Wrath Goddess Sing is now available wherever books are sold and wow, I am so excited for everyone to read this retelling of the Iliad. Achilles is a trans woman and a gods-blessed warrior who fights for love as fiercely as she fights for glory. This story is full of multi-faceted womanhood, tense battles, complex cultures, linguistic exchanges, and detailed mythology. It’s fun. It’s fierce.
I’m thrilled to have author Maya Deane on my blog today to celebrate the book’s release and chat a bit about the craft and mythological inspiration behind this trans take on a Greek epic.
Crafting Wrath Goddess Sing
What aspect of this story came to you first? The characters, the setting, the mythology, or something else entirely?
The characters. I first had a vision of Achilles talking to Aphrodite, trans woman to trans woman, and the story slowly grew out from there, including everything that would have to be true for that to happen. I’ve always been deeply interested in mythology, and especially in Achilles and Athena and Aphrodite, though, and deeply fascinated by the Bronze Age world.
What was your favorite scene or moment to write?
Probably the most fun was a scene where Achilles and Meryapi set out to converse with dolphins via magic. Probably the most emotionally affecting was a scene of intimate grief between Achilles and Patroklos not too long before certain events of the Iliad transpire.
How much did the story change between rounds or revision? Did anything stay the same?
Most of the broad brushstrokes stayed pretty constant. I cut out a detour halfway through the book and streamlined some things, and I did a lot of subtle character work to link up key moments in the storyline, but it was more finesse work than massive rewrites. This is not always the case with my projects, of course, but it was with this one .
What kind of research did you do for this novel? If we wanted to learn more about trans readings of the Iliad, are there any texts you can point our way?
I did enormous amounts of research on the late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean, including on the role of trans people in all the societies where they left a direct mark of their existence. Note also that trans and intersex gods and mythological figures appear all over the mythologies of the region, and that trans religious traditions (often centering around goddesses derived from or influenced by Enheduana) were already over a thousand years old by the time the Iliad was set. The wider one’s context for the Iliad, the more submerged readings emerge, readings which are often far more visible in the artistic traditions that were accessible to the wider society than the literary traditions that were primarily the domain of the elites.
Is Wrath Goddess Sing your first novel?
Wrath Goddess Sing is my first published novel, my third novel finished novel that was good enough to publish, and my ninth finished novel. Additionally, I’ve probably written a decent-sized chunk of another ten novels that never quite launched.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a retelling of the Joseph in Egypt mythology set in the late bronze age that explores imperialism and justice, family strife and reconciliation, and why we should continue living although we will inevitably die.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you could tell past!Maya?
At all times, remember to breathe. Breathe. Keep breathing. Isn’t that fun? Now, sit down and start thinking about how to kill the gods, because the alternative is absolutely intolerable.
Which books that are coming out or out already are you looking forward to reading?
There are so many books I’ve read lately that I love, and I talk about them a lot. But in terms of books I’m really excited to finally get a chance to read, here are a few:
- Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
- Lote by Shola von Reinhold
- Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
- The Stars Undying by Emery Robin
- The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
- Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
- I’ve been meaning to read some May Peterson too! Lord of the Last Heartbeat is an absolutely great title, so I’m curious
Maya Deane (she/her) is a novelist, visual artist, and avid student of all the arts of civilization attributed to Inana by the first known writer, Enheduana. She would love to talk to you about the history of forks, the history of beer (and how the only woman who became king of Sumer was a bartender and brewer), cannabis-hotboxing Amazons in the archeological record, the top three most famous 18th century French trans women, how to cook ancient Canaanite food (hint: import bananas from India), and what it’s like making friends with a scholarly feline. (Shout out to Apollo!) She is a graduate of the Rutgers-Camden MFA in creative writing.
Photo by Nic Rosta