Published: January 15th, 2014
"We're Muses. Not vampires, not fairies, not werewolves. We're Muses." Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We're Muses?' She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn't explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.
Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don't die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates' foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.
When I sat down to write my novel, writing about the Greek Gods wasn't a sure thing. I knew I wanted to write something about a girl named Sophie. My mother, when she converted to Greek Orthodox, received the name of Sophia as her baptism name, so I wanted to have my mother in some way involved in the story. She passed away when I was 21.
So I had this girl, named Sophie, but I didn't know what to do with her. My first attempt at writing was a five page mess that basically boiled down to "It was a dark and stormy night." My mind kept on drifting back to a small, worn book I remember from my childhood. It was a paperback my father used to read to me at bedtime. Unfortunately, it was a book about the Greek Gods, which left me dealing with many sleepless night. Imagine a 8 year old trying to sleep after hearing about Pandora, or Persephone and Hades. Pretty intense stuff.
The problem was the Greek Gods was the new vampire flavor of the month. Everyone seemed to be jumping at the chance to write something about them and after seeing Percy Jackson pasted all over the place I almost abandoned the Greek Gods. But for some reason, I couldn't.
So I thought about rewriting the Gods on my somewhat quirky terms. That definitely got me thinking. And why not take one of the most benign of the Greek Gods, one that conjures up yawns and little to none heart fluctuations, a complete snooze fest, and make them into the heroes of my story. Enter the Muses. The goddesses who literally inspired millions of paintings, millions of sonnets and one rollerskating discoteque (all done in peasant blouses and leg warmers).
So that's how it began and once I started down the path of rewriting the classical Gods into comical yet creepy interpretations of their former lofty selves, it just took off.
Along the way I wanted to build in several themes that dealt with the following:
1. The struggles of one group over another group that condemns them for being different. So began the struggle between the Gods and the Demi-Gods, i.e. the Gods believing the Demi-Gods were mongrels or "Northos" , in need of extermination.
2. The complex relationships women have with each other. For instance, Muse Unexpected has three women at the center of the story. Georgia, the power-hungry grandmother, who ran towards and embraced her supernatural heritage. Callie, Georgia's daughter who hated being part of the supernatural community and longed for a normal life full of family, PTA meetings and macaroni art on the fridge. Callie ran away from her gifts. And finally, Sophie, who knew nothing about her supernatural heritage and is forced into it, with no hopes of escape. All of this sets up a very fragile bond between the women. A bond that is ripe with conflict.
3. The final major theme was that I wanted to strip away all of the lofty facade enjoyed by the Gods. There was always an underlining essence that the Gods were flawed, but it was never really brought out. So I thrust them into situations they weren't used to. For example, they are hard to kill, but they aren't immortal. They tend to act out like small, obsessed, spoiled children. They have power limitations. And a completely different backstory about who and what the Gods are. I also created a drug-like addiction that the Gods have when interacting with mortals and receiving mortal love/misery.
All-in-all Muse Unexpected is a multi-layered, complex story that allows the reader to be caught up in a relentless storyline. Or at least I hope that is what readers get from my novel.
V.C. Birlidis was born and raised in Miami, Florida and has always been involved in the arts. He attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet.
Mr. Birlidis moved to Ohio to attend college where he earned his Bachelor's degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. He currently is the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. He has freelanced as a writer for Outlook News and Tickled Pink Magazine, where he wrote a comical advice column named Ask V.
Five years in the making and inspired by the numerous Greek myths his father would utilize as demented bed time stories, Muse, Unexpected is Mr. Birlidis' first novel. It is the first book in his Muse series.
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