Today’s post is by author Steven Harper Piziks. Check it out:
Several years ago, I decided I wanted to write about Ganymede, the teenager who was kidnapped by Zeus to serve as his cupbearer on Olympus. Zeus sees Ganymede on the earth below, decides he’s the coolest kid ever, changes into an eagle, and snatches Ganymede up to Olympus. Zeus then persuades Hebe to make Ganymede immortal, then dumps Hebe as his cupbearer and gives that exhalted position to Ganymede.
When I got older and read the actual material instead of the summaries and children’s versions, I learned that Ganymede was more than Zeus’s cupbearer. Zeus also took Ganymede to his bed. This was part of Greek culture–a powerful man would often serve as a mentor/teacher/second father/love interest to a teenaged male. Usually the parents went along with this: “Good news, son! Your uncle has offered to be your mentor!” So Ganymede was a mythological parallel to this mortal custom.
The stories, however, never went into what it was like. What was it LIKE for Ganymede to be snatched away from his family and friends and suddenly made into the cupbearer and lover of the king of gods? You have the ultimate mentor, but it wasn’t anything you’d asked for. Your culture teaches you that being taken to this guy’s bed is a good thing, or at least something you can put up with because all of us men went through it, but how do you =really= handle it?
The only way to find out what it was like was to write it myself. The trouble was the setting. Did I want to write ancient Greece and writing a straightforward fantasy novel, or could I get away with this in a modern setting and using characters who were parallels to the myth?
Ultimately, I settled on using both, and DANNY was born.
The writing sometimes turned out to be torturous. DANNY stalled out, went down dead ends, or just died on me. DANNY also rushed along at breakneck speed, hurtled around bends, and leaped to life under my fingers. I never knew what it was going to do.
During this book, I suffered from terrible insomnia. I was turning into a zombie from sleep loss. I finally went to the doctor, and she gave me a scrip for Ambien. Some of you may have heard of an Ambien side-effect, that some people take it, fall asleep, and sleepwalk or do other things in their sleep, with no recollection of it afterward. The writing gods were ready to laugh here.
I was working on a chapter of DANNY one evening. This was a torturous night, and I swear I was sweating at each word. At last I noticed it was getting close to bed time. Since Ambien takes a while to kick in, I took my dose and went back work, intending to continue working until the medicine made me sleepy.
Naturally, that was when everything started to work really well. Words flowed wonderfully. But the Ambien would start working any moment now. I worked as fast as I could, even after I felt the medication pulling at me. At last, in a fog, I saved my work and stumbled off to bed.
The next day, I called up my file tree. There was a new chapter I didn’t remember seeing before. What the heck? I opened the file and found most of a chapter. It was definitely my writing, and it was in the voice and style I had chosen for the book. It continued the story in the proper direction. It was even good writing. But I didn’t remember writing a word of it. Ambien and the writing gods at work.
It was both fascinating and chilling. For the first time in my life, I had the experience of reading my own writing as a reader, something every writer dreams of. But I also felt like a ghost has possessed me and written all this. I didn’t dare delete it–the writing gods were laughing too hard.
The chapter appears in DANNY, which is available at Book View Cafe http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/danny/ and at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Danny-Steven-Harper-ebook/dp/B00ZYTNYUK/