Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.
Today I’m welcoming author Laura Holt to the blog to talk about the inspirations behind her Star Crossed series! Laura posted an excerpt of the first book in the series, Fathoms Below, at Bonnie’s blog a couple weeks ago, so check that out if her post piques your interest!
Forbidden Love, Mythological Monsters, and a Girl with a Golden Slipper: The 11 Tragic Love Stories, Fairy Tales, and Greek Myths that Inspired the Star Crossed Series
Thisbe and Pyramus
Why tragic love stories? Because what is more heart-rending, nail-biting, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat than the possibility of not having a happy ending? Take Thisbe and Pyramus, for example. Theirs is the story of a pair of lovers who grew up next door to one another, yet, because of a feud between their families, were unable to be together. When they ran away to elope, Zeus, king of the gods, sent a lion to trick Pyramus into thinking that Thisbe was dead so that he would kill himself and then she, upon finding him dead, would do the same. Tragic? Yes, so much so that some scholars speculate that Shakespeare based the premise of his Romeo and Juliet on this story. Speaking of Shakespeare…
Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra
As soon as I realized I was writing a book about tragic love stories, I knew that I had to turn to the master for inspiration. Enter Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra, two more tales in which love doesn’t turn out so sweet for our heroes and heroines. For Romeo and Juliet, it ended with a dagger and poison. For Antony and Cleopatra, a snake bite and a sword to the gut. But wait, it gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view).
Echo and Narcissus
This tale encompasses every quiet person’s unspoken fear: that the person they fall in love with will never notice them. In Echo’s case, Narcissus was too self-involved to notice her attention, and because she could only echo the things that other people said, she was unable to tell him how she felt. Instead, she got to watch him pine after himself until he wasted away. Definite devotion there, but also a little creepy, seeing as how he never knew she was watching him.
Hero and Leander
One of my favorite tales of tragic love because the lovers in it keep fighting to be together until the bitter end. The basic plot? Hero and Leander meet, fall in love, but their families don’t want them to be together, so they lock Hero in a tower on the other side of a large strait. Does Leander let that stop him? No way! He buys himself a boat and crosses the strait every night to visit his love, until he drowns, and unwilling to live without him, Hero throws herself out of the tower window onto the rocks below. Take that, fate.
Guinevere and Lancelot
Anyone who knows anything about Arthurian lore (or anyone who is a huge fan of the TV show Merlin, like me) is familiar with how Guinevere, though married to King Arthur, fell in love with Lancelot, one of the bravest knights of the round table, and brought about the ruin of Camelot. Poor Arthur. He should have known that not even the sword in the stone was powerful enough to stand against true love, but hey, points to him for trying. Never mind that he and Lancelot both died, and Guinevere had to spend the rest of her days in a nunnery.
Pelleas and Melisande
A lesser known French tale about a girl who marries a nobleman only to fall in love with his brother later and bring about the ruin of his entire household. Rife with wishing wells, forest trysts under the cover of darkness, sword fights, and a line that inspired one of my favorite quotes from the Star Crossed series: “Only I know that it will be the turn of the poor little child soon.”
Paris of Troy and Helen of Sparta and Tristan and Isolde
Who said that you could write a book series about tragic love stories and not include Paris and Helen and Tristan and Isolde? Not me! From the gates of Troy to the shores of Cornwall, here are two women who know what it means to give up everything for the man you love. Too bad they both lose them in the end.
Cinderella and Cupid and Psyche
Did you know that there are more than a dozen different versions of Cinderella in existence? It is arguably the most popular fairy tale ever written, and also one of the most well-known. So when I set out to write the Star Crossed series as a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella, I wanted to do it in a way that was different from all the other versions and retellings that are already out there. Step one: make it dark. Everyone thinks of Cinderella as a pretty blonde in glass slippers surrounded by helpful blue birds and singing mice. But for those who aren’t familiar with the Grimm fairy tale, the story wasn’t always so lighthearted. There were slippers filled with blood, self-inflicted dismemberment, and birds that peck your eyes out. Hence, the tragic love stories and curses. Add a few monsters to the mix (a sea monster here, a gorgon there), and voila! Step two: tie it in with Greek mythology. Why? Because the roots of most fairy tales can be found in Greek mythology, including Cinderella, who’s original version was about Rhodopis, a Greek girl who was taken to Egypt to be a slave until she caught the eye of the pharaoh and was made his wife. And who better to play fairy godmother (or in this case, godfather) to a Greek Cinderella but Cupid, god of Love? And if the godfather turned out to be the prince charming in disguise, well, that’s just one of life’s interesting little twists. This, of course, is where the myth of Cupid and Psyche comes in, with a few of my own personal touches, like stolen slippers, reincarnation, and volcanic eruptions. The rest, as they say, is history. Or, as Hermes would say: “Stories are more than just words written on paper. They are pieces of our soul.” But will there be a happy ending for our Sinderella and the other characters in the Star Crossed series? Or will they all end as tragic as the rest? That, readers, is up to you to find out.
Fathoms Below by Laura Holt
Series: Star Crossed Series #1
Published by The Book Patch on November 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings
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Cather Stevens doesn’t love.
Not now, not ever. She has spent her entire life watching love ruin her mother, her aunts, her cousins, her grandmother, and she made a vow a long time ago that she would never let that happen to her. But when she meets a winged boy named Hermes who tells her that she is the key to ending the star crossed curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries, she will have to redefine everything she knows about love, life, and herself.
With more than just her own heart on the line, she must find the location of her great-great grandmother’s diary. It was hidden long ago, fathoms below her town, and holds the answers to all of her questions, especially one: are the fairy tales and Greek myths that she grew up hearing actually fiction like she was taught to believe, or are they something more…something real?
About Laura Holt
Laura Holt is the author of Fathoms Below and Fathoms Above. She is from a small Georgia town, where she lives with her daughter. Growing up as the oldest of three sisters, Laura used her imagination to make up stories as a way to escape from the sometimes crazy-making monotony of everyday life. As she got older, her love of stories grew into a love of books, especially fantasy, and eventually, she wrote her own stories down as well. When Laura isn’t busy writing or thinking up a new way to promote the Star Crossed series, she can be found curled up on the couch reading, working out, or spending time with her daughter. A few of their favorite pastimes include watching shows like Once Upon a Time, shopping, and going treasure hunting. Laura is also active in the children’s ministry at her local church, is addicted to Pinterest, loves anything chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have soy in it), and is always looking for a new way to get her daily adrenaline fix. You can follow Laura on Instagram and Twitter at @authorlauraholt.