in which he or she writes. When the world was small and known, exploration was not a virtue and therefore wasn’t an activity heroes got up to.

Henriette Mertz postulated that the Argonauts’ adventures took place largely in the Americas and suggests a Western Civilization emphasis. She moves Colchis from the Southern Caucasus to western Bolivia, South America, making it a metaphor of Tiwanaku.

In A Song Heard in the Future, two of the major characters about whom I’m writing do become Argonauts. One is a daughter of Teiresias and the other is a man who plays a very important – if symbolic – role toward the end of the Heroic Age.

I cannot say I’m completely aware of what may be my own biases. Nor would I be able to assess to what extent I think in terms of the zeitgeist. I’m as eager to find out as I hope future readers may be. The exploration of self may unavoidably be part of writing any novel (whether I draw a map or not). I hope that can mean writing a book is an invitation.

A Special Day —

On this day in history – in the year 1840 and in the 4th year of her reign – Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.

The Eterna Files

Between two conventions that are many miles apart, and on the night before the official release of her first hardcover novel with Tor Books, Leanna Renee Hieber still managed to Tweet about this blog. I’ve read The Eterna Files and, with the Nerdy Duo, was able to produce the official book trailer for the book. I’ve even done some fan art, though I did get a detail wrong. The badge should say, “Special Branch” and not “Metropolitan Police”.

omega badge

All of these experiences are special to me and I recommend the first one to you today.

Ms. Hieber has crafted a suspenseful tale about magic and mysticism that does not cross the line into the horror genre. There are too many stories in the world that don’t navigate away from that dividing line. The author expertly avoids losing control of the story she needs to tell.

While I cannot say that Ms. Hieber is the reincarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because I do not believe that’s the case, I am fairsure that whomever she was during the Victorian era – she would have been attending the same symposia on Spiritualism as that kindred author.

Buying the book – and today – is strongly encouraged. Ms. Hieber’s professionalism and true love of her craft is a significant part of why I feel encouraged to the same in my own work. Liking her Author page is also adjured because developments there are announced with the deliberation of Sir Doyle’s most famous creation. Both the book and the Like are truly worth your time.

Right from the Start…

After Bulfinch’s Mythology and Mythology by Edith Hamilton, there have been four stand out books while researching my novel about Teiresias.

next blog

  • The Seer in Ancient Greece by Michael Attyah Flower
  • Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis by Richard Buxton
  • Magic in the Ancient Greek World by Derek Collins
  • Thebes in the Fifth Century: Heracles Resurgent by Nancy H. Demand

Perhaps more importantly, I have so far interviewed about a dozen good folk who have different experiences than my own regarding philosophy, religion, life and living.

For purposes of the story, I have been assuming Teiresias would have lived about 2750 to 3000 years ago. I decided that he was born two generations after Deucalion’s Deluge. Though it’s largely the same story, the date doesn’t quite match what James Ussher calculated as the time of Noah’s Flood – 4359 years ago.

Mythological stories still resonate with us for at least two reasons:

  1. They are reinterpreted by each generation according to the Zeitgeist and
  2. Regardless of how long it may have been since the Flood, the deity, and the survivors – the myths tell us that – in some important ways – no one’s life experience now is very different from that of the people who heard those tales first.

It probably won’t be long before there’s a trend analysis app that helps us anticipate aspects of the future. I predict it won’t be called Teiresias.

Jumping In…

As this is the first official post, I thought I’d explain the title “Surfing the Zeitgeist”. It’s a bit of a mixed metaphor with a hint of staying ahead of the curve. If the zeitgeist were an actual spirit in the paranormal sense, rather than being possessed and controlled by it, what would the converse be? How would it be properly bound and what could it be made to do?

In a very strange way, I have fallen into researching and writing a novel. And it isn’t the novel I thought I’d write first; something more directly arcane was the intended launch/debut.

Before what I believe to be a compelling story emerged, I had been musing on a fictional timeline for some themes that have always been of interest. The plan was to track the concepts of justice (diké), hope (elpis), and equality (isotés) back to the Dawn of the Heroic Age, i.e., the aftermath of the Flood. In Ancient Greek belief, the story of Noah was equivalent to the Deluge of Deucalion.

I think I expected the center of the myths to fall in Athens or Corinth but Thebes became the focus, a city-state described as the “anti-Athens”. It was a quote from the fragments Sophocles that metaphorically caught my eye: “At Thebes alone do mortal women bear immortal gods.” It is a reference to the sons of Semele and Antiope – Dionysus and Heracles, respectively.

Some assumptions had to be made:

• In the Greek version, how many years ago did the Deluge happen?

• How long is a generation?

• Was the father of Dionysus Asopus or Zeus?

• How long after the Flood did the Argonauts sail and did Heracles really travel with them?

And so on…

The timeline rather quickly became both an outline of concept tracking and a tool of projection into the future. What will justice, hope, and equality mean in the distant future? With that thought, the novel began to haunt me – and then compel.

One character stood out in the timeline I was crafting. He has almost always been, in essence, the leader of the Chorus and never the lead. Teiresias, the famous blind seer, quickly became the fulcrum of the timeline – past to future – and the central character.

But his (or her) mythology is about as consistent as any other story Ancient Greek oral tradition presented. It isn’t possible to craft a unified lineage and timeline from Prometheus bringing fire to mortals through to the Fall of Troy. And with Teiresias there are conflicting accounts about whether he was born male or female, how he or she became blind, and how many children the prophet may have had (and by/with whom).

I had to give my own account regardless of whether Plato and Homer would agree.

And what have I learned at this point in this exploration?

• What will writing a novel do to me? –  As mindful of Diké, Elpis, and Isotés as I may be, I can always do better.

• Don’t get distracted. – If most of the action is set in Thebes, don’t worry about what’s happening in Endor.

• Write my own story. – If the novel’s premise involves denying some of the “established lore” – stick to what the story requires.