Thursday, 26 May 2016

Guest Post & Giveaway - How Greek Mythology inspired my novel by Lily Graham - Greek Week

In all our lives, there comes a time when we face the equivalent of the minotaur – a mythical beast with the head of a bull and the body of a man – something so awful, and beyond comprehension that it tests us to our very limits. In the Greek legend, based on the island of Crete, Theseus, a young soldier, is tasked to face this monster that the evil, King Minos has hidden inside a complicated labyrinth that no one has ever been able to leave with their life. His daughter, Ariadne, takes pity on him, and decides that she will save him, as she alone knows the way out of the labyrinth. 

There are many versions of the tale. But what I think captured me most was the idea that when you are facing your darkest moment, it often does feel like you are trapped within a labyrinth facing a monster with no way out. 

When my mother battled breast cancer, it was like dealing with my own version of a complex maze with an unknown beast to contend with. For two years there was a new path and new beast to slay. Turn left: chemotherapy. Turn right: radiation. Left again: Hair loss. Right again: more chemotherapy. I’ve never felt so helpless. Or more in need of an escape, I wished that somehow she could escape all the pain. It was during that time that the idea for the novel, The Summer Escape began to simmer.

All I wanted was an escape from what we were facing, and while back them we had no way out except to battle forward, which we did, and our story thankfully did have a happy ending, I began to write a novel about what would drive a woman to run away from her life. I’d gotten the basics in place, and many years later I decided on the setting when realized that I wanted part of the story to involve a vineyard that burnt down. I also discovered that I could only write this story once I too, had come out the other side. Thankfully, with a mother who has survived stage four breast cancer.

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King said that the theme should never come first, it should always be story first, then the other stuff, and I agree, but every so often a theme jumps out and grabs you and helps to shape the story as well, which is what happened to me with The Summer Escape. As soon as I decided on Greece, and a vineyard, I knew the setting would have to be Crete, as that is where most Greek wine is made. I’d visited the beautiful island in the past, and I suppose some of the raw material had been bubbling in my subconscious for a while.

After investigating the island some more, I headed into the territory of mythology, and re-discovered the story of the minotaur, which I then decided to very loosely base my own tale upon. With the labyrinth in my story being an unsolved mystery surrounding a vineyard that burnt down, and the unknown beast being death itself – surely the biggest unknown monster we all face at one point or another. In my favourite version of the legend, the goddess Ariadne saves Theseus only to be betrayed by him. She’s left behind in a cave, and is later found by Dionysus – the god of wine and madness, who has faced his own suffering, and together they save each other.

The story starts with Ria’s grandmother telling her about how she got her name, Ariadne, and why real heroes are not the ones that come out of fairy tales, they’re the ones who have known real suffering, that’s what makes a real hero a hero. She tells Ria this, because, it’s what I believe. 

Part of the fun I had with the story was in planting subtle little clues along the way that pointed towards the original myth – the names for instance. Tom’s surname Bacchus – is the Roman name for Dionysus. Similarly, Ria’s surname Laburinthos, means labyrinth, and The Chief of Police is named Carlos Mino – a nod to King Minos. 

I’m not sure if I would have ever used mythology to shape my novel if I hadn’t of set it in Crete, but then, if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have ended up with the novel that I did. 

The Summer Escape is out on 26 May 2016

Thank you so much Lily at that look of how Greek Mythology weaves it way into The Summer Escape, in a way that I never noticed at all.

About Lily Graham

Lily has being telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit named Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her back yard, which she envisioned as a sort of magical portal to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She’s never really gotten out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly. 
Her first two self-published novels were Amazon bestsellers, and will be republished with Bookouture this year.  The Summer Escape will be published in May. 
She lives with her husband and her English bulldog named Fudge, and brings her love of the sea and the country living to life in her fiction. 

Website/ blog: 
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Giveaway - Win an e-copy of The Summer Escape (Open Internationally)

It's Lily Graham's publication day and what better way to celebrate than by giving away a copy of The Summer Escape in ebook. 

Giveaway open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/6/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

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