Today I’m interviewing a friend from the San Antonio Romance Authors, Andrea Stehle.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I am a high school Latin teacher and have been for 25 years. I have a degree in Classics from the University of Texas.
I discovered the world of mythology back in middle school when I decided to read The Odyssey. I loved classical mythology from that moment on, and I always include it in my Latin classes.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I enjoy theatre – both watching and performing. Recently I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with my daughters at the Zion Theatre in Helotes, Texas. February 2015 marks my debut as a playwright and director for the theatre department at Stevens High School. We will be doing my Star Wars version of Oedipus Rex and Antigone in the Black Box.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I use the MUSE method. I create the world and the characters first. I even have a basic story arc in mind, but once I sit at the computer and begin writing, the story takes on a life of its own. I often don’t know how the scene will end until my characters start talking and interacting. I can understand why the ancient Greeks believed that inspiration was a gift from the Olympians.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
I wish I could visit Arcadia (a planet thousands of years in the future filled with classical mythology), but the closest I have ever been are the ruins of Delphi on Mt Parnassus. I actually sat in the ruins of Apollo’s temple and invoked the Muses to inspire my words. The poem I wrote is about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Not surprising the ruins of Pompeii had been a previous stop on the tour. I use the poem with my students to this day.
In what genre do you read?
I am a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan. I love Anne McCaffrey’s DragonRiders of Pern and Frank Herbert’s Dune. I am also addicted to romance novels. Their “love conquers all” endings always bring me to tears.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
Although I get many of the names for characters from classical mythology and history, I also use the names of my students for minor characters. I recently discovered that might be a problem. The other day I was writing a scene where a citizen of Metropolis was attacked by a manticore. I had intended to have him die of his wounds, but I suddenly couldn’t do it, because he was named for one of my students.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
There are three cats in my home; my daughter’s cat, Phoebe, my mother’s cat, Problem, and my cat, Xena. No dogs allowed.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I once watched Rick Riordan [author of Percy Jackson YA series] captivate a room full of young readers with his story. He made them see that mythology is cool, and many of my students learn to love classical mythology because of his books. I want to inspire young people to love mythology, too. I love teaching about the classical world. I hope my books entertain and give me a much larger classroom.
Gods of Arcadia: Daughter of Athena is a sci-fi/fantasy with romantic elements. It is an INDIE publication through Mind of Minerva.
Eons ago the gods of Mt. Olympus ruled over the developing civilization of ancient Greece. From the heights of their mountain retreat the gods manipulated and forced mankind to their will. But one day the Olympians grew bored with the mundane world – as immortals are predisposed to do. They looked away from their children for just a moment and the Earth changed. No longer were the names Zeus, Hera, and Athena whispered with awe and terror, but forgotten until they were nothing more than myths from the dawn of time. To their regret the Olympians discovered no amount of manipulation or terror could bring mankind back into the fold, and so they were obliged to start again.
Transplanting a small group of humans to the distant world of Arcadia, the gods created their own perfect Utopian society. In their self-absorbed way each Olympian reigned over a cult of followers in a personal city-state where their word was law. To promote harmony, the Great Law of the Olympians sought to suppress the volatile nature of humanity by forbidding war on Arcadia. Unfortunately, the Olympians learned nothing is ever perfect. Once every hundred years the Son of Ares is born to disturb the delicate balance of their world.
Although Ardella of New Athens was the chosen of Athena, blessed with the gift of empathy, she was young and naïve. She made the ultimate mistake – she allowed the Son of Ares to manipulate her and escape. Almost a decade later, the Daughter of Athena is still battling the chaos caused by that moment of weakness, when her brother is captured by the enemy.
To save her twin, Ardella travels to Metropolis, the fortress at the heart of the Son of Ares’ empire, and offers herself in exchange. Exiled in a strange new city, the Daughter of Athena soon learns that the enemy she had come to know reading reports in her Tower in New Athens is not the same as the one she now faces in the thriving, very human culture of Metropolis. Bewildered by her growing admiration for the Son of Ares, Ardella must not only save her brother, but decide if she stands with or against the Gods of Arcadia.
Gods of Arcadia: Daughter of Athena was named the 2015 Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy by the Texas Association of Authors. Andrea will be accepting this award on the steps of the state capital in April.
“Great journey into a whole new world. It would make a good movie. If you enjoy mythology you would enjoy this book.” – Sandra M.
“The book catches your attention right away. It was hard to put down. Looking forward to next in the series.” – D. Pate
As I knocked on Galynda’s door as the midday sun beat down upon paving stones which in turn warmed my sandaled feet. I glance up at the star that gave life to Arcadia and thought of the sunrise ceremony for Apollo. As I waited for the door to open, I suddenly remembered a story I had read in one of the many books from Athena’s archive. It was from the classical mythology of ancient Earth and it told the story of how the god Apollo drove the chariot of the sun across the sky. I smiled as I tried to imagine the handsome giant standing silently in Heliopolis’ harbor guiding magical horses pulling the sun behind him. Our ancestors on Earth had such primitive beliefs.
The Olympians were immortal and had many powers that might seem magical to primitive humans, but where had they come up with such a fantastic tale as Apollo pulling the chariot of the sun across the sky or the seasons being caused by Demeter’s anger. I finally became so curious, I asked Athena herself.
She explained that the Olympians had lived together on Mt. Olympus far removed from the people in Greece who worshiped them. It had been a mistake, because the people made up stories about their Gods called myths. The stories stuck and the Olympians didn’t see the harm in such tales until centuries later when they were used by skeptics to suggest the Gods did not really exist. It was the dark period of unbelief on Earth that had shaped the nature of Arcadia.
Here each Olympian lives with their followers, so the people would never doubt the Gods were real. No one on Arcadia would make up or believe such fantastic tales as the myths of ancient Greece, because they have seen the Gods with their own eyes. Living among humans, the Olympians have been able to shape our societies and guide our footsteps like a trusted parent. And keep a closer eye on us so we don’t stray into the darkness like our ancestors on Earth.
“Lady Ardella?” I heard Galynda’s voice ask from the doorway. I had been so lost in thought I not even heard the door open and it took a moment for me to come back to the present and the reason for my visit.
“Lady Galynda, I was hoping to speak to you,” I said.
“Just Galynda,” she replied with a hint of annoyance in her voice and in her mind.
“What?” I asked unsure of what had caused her irritation with me.
“I am a citizen of Metropolis like any other. I have no title or rank,” Galynda explained.
“I meant no offense,” I murmured. “I just assumed since you were the sister of the Strategos you would addressed with a title of respect due your role in the ruling class of Metropolis.”
“You are a long way from New Athens, Lady Ardella. There is no ruling class, or scholarly class, or servant class here. Everyone in Metropolis is equal.”
“Of course, Galynda. I am just learning the ways of Metropolis. Please forgive me for my lack of knowledge,” I offered sincerely and I felt her irritation give way to guilt.
“I’m sorry, Lady Ardella. I didn’t mean to be rude,” she said honestly. “Please come in.”
“Thank you,” I said entering her home.
“I am very proud of the way of life we have established here in Metropolis. I must learn not to be so sensitive,” Galynda explained, her feelings of pride strongly flowing from her heart.
“I have felt a similar sense of pride in many of the citizens of Metropolis. It has been a surprise for me to learn about the nature of your city firsthand.”
“Most of our society and its customs are based upon the traditions of our ancestors on Earth that Alexander learned from your crystal reader.”
“Are you referring to the crystal reader with the better part of the Academy library stored on it that your brother stole from me?”
“I would love to hear that story,” Galynda laughed.
“Perhaps another time, Galynda.” I sighed softly. I took a deep breath and continued, “I have come to you with the first excerpt of the Book of Artemis. The parts I have translated are the history of the conflict between the Amazons and the followers of Artemis. I am only about a third of the way through the book, so have no idea what the rest might contain,” I said handing her the pages.
“Thank you. I look forward to reading the pages. I can return them to you when I have finished.”
“The pages are yours to keep and share with the others. I want the new followers of Artemis to have access to all the knowledge about their Goddess. I will keep translating every chance I get.”
“And you are certain there is no payment required for this knowledge?”
“For the knowledge? No! I could, however, use some additional paper on which to translate.”
“I believe I can arrange for the paper,” she said smiling. After a moment her brows furrowed and she asked, “What does that mean ‘translate’?”
“Oh! Let me show you.” I said pulling the Book of Artemis from my bag. I handed the small leather-bound tome to Alexander’s sister. I watched as she opened the book and a puzzled look crossed her face. I felt her surge of confusion and suspicion.
“I recognize the letters. Why can’t I read the words?”
“It is in an ancient Earth language called Latin. Very few people on Arcadia can still read it.”
“I don’t understand.”
“On Arcadia today we all speak and write in a common tongue. The Olympians wanted it that way to facilitate communication among our sects. Our ancestors on ancient Earth, however, had many different cultures and many different languages.”
“And the Olympians preserved one of these ancient languages?”
“Athena did. I learned to read Latin in an advanced course at the Academy after I became a member of Athena’s Council.”
“The Athenian sect has a secret language no one else on Arcadia can even read.”
I am a Latin teacher at John Paul Stevens High School in San Antonio, Texas. I have always loved classical mythology. I earned my degree in Classics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. I have three beautiful daughters–Monica, Amanda & Linda.