Author Interview with Arielle Bailey
ED: The Icarus Aftermath mixes Greek myth and Star Wars-style space opera. What led you to that combination? What led you to use the Icarus/Labyrinth myth specifically?
AB: The combination burst on me fully armored, like Athena herself. My horse had died earlier that day, and I’d had a long day following. I was in the shower, trying to deal with it all, and I suddenly thought, “What if Icarus flew too close to the sun not to be an arrogant twit (look, he was in the original myth, okay) but to save someone else?” I mentally saw it in the blackness of space and knew instantly it was a space opera. Another ten seconds and I had the foundation of a scene that I wrote as soon as I got back to my room.
It was a blinding flash of inspiration.
And after I realized I’d be retelling Icarus, I knew I had to retell the Labyrinth/Minotaur myth too, because it’s always bugged me in most retellings I’ve seen (or know of) that they don’t really combine the two . . . and yet in some versions of the original myths, Daedalus was only locked up because he knew the secrets of the Labyrinth.
ED: Right? Why separate them? Make sense it does not. *ahem* The family dynamics in this book are wonderful, especially the interactions between the various Sunfire siblings. Did you draw on any real life relationships when you wrote the Sunfires?
AB: Thank you so much! They were my favorites to write.
And no, I didn’t really draw on any real-life relationships for them. I often do, when I write, but this time, it was me picturing what the coolest family ever might look like . . . and then writing it down.
ED: There are so many aspects of this world that (for reasons of time) can't be delved into too deeply (such as olympian society, the various non-human races, etc.). Which of those are you most excited to explore in future installments?
AB: Augh, I know, right? I wanted to go into SO MUCH MORE in this book, but it would have detracted from the main plot. I comforted myself with the thought of the sequels.
And honestly? I’m eager to get into EVERYTHING.
I’m most excited to write about the kentauri because I’ve loved centaurs for /so long/. And also the AMAZONS, man. I can’t wait to get back to them. We’re getting so much of them in the future, you bet. The olympian society is also going to be a treat to write. I’m especially looking forward to Hestia, Mercury, Aphrodite, and—of course—more of Athina. Mmhmm, can’t wait.
ED: Oh, I'm going to be on tenterhooks waiting for the sequel(s)! What myths are you hoping to touch on in future books in the series?
AB: The Centauromachy is up next: the war between the centaurs and the Lapiths, led by the Lapith king, who was Theseus’s best friend. (Proper pair of idiots, those two.)
Also featuring at some point:
- Hades and Persephone
- at least two other incidents from Theseus’s colorful history
- Perseus and the Gorgon
- THE TROJAN WAR
ED: As I said before, I CAN'T WAIT. Will we be seeing more of Ares and Hephaestus? Their relationships with Koralia, each other, and Aphrodite make for a lot of humorous (and heartwarming) scenes.
AB: Thank you! And, yes, you will. That’s another thing I’m eager to write: their perspective on and relationships with other olympians. I’m looking forward to writing more of these bickering brothers, their rather bizarre relationships with Aphrodite, and their love for Koralia.
You’ll definitely be getting a lot more of them. And possibly some flashbacks to when both of them met Icarus and what they thought of him and his relationship with Koralia, ehehe.
ED: Why did you decide to open the book with Icarus' fall?
AB: It just felt right, honestly.
The first scene I got, when the story burst on me, is now the second scene in the book: Ianessa informing the General of Icarus’s fall. I had planned to start the book there.
But when I actually sat down to write it, after midnight on October 31st (er, technically very early the morning of November 1st), I wound up writing Icarus’s fall instead. And I sent it to Mirriam, and she basically said, “Daaaaang, YES.” So that was double confirmation.
ED: Is Koralia your own invention or is she inspired by a specific character(s) from Greco-Roman mythology?
AB: She’s my own invention. I considered using a character from mythology, but after research, I realized she didn’t fit anyone. So I just went with the character developing in my head. There are bits and pieces of her that do come from mythology, though. Melainis and Skotia were both said to be additional names of Aphrodite in various areas of Greece.
ED: If you could go on a mission with a Sunfire, who would you want to partner with and where would you go?
AB: Oooooh, gosh, that’s a tough one. Either Talos or Mikon, with Dione a close second.
Mmmm, probably Talos. And it would be a spy mission of some kind, probably to an Inner world, like Belus, the galactic capital.
(That way, Mirriam can go on a mission with Mikon.)
ED: (I'm sure she appreciates your thoughtfulness, haha.) Would you rather have been trained by Amazons but be an otherwise normal human or be at least half-olympian and working for the Kallistratus?
AB: You are really bringing the great questions!
I’d rather be human and trained by the Amazons. MY GIRLS. (I’m going to have such fun writing them.)
ED: What's the most adventurous thing you've ever done?
AB: Oh my gosh, good question.
Hmmmm, I mean, eating rattlesnake meat is probably up there. Some stunts I pulled while hiking or horseback riding as a teen.
I’m not sure about most adventurous. But one of the most dangerous moments of my life also wound up being pretty adventurous.
My stepfather and I were going to go riding that day, and he got saddled up first—riding a part-Arabian mare I had been re-training—and went over to visit the neighbors an eighth of a mile down the road. He ground-tied the mare, not realizing I hadn’t yet trained her to ground-tie (i.e. where you let the reins drop to the ground and the horse stands still) and she spooked and ran off, coming back home towards me.
To make things worse, it was harvest season, and at that moment, there were two grain trucks, a farm truck, and a harvest combine all coming down the road.
So there’s a saddled/bridled mare running down the side of the road, PANICKING because she doesn’t know what she’s doing; she just wants to get to what’s familiar.
I’m riding my very-much-green-broken filly, who’s had minimal de-spook training and has maybe been ridden a dozen times, mostly in the round pen and pasture at home.
With three farm machines all coming down the road behind the mare, worrying her even more. The trucks can’t stop, because there’s no place or room for them to do so, especially not behind this combine taking up most of the road.
And I’m in the ditch, trapped between an embankment up to the road on one side and a barbed-wire fence on the other side.
It came off okay in the end. I had to dismount on my filly’s off side (aka the right side—you usually mount/dismount horses from the left side) to grab the Arab’s reins and then hold BOTH of them while the machinery finished going by . . . and more than one driver looked as relieved as I felt!
I was (and am) insanely grateful for the trust both my filly and the mare had in me. They listened and let me hold them steady until we could get out of there. Without that, the situation would have had a very different outcome and I honestly might not be here today.
ED: Whoa. That's quite the adventure. Speaking of adventures, do you prefer Greco-Roman mythology or other myths? Which is your favorite story from that mythology?
AB: For sheer aesthetic, Egyptian Mythology. All the animal-headed gods and goddesses, not to mention the snarky humor. The Greeks were second to none with their drama, the Norse had the corner on hilarity, but the Egyptians were masters of sass.
I'd say my favorite myth from Egyptian mythology is anything to do with Sekhmet. Which is a biiit of a cop-out, but also true.
ED: If you could only retell one myth, fairy-tale, or folktale, which would it be and why?
AB: King Arthur. I will always, always come back to Arthurian Legend. The sheer variety it contains, the potential in the character and ideals of Arthur himself, the vast relationship network and potential between Arthur and his queen . . . and him and his knights . . . plus the various ladies of the knights . . . not to mention my favorites: the Ladies of the Lake.
Definitely Arthurian Legend.
ED: See, this is why we're friends. All Arthurian, all the time. And yes, the relationships in that cycle are . . . multitudinous.
How likely is it that the various ships (relationships, that is) in The Icarus Aftermath will sink or float in the sequel?
AB: Oho. Well. Since this is a longer series, let’s just say that both of the two main ships will still be floating in the sequel to this book. And the sequel to it. What happens after that? Spoilers, sweetie.
Thanks for joining us today, Arielle!
You can find The Icarus Aftermath here on Goodreads and here on Amazon.