Greetings! I’m feeling extra-alive and energized because “Crisis in Big-G City,” book four of my “Small-g City” series, is soon to be released!! How soon? As soon as WolfSinger Publications gets the cover art finalized. On the cover is one of the better-known Big-G Greek immortals, Poseidon. Big-G designated gods are those who are part of the royal family in my series: Zeus, Hera, their siblings and some of their children. Poseidon is like a cross between Screamin’ Jay Hawkins* with, say, Britain’s notorious Prince Andrew (except Poseidon has killer abs).
Poseidon performed a critical rescue mission in the City of Seattle in book three, “Beyond Big-G City,” and returns as a major player in the Olympus, Inc.-wide Climate Change Initiative in book four. With him on the cover is a mysterious baby named Pablo, who arrived late in book three. Pablo is a son of Hermes and grandson of “don’t call me grandma” Aphrodite, but one-quarter of his heritage is pure monster. Yes, Pablo has two dads in the biological sense (see racy details in “Beyond Big-G City” by S. D. Matley (c) 2020). The other dad is an evil amorphous being called The Power, who belongs to an ancient race that came to Earth from a distant star.
He sounds creepy!
The Power is definitely creepy, 9, but, as it turns out, he’s a renegade compared to his relatives. Most of them, The Old Ones, are highly intelligent and dwell in an opulent subterranean monster pad in the depths of the Marianna Trench. They are pacific in nature, though two of their shirttail relatives go rogue and eat humans.
What inspired you to create these characters?
Good question, Lily! The Power came purely from my imagination in book two, “Big-G City.” He creates horrifying problems for the Olympians and I began to wonder why. This eventually led me to the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, a New England-based writer who created the Cthulhu Mythos.
Sounds like you have a cold.
The Cthulhu Mythos is a fictional universe shared by Lovecraft and his literary successors. Tribute anthologies include stories by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. I will soon join these illustrious ranks, as my monsters seem to have originated in that same universe (though I stray from Lovecraft’s cosmic horror story lines, opting instead for cosmic comedy).
Many idolize Lovecraft, and the world he created is full of fascinating plots, settings and characters. As a reader, though, I struggle with his writing style, chalk-a-block with polysyllabic words and extraneous phrases that make for heavy literary lifting. You can’t blame him- -he lived from 1890 to 1937 when that sort of writing was more in style.
I read many of his short stories and a biography or two in search of tropes and characteristics that would tie my characters to the rich Lovecraftian heritage. But, because it’s my story, they are funny, accessible, and a touch sinister, not out-of-this-world scary. Uhm, at least not to me. . .
Writing about the Greek immortals and the monsters that complicate their lives (and ours) has heightened my awareness that all beings are influenced by events that explain why they do what they do. Backstory and motivation have the power to flesh out characters beyond two-dimensions. I sometimes succeed in extending this awareness to actual living humans. Some folks call it empathy. Crafting fictional characters reminds me why it’s important to try to understand real people, too.
Monsters and gods. In the 2019 television series “Good Omens,” based on the book by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, the lead characters are a demon and an angel, put in charge of monitoring the humans on Earth by their bosses in Heaven and Hell. It’s quite entertaining to listen in on their commentaries as they witness significant historic events, and observe how they goad each other to do a little good if you’re professionally evil/to do a little evil if you’re professionally good.
Good and evil. Demons and angels. Monsters and gods. I’m pretty sure there’s some of that mixed in to each and every one of us. Part of what keeps life interesting.
*Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000) was an American singer-songwriter, famous for the 1956 hit “I Put a Spell on You”; he is also famous for claiming he had up to 75 children with varying states of legitimacy. At least 12 of these met at a reunion in 2001. Poseidon’s offspring, I’m pretty sure, number in the thousands. . .