Friday, 6 August 2010

Mythic Friday Interview Number 18 - Steve Feasey

If I needed any piece of arcane knowledge on lycanthropy, guess who I'd go to?  Yep.  Steve Feasey.  Why? Because Steve has written a series of the most original teen werewolf novels I've ever read, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of dark monsters (mostly vile and horrible things that go bump in the night and rip your head off) is second to none.  I first met Steve in a very literary setting--The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford where Tolkien and his fellow Inklings met to talk and drink.  I like to think that we carried on the literary tradition--certainly we talked about books all night. We also talked about werewolves, with the result that I went straight home and bought the first in Steve's Changeling series (Wereling in the USA).  I fell for Trey Laporte, his reluctant werewolf, at once, and I can absolutely understand why teenagers queue up to buy these books.  I've read all the Changeling novels now (and can't wait for Demon Games, the 4th in the series, which is published on 3rd Sept in the UK).  Not only do Steve's books have werewolves in them, they also have vampires--plus a series of really excellent invented denizens of the Netherworld (I particularly like the Necrotroph), and the adventure rocks along in a way that has you turning pages quicker than a Draugr's revenge.  I knew Steve would give us a great Mythic Friday Interview--and he hasn't disappointed one little bit.  Welcome to Scribble City Central, Steve--and over to you for some marvellous mythic answers (I'm SO with you on Dionysus and the Hangover Cure, by the way!).

1. Do you think that the retelling of myths is important or relevant for the children of today? Why should they care about some “dry old stories” which come from ancient or forgotten cultures they might never even have heard of?
Who couldn’t like the great action/adventure yarns that are the ancient myths and legends? Okay, some of the characters are annoyingly flawed to the point that they make you want to scream: “Now whatever you do, don’t open that box. Got it? DON’T open the box.” Whoops. But even the ninnies like Pandora and Icarus still hold great appeal for younger readers.

2. What age were you when you came across your first myth or myths? Tell us how you felt then about the myths you first discovered. Did you love them or hate them? Did they scare you, excite you—or were you indifferent? What kind of myths were they? Greek? Norse? Native American? Celtic? Or from another culture entirely? Were they in a book you read? Or did you hear them as oral storytelling from someone else?
I discovered Greek mythology when I was about ten years old. I would borrow books from the library and read them over and over, and I remember being quite annoyed that the Romans nicked all of the Greek gods and tried to pass them off as their own. How dare they?

Later on I discovered the Norse legends, but they never had quite the same appeal as those early Greek stories.

3. Looking back, what is your favourite myth of all time, from any culture? And why would you choose it?
I used to adore the stories of Heracles (Hercules? Who he?) and his twelve labours (although when you consider the reason he was set them in the first place is to atone for infanticide, it takes some of the shine off of the tale). The depictions of the demi-god draped in his lion skin, and wielding his club is just too delicious for a young, impressionable boy. I particularly liked the way that Heracles was so dismissive of the gods, not kowtowing to them in the way they wanted him to. He wasn’t above a bit of skullduggery when he thought he could get away with it either, like when he tricks Atlas into taking the world back onto his shoulders.

But if I’m honest, I think the real appeal of Heracles to me as a young boy was the slaying of all those terrible monsters. Fabulous stuff!

4. Who is the mythical being you most dislike, and what made you feel that way about them?
As a young reader, I remember taking a dislike to the rather heartless elfin blacksmith, Volund, of Norse mythology. I know he was dealt a rather harsh hand by the dastardly Nidud the Cruel (who hamstrings him and imprisons him on an island to either work or starve), but I felt his own callous treatment of the king’s daughter and the murder of the young princes was rather unseemly.

5. Is there a mythical beast you are particularly fond of? If so, which one?
My son, who is also mad about the Greek myths at the moment (thanks to the Percy Jackson books), asked me this question the other day. I answered that the Lernean Hydra was my favourite. I explained that this was because there had been a picture in one of my books about Greek mythology, depicting Heracles frantically lopping heads off of the beast with one hand whilst wrestling more heads with the other hand. It was rather gruesome (which is probably why I liked it so much).

I’m naturally a big fan of werewolves, and during school visits I often tell the myth of King Lycaon who was cursed to become a wolf after feeding human flesh to Zeus. The first lycanthrope.

6. Finally, how have myths had an influence on your writing life, if at all? 
Most of the horror creatures that feature in the Changeling books are the stuff of myth and legend. When I was researching for the books I was surprised at just how old some of these stories were, and how our western portrayal of creatures like vampires differs so radically from the original descriptions of ‘gas-filled, bloated, purple-coloured, undead creatures that stank of decay and the earth that they had to bury themselves in each night’. About as far away from Edward Cullen and the other Twilight vamps as you could imagine!

In addition to the classic horror tropes, I had to invent a huge number of nether-creatures to populate my own version of Hades, and there is little doubt that my early love affair with Greek mythology and the wonderful monsters contained in those tales helped me no end in this.

7. If you could choose to be the demigod child of any one mythical god or goddess, which one would it be? Which power would you like to inherit from them—and what would you do with it?
Dionysus. I bet he threw a great party, and I have no doubt that he would have the ultimate hangover cure – and I’m talking a hangover CURE. Now a person could make a lot of money with something like that….

More about Steve:
Steve  lives with his family in Hertfordshire, UK, (where he sometimes hears a strange and unidentifiable howling just after midnight). He coaches under-8s rugby and likes to win! He's passionate about reading and spends a lot of time visiting schools, talking about Changeling, his favourite books, the best horror movies ever and his next series, which will launch in Spring 2011.  Steve started writing relatively late, in his 30's, and the Changeling series of books are his first venture into teen fiction.

Steve's website is at: http://stevefeasey.com/
His blog is at: http://rantsteverant.blogspot.com/

His Facebook Fan Page is HERE and you can also follow @stevefeasey on Twitter







 

6 comments:

bookwitch said...

They let a werewolf coach children?

Lucy Coats said...

Bookwitch, you are a joy unto me! Steve, Steve--quick, steal the bookwitch's idea before someone else does...combo of 2 of your fave things (rugby/werewolves?) must be a winner....

Steve Feasey said...

Ha! A rugby team of werewolves - fab!
Thanks for the interview, Lucy, I had great fun coming up with the answers.

Nicky S (Absolute Vanilla) said...

Ha! At last, someone who knows what a real vampire is - creatures of the night be praised!
Lucy, you are a star to have a werewolf expert as your guest, but I hope you didn't give too many of our secrets away...
Great interview, both of you!

Lucy Coats said...

Don't panic, Nicky. Our secrets are (mostly) safe with Steve. And yes,VERY good to have a proper non-Cullen description of a vampire.

Katherine Roberts said...

So enjoying this series of interviews, Lucy!

PS. Can I put in a request for an interview with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, if you can persuade her??? I'm such a fan of her work.

Also maybe new teen author Sarwat Chadda (after reading his astonishing debut Devil's Kiss...)

 
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