Author to Author with Jordan Kurella (I Never Liked You Anyway)

Happy release day to I Never Liked You Anyway! In this contemporary novella with afterlife elements, Orpheus and Eurydice get the CW treatment in this retelling that puts the tragic couple in college. Music, muses, performance, coffee, and “coffee”—this queer as all get out story is so much fun. Perfect for fans of drama and Greek mythology.

Author Jordan Kurella is here to tell us about he pulled this story together, decided the musical motifs, and what he’s reading and working on now.

Buy Links: Indiebound | Kindle Edition

Sending Mythological Figures to College

What drew you to this incredibly inspired college AU retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice?

I was in a band in undergrad, and took a ton of music performance classes. So many that I could have basically graduated a year and a half early, credits wise (this is not a joke). My main instruments were violin and voice, although I wrote songs for loads of other instruments (and on those instruments). Growing up though, I had always been a Greek Myth fan, of Orpheus and Eurydice, of Theseus and the Minotaur. Was obsessed with Paris and the Apple of Discord. So, naturally I  absolutely loved The Odyssey when I read it in high school. That teacher talked to us about how Orpheus was sort of a stalker, and went on and on about it. That stuck with me, her take. So I decided to run with her opinion, but put the characters in college where I thought (maybe) Orpheus and Eurydice et al would thrive.

The novella is split between past and present, each with different narrators. How did you make these choices? Is it something you knew from the beginning or something that emerged in revision?

I write from the first word and go to THE END, pantsing everything in the first/zero draft. The first line stayed the first line from zero to final draft. Ditto with the last line. So yeah, I knew I wanted the narrators to be those specific narrators. I knew from writing the zero draft that one would be present and one would be past, cause it made sense for the structure of the settings. It’s not weird for me cause I do this in my short stories (swapping between past and present), and I dunno why? This is just how my brain thinks stories work, I guess.

What is your favorite scene or moment to write?

The last line is a major favorite. But also, like, I super enjoyed the hot dog moment that one of the narrators has, and also the scene where we get to see that particular narrator’s kitchen. The last two chapters for both narrators was very very very much fun to write. I don’t know, I just really liked writing this entire whole ass book. Got a lot of favorites, sorry lol. Another of my faves—which took tons of revisions—was Eurydice’s recital scene. Gosh I think that even got edited at the copyedits stage for developmental reasons. But it’s still one of my fave scenes. It’s pivotal in the book, and I think was the moment—in writing it—where I realized what the book was actually about.

How did you decide which music and artists to feature in the narrative?

So, like, each character has a music artist and genre that they’re closely associated with. Those artists come back in and back in like a leitmotif. It was easier to see the characters associated that way and write that than just random mishmash together. Writing the book was more like a composition with the characters as the players. Also with my past careers and past musician background I know a ton of music trivia that’s just stored away that was an easy check for accuracy—like the fact about Glenn Gould humming when he used to perform.

The Publishing Stage

Is I Never Liked You Anyway your first novella? 

Yes! It was! Uh, is! I had never written one before. To learn how to write a novella, I basically binged novellas for months prior to writing it and during writing it. I read uh, probably thirty or forty novellas. Otherwise, had no idea what I was doing. (Still don’t) I initially taught myself how to write by reading a ton and writing a ton of fanfic, and so I still go to the source (novella, novel, poem, story) when I am trying to improve the source’s game.

Are there any other myths you’re looking to retell?

Next, I am attacking a demon brought up in Paradise Lost: Mephistopheles. So, Christian myths! I read Paradise Lost ages ago for a story I wrote (and trunked) that was sort of Faustian, so now I can apply that back-brain to this current project. Had sort of forgotten about the guy until this year when a band I like had a song about him on a 2022 release.

What are you working on now?

A book on demons and immortals vying for control of the United States between 1912-1929. I got obsessed with Harding for a while back in the early Pandemic and did a bunch of research on the Teapot Dome scandal and the 1918 pandemic (blah blah blah). The lessons we didn’t learn from then and the similarities to now are actually pretty depressing. So why not write a book about it, Jordan? For about a year and a half, I couldn’t find a way to spin it to make it not a bummer to my own brain, until the band GHOST put out the album Impera. There’s a song in there about Mephistopheles and I thought, “Two great tastes that go great together!” 

What have you been reading lately? Are there any books you’re excited for either forthcoming on up next on your to-read list?

So I absolutely loved The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach. I thought that was a brilliant follow-up to Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, which I was late to, but the two were so similar yet so contrasting. Great companion pieces. Borne was like a heavy family dinner where like, the food and atmosphere were great, and it was great to be home, but holy shit. And The Dawnhounds was like, going out with your hometown buddies afterward for a party. Also super loved Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman, which was like reading about all my friends, if they were awkward vampires trying to get by in a world and also get a date with someone equally awkward but less undead. I also read a ton of poetry: couldn’t put down The Saint of Witches by Avra Margariti or Escaping the Body by Chloe N. Clark. Both women are incredible poets and are goals in terms of my own poetry. I am super looking forward to Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey, and I have had Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland on my shelf for over a year but haven’t had the chance to read it, soon. Right now, though, I am reading Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart is a Chainsaw

Jordan Kurella is a trans and disabled author who has lived all over the world (including Moscow and Manhattan). In his past lives, he was a photographer, radio DJ, and social worker. His work has been featured in Apex, Glitter + Ashes, and Strange Horizons. Jordan’s first two books are expected in fall of 2022 from Vernacular Books and Journalstone.


One thought on “Author to Author with Jordan Kurella (I Never Liked You Anyway)

  1. Pingback: August 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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